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A Birds Eye View Of The 1000 Islands Inspired By Commander Hadfield

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A view fit for the gods.

For 5 months Commander Chris Hadfield, grabbed our attention and inspired us to think differently about how we see our planet.  Everything from the natural beauty of our planet to the effects of global warming on the ice caps. He did it in part by getting up above the clouds and actually looking at the Earth as a whole as opposed to what we could see right in front of us. If you’ve not checked out the videos he recorded while in space you must, his version of Space Oddity is out of this world. I’m certainly no Chris Hadfield and chances of me ever going up in space are pretty slim, however I am inspired to take my own flight to the heavens. What better place than the 1000 Islands to open my eyes to their fullest. I wonder what I will see?

Flying above the 1000 Islands

With my trusty travel guide Cody from the 1000 Islands beside me we drive about 40 mins to Kingston Airport and meet up with the crew from Kouri’s Kopters who are making a special flight just for me today.

Marc and Cody


I’m pretty excited about going up in the air and surveying the islands. I’m actually buzzing with excitement and can barely contain myself. Our Chief Pilot Ken Samure and his co Pilot and boss Dave Kouri have thousands of hours experience flying helicopters and specialize in private fishing charters as well as aerial video and photographer tours. If I can’t get a good shot with Ken at the controls chances are I never could.

Up Up and away…

controls in our Helicopter

Cody and Marc

Up we go and over towards Gananoque we fly, through the mouth of the St Lawrence river where it meets Lake Ontario. The first major landmark I see is the Kingston Penitentiary, famous for housing some of Canada’s most notorious criminals. It looks very grey dull. What a waste of good waterfront though, perhaps the government should relocate it into the interior where the views aren’t quite so spectacular.

just leaving the Kingston Airport

Kingston Penitentiary

Not far away by helicopter is Fort Henry. Just as impressive from the air as it was from the ground but this provides such a unique perspective of the layout of the Fort. Defending us both from the water and from inland attack this Fort was built to keep us safe.

Fort Henry

Fort Henry from the air

Now it’s time to fly over the islands proper. From this height you can really see the variations in the water, depth as well as clarity. Apparently thanks to the invasive and non indigenous Zebra Mussels the normally muddy and silty waters are in pockets becoming clearer. The bright green blue around these two islands are a great representation of the changes being made to the St Lawrence by the Zebra Mussels.

variations in the water

variations in depth and water clarity in the St Lawrence

A few of the islands are large enough to sustain farms as well as stone quarries. In fact many of the buildings in Gananoque are made from stone quarried right from these islands.

Wellesley Island farms

wetlands on Wellseley Island

From this height and perspective the Islands and their “cottages” are even more impressive. Cruise Boats sailing through the waters appear like toy cars and kayakers are little slivers of colour on the water, yet these cottages fill up every square inch of the island and in some cases probably added to the Island.

Cruise Boat through the 1000 Islands

Kayakers paddling through the 1000 Islands

Private home in the 1000 Islands

On our way back to Kingston a small spec appeared on the horizon. As we drew near it it became clear we were witness to one of the Tall Ships sailing the St Lawrence. We are witnessing history and seeing how the St Lawrence was sailed in the early days of Canada.

Tall Ship sailing the St Lawrence

Just spectacular! I’m not sure if I’d ever tire of these views and the next time I’m back in Gananoque I’ll definitely book another flight over the islands. This time though Kouri’s Kopters will have a landing pad just outside of Gananoque so I’ll be able to fly further towards Montreal and see more of the eastern islands.

Town of Gananoque and future landing pad for Helicopters

Thanks to Kouri’s Kopters for treating me to such a special trip. It gets a big thumbs up from Cody and me!

Ken Samure and Dave Kouri of Kouri's Kopters

Thumbs up from Cody

My time in the 1000 Islands is almost at an end and it’s almost time to return to the big city. At least when I return to Ottawa I’ll be refreshed and relaxed. The 1000 Islands is fast becoming one of my favourite places in the world to be at during the summer. I might need to get friendly with some of the families that have “cottages” here Smile

If you’re enjoying the 1000 Islands as much as I am then you are in luck. They are holding a contest to win an Island for an entire week next year. The only catch is if you win you must take me! Just kidding but seriously if you win please take me!

Win this Isalnd

Visit 1000 Islands

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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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