Tag Archives: 1000 islands

Vacationing with the Lanark County Folks in 1000 Islands 1938

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Vacationing with the Lanark County Folks in 1000 Islands 1938
maybe some of you would be crossing the 1000 Island Bridge if the borders were not shut down.1000 Island Bridge 1938 from Jay Playfair’s album from Lanark County/ courtesy Laurie Yuill
opening day 1938 thousand island bridge

1000 Island Bridge 1938 from Jay Playfair’s album from Middleville –Lanark County/ courtesy Laurie Yuill

All Postcards from 1938 from Jay Playfair’s album from Lanark County/ courtesy Laurie Yuill

Photo Linda Seccaspina 1000 Islands US Bridge and Canadian flag.
When the colonists in New York City found out about the Declaration of Independence from George Washington who read it in front of City Hall on July 9, 1776, a riot broke out, in part as a reaction to the fact that British naval ships were occupying the harbor at the time. During the riot, a statue of King George III was torn down… and melted down to make 42,000 musket balls for the revolutionary army

Related reading

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

Is there Still Gold on Wellesley Island ?

Did you Know About the Wedding Cake Cottage?

Murder on Maple Island

Stories from Ash Island

The Almost Tragic Story of Robert Henry

The Lost Island– Now You See it- Now You Don’t!

Gold Mines and Disappearances

Did Anyone Find the Lost Barrel of Silver Coins That Lies at the Bottom of the Rideau Canal?

Ted Bain Danny Arnstein and the Checker Cab

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Ted Bain Danny Arnstein and the Checker Cab

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In 1982 for a two dollar bill and change, the townspeople of Smiths Falls could take a ride in a Checker Cab and make believe they were in the Big Apple. Ted Bain, the late owner of B & B Taxi, realized a lifetime ambition when he purchased his green and white Checker Special.

He had been  negotiating with a dealer for two years to get hold of a second-hand Checker.  Although the car was a 1979 model, it looked like it came straight out of a ’50s movie. That’s because the last time the company changed the model design was 1956.

Out of of his fleet of 13 cars, the Checker was most in demand. That $2.25 unmetered Checker ride in 1982 was going to cost more if the two cab companies met Smiths Falls council regarding a fare hike.  The council favoured installing meters in town taxis but Bain didn’t think that was the best approach.

Built by Checker Motors Corporation in Kalamazoo, Mich., the car had a six-cylinder Chevrolet engine and General Motors powertrain. Extra-wide doors allowed enough space between the front and back seats to hold a wheelchair and the car itself was extra heavy. Bain pointed out it was the same model viewers saw weekly in the popular television series Taxi. 

All parts, including fenders and rocker panels, were replaceable, Bain noted. As a mechanic and body man by trade, he did all his own work. He said a front fender costs him $80 in U.S. funds and, as the frame itself  was of heavy construction, he hoped by rebuilding to get an extra 10 years out of the car.

Despite his lifetime love affair with Checker cabs, Bain was not aware that Danny Arnstein, owner of the Yellow Taxi Cab Company in New York and Chicago, spent 30 years as a summer resident in the area until his death in 1960. His unusual $100,000 cottage on Livingston Island ( Now Colonel By Island) in Big Rideau Lake still stands and can be seen by boating visitors to the overnight docking area, owned by Parks Canada.

 

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This is the largest island in a set of islands collectively known as “Long Island”. It was formerly known as “Livingston Island” and may still be marked that way on older charts. The flat roofed building on the Island was called “Wag’s Lodge,” built by Danny Arnstein (co-owner of Yellow Cab in New York and Chicago) in 1949-50. The cottage features two massive “peanut rock” fireplaces and “driftwood plywood” walls. Of note the building has deteriorated and Parks Canada has restricted access in and around the building.

 

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Movie stars Allan Ladd, Jane Powell and singer Paul Anka were a few of the celebrities Arnstein entertained there. And employees of his cab company were brought up to spend their vacations on the Rideau. Bain hoped to have 14 of the famous fleet of Checker cabs on call but didn’t know how his wife would take it. “She says I fell in love with Checker and chucked her aside,” he laughed.

In memory of Ted Bain

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historicalnotes

See pictures of abandoned interior here.. CLICK
The present building on the island was built in 1949-50 for Danny Arnstein, the owner of the Yellow Cab Company of Chicago and New Your City. The architect of the building was Horace Roberts of Westport.

