Ian's Issue

By: Susan W. Smith

Volume 15, Ian's Issue, March 2020

When I posted the February issue on the night of February 14th, I knew my great friend, Ian Coristine was dying. As soon as our February issue went online, we received tributes and prayers. Those comments were appreciated first by Ian, as long as he could read them, then by his wife Lyne, his family and friends and by this editor.

On the last day, Ian and I spoke. In typical Ian fashion, he started to praise me. I finally had to yell.  “Stop it!  Ian. It is you that we praise.  You certainly made all of us realize that just liking our little part of the Thousand Islands was not enough - we had to work together to Raise the Bar!"

I knew right away that we needed to do an “Ian’s Issue.”  Perhaps it is too early to measure the true impact this photographer/writer and connector made on the Thousand Islands – but it is a good start.

The Books page from the website 1000 Islands Photo Art. The site will remain alive, so I encourage you to log on often.

If you knew Ian Coristine, you will be nodding your head up and down… and if you had never met him, you only have to look at one of his photographs of the Thousand Islands to understand his love of the mighty St. Lawrence River and its archipelago. Ian was a connector, someone who made sure that the right people met the right people and then he expected those two to "raise the bar."  

Ian, we will continue to do so, I promise.  


These tributes are from the February 2020 Thousandislandslife.com issue. There are many more posted on the official obituary page on eternalcare.ca. Many of those are from his Montreal school, car racing friends and his flying days - all pay tribute to Ian Coristine, 1949-2020.

Mike Cox - Ian, you are my rainmaker. When I look back on the years since we first met, I realize you have made a more positive impact on my life than nearly anyone. When we worked together, magic happened. You recognized early on my skillset and pushed me to do work that I never thought I could do. Your eye for quality and your innate ability to recognize the beauty in simplicity is legendary. I think back on all the hours we spent together on the phone, where you patiently worked with me until perfection was achieved. I may not have always expressed my appreciation in a positive manner, but I always understood that working with you was working toward a higher standard. You were the craftsman; I was the tool chest and when I said, "this can't be done", you seldom accepted that as an answer and you were more often than not correct. The best part though, is the friendship. You always had time for me, and I always felt there was a genuine bond between us. An appreciation for art, for racing, nature, dogs and just beauty in general. There was always plenty to talk about. You made the world a better place, and me a better man. I will miss you and think of you often, and when I think of you, I will smile.

Don & Marnie Ross - A couple of summers ago, we were invited to Ian’s island, just off Jones Creek, for lunch. Ian and Lyne served up customized hamburgers and a very fine salad. But through lunch, Ian was wired with excitement, because what he really wanted to do was explore the little island, to show its niches and nooks that were so special to him. How many times had he already been round the island? Obviously, hundreds. But it was pretty obvious too that each time ‘round was a voyage of discovery.

When you discover something, you generally want to share it. But Ian took the sharing of discoveries to a whole other level. Each share probed meaning, through the proverbial 40 questions. I think he figured me to be more of an expert in the geology and ecology of the islands than deserved.

A basalt vein in the granite became artistry, its twists and bulges like a prehistoric snake frozen in time. And what could cause those dime-thin rounds of granite, from saucer to plate-size to spall off from the barren sun-baked island’s southeast corner? A small but ancient pine, in a micro-crevice of rock on a sun-baked, windy corner of the island had not just tenacity, but lessons in legacy, survival and humility. And who and what could have sheltered in that improbable bay, with its glacier-polished granite arms where Ian himself had sheltered the intrepid wee plane from which he took the images that inspire us all? It was not just a tour of a small island – it was a window on the wonderment that Ian expresses so well in his photos and caption-short essays of the islands. A man is a boy as long as there is so much discovery to share. May we all take gentle time to immerse ourselves in that same wonderment of this place, the Thousand Islands. They are rugged, yet so fragile; and fragility lost is never regained. Thanks, Ian, for sharing your discoveries with so many.

John Sause - I have enjoyed my many trips to the River thru Ian's photos. I was not able to be there in person very often, but I spent many hours there thanks to this wonderful artist. I will continue to be able to make many more trips in my mind. Thanks to Ian Coristine. Our Prayers for him and his family.

Peter Dunn - The 1000 Islands has lost its brightest shining star. Ian was a true gentleman and the 1000 Islands premier Ambassador. He was recognized as one of the world’s best photographers. The River won’t feel the same without Ian.

Tad Clark - So sorry to read this. He has added much to the lore and legend of the 1000 Islands.

