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Paul’s Legacy, Judy’s Gift, TI Gold

Finding a particular photograph, identifying an individual or an historic fact is like finding “gold” to a researcher.

Paul H. Malo, who died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Oswego County in July 2008, had accumulated a lifetime of Thousand Islands history. This summer Judy Wellman, Paul’s wife, made the momentous decision to gift more than 16 archival boxes of Thousand Islands material to the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton.

Paul, who was 78 when he died, was an architect, author and educator who researched and documented the region for more than 50 years. His love and knowledge of the Thousand Islands led him to write three books on the region: Fools' Paradise: Remembering the Thousand Islands, Boldt Castle: In Search of the Lost Story and A Floating World: More People, Places, and Pastimes of the Thousand Islands.

With Judy's guidance, a group - Trude Brown Fitelson, Bonnie Borrello, Ian Coristine, yours truly - has started the unpacking which has revealed photographs, drawings, books and several unpublished manuscripts.

Trude and Paul corresponded tirelessly over many years. In fact, tucked inside one box was the nomination submission that Paul wrote which resulted in Trude’s receiving the 2008 Excellence in Historic Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State . Paul Malo wrote in part, “The remarkable renaissance of Thousand Island Park over the past thirty years is due in large part to the unflagging work of Trude Brown Fitelson.”  Finding this and then listening to the exclamations of delight when Trude discovered dozens of photographs and of beloved TI Park historic material never published,  made our work even more interesting.

There are many dozen files with important material. Over the years Paul pursued ways to preserve the marvels of the region. One box contained some of Paul’s pencil drawings of an early study of Boldt Castle on Heart Island.  There is also several files containing material and history of the Carleton Villa on Carleton Island. (one of Paul’s greatest disappointments in life was not being able to see Carleton Villa saved.  He and Mike Franklin (TI Life Team member) worked hard to find a solution.  Their website can still be viewed here).

All day as we unpacked boxes we heard Judy exclaim, “I have never seen that before” or “Oh Paul would often tell me the story of….” . When we did not know the meaning of a particular set of papers, Judy would shed some light.

I found files with material relating to the Patriot War of 1837-38. Certainly this will not remain under wraps, as we will publish it  in our  TI Life November 2009 issue. And as if that would not be enough to keep researchers happy for months, there are thousands of 3”x5” index cards with Paul’s notes which formed the basis for his three published Thousand Islands books.

"The Malo donation complements the rich archival holdings of the Antique Boat Museum” says Dan Miller,curator at  the ABM . “It will take our volunteers several months to catalogue the material but it will be available for those interested in the history of the Thousand Islands. It is a great gift to the community.”

A sample of “Thousand Islands Gold”, now housed in the Antique Boat Museum, Clayton NY.


Photo credit

Thousand Island Club Blinkbonnie Mary Dewart
Verandah of the Thousand Island Club on Welcome Island. Postcard of Blinkbonnie, Gananoque Ontario, Canada Inscribed, Mary Dewart, Kewaydin,1922.
Boldt Dome Boldt staircase Drawing  Boldt chandelier

There three drawings appear on one large sheet of tracing/drawing paper.  The drawings capture a concept Paul had for Boldt Castle.  He drew these when he was a young man.  They are drawn in pencil only.  Note the details on the glass dome and the chandelier.

By Susan W. Smith


Posted in: News Article
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Jan Gilbert
Comment by: Jan Gilbert ( )
Left at: 11:22 AM Friday, October 16, 2009
Thank you so much for the wonderful magazine. I look forward to seeing everything about the Thousand Islands that is published. Thank you again.

Jan Gilbert
Douglassville, PA