It’s always a tough call choosing a winner, particularly when there are several good stories are submitted.
Amongst others, Allen Benas’ story is worth the read (it's in the comments section below) but having scooped the honors last month, the nod this time around goes to Dick Withington of Clayton for this:
“This month looks like Picton Island in the foreground looking to the northeast downstream. Murray, Grenell, and part of TI Park are in the distance. Murray reminds me of the colorful and gracious Polly Daw, who wrote an article in the TI Sun every week. She was a crusty lady, but we got along well. If I recall correctly, she crawled across the island with a broken ankle one November when she was all alone on the island. I think she was rescued by Steve Taylor.
Many thanks Dick for sharing this. A set of 6 prints is headed you way.
Since the comments section was added last month, it provides the opportunity to share a few of the other responses at the bottom of this page. Feel free to add your comments pertinent to the April image or email me with stories about the May image.
This is the last screensaver picture of the winter season as it’s time to get back to the River. I realize the scene is tougher than usual to identify, but finding it should make for some enjoyable summer exploring.
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Just in case you didn't receive the earlier notification, the April edition of Paul Malo’s outstanding ThousandIslandsLife.com online magazine was posted mid month and includes some very interesting stories including one about Carlton Island’s Fort Haldimand. Despite being relatively unknown to most islanders, Fort Haldimand was arguably the most strategically and historically important place in the Thousand Islands region during much of the 18th century. There's a lot of little known history here as well as in earlier issues of the magazine.
If you haven't yet been back to the River, you’ll be pleased to know that the water levels have recovered well from last fall's alarming lows and are about as high as I’ve seen in my 13 years here. Here’s hoping they hold up.
We'll get back to these screensavers in the fall. In the meantime, have a wonderful summer on the River.
When she realized that she would not be likely to live to be 100, she decided to "celebrate" her 100th birthday several years early and gave herself a nice birthday party. She played a trick on me later. One of our relatives borrowed my boat one Saturday night. Next week in the TI Sun she had written " I hope Mrs. --------- is feeling better now. Doc's boat was at her dock pretty late last Saturday night." We all had a good laugh.
You also picture Maple Island, the scene of the mysterious death of the alleged accomplice in the death of Abraham Lincoln. It has been suggested that some "local justice" may have played a role in that whole drama.”
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Can't believe after living on the River for 29 years I am finally able to recognize one of your island images. I believe the large island shaped like the letter "H" is Picton Island in front of Grindstone and behind Bluff Island. Back in 1979 when we first came to The River my two girls, Catherine and Dorothy would take the aluminum boat and explore Picton's bay, there to be invited by Mr. Heinerman Sr. to play backgammon and watch his chipmunks take a peanut from his lips. We have known and enjoyed the family for many years and feel a definite loss as each member has passed on, the last being Jack. Matthew Heinerman is a welcomed sight and always a surprise visitor. He took us on a nightly trip via a four wheeler around and about the island looking deep into the quarry and listening to Coyote calls. It was dark and scary but we trusted Matthew to navigate the narrow and steep trails ending an adventure we won't forget. Thank you for keeping our minds and hearts connected to the River all year. I will soon move up to Bluff in May once again to cherish and enjoy the peace and blessings it provides. Cookie Sanborn, Manlius, NY
Cookie Sanborn posted on: Thursday, May 01, 2008
I have to say that April's was a winner of a story especially for young boaters who may not have the wisdom to wait for better weather. I know as kids we had that drilled into us. Anyway, in the new shot you are just clearing Grindstone on the New York side, more or less opposite Clayton. The island which creates the channel below you is Picton. A trip to Gananoque from Clayton would take us through the Picton "gut" left around the foot of Grindstone (passing Canoe Point), and through the Gananoque Narrows to Gan. Picton has one of the few granite quarries which is still clearly visible from the river. This quarry and the one on Grindstone produced, among other things, cobble stones which were barged to Chicago for street paving, or so the story goes. Our cottage foundation and fireplace is river granite.When we kept our boat in Clayton we made that trip often. The SW wind coming across the open stretch can be really brutal, dangerous in fact especially with a following sea. Michael Brink VT/Ramsden Island
