Wallpaper February 2011

Wallpaper February 2011

Carleton Island, nestled alongside Wolfe’s south side near its foot, is arguably one of the region's most historically fascinating islands. This response by Stephen Sabo touches on several of its interesting elements and in so doing is this month’s winner of a set of 6 - 8x10 prints.

Wallpaper January 2011

“Beautiful aerial view of Carleton Island. My wife's family have had a presence on Carleton for over 50 years. My father-in-law is a duck hunter and accomplished waterman. There are many a story of dicey December river crossings and encounters with livestock and wildlife on Carleton. Our own cottage dates to the 1980's development at the foot by Patten Corporation. Mr Patten, an east coast developer, liked to fly in for deer hunting and had a landing strip behind the farm house and silos. You can still see the skeleton of the wind sock he had installed on the large pole barn. The island is filled with other interesting and historical sites. Besides the villa and silos, there is Ft. Haldimand, an old lighthouse station built in 1898, an Indian grave yard, and numerous old stone foundations and walls. There are terrain features in the west, including 'potholes' that attract ducks, left over from the development of a golf course in the 1920's. GE had begun turning the island into an employee resort until the crash of 1929 stopped their plan. Living on the island has taught our family boat handling skills, the importance of good neighbors, reliable watercraft and solid docks, and many other life lessons. You never know what you will find on your shore; This year our children found what turned out to be a military white phosphorus flare, bobbing in the water on our beach. Numerous warning labels attached to the aluminum canister led to a call to the Coast Guard. We were visited by 4 demolition experts from Ft. Drum who proceeded to detonate the ordinance with plastic explosive. The explosion thrilled our kids but confused our neighbors. The next day we heard that the loud noise could be heard over half a mile away. One neighbor thought her husband had fallen out of bed and another that his boat had blown up. Carleton is a special quiet place with many gifts and challenges.”

Stephen W. Sabo

A set of prints is on its way with my thanks Stephen.

Two elements hold a particular fascination for me at Carleton. One is Britain’s Fort Haldimand with the shipyards that produced HMS Ontario, the largest man ‘o war on the lakes, recently rediscovered in pristine condition on the bottom of Lake Ontario. An ancestor, Malcolm Fraser, a Fraser Highlander, fought in several of Canada’s most important events leading to the British conquest of Canada and later its defense; the Battle of Louisbourg in 1758, The Battle of Quebec at the Plains of Abraham (1759), the Battle of Ste. Foy, 1760, and later the U. S. Invasion of Canada by Generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold in 1775. Malcolm Fraser’s regiment was later stationed at Fort Haldimand. What I would love to know is if he actually served there (please share any info if you have it), but have never been able to find confirmation, though it seems highly likely. His son-in-law Patrick Langan did serve there, a few years later becoming a co-owner of Wolfe Island.

The other element which fascinates me about the island is Carleton Villa, one of the first of the 1000 Islands castles, built in 1893 by William Wyckoff whose fortune came from marketing Remington typewriters. I was flying back from Tibbetts Point with my son Scotty years ago when he spotted a mansion in the distance with incredibly clear windows. We diverted to investigate only to discover the windows were clear because there weren’t any! It seemed inconceivable that such a magnificent building could have been abandoned, but that’s exactly what happened.

Paul Malo and I later visited it together numerous times thanks to the Millar family who are the current owners. Both Paul and I always ensured that the villa was well represented in our books in hopes of exposing this important historical treasure to someone who might take on the project of restoring it. It came very close on a couple of occasions, but the downturn got in the way. Now that we’re beginning a meaningful recovery, the opportunity remains. No question, this is a major “fixer-upper,” but Paul noted that it was built on bedrock, remains plumb and definitely could be done. How often does one have the chance to preserve such a fabulous piece of Thousand Island’s history? http://www.thecarletonislandvilla.com/

For this month I’ll leave you with a scene many should recognize in hopes it will generate more interesting stories. Thanks to all for last month's submissions.


Ian Coristine

Wallpaper February 2011

Download wide-angle version


My Great Grandfather, Stephen K. Bresee used to own Imperial Island shown in the lower left corner (not Boldt’s mother-in-law but the one above it) of the photo. He passed away in 1936 so I never had the privilege of meeting him nor was I ever lucky enough to visit the castle that was on the island at the time. The island was sold after Bresee’s death and remained outside the family until sometime in the 50’s. During that time the castle fell into disrepair as did so many other island estates There are a number of pieces of furniture in one of the local Alex Bay hotels bearing a very unique crown design which my grandmother swore came from her father’s castle.. My uncle Bill Dunn (Bresee’s grandson) eventually brought the island back into the family and unfortunately had to raze the old castle and in the process expand the property to its present size. He and his wife built a small cottage and a ramp so Bill could pilot his seaplane in and out of the river. Bill eventually sold the property in the 60’s in a trade for property in the backwaters of the Admiralty Group.

