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Bay of Quinte and Thousand Islands - Sensational Summer Migration

Solace at AnchorEach summer, in a Canadian cruising tradition, thousands of Western Lake Ontario sailors join the annual summer migration to the Bay of Quinte and the Thousand Islands.  The route,  for most of us, begins somewhere in the heavily populated environs of the Greater Toronto Area and takes us along the North shore of Lake Ontario through the protected waters of the Bay of Quinte ending in the crystalline waters of the Thousand Islands.  This year, four of us decided to head east in two boats.   Our companions, Alex and George,  are racing sailors who take three weeks off each year to cruise in Merlin, their C&C 27. My wife Eileen and I are travelling in Solace, our well-loved Oday 240. 

Dockside in the San Juans

The San Juan Islands offer an eclectic alternative to Canada’s Gulf Islands, including eight superb destination marinas. Few cruising grounds can match Washington State’s Puget Sound for its wide array of natural beauty, wildlife and idyllic boating conditions. Right across the border from Canada’s Gulf Islands lies the eclectic group of islands known as the San Juans, a favourite destination for Canadian cruisers for decades. One of the great pleasures of cruising in the San Juans is the islands’ impressive selection of welcoming and well-run marinas. Here are eight great marina destinations for you to visit, explore and enjoy.

Picton: Cruising into perfection

Prince Edward County is a confidence that boaters share with a few tourists and the locals, but it has yet to become a major tourist draw.  It’s very close to the mainland; only the Murray Canal, the Bay of Quinte and its associated waters separate it from the rest of Ontario, but it’s the largest island in Lake Ontario and comes with all the wonders that islands develop. “The County” has only been an island since 1889 when the five miles of the Murray Canal was completed; prior to that it was a peninsula, but we’ll cut some slack on that.


Let’s be honest. In terms of Canadian small cities Belleville is just another one. However, as a boating destination and as a historically important sailing force, it punches well above its weight. Cruising in Lake Ontario from Toronto has but one truly significant voyage and that’s to the Thousand Islands.  Getting there can be a lot of the fun unless you’re in a rush simply blasting through and going outside Prince Edward County. If you choose to take the scenic route, the journey through the Murray Canal to Belleville and then on to Kingston is as picturesque and historical a cruise as you’ll find anywhere.

Sidney Spit, BC

A pearl among Gulf Islands parks, this sandy haven is ideal for hiking, beachcombing, birding, fishing…or just hanging. Sidney Spit is a park of superlatives. With the best sandy shores, the best sunsets, the best crabbing and some of the best hiking in the Gulf Islands, it’s no wonder it’s a hit with just about all who visit – for a few hours, a day or a week. The park occupies 178 hectares at the north end of Sidney Island, among the most geologically diverse of the Gulf Islands. The island is composed almost entirely of quaternary drift deposits – unconsolidated sands and gravels deposited by glaciers about 10,000 years ago.