About - The TI Life Story

In December 2008 TI Life received a new look. Ian Coristine generously donated over 70 header photographs

The regional overview (On and beside the River, above the River or under the River!) provides a  comprehensive resource for information about the St.  Lawrence River, from Cape Vincent and Kingston on Lake Ontario to  Brockville and Morristown, fifty miles down the river. The web site is  huge, providing information about twenty-two communities and other  subjects".

TI Life - 2006-2008 created by Paul Malo, Mike Franklin with many photographs by Ian Coristine

All authors and photographers provide content strictly as  volunteers.  All Photographs are copyrighted and the property of the  photographer.


A team of three created and managed TI Life from 2006-2008.  Paul Malo, emeritus professor architecture, Syracuse University; Mike Franklin,  property specialist with Sotheby's International Realty, (Saratoga Springs and Lake Placid, NY) and Ian Coristine, renown Thousand Islands photographer and writer.

In August 2008 when the community learned of the death of Paul Malo,  Ian Coristine made a request, “would someone like to help keep TI Life  alive?”  Susan Smith volunteered as editor and  Kim Lunman, then publisher of the print magazine, “Island Life” volunteer her writing and photographic skills.   The rest they say, is history.  

The Editor

Susan W. Smith, Sagastaweka Island, Admiralty Islands, Gananoque. [susansmith@thouandislandslife.com]

Susan Weston Smith (known as Susie) took over as the production editor of Thousand Islands Life in December 2008. She is the author of The First Summer People, Thousand Islands 1650-1910,  Boston Mills Press (1993) and working in the volunteer world is her passion. She is currently on the board of the Thousand Islands History Museum in Gananoque.  In  addition she a member of the Zonta Club of Ottawa and an avid antique button collector! She is serving as the Chair of the National Button Society Publicity Committee.   In the past she has served on the Board of the Thousand Islands Land Trust and Save the River in Clayton, NY, as well as the 1000 Islands History Museum and the Thousand Islands Association both in Gananoque.

In 2021, Susan was honored to receive  the Friends of the River Award from Save The River Upper St. Lawrence RiverkeeperⓇ  and in 2010 she received the Keeper of the Islands Award by the Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. She is retired from her career as a professional fundraiser, having worked for the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and at Queen's  School of Business, Queen’s University in Kingston, the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University and St. George's School of Montreal.

Click here to see all of Susan’s contributions to TI Life!

The "Real Editor"

Meet Elspeth Naismith

Sometimes a person calls offering to help and suddenly you find a good friend. Elspeth Naismith called to offer to help TI Life in the summer of 2020 and since that time, she has become our "go to for both grammar and copy editing" team member.  

Elspeth Naismith grew up in Gananoque, and despite years spent on both east and west coasts, neither one could compete with the siren call of The River. So after retiring from the Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve) in 2011, she left Ottawa and returned to “the scene of the crime”!

For 10 years, Elspeth worked as a Registered Nurse at the Vancouver General Hospital, first on an acute medical ward, then on the newly established Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, and eventually as a Critical Care Nurse, in the Cardiac Care Unit. In December 1987, she took a three year sabbatical from nursing, to work full time for the Canadian Forces, at National Defence HQ in Ottawa. The three years turned into 20+ years.

Elspeth’s career and postings in the military were quite varied; it included both full time and part time service and ranged from: Administrative officer and Training Officer at three Naval Reserve Divisions, part time; developing the policy and pushing through approval for Reserve health care and insurance benefits; getting approval for a pension plan for Reservists, the culmination of 25+ years of work by many people; being Officer In Charge of the Canadian Forces Military Museum system (about 45 museums at the time); heading up a team to bring thousands of tons of former Warsaw Pact military equipment back to Canada, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the imminent closure of the CF bases in Germany; a tour in Bosnia as Detachment Commander for the Canadian personnel based at the British camp of Banya Luka, Bosnia, for which she received a Brigade Commander’s citation; recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal, both for her work to develop “total force” policies (to create personnel policies that applied to both Regular and Reserve Force members), and her role as Project Manager responsible for designing and overseeing implementation of the CF Self-Identification Census Project and establishing the long-term management of the data collected (this was a mandatory activity under the Employment Equity Act); she was also awarded the corporate award for Leadership in Human Resource Management in Employment Equity; to, on promotion to Commander, a two year posting as Chief of Staff to the Director General Military Personnel, a Division that was responsible for 80% of all CF personnel policies and two major Crown Projects, a position which she described as being akin to being the ringmaster of a five-ring circus! It was definitely not a boring career!!

