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“All about community”… “Thousand Island Park Now and Then”

It was one of those “hot summer days” when I first watched Thousand Island Park Now and Then.  The thirty-minute DVD film was over far too soon.  I especially liked the historic 1930s footage of life in the Park.  However, it was the footage of today’s TI Park that made the film come alive.  It is hard to think of gift giving and December storms when the Eastern seaboard is sweltering, but that is exactly what I thought when the film was over.  I believe that this DVD would be a welcome gift for
friends and family!.

This is the second documentary of TI Park history.  The first was called T I Park – A Place in Time. Produced by Nellie Taylor and Mike Ritter, this film includes island life in the 21st Century and some documentary history, interviews and island tales.   “The people that live here – summers and winters - are really the stars of the show as they carry on the history and traditions of the community.” said Nellie. “We, as producers, just try to show that, while the community changes it remains much the same in essence and in spirit.”

Nellie Taylor (formerly Mitchell) was born and raised in Thousand Island Park and lives there.  She and her family have collected and documented the history and lore of the Islands for generations.  In 1985, with her father’s encouragement, she started a small historical museum to document the history of the Park.  This wonderful resource produced much of the material for both films.

Mike Ritter and his wife Margo have been cottage owners in Thousand Island Park for forty years. He is a graduate of Amherst College in Dramatic Arts, and can include an Academy Award to his credits as a professional filmmaker. 


There are photos that are unique to the Park and there is movie footage of  steamships bringing visitors to the Park. 

The interview with Lynn “Buggy” Davis tells the story of the workmen and “year-rounders”.  His description of ice cutting is fascinating and it begins with photographs of the 1998.  Many of us have heard about the Ice Houses that kept summer people’s ice chests filled, but hearing these stories first-hand is special.  Also the descriptions about moving cottages to the island over the ice, and the fact that in the spring muskrat trapping brought in the extras dollars.  These same winter families worked in the summer hotels and rooming houses taking care of the summer folk. 

Life in the Park today is described through an interview with Gerry and Diane Brinkman, who brought back fine dining to the Park in the Wellesley Hotel. Also Brenda Robak, who works at The Wellesley, suggested,  “When people come here for dinner it’s almost like a party; people visit from table to table.  It is really a special atmosphere.

Both Taylor and Ritter consider this film to be a community effort.  Among the credits are thanks to: Jeremy Taylor for Words and Music to TI Park, Research by Tom French and to  Tricia and Steve LaBuzetta, the TI Park Corporation,Marjorie Cardinaux, John Zimmer, Ruthie Steck, Jackie Brown, the TI Museum. NT Productions, and  Ritters Film Company. 

By Susan W. Smith, Editor.

The film is for sale at the TI Park Museum located on the porch of the Wellesley Hotel.  It is also available through the TI Park Landmark Society and from Nellie Taylor directly at 315-482-3832.  The price is $22.00 (tax incl.)

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