Mike Franklin - What a shock. It’s been almost 12 years since Paul Malo passed and Susie took over. And what a great job she has done...and I know how pleased Paul would be at what she has done. Frankly, I’ve not acclimated myself to losing Paul. We had so many things we wanted to do together. I know he would have wanted to participate in everything. TI Life was to be Paul’s Legacy. And it is only fitting now that it is Paul’s and Ian’s legacy. Paul’s vision was that he and Ian were stewards to TI Life.....as is Susie now. Paul spent the last two years of his life busily posting his materials, gathered over a lifetime, to give TI Life a critical mass so that it would continue....Ian applied his amazing talents to take it to the next level...part of which was to have the wisdom to choose Susie as Editor. I propose a toast to all three. Cheers! Ian... say hi to Paul for us.

Linda Mainse - I met Ian what seems a lifetime ago. He came into our Gift Shop at the Arthur Child Heritage Centre (Gananoque), with a portfolio of his photographs. He wondered if there would be any interest in them as postcards or posters. He told us (Joan Michie) and me about his ultra-lite plane; how he had discovered the 1000 Islands and how they had changed his life. We collaborated and he began producing postcards, then posters, then giclée prints, then one book, then more and more books. He settled for nothing less than perfection and was a relentless salesman, first of his beloved Islands and then of his images in whatever form. Every year, while I was part of the Museum, Ian gifted me with one of his prints and upon my retirement, a giclée print that I adore. His prints are in every room of my home, together with autographed copies of every book he produced. Yet, what I treasure most is the sheer enthusiasm and passion that exudes from him for his River, his Islands and his Lyne. I feel a deep heart ache at this news. Please know that you are all being held in love and thankfulness. The River, the islands and all of us whose lives you have touched are so much richer for the friendship.

April Fraser - They say to leave a legacy can be described as something someone leaves behind by which they can be remembered by. Ian Coristine has created a legacy indeed. Those of us who have the privilege to call him a friend, know what a gift that truly is. His photographs, books, and incredible stories remain unmatched in capturing the incredible beauty of the 1000 Islands. His ability to inspire and connect people behind the scenes, to join forces celebrating our River, the Islands, the history, the people and their stories, is what will forever be imprinted on my heart. He introduced me to the saying: The River chooses some, and Ian I know this to be true...the River most definitely chose you. The pathway you have created through all that you do, will forever guide people to this magical place you call home.

Bud Andress - Ian is one of those special Thousand Islanders, having come along from somewhere else that fits-in, in this special place, like he’d always been here. With his tremendous expression of love for the islands and the River through his world class art form and words, he makes us aware perhaps that sometimes we locals might unwittingly take what we have here for granted. Thank you, Ian, for reminding me that we need to stand up to keep this place as special as you’ve repeatedly shown us it truly is, through your pictures. Thank you, for being a good and most interesting friend. BA, Hill Island

Lori - Thank You so much Ian, Merci Beaucoup, for sharing your amazing eye, talent and love for Our River, with all of us. You have lived well, and taken us all on the ride with you, good Sir. What you have given to us is priceless. Love and Light.

Erin and Dick Greene - This is so very sad to hear. As I write this comment, Dick and I are looking at a print of Ian's "First Freeze" that is hanging in our living room wall. The sea smoke in the photo reminds us of the River scene, right outside our door on those mornings when the River is warmer than the air. We also have all of Ian's books, double copies of some. May he be assured that the island beauty he created with his camera, will be cherished in homes here and anywhere a River rat takes the books to stay close to the River.

John Peach - This is such sad news. Ian touched all of us over the past few years with his incredible books. He became a friend to everyone he met. We will miss him so much.

Andrew - Ian, thank you for capturing the River for all of us, in impeccable beauty. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Michael Laprade - Ian is a friend who has been my inspiration from the day I met him. The kind of guy that made me aspire to be just like him when I grow up. I never met a man who was more accomplished or was capable of more diversity in his life. Count me as one who is very grateful for knowing him or to be counted among his legions of friends.

Jackie - This is such sad news. Although I never met Ian, I, as I'm sure others as well, felt like he was a friend, a kindred spirit who bleeds the St. Lawrence, like the rest of us River Rats. May your transition be blessed with the comfort of family and friends, Ian, and may you know that your legacy lives on in the heart of the Islands.

John Street, Fernbank - Dear Ian: Your lovely Thousand Islands legacy is forever. Thanks for your artistry in capturing the essence of the favorite place of us and so many other people. I treasure my memories of first meeting you, and Mollie, and later having a glass of your island wine "on the rocks".

