The Language of Love

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Alright men, we have a troublemaker in our midst. Yes, that's right, a troublemaker. It seems that someone is trying to make us all look bad in front of our womenfolk, and we simply ought not be putting up with it. This agitator is none other than George C. Boldt.

George C. Who, you ask? Let me explain. In my amnesiac manner, I'll occasionally remember to make Donna a cup of tea, or offer to give her a back rub, or even buy her flowers (although she's not a big fan of flowers and generally tells me not to do it again when I do buy them). It's just some of the little things that you do for those whom you care about.

But not George C. Boldt. When he was trying to impress his wife Louise, did he buy her flowers or chocolates? Oh no, he went and bought her a heart-shaped island in the St Lawrence River and then proceeded to build her her own medievial castle! He even got the stonemasons, glaziers and designers to place heart shaped logos and monograms throughout the building. Ain't love grand?

George Boldt was originally a penniless immigrant from Prussia, but worked his way up through the hotel industry until he eventually owned several posh New York hotels, most notably the Waldorf Astoria. This of course made him a very wealthy man. In fact, a very, very, very wealthy man. He splashed his money around on such toys as yachts, houses, even his own golf club. He owned quite a lot of land in the Thousand Islands area, including several islands, and huge chunks of the larger Wellesley island. And when he wanted to declare his unbounded love for his darling wife Louise he started to build her a full-on castle mansion on Heart Island, just off the shore from Alexandria Bay. There was no expense spared. The best craftspeople were hired, using the best materials, and the castle quickly took shape.

Then, about 2 million dollars into the project, just as things seemed to be going so well, Louise died suddenly. Naturally George was heartbroken, and within an hour of her death he ordered all work on the castle to stop, and that was the end of it. He never returned to the island, and basically just abandoned the whole castle project. It was just left to rot.

The castle sat vacant and unused for the next 77 years, during which time it got weathered and vandalised, until it was bought and taken over by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority. They are now slowly restoring the castle to its former grandeur.

We took a cruise to the castle with The Robs to see it for ourselves. The cruise out there was very pleasant, and the only hiccup was with the US Customs on Heart Island. The island is part of US territory, so you need to actually do a US immigration check as you arrive. The Robs had not yet been on American soil during this trip so they neede to fill out and process their US visa waivers. And ours had expired on our last trip to Michigan, so we also had to renew ours. What is it with US Customs officials? How does the US Customs do such a good job at employing people with no people skills or sense of humour? Could it actually be a job requirement to be abrupt, paranoid and humourless? Anyway, after a 45 minute wait we eventually got processed and were allowed to leave the dock (we were only given 2 hours on the island in total, so I was a bit miffed that these beaurocrats had taken up such a sizable chunk of that time). Rob was even made to erase some of his video footage in case it presented a threat to US homeland security. Apparently the sign above the Customs Office saying "Welcome to the United States" actually means "Do not film this sign or we will confiscate your camera". Must be an American translation thing.

Anyway, all that aside, the castle was quite amazing. Only the first floor, the exterior, and some of the ground had been restored so far, but it was easy to see just how opulent this place would have been had it been completed. The place was appointed with furniture and fittings that either belonged to the Boldts or their family, and the restoration was kept as true to the intended original as possible. From the huge grand staircase, to the vaulted glass dome, to the private underground swimming pool, to the offshore powerhouse castle... It really is quite amazing what one can do when one has money.

I guess chocolates only get eaten and flowers only wilt and die. Perhaps a castle really is the gift that keeps on giving... Just don't get your hopes up Dons.

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