I am doing my best to enjoy my last months in the Foreign Service, which for the most part means enjoying where I am, which is Ottawa, Canada. It’s an easy area to like. It’s pretty country. The people are friendly. There are good museums and good parks and interesting events. One of the places I’ve wanted to go for some time is the 1000 islands, which is 1800 islands in the St. Lawrence river between the U.S. and Canada.
Cruise boats ply the river among the islands, and I’ve meant to take one a few times, but weather or timing stopped me, until recently when the CLO sponsored a trip to two of the biggest islands and their castles.
First was Boldt Castle. Built as a tribute to one man’s love for his wife, he actually shut down construction when she unexpectedly passed and it sat derelict for decades. Now being restored and completed, it’s in U.S. waters so we actually had to pass through passport control and customs to get on the island. Not just a “castle”, the Boldt is a complex of building on this island (Heart Island, because it’s shaped like a heart…the Valentines kind, not the middle of your chest kind) and another nearby, where there is a giant boathouse. Then there’s the grand entrance by water designed to look like a cross between the Arc du Triumphe and something from a castle on the Rhine. It was to lead up past a gazebo and into a grand staircase, but the grand staircase was never completed, and only the ruins of the stone which was to be used to build it remains on the island.
.They’re working on restoring the interior with period pieces, since the original owner never reached the point of furnishing it, This stained glass dome is over the main staircase.
.The secret stairwell of Singer Castle.
.Next is Singer Castle, built as a summer retreat. The bridge and tower to the right was the covered entrance for people arriving by boat.
.The library in Singer Castle. I want a library like this.