Gordon Island: tranquil nature, unique geology, a 9,000 year history, a legacy of explorers of old, and the great river today
Gordon Island is unusual among the 1,865 islands of the Thousand Islands. Like only a handful of others, the surface bedrock is sandstone, less than half the age of the granite of the other islands. The sandstone is a layer just a few meters thick atop the granite. Near the main dock, there is a huge granite boulder, melted out of a receding glacier around 12,000 years ago. It sits atop the sandstone layer creating a “time sandwich”.
Because it is relatively flat, and because the sandstone weathers back to particles much easier than the usual granites of the Frontenac Arch, there is a greater build-up of soil on Gordon than on most other islands. The tree cover has been dominantly hardwoods, oaks in particular.
Gordon Island has been a summer campsite for First Nations for thousands of years; provides great fishing and views of the islands; has been a popular overnight campsite for explorers, traders and tourists. The island played an important role in the creation of the Thousand Islands National Park. By building campsites and access for public enjoyment of Gordon, the island was saved from private purchase and in the late 1800’s and inspired the federal government to create Canada’s first national park east of the Rockies. One of Thousand Islands National Park’s first picnic shelters, from 1905, still stands on the island providing a perfect vantage point for the tranquil and inspiring views of the Thousand Islands in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere.
Amazing Places, Amazing People
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Plan Your visit
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How to get to Gordon Island
Download FABN’s trail guide and map for exploring the Navy Islands, including Gordon Island
Driving: Access points from the mainland can be seen on the map above. The closest public access point to Gordon Island is at Grey’s Beach, a small rest area located about 3km east of Gananoque, just off the Thousand Islands Parkway. The island itself must be accessed by water.
Paddling: The map above shows all of the public access points close to Gordon Island. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere website features many paddling trails that will take you by Gordon Island. Click here for more information.
How to explore Gordon Island
Preview the scenery of Gordon Island before you go! Click Here to see images of the trails and surrounding landscape captured by Instant Street View.