Terry Flesch - So sad to hear that Ian is not doing well. His photographs will forever tell the story of the 1000 Islands and inspire those who have never been to visit, and cause those who visit often, or even live here, to close their eyes at least once a day, to visualize the place that is etched on their hearts and their visualization will most likely be an Ian Coristine photograph. He has contributed much to this area and this area will forever be indebted to him for his work. I pray for him that he will experience an eternal peace that may include looking out over the islands, and I pray for his family, as I know he will be missed. Thanks, Ian for all the wonderful pictures!

Alan R. Bickerton - Ian, I will always remember calling you to buy your various editions of books by the case. You thought I was kidding, but no, I gave them to my commercial insurance clients in Toronto. Your photographic excellence portrayed our Island paradise so wonderfully, they made me very proud to display them in reception rooms, in some very well-known financial institutions in the city. Many times, I had to replace them, several times, as they became collectors’ items. Your energy and talent were always admired by me, and our friendship will outlast us both. Thank you so much for that connection. Your friend, AB

Chris Palmer - His videos in his Challenger Ultralight provided great comfort to a Gananoque boy living in Arkansas during difficult times. Passing through Gan, he docked for the evening on Lindsay Island, with my wife and me. He is as part of the River as anyone I know. I wish him and his family well. God bless.

J.R. Miller - When a River rat has the talent to share the beauty, the history and the importance of caring for our special River and islands, with the next generation.... then they have done their job......Ian has accomplished this ten times over......his special talents shall be missed by all.....prayers to his family and thanks Susan for your wonderful tribute to Ian in the T.I. Life Magazine.

Peter J. Rutherford - Thank you, Ian

Ray Kowalski - It is almost impossible to explain the 1000 Islands Region to someone who has not been there. But show them one of Ian's books, and they begin to understand. Ian let us into his life, and he will live on in ours.

Daniel Mathias - If you had to make a list of everyone who has had an impact on the Thousand Islands region, which name would be at the top? Certainly, Ian Coristine's name would be at the head of many lists. It is at the top of mine. “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.” Thanks, Ian for making us all wealthier through the lens of your camera.

Mae & Steve Slagsvol - We are saddened by this news, yet we have been telling each other stories about when we were fortunate to spend time with Ian. He brought joy into so many lives. We will miss him.

Tom King - I am so deeply saddened to learn the news about Ian Coristine. I always looked forward to my monthly wallpaper photograph, so that I could view more of the 1000 Islands, through Ian's unique perspective. Ian's legacy, and love for the River, will live on forever, through his beautiful collection of photographs. Ian, and his family, are in my thoughts today.

Brian Johnson - Ian's posts on some of my articles inspired me to write further about this beautiful area. These are from the man who personally brings out the beauty of the 1000 Islands on a rainy/foggy day and makes you wish you were there. Ian, THANK YOU for your encouragement over the years and your beautiful books. I have each and every one. We'll pause and reflect at every sunrise over the bridge, or Boldt Castle, or wherever we might find you capturing the moment, as only you could.

Anne McDonald - You can see the passion for the River in his every photo. I happened to walk into Porch and Paddle store several years ago, and Ian was signing his most recent book. I walked over, and lo and behold, our front porch was featured on the book cover. The book Castles and Cottages has been our favorite and is owned by our many family members. His work will live on forever. He captured our River and environs at their finest. God bless and God speed.

Trude Fitelson - Susie, so sorry to hear this news about Ian. Ian and I became close, because of Paul Malo, who as my mentor and close friend, introduced me to Ian. Our early discussions were about the creation of Thousand Islands Life, to elevate the knowledge of the River we all loved so much. Not long after Paul was diagnosed with his cancer, Ian and I visited him often during his illness. There was no one who elevated our knowledge creatively, with his photography and the PR he brought to our region. I am so glad that he was to find so much happiness with Lyne. God Speed my friend.

Dr. Vasant Ruparelia - Beautiful memories will stay for generation. Our sincere condolences to his family.

Stephen Hughes - Ian: my wife and I are newcomers to the Thousand Islands, having purchased our place here just a few years ago. We have delighted in the discovery of its impossible beauty, guided greatly by your wonderful photography. Our place is just across the River from yours and every time we venture your way, we slow down a little - hoping to find you poking around, so that we can wave and say thank you. As I write this, I'm sitting in our living room, looking out across the River to you. Please know how much joy you have given to people that you have never even met.

