Over ten thousand years ago, retreating glaciers scraped sediment from the landscape of what is now Kingston, Ontario, leaving a granite chain of more than a thousand mountains behind. These hills are today in an area known as the Thousand Islands. It features winding rivers, marshlands, rugged rock outcroppings and a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Twenty four islands, one hundred and twenty nine islets and eight mainland tracts make up the St. Lawrence Islands National Park.
Facts on the Park
St. Lawrence Island has had a long history, its strategic seaway location means that they have played host to many people over the years.
Man Made Heritage
The islands form part of a corridor, which acts as a funnel for the north to south movement of wildlife. This is also the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and the Mississauga Anishinaabe. In the late 1600’s, explorers, fur traders and missionaries relied on the island which played an important role in the wake of the American Revolution.
Manmade structures, such as cottage estates and cabins may have been more prominent in the island if local influence hadn’t established the area as a national park at the turn of the 20th century. The Mallory family in 1904 donated a section of the waterfront property to the government under the condition that it be used for a park. In 1997, St. Lawrence Island was named as one of four national parks with the highest level of impairment to ecological integrity.
Flora and Fauna
The Ministry of Natural Resources is in charge of monitoring the plant life and animal life in the park. Studies have been conducted in partnership with Queens University and Carlton University to examine the mortality rate of the map turtle and many other species at risk.
How to get there
If you travel from Kingston, take Highway 401E towards Cornwall for 38.5 miles. You then take exit 675 and turn right at Mallorytown Road, which will take you to the Mallorytown Landing Visitor Center.
When to go
The park is open year round; however the visitor center closes in early October. It is best to call ahead for details.
The park has many walking trails where you can just walk around taking in the woodlands or walk along the shore. If you wish to overnight on the islands, all 68 of the park’s campsites are located in areas where you have easy access to. You may also rent kayaks to paddle leisurely along throughout the park.
Photograph by Brian Morin