Imatges de pÓgina

working within the wall had, during the short interval of his absence, effected their escape by climbing it. The feat had been accomplished by slinging a large stone with a rope attached to it over the wall, climbing the rope after they had got it firm, and dropping down by it on the outside. When the guard returned the rope was still hanging, and was made fast at the top by being passed through a space between two stones where the mortar had fallen away. In consequence of this escape a thorough examination of the walls was instituted a few years ago, and all parts which had been affected by time, or appeared in any way dilapidated, were put in complete repair. The outside of the enclosure wall is taken up on two sides by wharves, at which vessels are constantly calling for stone from the quarries belonging to the Penitentiary. These are situated a short distance from the building, and are connected with it by means of tramways built upon a plane slightly inclined, so that the transportation of the stone from its natural bed to the place of shipment is effected with comparatively slight labour.

The other institution-the Rockwood Asylum is situated at the water's edge, at no great distance to the west of the Penitentiary; the ground on which it stands presenting to the view of one approaching it from the water exactly what its name imports-a wood springing from a rock. The shore close to the water is formed of layer upon layer of solid sedimentary rock, which in the lapse of ages has been worn and broken away by the unceasing dash of the waves, leaving the edges jagged and uneven. Above, the bank slopes gradually upward, and the soil, though not more than five or six feet in depth, produces vegetation in abundance. The building, constructed chiefly of stone, is a handsome and spacious one, and standing as it does in the midst of pleasant groves and grassy slopes, with the blue expanse of lake stretching away in its rear, possesses all the advantages of peaceful retirement so essential to an institution of its character. On entering the building one is pleased to find that the tranquil beauty of the surrounding scenery is not marred by the appearance of its interior. The corridors, which are most ample, are kept scrupulously clean and neat, while in every nook and corner may be seen geraniums and other flowers, tended by the hands of the patients;

and it is only the sight of the unfortunate inmates themselves that detracts from the charm of the pervading beauty, and overpowers one with an undefinable feeling of heartfelt pity for creatures who, labouring under the greatest misfortune that can befall humanity, are yet unconscious of their loss. The treatment of the patients by the Superintendent, and by the keepers under his direction, is most humane, and they are allowed to enjoy many indulgences which tend to lighten the weary load of their life of captivity.

Kingston is remarkable for the extreme beauty of its general appearance; indeed I know not of any city on the Canadian lakes which can claim superiority over it in this respect. Nature, in endowing it with beauty, has compensated in some measure for the sluggish character of its trade. outskirts of the city, especially at the western quarter, are situated charming country villas, substantially and ornamentally constructed, and nestling amid abundance of tastefully planted trees and shrubs. These are, for the most part, the residences of gentlemen who have retired from active life, and been attracted by the beauty of the spot to their present abodes. The view on the water is even more lovely than that on the land. All along, the shore is indented by small bays and inlets, and these, together with the well-wooded islands, numbers of which lie within easy rowing distance of the city, form enchanting resorts for pic-nic and other pleasure parties. The fishing about Kingston, though formerly among the best to be had in the St. Lawrence, has of late years been gradually deteriorating, owing to the numbers of eager sportsmen who have waged war against the inhabitants of the "choice spots" in its neighbourhood.

Taking leave of Kingston, I will attempt to give some description of the scenes that are met with on the downward passage of the river through the Thousand Isles. The views that meet the eye when rushing through the Isles at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, on board one of the fast mail steamers which ply between the Upper and Lower Provinces, are frequently eulogized in the most enthusiastic terms by persons who have had only this cursory view of them; but it is difficult to believe that such persons can have a true appreciation of the charm which invests picturesque nature.

Those who endeavour to combine business and pleasure almost invariably fail in thoroughly transacting the former, while they are rendered in a great measure incapable of appreciating the latter. To enjoy to the full the charms of scenery, to feel in its full effect the pleasure which results from the contemplation of a lovely landscape, the mind must be unburdened by cares or perplexities of any kind. No thought of business, no anxieties about the past or future, must be allowed to intrude. Nature denies her sweets to a soul but half devoted to herself. The intellectual part of the mind must be subordinated to the sensuous-the eye for the nonce allowed a higher place than the reason. But after the eye has taken in the appearance, after the pleasure which the sense affords has been fully experienced, then it becomes the task of the higher faculties-and imagination at the head of them-to enhance by endless chains of association and fancy the charm which the sense has introduced. I conceive, then, that the only true way of obtaining an adequate idea of the Thousand Isles, and of their exquisite and variegated loveliness, is by devoting to them a trip taken exclusively for the pleasure of seeing nature in her pristine beauty, and making a some what protracted stay among them.

