Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Summer Galas in the 1900 Thousand Islands

By Susan G Mathis

The turn of the twentieth century witnessed an era of opulence and grandeur, especially in the scenic splendor of the Thousand Islands. Nestled between the United States and Canada, this area became a haven for the elite seeking respite from the bustling cities. Among the many extravagant events that defined the social calendar, the Summer Galas of the 1900s emerged as glittering spectacles that combined luxury, leisure, and the charm of the Thousand Islands.

Affluent families and socialites from both sides of the border would sail on luxurious yachts to reach the enchanting islands. Hosted in sprawling mansions or elegant resorts, these galas were a celebration of the natural beauty surrounding the guests. The allure of the Thousand Islands Summer Galas was not just the picturesque setting but also the high-profile attendees. Industrial tycoons, politicians, and celebrities of the time would grace these events with their presence. The social elite would converge on the islands, showcasing their latest fashion trends and engaging in lively conversations against the backdrop of the shimmering St. Lawrence River.

Women adorned themselves in elegant evening gowns with high necklines, delicate lace, and elaborate accessories. Men, on the other hand, sported impeccably tailored tuxedos and top hats, reflecting the refined tastes of the Gilded Age.

Live orchestras would serenade the guests as they danced under the starlit sky, the gentle rustle of the leaves and the lapping of the river creating a symphony of nature. Fireworks displays over the water added a magical touch to the evenings, making the Summer Galas unforgettable affairs.

Lavish feasts were prepared, featuring the finest ingredients of the time. Fresh seafood from the surrounding waters, exotic fruits, and delectable desserts graced the tables, tantalizing the taste buds of the privileged attendees.

These events became a symbol of the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the elite during the Gilded Age. Today, remnants of that opulent era can still be seen in the grand mansions that once hosted these galas, standing as silent witnesses to a bygone era of elegance and extravagance.

As we reflect on this era, the remnants of the opulent gatherings continue to captivate our imagination, reminding us of a time when the Thousand Islands truly lived up to its name as a paradise for the privileged.
Have you ever been to a ball? Leave your answer or comments on the post below and join me on February 19th for my next post.


Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a 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 become the talk of local gossips.


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


  1. I've seen those islands when I've visited my brother-in-law who lives on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence. Do you know when all that entertaining ended and why? Was it the depression? I think I'm going to use some of this info in my wip.

  2. Thank you for posting today. I've never been to a ball, nor a fancy dance of any kind. Square dancing was my kind of fun back in the day. I was never great at it, but it was fun to try!