Michael Brink posted on: Thursday, May 01, 2008
Picton Island, looking southeast from over Grindstone Is. with Maple, Long Rock & Grenell in the background and Murray and the head of Wellesley at the top. I can't recall exactly when it was, but that's not important. Suffice it to say that it was sometime between 1979 and 1987 when my guide boat was a 33' Ulrichsen fly bridge cruiser, the first A.B.'s Office. I had brought my party to the east side of Picton Island, drift fishing for northern pike with a light west wind pushing us along the shoreline towards the north and Eel Bay.Back then that was a particularly good pike fishing area, as many spots around Eel Bay continue to be today. My party was fishing with normal bass and pike weight tackle, hooks baited with silver shiners and held close to the bottom by 1/2 oz. sinkers. With just the right wind direction, drifts along the shore were usually good for three of four fish a drift. Sizes varied, of course, but back then it seemed that 50% of the day's catches were of legal keeping size.On what turned out to be the last drift of the afternoon one of the anglers hooked into something huge. The rod bent into a horse shoe and the drag screamed as the line shot off the spool. I didn't know what was on the other end, but there was no doubt that it was huge. The angler would pump the rod up and reel like the dickens as he lowered it back to the waterline in order to gain back line. The more line he gained back the harder the fight as his rod whipped up and down from the resistance on the other end.The longer the fight went on, the more I was convinced that we had hooked into a good size muskie. As any muskie fisherman knows, they are renowned for shaking their heads as they fight to get away. Where pike make long runs, muskies seem to want to shake the hook loose by thrashing their heads back and forth. As the angler lifted his rod, it came up, but as soon as he began to reel in line the rod tip would just bob up and down as he struggled to regain line.There were boats around us all the time we had been there that day and hearing the yelling on our boat they began to gather around. Another guide had called me on the radio for no particular reason and I told him I thought we had Moby Dick on. That's all it took for more boats in the area to converge on us to see what was going on and cheer my sport on. This went on for nearly a half hour and it didn't seem that we were much better off than at the beginning. It seemed that it might take the rest of the afternoon to get the 50 or 60 feet of line back on the reel and what ever it was in the boat.Gradually, the sport made progress although his arm began to look like a soaked noodle. He would have been happy to hand off the rod but I kept telling him that "no guts, no glory." If that thing on the end of his line was any sort of record, it had to be handled by just the one angler from hooking to landing. I think it was that thought, perhaps that deep seated desire for angling fame that all anglers share, that encouraged him to persevere.After what seemed to be an eternity, we could see movement in the water. Remember that the water wasn't as clear back then and anything had to be just about to the surface in order to tell what it was. I grabbed the large muskie net, that is stored up in the cabin during bass and pike season, and got good footing on the deck. When I appear on deck with that huge net the people on the boats around us began to cheer in encouragement. Cameras popped up here and there all around us.Finally it came into view. I was the first to see it, followed quickly by the other anglers on the boat, all except the one that had it on, as he was back in the middle of the cockpit to get it close enough to the side for me to net. At the same time, all of us that could see it began to laugh and utter explicatives, much to the angler's dismay. It turned out that he had hooked into a "record" 18" square panel of rusted boiler plate hooked in a hole right in the middle.Just as a coin or fishing spoon flip flops as it sinks, so too did the plate when lift pressure was released, thus giving the head shaking appearance. Hooked right in a small hole in the center gave it the resistance of a huge fish.They say no fishing trip is a real outing without at least one fish tale. Needless to say, my sport had his and I'm sure it got retold many times over the following months. I remember that I recalled it to many of my sports over the rest of the season.Allen Benas, Clayton, NY
Allen Benas posted on: Tuesday, November 04, 2008
