|President of 1000 Islands Cruises Rockport Boat Line|
"Personally I can attest to the magic of the 1000 Islands area. Having been born and raised in Montreal, I set off at the age of 18 to explore our great country. I have visited or lived in most provinces and I can honestly say that this region is a true paradise. I have been here now over 20 years and would never dream of living and working anywhere else."
The riverside village of Rockport has been a hub for St. Lawrence River and 1000 Islands passenger cruises since the early 1950s. Rockport Boat Line (1994) Ltd. continues to offer a wide variety of sight-seeing tours, including lunch and dinner excursions, and provides tour service in 13 languages.
More than 200,000 people from around the world board Kathleen Allen's tour boats each year to take in the islands. That's no small number.
"We're the largest tourist destination in the county. Bringing this many people into the area can only benefit the county," Kathleen Allen says. And for this energetic businesswoman, it's not just about her operation but about attracting people to the community at large and the region as a whole.
"There's a lot of history. The village is rich with it and we've worked with the Rockport Development Group to enhance some of the heritage," Allen says, pointing out a beautification project the group has overseen over the last few years. Allen started the group with Carol Sudds. Others have joined and Allen says it has put a positive spotlight on the village.
"We're not just about boat tours. It's about the waterfront and enjoying the view and experiencing our local heritage. The focus should be on our entire community."
"There are people as close as Kingston who didn't know about Rockport until we started getting publicity through RDG's village enhancements," says Allen.
"It really is the heart of the 1000 islands. Just stop and ask any tourist if they've seen anything as beautiful as the islands here. The natural beauty, coupled with the small village atmosphere, I just think it's an ideal combination."
Rockport Boat Line offers an excursion called the Two Castle Tour of both Boldt and Singer castles where passengers can enjoy a self-guided tour of Boldt in the morning, lunch on deck, followed by a guided tour of Singer Castle in the afternoon.
"There's no one else doing (two-castle tours) on the Canadian side," notes Allen.
1000 Islands Cruises Rockport Boat Line has three tour boats, ranging in size from a 100-passenger to a 300-passenger. The company caters to both groups tours and families.
In conjunction with the tours, Allen says the company also operates The Boathouse Country Inn, Cornwall's Pub, The Boathouse Inn, an eight-room motel with three bed and breakfast-styled suites, and the Island View Restaurant, formerly called the Ship's Galley. This waterfront eatery has been renamed in honour of the former Island View Hotel which stood on the site from 1880 to 1936 before being torn down. The Ship's Boutique is being renamed Root's General Store, the name it carried in the early 20th century. The community's heritage is reflected on photo and hand-painted murals throughout the village. These can be seen while taking a Rockport Walking Tour. These tours have been spearheaded by the Municipal Heritage Committee of Leeds and the Thousand Islands.
"We are ambassadors of our region, making welcome all visitors, exceeding their expectations and facilitating fond memories of the 1000 Islands Region," says Allen.
In addition to welcoming visitors we have also developed a regional partnering program that encourages cross promotion between area businesses, B&B's, campgrounds, visitor centres, hotels and resorts. By partnering with area businesses, we can showcase our unique and beautiful region as the perfect place to stay and play.
"It is interesting to note that many of our partners discovered this region as a visitor, fell in love with the area and decided to stay."
Kathleen Allen is proud to do business in Leeds and Grenville.
23 Front Street, Rockport