The waters of Lake Ontario, the last one in the chain of the
Lakes of North America, flow past Amherst Island into the funnel
that becomes the St. Lawrence River with its thousand (actually
closer to 1850) islands. (We like to think of our island
as the First of the famed Thousand Islands.) The Island itself
shaped somewhat like a squid that is swimming away from Quinte's
Isle (a peninsula) in the southwest to the City of Kingston
(Ontario, Canada) on the north-eastern shore of the lake.
Amherst Island and its archipelago (Nut Island, Grape Island and
the Brother Islands) cover over 16,500 acres or 66 square
kilometers (25.8 square miles). The Island measures over 20 km
mi) in length from Bluff Point in the southwest to Amherst Bar in
northeast and over 7 km (4.4 mi) at its widest point across.
The resident population of some four hundred souls swells to
to one thousand during the summer months. The village of Stella
nestles around Stella Bay on the protected north central shore.
regular ferry service connects the mainland (from Millhaven) to
village (and the rest of the island).
The shoreline ranges from pebble and sandy beaches to limestone
bluffs. Most of the Island is undulating meadow and pasture.
However, remnants of mixed deciduous forest and other habitat
shelter and sustenance to deer, owls, and other wildlife.
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The Eastern Lake Ontario / Thousand
Amherst Island abuts Greater Kingston (Province of Ontario), the
hub of the region on the Canadian side. Island residents
shop in and participate in the cultural life of Greater Kingston,
and many work there. Administratively, however, the island is
of Loyalist Township in the County of Lennox and Addington with the county seat in
Napanee, 38 km (24 mi) west of Kingston.
The region is an important crossroads: The Macdonald-Cartier
Freeway (the '401') and trunk railway line connecting Toronto and
Montreal, as well as the route linking Ottawa with Syracuse and,
ultimately, New York and Washington, D.C. traverse the area and
offer excellent connections to these centres. Kingston Airport,
with scheduled flights to Toronto, can be reached from the
Island ferry in 20 minutes.
Queen's University in Kingston, rated one of the best in Canada,
enriches the academic and intellectual life of the region and has
spawned a number of high-tech enterprises. Kingston also hosts
major hospitals and correctional institutions. Important
manufacturing industries and employers include ALCAN and Dupont in Kingston,
KoSa and Bombardier in Millhaven, and Goodyear in Napanee.
In the rural
agriculture -- dairy and mixed farming -- retains pride of place.
The Canadian Armed Forces are prominent in the region. In
to the Royal Military College, Kingston hosts a large Forces
while a major air base is located at Trenton, 100 km (60 mi) west
The Thousand Islands are world famous, thus it is not surprising
that the region with its myriad islands, lakes and waterways, its
historical towns and cities, its rural charm and forested cottage
country plays host to many visitors. The North Channel
Amherst Island from the Mainland offers some of the finest
waters on the Continent. In 1976 Kingston hosted the sailing and
boating events of the Summer Olympic Games. The CORK regatta
place every August in Kingston and can be watched from vantage
points on the Island.
Across Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River lies the U.S.
portion of the region, with Watertown as its major hub. The two
parts of the region are connected by the Thousand Islands Bridge
spanning the St. Lawrence River at one of its most scenic spots.
A less well-known route links Kingston with Watertown more
directly, but takes longer: A ferry connects Kingston with Wolfe
Island; a second ferry (does not operate in winter) links the
island with Cape Vincent on the U.S. shore of Lake Ontario.
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In addition to its prolific bird
population, the Island is home
about five hundred deer, as well as raccoons and foxes. Coyotes
have also settled here and are the bane of the sheep farmers.
Neither groundhogs, skunks, nor blackflies are found on the
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The island enjoys warm summers and bracing winters. Lake Ontario
exerts a moderating influence during both seasons, giving the
island a longer frost-free season than the adjoining mainland
5), a fact much appreciated by gardeners. The 'lake effect' also
shifts the onset of spring and the end of fall by as much as two
weeks. This effect is most pronounced on the south shore of the
Island where the lilac will start blooming when the north shore
lilac has finished.
The prevailing winds come from the southwest, across the expanse
the lake. They moderate summer temperatures but give rise to
impressive surf in the late fall. The summer breezes also
discourage biting insects. Northerly winds prevail during the
winter months. Perhaps another 'lake effect' is the amount of
sunshine the island gets. Often the island basks in sunshine
the mainland is shrouded in clouds.
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