Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands makes a fun weekend trip from Toronto
Boldt Castle, located just beyond the Ontario-U.S. border, lets you step inside a historic castle on a private island that has a romantic yet heartbreaking past.
Of Thousand Islands' 1,864 islands straddling the Canada-U.S. border in the St. Lawrence River, one island in particular, aptly named Heart Island, is home to this grand Gilded Age mansion.
At the turn-of-the-century, a millionaire proprietor of the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City by the name of George C. Boldt commissioned a six-story castle as a display of love for his wife, Louise.
No expense was spared when it came to the 120-room Rhineland-style castle, which would be complete with tunnels, a powerhouse, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, a children’s playhouse, and a dovecote.
The Boldt family spent their summers in the 1000 Islands at their Wellesley House while 300 workers worked on the six-story castle. However, tragedy struck in 1904, bringing all construction to an immediate halt.
George's wife Louise passed away unexpectedly, leaving him brokenhearted and inconsolable. He claimed he could not envision his dream castle without his beloved wife, and never returned to the island, leaving the structure behind as a monument of his love.
The abandoned castle and half-built structures were left to the mercy of the elements for 73 years when the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property in 1977.
It was decided that it would be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations, using all net revenues from the operation to restore and complete it.
Several millions of dollars were spent on the project, and it now welcomes visitors from both Canada and the U.S. in warmer months to visit via tour boat, water taxi, and private watercraft.
Visitors can tour the castle, stroll the island's picturesque hiking trails, and picnic within the idyllic courtyards on site. The castle also has an onsite cafe and hot dog stand for hungry guests.
Several boat tours departing from Canada will bring you to Boldt Castle, primarily from the Kingston and Gananoque ports. Admission to Boldt Castle which helps maintain the grounds costs adults $15.50 each, not including transportation to and from the attraction.
Do note that because Boldt Castle is located in the US, Canadian passengers arriving by boat must provide proper identification for US Customs and Border Protection clearance.
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