Jeff Crouse, Liverpool, NY posted on: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hi Ian, The first island is, of course, 'just room enough' and according to legend, Mr. Boldt had it built for his mother-in-law. Saw it many times as I rounded Boldt Castle with the Thousand Islanders as well as the Miss Rockport II. Imperial Island and Belle Island are next and are part of the Manhattan Group in 'Millionaire's Row'. It was fun taking the Miss Rockport II through this maze of islands. Almost like traveling through a private canal in some areas. Another rumour had it that the late Arthur Godfrey owned Florence Island? Not sure, but it made for an interesting commentary back in the day.

Brian Johnson, Kingston, ON posted on: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ian, I received your email with the February photo of Carleton Island. My ancestors met on the island in 1783, were married and moved on to be amongst the first to arrive in the new Kingston in May 1784. In fact, they produced the first child to be borne in the new city in that month. The child, John G. Lloyd subsequently was one of the militia members taken captive in The Forsythe Raid on Gananoque in 1812. Later, he owned and operated a Durham boat moving goods between Kingston and Montreal. It is very odd that there has been no successful effort to restore Fort Haldimand on Carleton Island. It has great historical significance and must be the only unrestored fort in New York State. I wonder if there are individuals amongst your mailing list who are familiar with past efforts to restore the fort and who might be prepared to open discussions again on that topic. As a former chair of the St Lawrence Parks Commission, I am very aware of the economic importance of Fort Henry to Kingston and the surrounding region. It would be wonderful if Fort Haldimand could become another important historical resource in our region.

Gary Clarke, De Watteville Island, ON posted on: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

This has been my stomping grounds since 1971. It's wonderful to see the neighborhood from this angle and the water so calm. This photo really makes me eager to head North!

Rich Calabrese, Jr posted on: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hi Ian, Thank you for this trip down memory lane... While we didn't live here, we floated in this calm backwater off Boldt's Castle for many years - at night the castle lights are stunning. We look forward to majestically ply these waters in our 1948 Lyman Islander, Miss Maezie, for many years to come. We'll look for you.

Steve & Mae Slagsvol, Pleasant Valley, NY posted on: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Lots could be done on Carleton. Plumb and on bedrock is a start. Masonry wears away, however. As a one time builder myself, I wonder what a good mason would say? I was also drawn to this statement - "Carleton held the first English residents on the upper St. Lawrence and the first English speaking people in Jefferson County..."Bing! Out of nowhere comes such a useful (to me) and specific statement. I have been researching the history of the upper St Lawrence Valley (especially the Thousand Island region) from first contact (BTW Native People and Europeans) until the French were defeated at Quebec. I read research, and read some more. I plan (hope) to eventually share my findings; perhaps submit a short introductory article in the Thousand Island Life online magazine. I hope to answer, who was here, what were they doing, and where were they doing it, etc.? As well, information about early contact, and other activity in the area over the period described. If anyone is striking forward in a similar vein, I would love to hear from you.

jack Patterson posted on: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Millionaire Row! Countless trips through here - starting when I was 10 or so (with my brother in his 13' whaler). Taking friends that were visiting with us. Trips with Grandma and Grandpa in the Seven Isles (wonderful, 26' 1926 Duclon launch). My most distinctive memory was when the water was especially high one year (can't remember when - possibly the year of the oil spill?), and Sand Dollar (or Just Room Enough, or Mother-in-law) was completely under water! The back door was a step right into the river, and the rocks where the little aluminum boat was sometimes pulled up on was submerged. I remember thinking the first step was a doozy!The seaplane landing that used to be in there somewhere (I can never remember where now). And, in the background, Wau Winet! My brother and I, and our friends, used to go there all the time. The owner had a few video games/pinball machines and a foosball table. He would leave the little doors open, so we could activate them with our fingers. We played for hours! And then, we would either go over to Devils Oven (which is hidden by Cherry Island) to jump off the cliffs, or sometimes, we would run from the roof over the kitchen and jump in the water from Wau Winet. I remember once, a tour boat coming by, and calling us the famous high-jumpers of Wau Winet! It was very funny. They would all take pictures of us jumping. You had to take the running start, to make sure you cleared the little bit of shallow water. (not a problem with Devils Oven)We were sad when Wau Winet burned down. It was a great old hotel/restaurant (that I never saw actually open as such). We still jump off Devils Oven on a regular basis. My nephews started at 10 and 7 respectively. It's an annual ritual!Thanks for the memories. And all your great pictures!