I came across your website and your wallpaper challenge about a year ago. Since then, I have been waiting for the quintessential "I can see my house from here!" moment. April's wallpaper comes about as close to that as can be reasonably expected. I IMMEDIATELY made it the wallpaper on my laptop.First things first, let me identify the scene: It focuses on Picton Island, looking downriver with Murray toward the top and Wellesley beyond, on the other side of the Narrows. Grindstone in in the lower lefthand corner, Grenell and Hub are in the upper right. Maple Island is at center right.While my family's cottage is not quite visible, being on the far side of Murray from this angle), I am intimately familiar with this "neighborhood". I once circumnavigated Murray Isle in a peddle boat with a friend while in high school. I will never do that again. I believe it took the better part of a day. We went round counter-clockwise and the wind fought us the whole way round the back of the island peddling upriver. We had a cup to bail with, and even beached it a few times to dump out excess water.The photo was taken right before sunset, which reminds me of the countless sunsets my family has enjoyed watching around the "back" of Murray. Fromour cottage, we can tell if the sunset is going to be a "good" one by looking in the opposite direction in the evening. If the sun reflects strongly off of a certain boathouse on Grenell, we know the sunset will be worth the short boat ride through the narrows to "see the show". On especially good evenings, the boathouse will absolutely glow.I will thoroughly enjoy this photo on my computer, and speculate as to which of the boats going to and fro might be me. The one at the top between Hub and Murray is a possible candidate...but the coastline of Grenell looks like it's glowing, so I may just be one of the boats among the fishermen upriverfrom Mosquito Island watching the sun set over Grindstone and Canada beyond.Thanks for entertaining us with your monthly competition, and even if I don't win the prize, I'm glad to be able to see one of your wallpapers andknow immediately where it was.Dan Reilly, York, PA
Dan Reilly posted on: Sunday, April 27, 2008
I got this one right off the bat but didn't realize there was such a rushing contest too.As far back as my grandfather we would leave TI Park, travel through the GUT or narrows to see the sun set. My kids still do it when they are here. Growing up in that area I knew so many people on surrounding islands Grennel, Murray, Picton, Twin, Castle Francis and, of course Maple etc. This is the finest area for "making out". Since my Husband passed there is none of that going on. But he is still there so he can see the beautiful Eel Bay sunsets. I still take my Mother's 39 Hutch Kro-Flite out and enjoy that same view with friends.You can't imagine how I look forward to seeing your beautiful photo's each month. And what a challenge.. But darn NO spell check!Fondly, Betsy Estabrook, St Pete Beach, FL
Betsy Estabrook posted on: Sunday, April 27, 2008
Having the opportunity of knowing most of the Islanders over many years, I remember this part of the river very well. I have been following the Leek Is. research for the length of the discussion and I feel that many more discussions are necessary or will we lose a large part of the local history. To Mike Brink Please contact email@example.com as I may have part of a Penn story to relate. Peter Brooks
Peter Brooks posted on: Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The April picture looks like Picton island, if it is I do not know much about it other then we go there many times in the summer with the kids to Swim and relax.Brian Hudon
Brian Hudon posted on: Tuesday, April 29, 2008
How well I know this area. Bottom left, Grindstone, going to starboard and up, Picton, Maple, Grenell, Hub, Murry and Wellesley. Lots of stories but I am not a typist and not a very good story teller. However I do LOVE the RIVER and enjoy your screensavers and books.Howard Schmid, ROCHESTER, NY
Howard Schmid posted on: Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The Picton Island quarry (owned by C.G. Emery of Calumet Island) also provided granite for the original wing of the Museum of Natural History in New York City. This is the wing on the south side. Paul Malo, Fulton, NY
Paul Malo posted on: Thursday, May 01, 2008
Thank you Ian. These stories entered here in response to your wonderful pictures are marvelous. Early on we folks from the U. S. came out of Clayton, and other 'American' towns , to get to island 'homes' in Canada . A practice from the earliest years (before 1938) when there was no bridge. I remember many a trip in the 'Chief' our BIG boat; requisite round bottom sea-skiff with small cabin and forward head, powered early on by a Lycoming eight cylinder engine which I believe - such engines - often came from decommissioned WW I airplanes. On the island were women and children. The men came on the weekends and for their week or two week vacations. So it was Nana - Marjorie Baker Breyer (or daughters Peggy, Betty Jane - our mother, or Ann) , who usually skippered the Chief to . . . and one of the men who did so . . . from. I wasn't taller than the polished brass gear shift one year when the prevailing Southwest wind brought a squall right in on our tail just after leaving the Clayton dock. All the bag, folks, groceries, etc., we