Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fascinating Transportation methods used to arrive at Singer Castle, Dark Island

(Be sure to click on the photos to see them larger.)

Many forms of transportation have been used to reach the rocky shores of Dark Island in the St. Lawrence River.  When they used the island as a summer hunting and fishing ground, Native Americans came in their birch bark canoes.  Traces of their occupation such a granite grindstone can still be seen.  During the construction of Frederick Bourne's "small hunting lodge" in the early 1900s, workmen arrived by skiff, by scow, by barge, and in winter by sleigh and by foot across the ice.

Commodore Bourne and his family, all of whom were boating enthusiasts, reached the island in motor launches such as the 60' "Dark Island" and over the years family members owned a variety of boats in all sizes and types including a series of boats for racing in the Frontenac Gold Cup [upon further investigation, it was not the Gold Cup that she won -rjm*] and other races that were held yearly in the 1000 Islands.   Daughter Marjorie won the 1909 Gold Cup Race [*it was not the Gold Cup] in the "Moike" a 36' racing boat she received for her 16th birthday.  The "Moike" is now in the collection of the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton.  Commodore Bourne even brought his larger yachts such as the 81' Artemis and later his 111' steam yacht named the "Sioux" to Dark Island.  The boats were stored in the island's two boathouses and skiff house.   The most unusual craft in the Bourne's collection was an electric gondola that was used to transport guests from the dock in Chippewa Bay to his castle.

In the present day, guests come to the island by boats large and small: canoes, personal watercraft, kayaks, motorboats, fishing boats, dive boats, antique boats, cigarette boats, cabin cruisers, shuttles, tour boats, cruise ships, and even tall ships come to the shores of  Dark Island.  Overnight guests to the castle have even arrived by helicopter and most recently a newlywed couple who had spent the night in the castle's Royal Suite departed from the island by seaplane.  The nine passenger single engine plane chartered from Carson Air in Toronto picked up the guests on the calm July morning and flew them to Ottawa, Canada for a flight to Los Angeles by private jet.  The conditions on the river were superb, no wind and total calm on the water allowed the plane to land and take off from Singer Castle's south dock with ease.

Singer Castle is open for guided tours daily through Labor Day and weekends and by appointment in the fall. Come to the island in whatever size boat you have available.  We will welcome you 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. or come and spend the evening in our Royal Suite.  Call 1-877-327-5475 (Singer Castle) for more information. (This news dispatch was submitted directly from Dark Island by Jean Papke, assistant to the president of Singer Castle, Tom Weldon.)