Upper Upstate NY: 1,864 Islands Straddle US Canadian Border

When someone says Upstate New York, most people think of the Finger Lakes, Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo – that region – but if you take a look at a map, you’ll see these cities are actually closer to the center of the state than they are the northern tip.

This small island is on sale for 995k. Any takers?

My theory for this misunderstanding comes from the tendency for those that live in Manhattan to label anything north of New York City as “upstate,” a mindset that is somewhat understandable and somewhat counterproductive to the state’s fruition as a whole.

For now, I suppose we can refer to the northern most part of the state as “Upper Upstate.”

The St. Lawrence River begins at the northeast corner of Lake Ontario, snaking its way toward Quebec City through Montreal, and serves as the border between Ontario and New York. Known as the Thousand Islands Seaway or the St. Lawrence Waterway, the region consists of 1864 islands, and the US/Canadian border zig-zags through the middle of it all. What constitutes an island? Two things: It must be above water 365 days a year and support at least two living trees.

This island straddles the border between US and Canada.

Two of the more well known islands house Boldt and Singer castles, which I will feature in a story tomorrow along with my favorite town in the area, Alexandria Bay. But no matter where you launch from, getting out on the water is a necessity. If not, you’re missing out on what makes the destination worth visiting – a boat rental or tour should be your first priority.

Some of the islands are open to the public for camping or cottage rentals, others are open for historical tours (such as Boldt and Singer). That said, I found myself really enjoying the private islands as well – it was sort of like driving through a wealthy neighborhood to admire houses I could never afford, or walking the streets at dusk to peek into the windows of houses I’ll never step foot in (and I mean that in the most innocent, non-creepy way possible). Seriously, you can cruise right by some of these multi-million dollar properties, and it was hard not to daydream about what life upon one of these islands would be like.

Here are a few photos of the Seaway. It’s incredibly clean and crisp, the water blueish green at times, and we were treated to incredible weather in the mid-70s. I’ve uploaded an album full of photos to Wake and Wander’s Facebook page – head on over and take a look.

Map of New York State.
Map showing the location of the Thousand Islands Seaway.
One of the amazing houses on a private island in the Seaway.

This island straddles the border between US and Canada.
One of the smallest islands in the Seaway.

One comment

  1. Is there any chance you could give me some details or extra information about your map of the seaway itself? Is that just the seaway or a particular shipping route? Where did you get the image? (I am a student working on a project in the area.)


    Thank you!

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