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River-Lations - Mr. Thousand Islands

The River community lost a very special member of our community a few weeks ago. 

On July 22nd, author and beloved River Rat Paul Malo passed away.  As Ian Coristine, Thousand Islands photographer and long time friend of Paul put it, "Northern New York has lost one of its greatest treasures.”  Indeed.

Most people know Paul best for his best selling Thousand Islands Trilogy that included: Boldt Castle: In Search of the Lost Story, Fools' Paradise: Remembering the Thousand Islands, and A Floating World: More People, Places, and Pastimes of the Thousand Islands.  

That’s how Bob and I first got to know Paul Malo. Actually, we first met at a book signing where he was representing the first book in the trilogy, and we were signing our Singer Castle video, “Dark Island’s Castle of Mysteries”.

I don’t remember selling too many DVD’s that day but we both remember enjoying our fascinating conversation with Paul who was sitting right next to us (and selling a whole lot of books, by the way). So, in between his nonstop stream of autographs we got to know the man behind the book a bit better that day.  Since then, we have met repeatedly at various Thousand Islands book signings (other than the one that took place during Pirate’s weekend where, when he couldn’t find a parking space, he simply turned around and drove back home). We always used to forward to catching up on whatever new adventures Paul had gotten himself involved in. I’ve been accused (all vicious rumors, of course), of being a bit of a Type A when it comes to having too many irons in the fire and trying to accomplish a million different projects all at the same time.

While I would never call soft-spoken Paul Malo a Type A, I would have to say I met my match as far as someone with irons in fires, and with more dreams of exciting new projects than 10 people could fulfil in one lifetime. It seems like every time we met or emailed each other, he was excitedly working on something new, whether it was a new book, a research project, preservation of a Thousand Islands landmark (such as Boldt Castl, Thousand Island Park on Wellesley Island, or Carleton Villa on Carleton Island) or his Photoshop artwork, most or all of which had to do with Thousand Islands.

Most recently, of course, it was the online monthly Thousand Islands Life magazine ( that had captured Paul’s full attention (and all of its readers as well). Any of us who have been fortunate enough to be on its free distribution list would agree that this has been one of the best gifts and legacies he could have left us. 

He was releasing a new issue every month through this past May, that was jam packed with pictures, articles, history and just about everything else one could possibly want to know about our favorite place on God’s good earth.  During those long winter months away from the River, getting our monthly Thousand Islands Life email had become next best thing to being there.  And Paul had enough ideas for future issues that he would have been able to keep them coming for the next decade or more. That is, until he became ill and was ultimately no longer able to keep writing.

Even now, with all the past issues still available, the website has enough information to keep all us River Rats entertained and educated for years to come. What’s most amazing is that Paul did it all, all the hours of research, writing, and web page design as a labor of love – a love of the River and all who share that love -- without ever asking or receiving a penny for his efforts.

If you visit the Thousand Islands Life web site today, you can read several different stories and testimonials about Paul Malo’s life.  You will also see what the future plans and dreams are of those who are hoping to keep the TI Life Magazine going in Paul’s absence (Ian Coristine & Mike Franklin). Hey. Do YOU love the River? Love the Magazine? Love to write?  Hmmmm. Maybe
there’s a place there for you to become involved.

I don’t think Bob and I had ever realized until after Paul Malo passed away that he had dreamed, as a boy rowing around in his skiff in Clayton, of being called, “Mr. Thousand Islands” some day. I wish we’d all known sooner. I’m sure we’d all have started calling him that years ago.  As I thought about Paul’s dream, it got me thinking about what I’d like to be called after I leave this world and head Home to the River of Life. Last Thursday, I was invited to give a historical presentation on Singer Castle at the Cornwall Brothers Museum in Alexandria Bay. Interestingly, I had learned a little tidbit about one of the boats of the former owner of Singer Castle from the latest issue of that I was able to use in my presentation. Since I quoted directly from his article, Bob and I thought it would be neat to dedicate the presentation to Paul Malo.  We brought a little notebook and asked if anyone in the crowd would like to sign it as a gift to Paul’s family. They just about stormed us after the talk was over, wanting to have a chance to express their thoughts and sympathy to the family of the man they’d all come to associate with the Thousand Islands.  I have to admit that I snooped at what some of them wrote.

In addition to the many well wishes and prayers for his family, here are a few of the comments that seemed to best express the thoughts that have been on many of our hearts:

“I miss Paul...He leaves a great legacy.”

“Paul and his knowledge of this area will be missed.”

“I enjoyed Paul’s books and learned quite a bit from them.”

“A wonderful legacy - thank you!”

“Paul Malo’s books and person have inspired and fired my love for the area and history.”

“Paul has been an inspiration for me...His work in the 1000 Islands and the Adirondacks has been superb and will last forever.”

“We have lost a treasure and so has the River.”

After reading all of these comments, it sure seems to me that the label, “Mr. Thousand Islands” fits Paul Malo like a glove.

Later that evening after the presentation I got thinking, once again, about what I would like to be remembered for after I leave.  I ended my presentation on Singer Castle with a favorite castle quote of mine that goes like this: "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I
would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). 

I suppose that if I could be remembered for anything I would like it to be castle-related. Not Singer Castle, and not even those heavenly mansions described above, but rather that something I said or did helped introduce someone to the builder and owner of all those mansions -- the same one who has promised us that he is busy preparing them for our arrival.  Now that’s something I would really love to be remembered for after I’ve gone to experience them (and Him) for myself.

In the mean time, it appears that “Mr. Thousand Islands” has been taken. Paul Malo will be missed but certainly not forgotten. His contributions to the River and its history have rightly earned him his childhood dream. In Loving Memory - Paul “Mr. Thousand Islands” Malo (June 8, 1930 - July 22, 2008).

by Patricia Mondore

Editor's note:  Thousand Islands Life thanks Patty Mondore for sharing her tribute to Paul Malo, which was first submitted to the Thousand Islands Sun, Alexandria Bay  and published on August 13, 2008.

© Copyright Patricia Mondore 2008, All Rights Reserved

Posted in: People
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