Touring the Thousand Islands Region: A Glimpse of Victorian Summers at the Thousand Island Park

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.

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When our kids were young, visits always included a stop at the ice cream parlor, but not before letting them burn some energy at the park while Ginette sneaked into the antique shop.

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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.

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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.

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You can feel the lazy summer ambiance, the unwritten rule of rest and relaxation.

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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.

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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 colors.

The park has a number of community buildings including the public dock and pavilion…

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…and the Holden Library.

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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 neighbors and passer-by all the while chatting and catching up on gossip.

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For years the “Guzzle”, an old ice cream parlor was the corner meet-up place, but unfortunately it burned down in the summer of 2014.

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Locals will be enjoying their meals al fresco on their screened-in porch while guest mingle at the Wellesley Hotel restaurant.

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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

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5 thoughts on “Touring the Thousand Islands Region: A Glimpse of Victorian Summers at the Thousand Island Park

  1. Wow! Great pictures, for a second there I thought our house was among them. When and if you ever decide to sell the house, I think a Victorian cottage would be a nice compromise 😉

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