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2013 or 1913? Photo essay by Ian Coristine

Wednesday, June 4th, 2013 – or is it?  The calendar may be correct, but the scenery told another story.  More like June 4th, 1913…   And thanks to photographer Ian Coristine, we discover what really happened.

Over fifty people assembled in and around Singer Castle and Chippewa Bay with the specific aim to reenact what you might have seen had you been an invited guest on board the steam yacht Magedoma in 1913. That was when Canadian Senator George Fulford’s steam yacht, Magedoma (now restored and renamed the Cangarda) was in residence at the Fulford boathouse in Brockville, ON. 

As a guest you may have been in the same cabin as some of the leading Canadians of the time; Prime Ministers Sir Wilfrid Laurier or William Lyon Mackenzie King.  What about the Prince of Wales or the Duke of Kent?  They all toured the Thousand Islands aboard the Magedoma just like we do in our boats today.

The team from McLellan Group (Toronto) – a communications company that specializes in storytelling -  were there with a specific task – capture the view and stories that you will see when you step aboard the Magedoma Exhibit at Brockville’s Aquatarium when it opens in March of 2014.

To make this all happen, several partners from the Aquarium's RiverQuest initiative stepped forward. Fritz Hager, Executive Director of the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton brought five of the ABM’s antique boats with their respective professional captains at the helms.  Allan Newell, from Chippewa Bay, brought his expertise and two of his magnificent St. Lawrence skiffs.  Mike Wright and Jody Reynolds brought their magnificent 56' yacht Cygnus II, Emmett Smith his "number boat." while Tom Weldon, general manager at Singer Castle on Dark Island provided the backdrop and a very appropriate home base.

However, just having antique boats representing the Gilded Age of the Thousand Islands was not enough, so Lyne Roberge, senior account manager responsible for RiverQuest, solved the wardrobe issues with willing support from several RiverQuest partners, the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, the Thousand Islands Arts Center in Clayton, Prescott's St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival and Tish Cook, all supplying period costumes for the army of extras to wear.  And to top it all off, Brian Porter, best known as the actor who steps into the roll of Sir John A. MacDonald at public ceremonies in Kingston and Eastern Ontario, took on the role of the Magedoma’s captain.

As the Magedoma toured the islands, the captain described the scenes.  Through the magic of high definition video recordings, still shots and voice, the Aquatarium’s Magedoma Exhibit will soon come to life.  Personally, I can’t wait to be ushered aboard.

Mike Wright and Jody Reynold's 56' classic yacht, Cygnus II is pictured at Dark Island and Singer Castle.  
Photo by Ian Coristine ©

Steve Guild provided a modified barge/camera platform while Brian Porter served as the captain of the Magedoma.

Photo by Ian Coristine ©
The Antique Boat Museum supplied five boats which plied the St. Lawrence over the last century.  The Miss 1000 Islands II, #22, Teal and Cygnus II stand at the ready for maneuvers.  The fifth boat, Zipper is not shown as Ian Coristine, who captured the activities was shooting from its cockpit. 
Photo by Ian Coristine ©
Emmett Smith brought his stunning number boat. 
Bonnie Wilkinson Mark’s Joseph Leyare, The Great St. Lawrence Boat Builder, published in April 2010 tells the history of these remarkable River boats built by Joseph Leyare and the Hutchison Boats.
Photo by Ian Coristine ©
One of two exquisite antique St. Lawrence skiffs that Allan Newell brought to the event. The other can just be seen at the upper left.
Photo by Lyne Roberge

 Note:  Be on the lookout for the Cangarda, as she is returing to Brockville for the Tall Ships weekend, June 14-16.  

By Susan W. Smith with photographs by Ian Coristine.

To learn more about the Magedoma see TI Life’s articles:  

To learn more about Aquatarium and RiverQuest:


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Donna W
Comment by: Donna W ( )
Left at: 11:28 PM Sunday, August 18, 2013
Beautiful photos!! My husband and I recently read the ebook "One in a Thousand" and we were enthralled with your story and your beautiful photos. So much so that we took our vacation up to the Thousand Islands area earlier this month (Aug 2013). We stayed in Clayton and GanAnoque and visited Corbin's bookstore to purchase your most recent book. It was fun to visit Brockville and wellseley Island (where we talked to a local gentleman about the area) and other towns and areas you wrote about in "One in a Thousand". We continue to learn and read more about TI, including this Thousand Islands Life. Are you still enjoying Summers on Raleigh Island? Your books and photos are outstanding and give the feeling of true peacefulness. Keep up the good work! Donna W.