Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thousand Island's Calumet Castle

by Susan G Mathis

During the Gilded Age, majestic Calumet Castle once graced the entry point to the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario. It was one of the first castles that the ocean-going ships saw as they traveled downriver from Lake Ontario through the Thousand Islands to the sea. And its story is fascinating.

New York City tycoon Charles G. Emery was a friend of George and Louise Boldt, who built Boldt Castle, still a major Thousand Islands tourist attraction today. Emery attended the couple’s wedding and the two men were members of the New York City yacht club, along with George Pullman.

As one of the pioneer developers of the Thousand Islands area, Emery purchased Powder Horn Island in 1882. Since the island reflected the shape of a peace pipe, he changed the name of the island to Calumet, a French word for the Native American ceremonial peace pipe.

Emery was impressed with George Pullman’s Castle Rest, the seven-story castle built on Pullman Island in 1888, about ten miles downriver. So, Emery wanted to create an equally imposing castle. The castle on Calumet Island was among the first such grand structures in the Thousand Islands region, predating the still-standing Boldt Castle.

Construction of Calumet Castle began in 1893 and was finished the following year. The completed castle had thirty room, including the largest private ballroom in New York. Several out buildings included a water tower, the caretakers home, a guesthouse, a boathouse, a men’s dormitory, and an ice house. My latest novel, Peyton’s Promise is set here.

Emery had a lagoon dredged out deep enough for his steam yachts and dozens of other boats. When there was a storm, the islanders knew they were free to seek shelter in its harbor.

Guests to Calumet Island arrive at the main dock and ascend a long walkway through the woods rising to the castle. At the castle’s massive stone paved terrace, guests can view the expansive verandas leading to the main entrance. On the veranda high above the river and treetops, guests could see the elaborate gardens and manicured lawns below as well as the village of Clayton. To the Northeast, they could catch a glimpse of the massive white Frontenac Hotel downriver.

In 1956, the castle burned to the ground, leaving only rubble and the outbuildings intact. Today, the owners live in the caretaker’s cottage and host a multitude of guests, still leaving the harbor available for those who seek shelter from the summer storms.

About Peyton’s Promise:

book 3 of the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series

Summer 1902

Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position of upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.

Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter and Peyton’s childhood chum, hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice have each won multiple awards, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, comes out May 2022 with Rachel’s Reunion in November. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and Reagan’s Reward, are also award winners.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling the world. Visit for more.

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