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A Visit To The Tragically Romantic Heart Island.

Have you ever heard a tale so romantic, yet so tragic it makes your heart ache? Well, if you aren’t a fan of these types of stories, I suggest you stop reading because the tale I am about to tell you will have you believing in love while seeing the unfairness of life. 

This summer, on our last day of vacation, my friends and I went on a boat tour. There were several routes, but when we saw one with a castle visit, we instantly knew that was the one. I mean, how can you pass up on a castle tour? We left Rockport, Ontario on the 1000 Island Cruise towards Alexandria Bay, New York. The boat docked on a small island called Heart Island – the island is actually in the shape of a heart. There, we saw Boldt Castle.

Now, here is where the romantically tragic story I was referring to begins.  

The castle was named after George C. Boldt, a wealthy man who worked in the hotel business. He decided to build a home for his wife, Louise, where no expenses would be spared or detail overlooked. 

His project would include 300 workers, including stonemasons, carpenters and artists. They fashioned the six-storey, 120-room-castle, complete with tunnels, a powerhouse, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, an Alster tower – the children’s playhouse – and a dovecote. The project started in the early 1900s, but in 1904 tragedy hit. Louise became ill and sadly passed away. George could not picture living in the castle without his love, so, he decided to cancel all the work and leave. He never set foot on the island again, thus leaving the structure of his beloved untouched for many years. 

It wasn’t until 1977 that the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property and restored it according to the original designs. The Boldt Castle Improvement Project continues to this day. While the whole castle isn’t completely finished, many of the rooms, including the family bedroom suites, the kitchen, dining room, ballroom, library, reception room, and the grand staircase, are fully renovated. Both the finished and unfinished areas are opened to the public.

For a self-guided tour, visitors can download the free app – available on the Apple AppStore and Google Play – which points out some unnoticeable details, such as the multiple hearts hidden in the marble work and throughout the castle, as well as the ideas that inspired the design of each room. I should warn you, though. Listening to the stories while visiting the rooms that George once hoped to enjoy with his family, will inevitably make you feel sad that they were never able to do so.  

The castle is not only beautiful but, so is the land it stands on. In fact, they even host wedding ceremonies. This romantic location was at the root of a love story, so why not choose it for a ceremony of love? While it is not possible to hold receptions on the property, weddings can take place in the dovecote, next to the Italian Gardens. If it rains, ceremonies can also be held in the covered veranda at the main castle.

The visit was one of my favourite parts of my mini-vacation. Even though I am usually not a fan of museums – I must admit that I even got bored at the Louvre, in France. Please don’t judge me, art is just not my thing – I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty, details, designs, as well as the epic story behind this building. 

My favourite room was the study. The detailed craftsmanship of the panels was amazing. It is a place where I would love to enjoy sitting to read a book by the fireplace or working at the desk. But, it also broke my heart to hear how George envisioned, one day, reading bed-time stories to his grandchildren in that room while sitting next to Louise.

If you would like to know more about this amazing castle or do a virtual tour, you can visit their website.

Ashley Cohen

Concordia CA '21

Ashley Cohen is a born Montrealer and studies English Literature at Concordia Unversity. She one day hopes to be a developmental editor for a big publishing house she now enjoys being a copy editor and honing in her skills. She is a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. She is passionate about books, food and animals especially her dog Chelsea.
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