attempted to duck in under the roof. There were canvas 'side - curtains' with snaps. I see now in my mind's eye , Nana - there were no (experienced) 'men' in this boatload apparently, thus negotiating the search through the reduced visibility of the squall line, for the entrance to the Picton Island channel while avoiding the little island with the fisherman's shack at the entrance (I see THREE 'little islands' in your photo and do not remember three but have no chart at hand.) Once past there we always felt safe. The run to Axeman on the opposite side of Grindstone - from Canoe Point up into the Lake Fleet Group, didn't bring the heavy following seas that could come down on such as ourselves with the long 'fetch' of the Seaway on the U S side. I have many, many more stories, too, of the area as only seventy years spent vacationing/living (and loving) one region can produce. I miss my very great pals Tom Beadel and Sissy Danforth - nee Beadle, from over on Murray where they received their early river educations. Tom's was perhaps especially star-studded, but Sissy made her own particular indelible mark. Too, I was always accorded a warm welcome by the family after negotiating the long steps up to their cottage on the South side of Murray. As the old poker metaphor goes as to Tom and Sissy: "Quite a pair to draw to . . ." Jack Patterson, Norwalk, CT/Axeman Island
Jack Patterson posted on: Thursday, May 01, 2008
Another great photo. In the attached clip from the April screen saver with Murray's sunset side showing, I thought you might like to see the bay (lower middle of this clip) where I learned boating in the years from 1939-1993. The comments about Polly Daw with the subject of the current picture (May), but referring to the April picture, makes me chuckle a bit. In her wild days, when she first built there, not much more than a lean-to, she was Polly Steel (or was after her first marriage, I'm not sure the details) and she was the talk of the neighborhood. Til then my grandfather's place and Dave Terry's place in the shadow of the point on the left end of the bay were the only cottages at that end of the bay. And a lot of effort was put into maintaining them. Actually before Dave Terry owned their place, his mother Marge Terry owned it, and before that her father, Mr Truman (I don't believe I ever heard what his first name was--little kids aren't supposed to address adults by their first names, right?). Later, when Polly's son grew up to become Spike Steel, he built an A-frame cottage that replaced the "lean-to" and later than that he 'ruined' the look of the bay when he built a monstrous boathouse, double long, double wide, and two story, that pretty much blocked our view of the little island in the middle of the bay we called "Snake Island" and where we'd swim to and hang out on the rocks. I've already pointed you at the picture I have online of the point at the left in the foreground and our boathouse in the distance. The DxO improvement process was so good that you can see the front of our cottage back in the trees. At the same internet location, I have a picture of Spike driving his "woodie" and also a picture of both the point and "Snake Island" from our dock, the latter moved to the right to keep their boathouse out of the picture as much as possible.After Polly was well established and even kept an electric golf cart at the head of the trail leading across island to the post office, one year we were further shocked to discover the Beattys had built a cottage between Polly and us on the crest of a small rise. Later they sold out to Jim and Bonnie Smith. Bonnie was one of these drop-dead gorgeous gals with matching daughters and a son who later on a July 4th ran around with sparklers scaring me into thinking he'd light the place on fire. I clearly remember coming in by boat for the season the first year the Smiths were there and one of Bonnie's daughters was sunning herself on their dock in a tiny bikini. I had to pick up my jaw from the bottom of the boat.They were from Rochester and he worked for Kodak. One year he was assigned someplace out west and was really tired the next summer when they returned to the river. Jim and his son ran over to the post office and back right after he arrived, tossing the football back and forth to each other. On return, he needed a drink, and steadily felt worse. I'm not sure if he the heart attack killed him there, on the boat ride to the mainland, or in the hospital at Alex bay, but that left Bonnie alone for a couple of years until she met and married a firefighter from their little suburb west of Rochester, Scott somebody. We missed Jim a lot, he was a real nice guy.After Bonnie sold their place, the new owners promptly built a full sized dock which for me was the final straw. It was just getting too crowded. This was around 1990 and I finally decided it wasn't worth the aggravation. In 1993 my dad had his final heart attack and barely made it to the hospital at Alex Bay. When they were able to stabilize him, he