Though the principal part of my experience of the Isles has been obtained when on camping excursions among them in a small pleasure yacht, yet I have frequently passed through them on board the mail steamer, and enjoyed from its deck the view, though very imperfect, which can thence be obtained. To one making the trip in this manner the appearance presented is that of an ever-changing panorama. At one moment the boat is gliding noiselessly over the placid, untroubled surface of a calm, deep river, dotted in all directions with myriads of islands, covered with luxuriant verdure, interspersed with vines and creepers of varied tint, the whole shaded and draped by the pendant foliage of umbra geous trees, whose drooping boughs in many places sweep the very sides of the boat as she slips swiftly by. In an instant the scene changes. Shooting rapidly towards a barrier composed seemingly of rocks and trees mingled in wild confusion, rushing apparently into the very jaws of destruction-just when one expects to be dashed upon the

rocks, the barrier seems suddenly to melt away, a passage opens as if by magic, and in a moment, from the placid current through which she has been gliding, the boat, sweeping round an unseen bend, is whirled and tossed in a raging torrent, the waves foaming on all sides of her, and bristling with jagged points of rock which seem to threaten destruction in every quarter.

Such is the impression left on the mind of one who has seen the Islands only from the deck of a passing boat. All is to him indistinct. Having passed through hurriedly, he has had no time to observe anything minutely. A conception of scenery of surpassing grandeur-wild beyond belief in some places, tranquil beyond thought in others-is created in his mind; but so indistinct and confused that he is unable to pass beyond the general idea of the sublime, and give, with any degree of coherence, a description of the view which has been presented to him.

From a trip taken in a pleasure yacht with a select company of friends, on the other hand, the excursionist returns impressed, not only with the general grandeur of the scenery, but bearing in his memory also distinct mental pictures of endless charming inlets and secluded nooks, far removed from the noisy path of the steamline traffic, the charms of which have been enhanced to him by the companionship of kindred spirits, and able to analyze with the minutest detail the beauties he has beheld. The impression of the Isles thus created is that which gives the truest idea of their beauties.

On leaving Kingston, the course for a stretch of two miles or so lies over the open water of the harbour. Then rounding the rugged bluff on the left, from the summit of which frowns Fort Henry, the tourist finds himself in a lovely still lagoon, sheltered from the rough water of the harbour without by a rock-bound island, and formed by a long receding bay, the shores of which rise on all sides to heights varying from fifty to a hundred feet. This island, which is called Cedar, from the number of trees of that species which cover it, is the first true type of the group of Thousand Isles met with in the downward passage of the river. It is densely wooded from its highest point to the water's edge-a very nemorosa Zacynthus."


After leaving this island, the view met with for some distance, though sufficiently beautiful, offers no striking points of difference from the general character of the St. Lawrence scenery. The river is of considerable width, and though the main stream is severed into smaller channels by the interposition of some few large islands, its course is clearly defined. At a distance of twenty miles below lies the village of Gananoque, so named from an Indian word signifying "rocks in deep water," and it is here that the scenery first assumes the characteristic aspect of the Thousand Islescharacteristic inasmuch as it is not possible to point to any other place on the continent where scenery of the same description is to be met with. The Hudson views are lovely, yet the peculiar type of the Hudson scenery is widely different from that of this part of the St. Lawrence. The peaceful woodland scenery of the Cumberland Lakes is enchanting, yet its charms are not those which invest these gorse-clad Isles. And yet, though it may seem paradoxical to say so, the Thousand Isles combine in themselves the various features of the scenery both of the Hudson and the English Lakes. Indeed, it is the constant variety of the views among the Islands that constitutes one of their chief attractions. From one point of view the tourist sees the stately grandeur of a majestic stream, gliding peacefully between banks of quiet loveliness, a fitting

"Emblem of life, which still as we survey

Seems motionless, yet ever glides away." From another point, the river, or rather the only part of it visible, presents the appearance of a sequestered lake, unruffled by the passage of any current, and embosomed among lofty hills, whose sides, rising abruptly to an imposing height, shut out all signs of connection with the river without; while nestling on the quiet surface fantastic

"Isles are seen,

All lovely set within an emerald sea.”

From other points, again, views may be ob

tained of the river transformed into a roaring torrent, pouring its boiling waters over the half-immersed rocks with an impetuosity which calls to mind the turbulent rapids of Niagara,

'Bursting in grandeur from its vantage ground" sixty leagues above.