Having been raised by an English teacher (and often having often graded her students’ papers), then spending 20 years as a policy analyst and writer in the military, offering to help with TI Life seemed like a no-brainer. It didn’t take long to shift from being a proofreader to being the copy editor. Once again, she is definitely not bored!!

Elspeth now spends part of the year in Gananoque, and part of the year in the US, accompanied by her husband and (badly spoiled!) dog Charlie.

Social Media

Jennifer Caddick

We welcome Jennifer Caddick to the team. Jennifer first visit to the Thousand Islands was on a family vacation at the age of 10 and she was immediately smitten with the River. Her time on, in and beside the River led to a career in the environmental movement.

Jennifer Caddick joins TI Life to help post our social media. 

From 2006-2012, Jennifer served as Executive Director of Save The River and led the organization through a period of growth and expansion. Throughout her more than 20 years in the environmental movement, she's led numerous advocacy campaigns on issues impacting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, from stopping invasive carp to preventing plastic pollution and everything in between. She currently leads communications and marketing for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a regional Great Lakes advocacy organization. She splits her time between her home in Clayton and her family's cottage on Linda Island on the US side of the River, enjoying the River in all of its amazing seasons.

Beth Lavos

Beth Levos a native to the Watertown area is Chief Information Officer at United Food Service Operators and a 1000 Islands enthusiast stemming from childhood. Her lively wedding reception held at the T.I. Club on Wellesley Island is legendary.

Beth Lavos is looking after our Books Section. 

When not working or writing, she is “The Mediterranean Seaster”, a local baking company of baklava and other Mediterranean cuisine and pastries, she enjoys any beach, a tall Diet Coke and lives with her husband Peter and their two German shepards, Reagan and Simon.

TI Life Illustrator

An accomplished artist Marie-Anne is also Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at Canada's Royal Military College where she taught for twenty years. She has already produced individual illustrations for Patrick Metcalf's The Witch of Wellesley Island (see STORIES+) and more.

Here is Marie-Anne Erki's Artists Statement:

Growing up in Montreal in the ‘60s, I had two major influences in art, my mother Maria Erki, a pastel and oil painter, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) program for young people, run by Arthur Lismer. I spent some of the best Saturdays of my young life at the MMFA school.

My life-long love of making art led me initially to consider a career in architecture, but my love of mathematics led me to become a structural engineer. At a time before computer assisted drawing (CAD), both disciplines required a huge amount of freehand and mechanical drawing. After a quarter of a century of great fun as a structural engineer, I decided to pursue painting full time.

Since retirement, I have taken some short courses and have followed a program of self-study, using advanced texts, with a focus on development and control of colour. Most of my work is in portraiture, mainly in oils, but recently I have developed my skills in digital art, which I enjoy using for illustration work. I have had paintings accepted in the Kingston Arts Council Juried Salon, the Window Art Gallery in Kingston, and two solo exhibits at the Domino Theatre in Kingston. I have also been a guest speaker for the Limestone District School Board’s Creative Arts Program, which brings together the most promising senior high school art students from across Kingston and the surrounding region.

Dan Mathias

Our newest member of the team is Daniel Mathais who places updated Events on TI Life each week. He is retired after spending 38 years with a major computer company. He is a graduate of St. Lawrence University where he earned bachelors and masters degrees. Nearly fifty years of fishing on eastern Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River (with the same group of struggling anglers) has further enhanced his love of the region. Dan is a resident of the Capital Region of New York State where he is active in environmental and open space issues as well as community service projects through his local Elks Lodge.

The Over 20 Team…  

The following authors have written more than 20 articles for TI Life. Their time, energy and expertise is greatly appreciated.

You will see many have two links – that’s because in June 2018 we had to change our website, thus they are registered in two places. (A couple of authors actually have a duplicate name as well.)

These are in alphabetical order (*Deceased)

Michael Folsom4 + [34] = 38
Paul Hetzler39 + [2] = 41
Brian Johnson9 + [46] = 54
Tom King8 + [19] = 27
Dan LeKander – 67 + [39] = 106
Lynn E. McElfresh35 + [119] = 154
*Robert Matthews[23]
*Paul Malo – [50]
Patty Mondore12 + [8] +[7] = 27
Chris Murray – 20 + [9] = 29
Richard Palmer25 + [11] =36
John Peach10 + [13] = 23
Manley L. Rusho – 27
*Sherri Leigh Smith23 + [7] = 30
Linda Twichell – 19 + [11] + [1] = 31
Richard L. Withington 9 + [23] = 32

This is not an exclusive club, since all of our authors work hard to produce TI Life. We all appreciate their efforts.  Some brief bios are below and more to come!