Donna Inglehart - Like many of us, I knew Ian first through his spectacular photography. A decade ago, I contacted him for permission to use one of his photos for my then-unpublished novel, Grindstone. Within hours, he'd become my champion and advocate, offering not only his photos, but his graphic designer and clients. Within a few months, Grindstone was released, Ian lugging stacks of books, store to store in the July heat. Two years later, we published, together, his memoir, One in a Thousand. Ian wrote to me six weeks ago, telling me about his illness, expressing the wish that we could change the conclusion of his memoir, ending, instead with his enchanted life with his beloved Lyne in France. It was a great privilege working with Ian, one of the most vital, generous and creative people I've known.

Gina Taggart-Budde - Our hearts ache after hearing of Ian's passing. What an extraordinary man Ian was! His legacy of photographs, books and stories of one of Canada's most wonderful "playgrounds" will be greatly appreciated for generations to come. Whenever we spoke to Ian, he was so kind, gentle, helpful and always accommodating. We and our visitors leaf through his beautiful books often and are always amazed at the magic of the Thousand Islands... which he captured so magnificently. We will continue to treasure his autographed books for years. He and his works will never be forgotten. How fortunate we are to have had the privilege to know Ian and to benefit from his efforts to bring The St. Lawrence River into the limelight. Thank you, Ian for your love and dedication to "The River!" Our deepest sympathy to Lyne and the family.

Wayne Strauss - Thank you, Susie, for sharing this difficult news. Professor Joseph Campbell said, “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” Ian Coristine's work will inspire each of us to do exactly that.

Lloyd & Pat Younger - When we were first thinking about moving to Tall Ships years ago, when the project was still in its infancy, it was an afternoon spent on the deck of the model home, with Ian, that convinced us that Brockville, and TSLwas where we wanted to spend our retirement years. We were so happy to show him our new home, years later. He truly is the best Ambassador the River could ever have.

Patty and Bob Mondore - Bob and I are absolutely shocked to hear of our friend Ian’s passing. Looking back...way back...to before we had done any of our River movies or books, I remember the first time we got in touch with Ian. He was famous and we were...not. Yet, when he heard we were working on our Singer Castle DVD, he immediately shared some pictures and a movie clip we could include, and then wrote a glowing review for us, when it came out. He did the same for our first book. He never saw other River authors as competition, but rather as fellow artists doing our best to spread the word about this remarkable place. We are forever grateful for his encouragement and support of our works, as well as for all of his breathtakingly beautiful works that have been an inspiration to so many of us. Our prayers are with all of his family and friends who are mourning such a great loss! He will be deeply missed. “The Lord is my shepherd... he leadeth me beside the still waters...Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me...” Psalm 23

Nancy Barbour - Thank you to Ian for bringing me home to the Thousand Islands, with every issue. His stunning photography has nurtured my soul. My condolences to his family and friends.

Diana Chapman - Ian, you will obviously never be forgotten, since we River fans will find your amazing photographs wherever we turn, in our lovely Riverside home. Just lately, rereading the Wind in the Willows quote from Rat and Mole, “So this is a river....The River..” I thought I hadn’t seen or heard about you for a long time. “And the River claims you” as you mentioned more than once. How very true, looking out on it now and thinking how you have left a huge empty space. Bon Voyage, old friend.

At the conclusion of the book The Very Best of Ian Coristine's 1000 Islands, Ian wrote:

When I published my first book of photography in 2002, I had no idea if anyone would care enough to buy it, much less eight years later I'd be releasing a fifth volume.  The only reason it happened is because of the amazing encouragement and support I have received from so many, no less the shop owners and islanders who share my love for this place. Room won't allow mentioning all who helped, but I would like to single out a few: DxO Labs of Paris, France, whose software allows my cameras and lenses to be technically flawless; Hayley, Mary and Scotty Coristine, Simon Fuller, Dave Goulet, Michael Keyser, Andy li, Kim Lunman, Dave O'Malley, John Michie, Terry Page and Susan Smith.
It is more than appropriate that the compilation of my best work be dedicated to my much missed best friend, Paul Malo, who showed me, through years of encouragement, just how important a role a truly great professor can play in one's life. His legacy continues through the online magazine he founded: www.thousandislandlife.com"

By Susan W. Smith, susansmith@thousandislandslife.com

Ian Coristine, Susie Smith and Marceli Wein, December 23, 2019. 

Editor's Note:  I thank our proofreaders for their never-ending enthusiasm and support.  Bill Stallan, Georgia Barker, Rick Taylor and Dane Zabriskie. When I hung up the phone the last day I spoke to Ian, he reminded me to take care, “don’t rush; make sure you read the material over one, twice and then Susie, read it a third time.” I am still smiling and for once, thanks to Ian... reading!

Posted in: Volume 15, Ian's Issue, March 2020, From the editor, People

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