During the summer months glimpses may be caught at intervals, among the Isles, of the snowy canvas of visitors' tents shining through the leaves upon some grassy knoll, or nestling half-hidden in some sheltered alcove, and the effect of the sheet of white against the dark-green background of pine and fir is picturesque in the extreme. It frequently happens that several parties pitch their tents within a few miles of one another, and when this is the case it is customary for the campers to assemble in the evenings round the camp fire of each of the neighbours in turn, and there, while the ruddy flame crackles cheerily in the midst, sending up showers of sparks as each fresh log is thrown on, to recount their day's adventures, while the joke and song and laugh go round, till old St. Lawrence's time-worn woods resound and ring again.

Some of the names of the islets and bends of the stream are exceedingly quaint-as "Fiddler's Elbow," and "Devil's Oven." The former designation is applied to a crook in the stream somewhat resembling the human elbow. The current at the spot is very rapid, causing a constant ripple on the surface, which somewhat resembles the vibratory motion seen in the arm of a fiddler while performing on his instrument. The name "Devil's Oven" is applied to a dark, gloomy cave which opens in the end of one of the small islands in the vicinity of Alexandria Bay.

The island itself is included under the name. Its sides rise almost perpendicularly, and are composed of large upon one another, rendering the place, on stones curiously fitted together and piled the whole, not unlike that indispensable article of domestic economy after which it has been named. Why the construction of this "oven" should be attributed to the agency of his Satanic Majesty, or what purpose that august personage could have had to serve in establishing his culinary apparatus in so bizarre a location, it is difficult to conjecture. Perhaps it may have been that those who named the islet considered that no one but the potent lord of fire could make that element available to perform any culinary operation in a spot where there was so great an opposing aqueous influence to be contended with. Whether the architecture of this "oven" is to be credited to supernal or infernal agency, it has already stood at least one mortal in good stead, for it is re

lated that it was in this cavern that the adventurer Johnson, who made himself notorious by his depredations during the Canadian rebellion of 1838, took refuge when separated from his followers and closely pursued by Canadian soldiery. If, then, the originators of the name were correct in their surmises as to the author of the cave, we have at least one instance of the arch enemy having shown himself clemently inclined towards a dweller on our sphere, for this Johnson is believed to have emerged from his temporary sojourn in the unpleasantly suggestive receptacle he had chosen for his hiding place no whit the worse for his temerity.

It would hardly be believed by one who had not attempted the passage, into what labyrinthine channels the water forms itself in traversing the Islands, and the difficulty one experiences in finding the way among them. On one occasion, although all the members of our party had made frequent trips among the Isles, we found ourselves, after venturing somewhat farther from the Canadian shore than had been our wont on former trips, in a large bay, to all appearance completely landlocked, except on the side by which we had entered, some seven miles above, and despite our most careful search we were unable to discover any place of egress below. It was only after receiving the fullest directions from a cottager, whose house we found on a small island at hand, that we at length discovered a narrow channel between two islands, which led back to Canadian waters. And yet, when it is considered that the islands are nearly two thousand in number, and that the river where they are thickest is upwards of ten miles in width, it is not surprising that considerable difficulty should be experienced in threading a path among them.

The part of the river which contains the Islands is generally known as the "Lake of the Thousand Isles." It extends about thirty miles in length by eight or ten in breadth. But to an inhabitant of the Islands, or one who is well acquainted with them, the name "Lake of the Thousand Isles" has a different signification-that is, not the sheet of water that contains the isles, but one of much less dimensions which is contained by them. This lesser lake, sometimes called "The Lake of the Island," is eight miles in length, and varies

