It was French explorers who named the region. Vacationers discovered the islands in the 1870s, when wealthy people began to build summer homes while other travelers came to stay in large hotels. For more than a century the area has been a mecca for summer visitors. In the more distant past the islands were stepping stones between New York State and the Province of Ontario - in times of trouble between Canada and the United States, a place of refuge and a setting for disreputable deeds. Many islands are privately owned but ample public access can be found at island parks and villages throughout the region.