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Local History

Thousand Islands Region - St. Lawrence River

Social Era - (excerpt from larger article, which can be found HERE)

The popularity of the islands developed shortly after the Civil War. As transportation improved, sportsmen began to travel to Alexandria Bay where fishing was considered excellent (Anonymous Canadian Handbook and Tourist Guide, 1867). More and more travel was being experienced on the St. Lawrence as the tranquility of the islands and the excitement of the rapids further down the river served to bring much recognition to the area (Perham's Pictorial Voyage, 1854). Realizing their beauty, wealthy sportsmen and gentlemen from the leading cities in the United States inquired about purchasing islands for themselves. Cornwall and Walton had cleared parts of several islands of timber and began selling these with the stipulation that every second island remain vacant and those purchased were to have a cottage erected within three years of purchase (Haddock, 1896).

George M. Pullman, of the sleeping car fame, fostered interest in the American sector, thus beginning the social era. In 1872, he invited General Grant, then running for the office of President, to his island home (Haddock, 1896). As an early supporter of the islands, Pullman approached Cornwall with his scheme, (Cook, 1935). "What we want to do, Andrew", he said, "is to make much of the General's visit here and it will advertise the islands as no other thing we can do. To have the President of the United States as our guest is quite an honour" (Cook, 1935).

Great interest was aroused by this visit. The press travelled with the President and after seeing the opulence of this small island community, they wrote articles in the papers of the leading cities of the United States. Interest in these articles was to culminate with plans for hotels to accommodate the influx of people who had read about the beautiful Thousand Islands for the first time (Haddock, 1896).