People felt that River connection with Ian, even if they had never met him in person. I know that was my feeling. I always thought I would meet him “someday” as we had many mutual friends. But “somedays" are in limited supply, whether or not we recognize that fact.
Susan Smith, our editor, asked me to look at Ian's wallpapers and help pay tribute to this River hero.
Ian was so prolific. Honestly, how many times did we turn a page in one of his books and say, "Oh that is my favorite!” Then another page….“Oh wait, no! THAT is my favorite!” What a blessing he was to us all. Not only did we marvel at his photos, but he brought the River community together in a way that few others ever did. No matter where we were, or what our circumstances, we all celebrated our love of the River through his work. He was a hero!
Ian provided us with the image and invited us to participate in a challenge. Could we identify the place in the wallpaper or provide a favorite story linking to that image?
The links to those wallpaper images are still live - so I invite you to poke away and find your favorite. Once you do, let me know which ones resound with you.
Ian’s words speak to us even though he is gone. On his website, he related this tale: "One afternoon at a book signing, a lady shared with me a profound statement. 'The River chooses some.' Those of us who were chosen spend winters longing to get back. To help my winter longings and yours too, each winter month I enjoy sharing a computer screensaver image to help infuse a little summer warmth into your day.”
He then asked if readers wanted to receive the image each month, as well as updates to Paul Malo's new "Thousand Islands Life" online magazine. All they needed to do was add their email to a subscription list. He promised never to share the email with others. The email list also served as the notification list for TI Life. For many years Ian paid for the list to be maintained.
What was and remains the most interesting were the comments. Ian loved to see them appear on his wallpaper page and complained about how difficult it was to choose the "one" that would be linked to the image.
Of course, we did not know, and neither did Ian that this would be his last Wallpaper. But reading it once again, I am reminded how much he loved to explain how and why he wanted each and every one of us to understand this part of River life may be over.
IAN'S WORDS: December 2019. I apologize for not having produced a wallpaper in November and confess I am rethinking them going forward. I’ve never been one to welcome deadlines and after some 17 years of producing them, I’d like to ease off to offering them only when the inspiration strikes. There are so many past images in the wallpaper archives, that if you’re having a moment of missing the River, you can surely resolve it that way....
And now for my favorite Wallpapers! With gratitude to Ian.
IAN’S WORDS:...So, after a couple of months of winter scenes, it’s time to start dreaming about summer, particularly because spring is less than seven weeks away. In deference to the realities of the season, I’ll stick with a white theme, but introduce a little more green.
There are a few magical spots on the River that really say “Thousand Islands” to me, visually. Places I have returned to shoot repeatedly in an attempt to capture a few of the countless moods the River gifts us, if we’re paying attention. This is one of those places. It has been my desktop picture since I took it.
IAN’S WORDS: "...I imagine I’m not the only one who dreads late fall. Beyond the shorter days and coming winter (for those of us who brave it out up here that is), it means leaving the river, which I did just a week ago. It was time. As unpleasant as leaving the islands always is, perhaps being away is what makes going back so incredibly special.
I remember flying near “The Bay” that morning under overcast skies, but a hole opened up and shafts of golden light spilled through on an otherwise grey morning. I hustled downstream to capture it before it closed. No castle, lighthouse or bridge to be seen, but a very unique and unusual mood of the river, shimmering both gold and silver under a skylight in the cloud cover.
I’ve always felt the aerial view is a privileged one and this shot illustrates that well. You’d never see this from water level.
IAN'S WORDS: ...Spring has sprung! And as the ice slips out of the River, I thought it appropriate to share a shot of Toniata Island from last year. This little island sits in the middle of a pretty bay at the mouth of Jones Creek right in front of our shore cottage.
And it wasn’t always there. The story is a fascinating one, shared with me by the previous owner of our property who had summered there since he was a child. The story was from the War of 1812 and it came from his grandfather who understood it to be fact, which is possible as it had ended less than a century before.
Apparently, a naval ship was sailing upstream against the current with whatever wind was at hand. It was British, heading to Kingston with money to pay the soldiers. When a US ship spotted it, the chase was on, but in a real sense, in slow motion as the speed differential would not have been much, so making up a few miles might take hours.
The British ship realized it would eventually be overtaken, so rather than risk losing the payroll, they briefly dodged out of sight into the bay at Jones Creek and threw a chest overboard, planning on returning later to retrieve it. Who knows how the rest of the chase played out, but what concerns our story is that they were never able to find the chest.
It’s easy to believe as Jones Creek and a couple of extensive tributaries, all now part of the National Park, have left the bay’s bottom layered in silt. We have two metal posts which locate the end of our dock that keep requiring extensions as they continue to sink. They are currently 28 feet long.
So in 1908, grandfather decided to use his family’s savings to rent a barge and a dredge. Careful not to drop silt where he had already explored, it was piled into a mound in the middle of the bay, eventually breaking the surface. He never did find the chest, but a willow branch floating out of the creek found the mound of soil and rooted. Thus, Toniata Island (with its tree to make it official) came into being, named after the Indian Village that Father Simon Lemoyne found here in 1654. The bay is naturally beautiful, but Toniata Island is its crowning jewel.
Remember these? We encourage your to go back and see the whole list:
By Linda Twichell
Linda Lewis Twichell, is a regular contributor to TI Life. She is a fifty-seven-year resident of Westminster Park, and has collected historical information on the Westminster community since the 1970’s. Presently, her research focuses on the lives of the people who settled here in the last quarter of the 19th century, and the cottages they built. Each profile provides valuable Thousand Islands history.
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