Last year at this time I introduced Kim Lunman’s “Thousand Islands Ink” publishing company and her glossy magazine Island Life, printed and distributed throughout eastern Ontario and northern New York in May.
As soon as the magazine hit the newsstands, I received notes of congratulations; however, I had to pass on these best wishes as Kim’s effort is hers alone. Mind you, the whole TI Life team, of which Kim is a member, is proud of her efforts and this year will be no exception. In fact the 2011 magazine is even richer in content and design thanks to her passion for excellence.
Kim is an award-winning journalist whose work as a national correspondent appeared regularly in the Toronto’s Globe and Mail where she was was a staff writer in Ottawa and bureau chief in Victoria B.C. She also wrote for the Calgary Herald and Canada’s National Post. She is based in her hometown of Brockville as “a Thousand Islands correspondent and a self-described 'nautical hitchhiker'” In fact, she told me she “has voyaged aboard the tall ship Fair Jeanne, the Canadian Empress cruise ship, antique yachts, classic wooden boats, Sea-Doos, power boats and her kayak to research islands over the past three years. I love learning about the history of all these places like Round Island, Calumet Island and Pullman Island and others and imagining what it would have been like to be here a century ago during the area's Golden Age.”
In fact, it is Kim’s ability to capture both the social history of the region as well as providing a glimpse into the way modern islanders live today that makes her articles so popular. I asked Kim what she considered as her greatest challenge, thinking it would be securing advertisers, but was charmed by her answer, “The hardest part about putting the magazine together is narrowing down the stories and islands for the magazine. With 1,865 islands to choose from and all their interesting inhabitants, it makes for a challenge.”
“This year”, she says, “ I increased the size of magazine to 60 pages up from 52 pages last year to make room for some of my favourite islands. It's impossible not to write about Singer Castle on Dark Island and Boldt Castle on Heart Island but I really enjoy writing about islands that are a little off the beaten nautical chart in the Thousand Islands and their charming characters like George Peterson, the "sheriff" of Prince Regent Island in the Gananoque Narrows and the Red Fin Lounge on Fish Dam Island, also known as the Nidderys near Ivy Lea, owned by Flory and Joan Basile, described as ‘the host with the most and the hostess with the mostest.’”
Kim went on to say, “I also wrote a tribute to Mary Hewitt, the grand lady of Tar Island's Totem Point near Rockport. I got to spend time with Mary in her boat, the Santa Maria, last summer and she shared with me memories of her nearly 90 years summering in the Thousand Islands and the history of Tar Island's trio of totem poles. Sadly, she passed away March 19th in Naples Florida at 94 as the magazine went to print. I feel privileged to have met Mary during her last summer, and to listen to her thoughtful reflections on the River during boat rides around Rockport with her at the helm.”
Last year’s magazine was extremely popular. “I think the biggest compliment I received,” she says proudly, “is when many people told me they kept it around on the coffee table at the cottage or at home because they liked to read stories about different parts of the River. Everybody seems to know so much about their own particular river community, island or group of islands yet they may not know about the history or people on islands not too far away in the Thousand Islands, either in the U.S. or Canada. It's fun to pass on information and have someone who has been in the islands a long time say: ‘I did not know that!"’.
A Message from Ian Coristine:
One of the top items on the "wish list" my good friend Paul Malo and I strategized several years ago was a regional magazine for and about the Thousand Islands, like Adirondack Life or Down East, but with such a short season it just didn't seem feasible.
It was for precisely this reason that Paul created TI Life online, because it could more easily be sustainable without advertisers in an online format and in any case, he was adamant that advertisers not skew the content. What Paul created in 2006 has prospered thanks to Susie Smith's amazing efforts, building to a level of quality which wasn't imaginable at the beginning. But still, a printed magazine remained high on the wish list.
It began several years ago, tentatively at first, when Kim Lunman, at the time a reporter for Brockville's Recorder and Times, set out to write a weekly feature for the paper's weekend edition on one aspect or another of the Thousand Islands. As with TI Life, it was critical that it focus on both sides of the River, celebrating the whole, not just a few of the parts. Kim's stories proved immensely popular, not least because through Kim's eyes, many were discovering the River for the first time, despite the fact most had lived near its shores all their lives.
The paper made the unusual decision to republish the articles in magazine format at the very end of the season, which again proved immensely popular. The ball changed hands the following season when another publisher asked Kim to produce a magazine for them. Kim's infatuation with the islands continued to grow and for the next season, she figured she might be able to do a better job by doing the magazine herself, without corporate directives or restraints. Island Life began last year.
It was and still is a huge undertaking for an individual, not to mention a very brave one as there's considerable financial risk involved on top of a mountain of work, however Kim's efforts were rewarded. Island Life proved more popular than ever. Thanks to strong support within the community, from advertisers to interviewees, Kim has raised the bar higher still, making this season's magazine the best yet.
So congratulations Kim and sincere thanks from all of us island lovers for (in Paul's words) "Helping to build a greater appreciation for the place."
Ian Coristine, Raleigh Island.
Keepsake Islander’s Edition
Taking a cue from the compliments, Kim is also printing an 'Islander's Edition' of Island Life. It will have a modified cover design, a stronger gloss cover with keepsake quality to be available for those who wish to purchase a copy . The magazine, costing $4.95 will be available throughout the summer season at A&E Books in Mallorytown, Andress Boat Works RiverRock Shoppe in Rockport, Arthur Child Heritage Museum of the 1000 Islands in Gananoque, Leeds County Books in Brockville and 1000 Islands Skydeck in Canada. They will also be avaiable at Corbin's River Heritage in Clayton, and the gift shops at Singer Castle on Dark Island and Boldt Castle on Heart Island.
Putting the magazine together gave Kim the opportunity to praise others. “TILife's subscribers”, she says, "will recognize Ian Coristine's beautiful photographs featured on the cover of Island Life magazine and a four-page photo essay inside as well as several other photographs Coristine has taken of the Thousand Islands region.” Also graphic designer, Dave O'Malley, of Aerographics Creative Services in Ottawa, who created the TI Life e-zine, designed both the magazine's covers and oversaw this year’s overall design.
Kim also pays tribute to our TI Life web creator, Michael Cox, Creative Information Solutions, in Ottawa, for helping her to create a new website at www.islandlifemag.ca. For those who were unable to secure the 2010 issue, Kim has placed it on her website. It is easy to view and includes all pages.
Distribution of this year’s Island Life, will begin on May 12 to select newspaper subscribers of the EMC on Wolfe and Howe Islands, and in Brockville, Gananoque, and Prescott as well as the Thousand Islands Sun in New York state on May 11. Additional copies will be made available at participating tourism information centres and businesses in the Thousand Islands region.
“Of course,” says Kim, “People can always contact firstname.lastname@example.org. "I wanted to publish the Islander's Edition this year because copies of the magazines, printed in May, ran out quickly last year.”
One Thousand Islands - One Thousand Stories in Kim Lunman’s Island Life, will provide many hours of enjoyment and a great way to welcome guests to the region over the summer of 2011.
By Susan W. Smith, email@example.com
Editor’s note: Click Here To view all of Kim Lunman’s articles appearing to date in TI Life e-zine.