Joel Charles' New Book

By: Susan W. Smith

Volume 18, Issue 3, March 2023

I always love to hear from TI Life readers and certainly smiled when I saw Joel Charles’ name in my email this month – but even better, Joel gave me a heads up that he has published a new book: Drawn to Clayton, Memories and Thoughts in Ink.

Joel Charles latest book: Drawn to Clayton, Memories and Thousands in Ink. The wide-angle view of Frink Park from the water that is on the book cover is from a photo by Valerie Miller

We met Joel in February 2020, when we interviewed him for Meet Joel Charles River Artist. He had already shared some of this talent and River drawings with us in three articles. Now he is sharing even more.

Author Joel Charles

The book is a treasure of drawings of all things Clayton NY. There are not a dozen or so but hundreds. No matter if a long-time resident or a summer visitor, there will be scenes that you will recognize immediately.

The back cover explains:

Joel was born in Plattsburgh, NY and grew up in Clayton, NY. He graduated from Clayton Central School, where his father was Principal for 17 years. He has been a 10th Grade English teacher, an insurance adjuster and agent. He was honorably discharged from the U. S Army after six years of reserve service. While he was an agent with Perry and Swartwood, Inc., in Elmira, NY., he was active in Boy Scouting for 25 years, and Rotary for 20 years. Joel holds the BSA Silver Beaver award, and the Rotary Paul Harris Fellow award. He has been married to Carol Ticknor for 57 years, and he and Carol have two children and five grandchildren. They now reside in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Joel took up acting, directing, painting and building sets for several theater companies in his eighteen years in Tucson, Arizona. He has continued painting and has sold his work, mostly depicting 1000 Islands scenes. A published author, he has ghost written four novellas, a novel, an autobiographical series of essays about growing up on the river and many articles for the "Thousand Islands Sun."
Joel Charles sitting at his desk. A perfect place if you ask this editor. [Illustration courtesy Joel Charles ©

Excerpts from Drawn to Clayton

Next door, and I mean right next door, is one of the most popular places in Clayton, the Koffee Kove. “Meet me at  the Kove” has been a catch phrase for locals, summer people, and tourists alike for decades. Serving breakfast and lunch, the Kove is a place where you can get traditional diner food, or just coffee-and-, cheerfully served in a beadboard walled, nautically themed, cozy atmosphere with lots of tables and windows to let in the sun. Since the street improvements and overhead power line and pole removal, the Kove has installed tables and high stools for additional seating outside in good weather. You can even buy a mug that says you stole it from there!

The Kove has a history, too. It was once Cantwell’s Creamery, a small grocery and milk processing and delivery business run by the late Frank Cantwell. The business ran from 1921 to 1961.
Next, head down James Street to the intersection with Hugunin Street. On the right, you will see a small, two story building directly at the tee made by Hugunin and James Sts. This building used to be the Lyric Theater; later in my youth, it was the Bertrand Theatre. After the theatre closed in the 70’s, it became a liquor store. Kathy Danielson bought it in the early 2000s and in 2006, created a new space called the Lyric Café. You can have coffee, teas, lattes, gourmet pastries, lunch, and dinner.
Inside the café, there is a gallery space on one wall, for local artists. Kathy let me show a few of my own paintings there one year. No one bought anything, but it was fun sitting in the front window, talking to people . . .

So welcome back to TI Life Joel, and thanks for checking in!

You can contact Joel at

The Pavilion painting is from a photo of Frink Park taken this winter by Dan McAvoy[Photo courtesy Joel Charles ©]
Sunrise over Ogdensburg and the old Prescott rail ferry pier pilings is from a photo by Aira Darzens [Photo courtesy Joel Charles ©]
The wide-angle painting of a wintry Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia is from a photo by Brad Wood. (Sending this one was clever, as it took this editor some time trying to match it with our River views! [Photo courtesy Joel Charles ©]

In May 2019, Joel published his first book on Amazon. Growing up Tame: Thousand Islands Memories.  

"A collection of stories from the author's life on the St. Lawrence River, a wonderful place to grow up, live and visit. Read the book, go there. Catch some fish. Eat the fish you catch. Or just take a boat ride, come back and sit on the shore in one of the many places to do so. You'll be better for it, even if you don't read the book!"

So, two more Thousand Islands books for your 2023 summer reading!  The books are available on Amazon at: (USA); (Canada) ; (United Kingdom) - Drawn to Clayton (USA); (Canada) - Growing up Tame, Thousand Islands Memories

And be sure to see Fine Art America which has Joel Charles drawings and paintings which are available for purchase.

By Susan W. Smith, Editor,

Posted in: Volume 18, Issue 3, March 2023, Book review, Artists

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