Tom King

Tom King has been a contributor to TI Life since 2011 and has written about a wide array of subject matter in that time, ranging from Water Snakes to Tour Boats, with a few stories about personal experiences thrown in for good measure. Tom grew up in Gananoque and was a RiverRat from an early age, spending countless hours out on the water with his trusty first mate, Heidi.

Here is Tom King as a young River Rat... and those who know Tom today, will agree, he has hardly changed! 

He and his wife, Marion, settled in Milton, Ontario in 1985 where they both worked and raised their three children.  The family rents a cottage on the river each summer and spends a couple of weeks savouring the beauty of the 1000 Islands. For the past few years Tom and Marion have enjoyed introducing their grandchildren to the River and watching them grow to love the area too.

Since the time that he started writing for TI Life, Tom has developed a keen interest in the history of the region and has done a lot of research into it. He has a special fascination with the old Thousand Islands Island tour boats that operated from towns on both sides of the river and has amassed quite a collection of post cards, photographs and brochures related to the industry. It is a hobby that he enjoys sharing with others and Tom credits his association with TI Life for the opportunity to cross paths with so many interesting people over the years.

You can see Tom King's TI Life Articles here and here.

Kim Lunman

Kim Lunman, photo by Joseph T. Melrose IV, Full Frame Photography, Sackets Harbour.

Kim Lunman was the founder, owner and publisher of Island Life Magazine  (www.islandlifemag.ca) based  in Brockville, Ontario. The annual edition of the glossy print magazine  which was one of the most popular, was distributed in May throughout the 1000 Islands in eastern  Ontario and northern New York. A photographer and award-winning writer,  Kim is an avid kayaker and boater who lives in her hometown of  Brockville, “The City of the 1000 Islands.” She was awarded The Keeper  of the Islands Award by the Gananoque 1000 Islands Chamber of Commerce  in 2013. The Canadian journalist is a former national correspondent for  the Globe and Mail's Victoria and Ottawa bureaus and staff reporter for  the Calgary Herald.  

Kim is also the recipient of a National Newspaper Award for feature writing and a National Newspaper Award nominee for enterprise reporting.  Kim was nominated for the Michener Award, the highest honour  in Canada for public service journalism. Her freelance writing has  appeared in Boat U.S. Magazine, Lakeland Boating, the  KingstonWhig-Standard, the National Post, and Reader's Digest.  

To see all of Kim Lunman’s TI Life articles, click here, and to read a more complete biography, see our About Page.

Lynn McElfresh

Lynn McElfresh, Grenell Island

Lynn McElfresh was also a regular contributor to TI Life,  writing stories dealing with her favorite Grenell Island and island life. We have learned a great deal over the years from Lynn McElfresh’s musings, from moving pianos to island weddings or from plumbing problems to meeting old friends, taking nature walks and the  importance of trees. Recently she presented several articles about  Grenell for its 100th Birthday. Lynn is the author of Can You Feel the  Thunder? published in 1999 in New York by Simon & Shuster Children's  Publishing Division. It is suggested for youth ages 10-14. She is also  the ghost writer for several other children’s books. Lynn’s is a regular contributor to TI Life.

Lynn McElfresh and her husband, Gary, spend  their summers in the Thousands Islands on Grenell Island and their  winters in Dunedin, Florida.

And good news:  Lynn has finished several novels, the subject of which all take place in the Thousand Islands! Recently she has helped research Grennell Island history.

Click here  and here to see all of Lynn’s contributions!

Dan LeKander, Sudoku Master

"Everyone knows someone who is hooked on Sudoku puzzles.  For those who love them, Sudoku is quite meditative and just plain fun.  However, even the most devoted fans sometimes experience frustration when a puzzle is hard.  If the first puzzle you encounter is a tough one, it is easy to just give up and never try again."

This is the introduction to Jessy Kahn's book review and article about Dan LeKander and his book on Advanced Sudoku Techniques written in June 2015. after the article was written Dan offered to give TI Life readers a puzzle to solve each month!  And now in 2024 we are in the puzzle numbers in the 180's!

We thank you Dan for your time effort and expertise... and we also thank Peggy, your proofreader!  What a team!

Dan LeKander loves Sudoku, too, and he's figured out a technique that eliminates guessing and erasing.  His book explains, step by step, how to understand the principles behind Sudoku and how to solve the puzzles efficiently.  He takes you through a puzzle, explaining each step. Each step is accompanied by a diagram that shows what was done.

Michael Folsom

Michael Folsom

Michael Folsom was a regular contributor to TI Life.  His work has been featured in Thousand Islands Sun, Know Your Ships,  Boatnerd.com and more. He is also created his website Ship Watcher Blog – the most comprehensive seaway information site for the region. Michael was the creator and organizer of Sailing Seaway Clayton which was a weekend of waterfront activities . When  not on the River, Michael can be found in Syracuse, NY.

