It's our second day in Clayton, and today's agenda starts with a visit to George Boldt's castle.
Yesterday, we toured La Duchesse, Boldt's houseboat, now permanently docked at the Antique Boat Museum. Boldt was the ultra-rich New York hotel magnate who spent his summers in the 1000 Islands. Apart from the 106-foot houseboat, Boldt commissioned a 127-room, six-story residence on Heart Island for the love of his life, his wife, Louise. It would be one of the largest private residences every built in this country. At least, that was the plan.
Work began in 1900, involving hundreds of workers and tradesmen. Then, unexpectedly, in 1904 Louise Boldt died, and Boldt ordered all work to cease. Boldt himself would never return to Heart Island. Almost 75 years later, a group acquired the deteriorating structure and started restoration. Today you can get a sense of Boldt's vision .
Tours of the castle are only available by boat, so we begin by visiting Clayton Islands Tours. Adjacent to the tour office is Kay’s Kitchen, a food truck that offers passengers picnic lunches to go. Pam and I opt for chicken tenders, and just the aromas make me ready to eat right now. It’s another gloriously sunny day, and not quite as hot. Picture perfect for a boat ride.
Normally, Heart island would be crowded, but since Canadians are in lockdown in response to COVID, it's not quite as busy. We depart the boat and head for the castle, tour tickets in hand. The first two floors have been restored to their original design, as have the grounds around. One can only imagine the full opulence Boldt had in mind to honor his wife.
One question visitors ask is the origin of Thousand Island Dressing. There’s some dispute, but the prevailing story is that it was the creation of a fishing guide’s wife in the early 1900s. Regardless, it did come to the attention of Boldt, who ordered it placed on the menu at his Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York.
Ready? Let's start the tour...
Photos by North Palm Beach Life