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Waking Up the River


The 1000 Islands is slowly starting to wake up after its seasonal slumber during the winter months when Canadian Geese join our human ‘snow birds’ for southern climes, when cottages and castles close and the River turns to ice. 

I grabbed my camera and took my first of several boat rides of the season this past weekend with my boyfriend Hugh Grout, his brother George Grout and sister-in-law Roz in search of signs of spring - now only a week away on the calendar. George makes it his mission each year to get to his cottage on Red Roof Island off of Grenadier Island as early as he can in spring. 

After spending nearly a life-time of summers there, George knows how to navigate and break the ice to get to its shores. His Cobalt stood out as one of the few boats in the River at Ed Huck Marine, the rest still wrapped and out of the water, to return to rows of empty slips in the coming months along with tour boats at the Rockport docks waiting for this summer’s wave of tourists. There are work boats for construction crews that do island work throughout the summer and even a few hardy souls who live on Grenadier Island year-round. But for the most part, the River here is a sleepy if not peaceful place this time of year. 

As we climbed aboard the boat clad in our parkas, gloves, hats and boots, I spotted a few seagulls perched on floating chunks of ice like little white penguins. They must have looked as us like I looked at them. ‘Jeez, what are you doing here?’ This is the earliest I’ve ever been out in a boat on the River in the spring. Sure it was cold but welcoming, like an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. 

We passed by Tar, Baby Tar, Buck, Little Grenadier and pulled to the Grenadier Island Country Club, where we spotted well over a dozen deer grazing on the course as snow melted over the greens. On little Grenadier, Canadian Geese walked over the ice to the shorelines. A bald eagle flew overhead. Not being able to get to Red Roof Island because of the ice in the bay on our first few attempts, George and Hugh plotted another boat ride Sunday, finally getting back to their family’s century-old cottage to mark the beginning of the 2016 season. 

We weren't the only boaters on the River this past weekend. Soon there will be more. Ships will return in a week or so to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Cottagers will soon return to open their cottages, tourists will flock back to the tour boats and the castles, and golfers will be back on the greens of Grenadier. Until then, all the River rats out there will enjoy watching the islands waking up from winter.

By Kim Lunman

Kim Lunman is the owner/publisher of Island Life Magazine (www.islandlifemag.ca.)   Her company, Thousand Islands Ink, is based in Brockville, ON. Lunman is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in the Boat U.S. Magazine, Lakeland Boating, Reader's Digest, Canada’s Globe and Mail and The National Post.

To see all of Kim Lunman’s TI Life articles, click here, and to read a more complete biography, see our About Page.

  • Hugh and George Grout head out to Red Roof Island near Grenadier. Photo by Kim Lunman. Photo by K. Lunman

    Hugh and George Grout head out to Red Roof Island near Grenadier. Photo by Kim Lunman. Photo by K. Lunman

  • Breaking the Ice. Photo by K. Lunman

    Breaking the Ice. Photo by K. Lunman

  • Two Canada Geese tip toe on the icy shores of Little Grenadier Island.Photo by K. Lunman

    Two Canada Geese tip toe on the icy shores of Little Grenadier Island.Photo by K. Lunman

  • A deer at Grenadier Island seems surprised by human visitors. Photo by Kim Lunman

    A deer at Grenadier Island seems surprised by human visitors. Photo by Kim Lunman

  • Two more deer graze at the fifth hole at the Grenadier Island Golf Course

    Two more deer graze at the fifth hole at the Grenadier Island Golf Course

  • George Grout sets spring sights on his cottage at Red Roof Island despite its ice-covered bay. Photo by K. Lunman

    George Grout sets spring sights on his cottage at Red Roof Island despite its ice-covered bay. Photo by K. Lunman

  • Snow is starting to melt off Round Island near Grenadier. Photo by K. Lunman

    Snow is starting to melt off Round Island near Grenadier. Photo by K. Lunman

  • It won’t be long before freighters in the U.S. shipping channel glide past this little island in front of Shanty Island. Photo by K. Lunman

    It won’t be long before freighters in the U.S. shipping channel glide past this little island in front of Shanty Island. Photo by K. Lunman

 

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Comments

Bill Dermady
Comment by: Bill Dermady
Left at: 10:39 AM Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Thanks for the great pictures.
Can't wait for spring to be on the river.
Dan Morrow
Comment by: Dan Morrow
Left at: 12:07 PM Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Kim,
One more thing you can check off your list on your way to becoming a true river rat.
Regards,
Dan
Brian Johnson
Comment by: Brian Johnson
Left at: 6:18 PM Thursday, March 17, 2016
Kim, I well remember when I started working at Gan Boat Line in late March, 1975, all of the boats travelling around the ice to their islands. Meantime, Wolfe Islander (II) was still under tow of the Salvage Monarch up in Kingston! The ice was still solid up there and both ferry and tug were still following the 'boat track'! GREAT article and pics, by the way!!

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