Click here to see all of Michael’s contributions!

Brian Johnson

Captain Brian Johnson, Wolfe Island

Brian Paul Johnson is one of five captains of the  Wolfe Island car ferry Wolfe Islander III. He has worked for the Ontario  Ministry of Transportation for more than 30 years, recently celebrating  20+ years as captain.  He recently retired as a   captain of the Canadian Empress.

Today, Brian combines his marine career  with writing. Fascinated by stories and legends of the 1000 Islands  area he has written for the Kingston Whig Standard, Telescope Magazine and the Great Lakes Boatnerd Website: Seaway News. Brian co-edited  Growing up on Wolfe Island, a compilation of interviews and stories with  Sarah Sorensen. He is also a past president of the Wolfe Island  Historical Society and former president of the Wolfe Island Scene of the  Crime mystery writer’s festival held on the island in August.

Click here to see all of Brian’s contributions!

The Design and Magic…

In December 2008 TI Life took on a new look. David O’Malley, principal designer at Areographics, in Ottawa ON. provided a unique style for TI Life's graphic look from 2008-2018, complete with a tag line: put a thousand islands in your life. His distinctive design provided an easily managed template.

Michael Cox, chief IT Magician

Michael Cox, Six Mile Lake, ON

Hailing from North Western Ontario, Mike Cox spent his time working at his family tourist business in many different capacities. Having a  penchant for technology, he bought his first computer in 1995 and  started developing web sites for marina operators.

Mike learned that simply building web pages was not sustainable.  Businesses needed a way to manage their sites and to have their sites be more than HTML brochures. Mike specialized in offering web database integration and created Content Management Solutions which enables his customers autonomy.

Mike now resides in the Muskoka's with his wife where he manages a large marina. Each month this Editor calls on this IT Magician to help, repair and fix our wonderful online magazine. Join me in thanking him.

P.S. He also is well known in the Ottawa region playing his Ukulele… and in December 2018, Mike did a humanitarian trek on a motorbike in Patagonia. See his website for the exciting journey.  

Mike Cox "I'm Riding to The End of The Earth...

The Original Team

Paul Malo, Photo by Ian Coristine www.1000islandsphotoart.com

The facts tell us that Paul Malo was an award winning historical  preservationist, architect, professor, author and passionate Thousand  Islander.

Paul created over 100 articles for TI Life magazine. He shared his  training, knowledge, research and photographs through the magazine, his  books and in person to foster a greater appreciation for and  preservation of important places like TI Park, Carleton Villa and Boldt  Castle amongst many others. Paul leaves behind many legacies, but  arguably one of the most important is ThousandIslandsLife.com. It exists  thanks to his dedication, leadership and inspiration.

See October 2008.  Paul Malo Remembered by Kim Lunman

Michael Franklin

Mike Franklin was a founder of Thousand Islands Life Magazine and a good friend of Paul Malo.

Mike is licensed Real Estate Broker and President of Franklin Ruttan a  real estate brokerage that specializes in marketing unique Upstate  properties to Down-state, Out-of-state and International buyers.   (Mostly waterfront and historical properties)

See http://www.FranklinRuttan.com

Mike previously worked as a historical property specialist with Sotheby’s International Realty.

Examples of his photography, that highlight important architectural  attributes, can be found in many of TI Life feature articles.

The late Ian Coristine

Ian Coristine, Raleigh Island

When Ian Coristine met Paul Malo he recognized a kindred spirit. Not  only was Paul fostering a greater appreciation for the Thousand Islands,  but he was also encouraging others in “raising the bar” to ensure that  all aspects of the region were promoted – from economic prosperity to  appreciating its beauty through photograph.

For more than two decade, Ian provided hundreds of photographs to TI Life as well as publishing a free Screensaver on the first day of each of the winter months beginning in November.  The notice for the Screensaver was sent to a notification list as is our Monthly TI Life. It was Ian's way of sharing his magnificent views with the community.

Perhaps one of the best ways to meet Ian is by watching - not reading.  

Ian Coristine's died in February 2020 after a valiant battle with cancer.  His photography lives on in Thousand Islands Life thanks to the generosity of his wife, Lyne Roberge. They were quite a team and thanks to Lyne his memory lives on.

A new TI Life Launched - 2019

In February, 2019, we launched a new version of TI Life - TI Life.2!  Using an interactive format readers can see the version on any screen with ease.  We encourage you to comment on what you like, and what you dislike! Also please send comments and new submission to info@thousandislandslife.com


Susan W. Smith, Editor TI Life