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1000 Islands 130 Years Ago

There are times in one’s life when the stars seem to be in alignment and maybe this to be one of those times.  It is quite simple.  I have the material, Jan Eliot has the voice and TI Life can be the messenger.

Through the years, my wife Prudence and I collected as many publications dealing with the Thousand Islands as we could find.  Later they helped in my research and were the source of my illustrations.

Once I found a pamphlet or magazine article, I spent countless hours researching the authors, artists and the content.  The computer certainly helped as I fumbled along learning what a computer could do.   Now, a couple of decades later, I have a lot of material and rather than leaving it in my filing cabinets, I am  happy to share with Thousand Islands Life readers.

This, the 1878 edition of Potter’s American Monthly’s article, “The Lake of the Thousand Isles”, written by A. Sidney Bolles, is presented as a You-tube slide show video.  It will take you on a five minute tour.

Before we start, let’s briefly review the steps in making a woodblock print:  The picture is drawn, given to an engraver who etches the scene on wood. This piece of wood becomes the printing plate. Ink is applied to the plate and the picture is transferred to paper. This procedure is repeated for each drawing.

At the conclusion to the project, Jan Eliot says, “I am always so happy to be asked to work on projects that have to do with the 1000 Islands. It is certainly clear that the love for the islands never gets old and is shared through the generations.”

By Robert L. Matthews, Fishers Landing

Robert L. Matthews is our “go to reference” for Thousand Islands memorabilia.

Robert  is also the author of two popular books:  Glimpses of St. Lawrence Summer Life: Souvenirs from the Thousand Islands: Robert and Prudence Matthews Collection, and A History of the Thousand Islands Yacht Club, published in 2009.   He and his wife Prudence (well known River artist whose work was presented in Hooked on Prudence in 2009) have one of the most extensive collections of  Thousand Islands memorabilia.  When not at their beautiful River cottage at Fisher’s Landing, they live in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Voice over by Jan Eliot

Jan Eliot works full-time during winter months as an in-studio & on-mountain radio ski reporter for You can hear her voice on over 50 radio stations from New York to California! Jan started out being a producer for commercial editors in the post production world and realized she loved doing commercial voice overs.  Today she has voiced countless e-learning modules, tutorials, Telephone Recording Messages as well as creating bumpers for podcasts and radio shows through  Jan spends summer vacations in the Admiralty Islands.

Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


Phyllis Putnam
Comment by: Phyllis Putnam ( )
Left at: 8:18 AM Tuesday, January 15, 2013
I am program chairman of the Jefferson County Genealogocial Society. I wonder if Jan or Robert could show this video at a meeting of our group. We are interested in genealogy, but also the history that our ancestors lived through. Perhaps more stress could be put on the names of those living in, or visiting the Thousand Islands.

If you contact me we can discuss details.

peter johnston
Comment by: peter johnston ( )
Left at: 10:28 AM Tuesday, January 15, 2013
this is very impressive Robert, pretty amazing to step back 130 years.
Bonnie Borrello
Comment by: Bonnie Borrello ( )
Left at: 11:03 AM Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Thanks again Robert for your wonderful research and willingness to share the history of our beloved Thousand Islands. What a great way to present the information!
Steve Glazer
Comment by: Steve Glazer ( )
Left at: 11:05 PM Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I really enjoyed the slide show, Robert! One correction, though. Henry Heath and Charles Goodwin built their summer dwelling on Nobby Island and occupied it in July 1871, not 1873, as stated in the video's narration (at 2:50). It was widely considered the first "modern cottage" in the Thousand Islands. The details are contained in part II of my article, "Henry R. Heath: Union Soldier, Thousand Islands Pioneer," which is in the March 2011 issue of TI Life. You were gracious enough to provide some early pictures of Nobby for the piece.
John Bourne
Comment by: John Bourne ( )
Left at: 5:07 AM Monday, January 21, 2013
Wonderful set of prints. Liked the voiceover too!
Deane Parkhurst
Comment by: Deane Parkhurst ( )
Left at: 1:55 PM Monday, January 21, 2013
The images of "dining out" brought back memories of Grandmother Parkhurst's stories about earlier days in the 1000 Islands. As she told it, shore dinners were a big part of the summer experience. Canoe Point and Picnic Point on Grindstone Island into Eel Bay were the prefered locations. Both places ideal for the evening meal then to watch the sun set before heading home. As a reminder of that bygone time I have a dozen "shore dinner" Ironstone plates left from those days that still find occasional use.
Ian Coristine
Comment by: Ian Coristine ( )
Left at: 5:42 PM Thursday, February 14, 2013
Thank you Susie for your inventiveness, and to Jan and Robert for bringing these rare historic sketches to life through this video.