was shipped to Syracuse Hospital, where they had better facilities. After rehab there to the point he could ride the car back here to Columbus, Ohio, he and mom beat it back here and they never returned. It took several years, but finally the place sold in '95 or '96. I've been able to spot the boathouse in satellite pictures at Google Earth, so the bay hasn't changed all that much in the 10+ years since I was last there. The front side picture on your website combined with this backside picture of Murray are really a couple of treasures for me. I really do appreciate your photos of the island. BTW, the dock sticking out into EEL Bay a little to the left of that rocky point on Murray was build by Dr. Fulton and he really made sure not only of his privacy, but also control of the wilderness between his place and the entire point. He wanted to make sure no one ever developed that stretch. Also at one point Rachel Cole's dad bought up all of the interior of Murray with the same idea of blocking development. The original blueprints for Murray show roads all over the place and houses galore. Fortunately that hasn't happened (yet).Before I forget: congrats on the print award for your brochure last year. The building of the Beatty cottage stimulated my grandfather to spend the winter designing an addition to our cottage at their end to give us more privacy. (The previous year he had inquired about buying the land to "protect" our space, but thought the $800 was too much. He ended up spending far more than that on the addition, eventho my Dad and he did all the work, with my modest help). We kept the outhouse even after the addition that gave us an indoor bathroom and shower for the first time. The outhouse was located near the property line with the Beatty's place. Later on the Smith's claimed we were over the line and pushed the outhouse down. My folks repaired it, but by the next year it was down again and pretty much demolished. We gave up and filled in the hole.At the other end of the bay was another family from Pittsburgh in the early days, the Dennison's, Boyd and Dick. I always wondered why my mom didn't get attached to one of them. Dick was a chemist with DuPont and it was interesting to speculate what life would have been like had he and my mom latched up. Dick and his wife built a new cottage between the old cottage, now owned by Pease, one of the relatives, and Snake island. It was Dick who bailed me out when my son and I cleaned out our cottage in 1995 prior to its sale. The micro burst came thru that early Saturday morning and I-81 was closed, or so we thought. Dick offered to use his boat to run us over to Chalk's at Fisher's Landing. Rachel Cole had previously agreed to transportation for us, but her small aluminum boat really wasn't up to the task, given all the stuff we planned to take away. Dick's I/O made quick work of the task. I wrote to the editors of the TI Sun a thank you letter to both Rachel and Dick for their help and long term friendship. I felt it was the least I could do, Dick wouldn't accept any payment for his help. I did, however, give him our small aluminum boat and electric trolling motor and he put that into an auction to benefit the Murray Isle Association.Looks like I've been running on here for quite a while. I'd better sign off,Regards,Dave Scott, Columbus, OH
Dave Scott posted on: Tuesday, November 04, 2008
May's image is particulary meaningful to me. I am 31 years old and have been going to the river for...well 31 years. I spent most of my summers at Green Cedars by Millens Bay. However, when I was in high school my family got the opportunity to stay at Wintergreen Island, which was originally a peninsula of Murray Island above Picton in this picture. What a difference when you stay on an Island for two weeks in the summer versus the mainland. While there one year my dad, brother and I went fishing after dinner when only that river sunset can produce those gold and orange colors we only think are imaginable. We fished the cove right in the middle of Murray on the side closer to Picton in the picture. In just over an hour we caught 21 northern pike and one giant small mouth. As memorable as that was, what will stick in our minds the most that night is right in the middle of fishing an Apache helicopter probably from Fort Drum came right over our heads from over Murray and began to do all sorts of aerial maneuvers including loops and dives right over Eel Bay. This show lasted for about five minutes and none of us bothered to reel in our lures at the time as we let them sink to the bottom of the river. Truly a moment that will stay with me for life. I am now fortunate enough to take my own children to the river and when I watch them take in this amazing place I can't help but think of this moment I shared with my dad and brother. That is one of the most beautiful parts of the islands. It seems to make its mark on someone and it just keeps going through the generations.
David Hochadel, Rochester, NY posted on: Thursday, November 19, 2009