in breadth at different spots from two miles to fifty or sixty yards. It is situated in Wells' Island, nearly opposite Alexandria Bay, and is accessible by water by only two entrances-the one at the lower end being half a mile in width, that at the upper scarcely twenty yards. This lake, with the narrow channel by which it is approached from the west, exhibits a very curious natural conformation. The channel, which is over a mile in length, seems to have been formed by some mighty commotion of the earth at this spot in long past ages, its entrance being through a rift in the solid rock, and its passage for some distance between rocky walls which rise perpendicularly to a height of over fifty feet. The entrance to the channel, which lies at the bottom of a long bay about twelve miles below Gananoque, is so screened from view by the abundance of foliage which overhangs it, that it is not till within a few yards that one becomes aware of its existence It is in the passage of this channel, and of the lake to which it leads, that the wildest scenery of the Islands is met with. The high gloomy rocks, rising in rugged grandeur far above the head, frown over a swift black flood of water, the sullen depths of which suggest that the shock which rent the rocks above continued the rift far below the surface of the stream. The lake itself is surrounded on all sides by high, uneven shores, clad with pine and hemlock, while here and there upon its surface small islands appear, also thickly wooded. The lake and its upper channel form the choice fishing-ground of the Thousand Isles, abounding in bass, pike, and maskalonge. Many a morning, at the earliest gleam of day, have I started with my trolling tackle for the channel entrance, bent upon luring from their lurking places some of the veteran monsters which I knew well were lying in wait among the rocks and weeds below. Having carefully adjusted my hooks, I would row into the channel, and dipping the oars as quietly as possible, proceed stealthily down its centre. For a short time all would be unbroken silence; then-zip-a hungry maskalonge would strike the spoon, and a dozen yards of line would spin out from the reel with the rapidity of lightning. Then, when the line offered resistance to his further course in that direction, suddenly the tension would cease, and I would be under the ap

prehension that my antagonist had escaped; but no-in a moment away flies the line in another direction, and the fish, a second time brought up, makes a more violent effort than the first. Again the rush is made, and again the check is applied. Thus the struggle is continued, the resistance of the fish growing, after a short interval, more and more enfeebled at each succeeding effort, until at length he is landed, panting and gasping, on the floor of the boat.

So thick do the fish, especially large pike, lie in the lake and its channel, that it is a very rare occurrence for a troller to go over fifty yards without having a run. During the fishing season the wide waters of the lower part of the Great Lake are infested with boats bearing lovers of the "gentle art." The troller is constantly exchanging with some brother angler the well-known query, "What sport?" And it is seldom indeed that the answer is other than most satisfactory. Bass, pickerel, and pike are the most abundant species met with, and these vary in size from one or two to ten or twelve pounds. But the interest of the angler is concentrated, not so much upon the fish of this kind which he may catch, as upon the hope of being fortunate enough to hook a specimen of that king of American fresh water fish, the maskalonge. He who has managed to land in safety a forty pounder of this species is regarded among the Islands as the hero of the season. Besides the fishing, there is very fair shooting, the principal game being partridge and wild ducks.

Directly across from Wells' Island, on the American shore, lies the flourishing little village of Alexandria Bay, containing a population of some five hundred. It is pleasantly situated in the immediate vicinity of the most beautiful scenery of the Islands, and occupies with American visitors much the same position that Kingston does with Canadian, being the point from which tourists from the American side can most advantageously start for the purpose of viewing the Isles. But there is this difference between Kingston and Alexandria Bay, regarded as starting points, that whereas the former is some twenty miles from the thickest part of the Isles, and a tourist visiting them thence is obliged, unless he intends devoting a week or two to his trip, to do so

by steamboat, the latter lies in the very midst of them, and allows of their being visited from it in a skiff.

A noticeable feature of Alexandria Bay is "The Thousand Island House," an hotel which, whether for magnificence of appearance, excellence of management, or ampleness of accommodation, would do credit to the largest city in America. The existence of such an hotel in such a place is a striking example of that spirit of pushing energy which characterizes the American people. The hotel is large enough to accommodate the entire population of the village in which it is situated, and is fitted with all modern conveniences; so that visitors find themselves as comfortably housed and as carefully attended to as at the most fashionable hotel of New York.

Thus at present lie the Thousand Islands in all their matchless beauty. But it is to be feared their beauty will be sadly marred before the lapse of another short decade, for already the intruding hand of petty utility has begun to leave its traces on them. The puny and stunted but picturesque trees, so important an accessory to the wild beauty of the Isles, but so utterly worthless for any purposes of commerce, are falling

on all sides before the ruthless axes of the islanders. Almost every islet, no matter how small, is now disfigured by piles of miniature cordwood. The sound of the woodman's axe is heard incessantly ringing through the ancient stillness of their secluded shores, and civilization seems determined to plant its ameliorating foot in the very midst of this New World paradise.

Many of the islands belong to private individuals; the remainder are Government property; and it is to be regretted that the owners, whether the Government or individuals, do not take active measures to stop the disfigurement which is at present going on, and to prevent any future acts of the like nature. Should no steps of the kind be taken-should the Goths who are at present at work be allowed to continue their labour of desecration,-the far-famed Thousand Isles, at present a worthy subject of pride to the country in which they are situated, will in a few brief years become mere unsightly blotches of barren rock, disfiguring the surface of the noble stream, to the manifold beauties of which they at present lend such exquisite enhancement.

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