posted on: Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I have predominately worked out of Rochester restoring Historic structures throughout western NY. I have owned the servants quarters at the Chalet since 1986, I have recently spent the last 16 months restoring the grounds at Hopewell Hall for the Sanzone's, with an eight-man crew it has been both a challenging and rewarding project, we will return in the spring for the last of the details. We are also involved with the preliminary work at the Tea Room at Singer Castle as well a a few minor projects at Pullman Island. The Villa has always fascinated me and surely is worthy of rescue. Your report of the history of the island though short is fascinating, who would have imagine the Naval History. These derelict structures have become a specialty and passion for me over the past 35 years of my life I have had the privilege of saving many. I would like to visit the the Villa. Perhaps there is a connection here that could lead the the rescue of the Villa.

Wm. W. Farmer Jr., Catenary Constr., Rochester, NY posted on: Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I don't typically use these comments to carry on dialogue between various commenters, but in this case think it is important to do so, so this is in response to your comment above Bill (Farmer). I've seen the amazing job you've been doing at Hopewell Hall, including last winter's greenhouse! Not a minor undertaking. Very well done. Yes, the Villa is in desperate need of a savior. Many inquiries came in over the years since Paul and I first began exposing this exceptional property in our books, but as far as I know, only two were truly serious. One offer failed over price, the other I believe was accepted - just before the downturn which forced its withdrawal. Both Paul Malo and I have always tried to keep the Villa on the radar in hopes that a steward might emerge. It is owned by the Millar family of Utica, NY. I've copied this note to Charlie Millar in case you would like to communicate with him and also with Susie Smith who is the very able editor of TI Life Magazine, which she took over following Paul's passing. I suspect you might know Andy Greene of Greene Structures. He's very knowledgeable about the Villa, having looked at it in detail on behalf of one of the potential purchasers. Here's hoping that this still could happen before it's too late. It was Paul's fondest wish that he would live to see the Villa's restoration so I know he'd be celebrating from above if it were to happen.

Ian Coristine, Raleigh Island, ON posted on: Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Thanks for including me in this communication Ian. TI Life Magazine is looking great these days! Carleton Villa is definitely near and dear to my heart. I have climbed over every bit of it on many occasions and looked at the property with two possible buyers, one of whom retained us to do the restoration. Unfortunately, the global melt-down caught up with the Villa and that buyer bowed out. We have even worked up estimates to temporarily cover the roof and then replace it with a new sheathing plane and new red cedar shingles. Also, we worked up estimates to stabilize the worst areas of the structure. I have visited the Villa annually (or every six months) for three or four years now and the structure is rapidly moving toward collapse. I am generally an optimist and believe that wooden structures are very resilient, but this house has been abandoned for a very, very long time. I have had some contact with people at Cornell University who have shown interest in helping to fund a restoration. The Villa’s architect was one of Cornell’s first architecture graduates. The first buyer also had a contact at GE who showed interest in helping to fund the restoration. GE owned the Villa around World War 2 and had a role in the Villa’s deterioration. If I can be of any assistance to anyone interested in saving this very unique late Gilded Age mansion, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Carleton Villa is very special and is still savable, but will not be savable for much longer.

Andy Greene, Greene Structures, Fishers Landing posted on: Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Rid Tinney posted on: Sunday, February 13, 2011

I wondered if Andy Greene would be willing to share the cost estimate of stabilizing and replacing the roof? My family owns part of an island on the Canadian side of the thousand islands and the Villa has always interested me.

Tawny Davis posted on: Sunday, February 13, 2011

All estimates are greatly affected by individual home owners, but here is what we came up with for one potential buyer. The cost estimate to remove the Villa's existing roof and to replace all of the Villa's roof structural system (rafters) and to "dry-in" the building with weather resistant plywood (final roofing material would be applied to this) was $232,000. The final roofing cost would vary greatly depending on whether a new owner chose to replace the exisitng cedar shingles with the same or with asphalt shingles. The cost estimate to stabilize the two worst foundation and wall areas of the Villa was $4,300. I hope this helps. The Villa is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone. It will be a huge project, but incredibly rewarding.Andy Greene, Greene Structures

posted on: Wednesday, February 16, 2011

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One afternoon at a book signing, a lady shared with me a profound statement. "The River chooses some". Those of us who were chosen, spend winters longing to get back. To help my winter longings and yours too, each winter month I enjoy sharing a computer screensaver image to help infuse a little summer warmth into your day. I also outline the latest additions to ThousandIslandsLife.com online magazine. If you would like to receive these images and updates, please add your email address to the notification list using the form below. It will not be shared elsewhere.