Imagine a by-gone era when Victorian summer days were spent outdoors; croquet, badminton, tennis, fishing, boating or modestly swimming with friends. Evenings were for family gatherings, playing card and board games. Tucked away at the southwestern tip of Wellesley Island, New York, such a place still exists in the summer community of Thousand Island Park (TIP).
Our summer weekend excursions to the Thousand Island Region are never complete without visiting the village. For twenty-five years, we’ve made it a regular stop, either on our travels to or from the States.
When our kids were young, visits always included a stop at the ice cream parlour, but not before letting them burn some energy at the playground while Ginette sneaked into the antique shop.
Now, we come for dinner or to sip a summer drink on the wrap-around porch, and chat with the locals at the Wellesley Hotel.
From our seats, we watch children and adults alike zip along on their bike or golf cart, towels wrapped around their neck heading to and from the beach.
You can feel the lazy summer ambience, the unwritten rule of rest and relaxation.
The Thousand Island Park dates back to 1875 when a Methodist religious camp was started. Today it is has grown to a lively summer community where charming cottages are passed down through the generations.
For a glimpse of living in the past, lazily stroll or bike through, taking the time to admire the Victorian-era cottages and architectural details as you wander the lanes. Fine woodwork railings and balusters, intricately cut brackets and gingerbread cut-outs and screen doors are lovingly maintained in a playful mix of colours.
The park has some community buildings including the public dock and pavilion…
…and the Holden Library.
With the official start of summer, the village will burst to life.
The lifestyle is easy and casual. Early morning swims, afternoons reading in oversized wicker chairs or napping in the comfort of the hammock, pre-diner cocktails or aperitif on the veranda while waving at the neighbours and passer-bys while chatting and catching up on gossip.
For years the “Guzzle”, the old ice cream parlour was the corner meet-up place, but unfortunately, it burned down in the summer of 2014.
Locals will be enjoying their meals al fresco on their screened-in porch while guests mingle at the Wellesley Hotel restaurant.
Our wine glass is empty, the sun has set, and the streets are quiet. Time to head back and turn toward home.
Ginette and Gord