The island was originally known as the “Isle of Guernsey”

In the 1940s, the Long Island Club was formed with at least three families involved, including Danny Arnstein (Yellow Cab Company). The front of the building contained four large bedrooms with baths, a very large living room and dining area and a game and sun room. All these rooms were fitted with call buttons to the kitchen. Behind the kitchen was a small sitting area for the servants, their two small bedrooms and shared bathroom. Mr. Arnstein visited the island every summer until his death in 1960 and always brought his cook and maid from New York City. The large central section of the cottage had 14 foot ceilings to match the Arnstein apartment in New York City. It boasted two 18th century chandeliers designed to hold 36 candles each. The stone in the four fireplaces was locally quarried limestone.

After Mr. Arnstein’s death in 1960, the island was acquired by Gerry Livingston of Smiths Falls and the island became known as “Livingston Island”. It was sold to Parks Canada in 1979 who renamed the island “Colonel By Island”.

 - The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
24 Mar 1947, Mon  •  Page 6

 - The New York Times
New York, New York
26 Dec 1922, Tue  •  Page 17

 - The Windsor Star
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
21 Mar 1936, Sat  •  Page 14

Press and Sun-Bulletin
Binghamton, New York
07 Mar 1966, Mon  •  Page 19

 - Daily News
New York, New York
22 Aug 1960, Mon  •  Page 151

 - The Miami Herald
Miami, Florida
28 Sep 1960, Wed  •  Page 29

 

 

Armchair Tourism in Carleton Place –Part 1–Bud’s Taxi

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

Is there Still Gold on Wellesley Island ?

Murder on Maple Island

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

Stories from Ash Island

The Almost Tragic Story of Robert Henry

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

The Lost Island– Now You See it- Now You Don’t!

Gold Mines and Disappearances

Did Anyone Find the Lost Barrel of Silver Coins That Lies at the Bottom of the Rideau Canal?

Did You Know About Fettercairn Island?

Did you Know About the Wedding Cake Cottage?

 

Do You Remember? Memories of the Pengor Penguin

Looking for a 1930 Pontiac –Napier Connection –Ken Brisco

Is there Still Gold on Wellesley Island ?

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Is there Still Gold on Wellesley Island ?

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During the French and Indian Wars the defeated French sought refuge on Wellesley Island near Poplar Bay and the former site of the Hotel Westminster. There are numerous takes that the French buried an enormous sum of gold and other priceless artifacts.   Only one Frenchman escaped from the aftermath of the fighting and before he returned to France he drew a map and then gave it to his descendents upon his return.  The map that showed the location of the buried treasure was last seen in 1914. If it really was buried chances are it is still there as the geological formation of the islands which bears the weight of the great span of the bridge is red granite, and has been there for hundreds of thousands of years, and strong.

In 1937 the folks from from Ottawa enjoyed enjoyed every minute of the cruises to Wellesley arranged by J. G. Mitchell, of Lansdowne, one of the strongest supporters supporters of the new “International Bridge scheme”. In the St. Lawrence River they passed the relic of past years, the excursion ‘ steamer “Riverside”. It was gradually falling into decay between Wellesley and Larue Islands. The boat had been purchased for her engine but it had not been removed and the lifeboats still rested on the top deck. Memories of those that came up the river fascinated by the stories of pirates, mayhem and gold on the island was excellent publication for the hotel.  Another story has Captain Kidd, the infamous pirate sailing up the St. Lawrence River to Wellesley Island and burying his treasure at the site of two poplar trees.

 

 

 

 

historicalnotes

Thousand Island Park on the upper end of Wellesley Island was founded by the Methodist Church in 1875. Their religious buildings, cottages, boathouses, and docks were the scene of many years of activity (Leavitt, 1879). Also on Wellesley Island was the Presbyterian Camp, called Westminster Park. The International Camp Ground, situated one mile below Morristown, New York, was a Methodist Camp with members coming from both Canada and the United States (Leavitt, 1879).

Other United States island hotels were the Grenell Tavern (which eventually became the Pullman Hotel), the Hub, the Murray Hill, the Cliff House and the hotels and resorts built on Wellesley Island. The Thousand Island Park hotel which burned in 1890 was replaced by the Columbian. This was “considered the finest hotel above the city of Montreal” (Common, 1919). It was built in the shape of a Greek cross to give the easiest escape as well as the outside view to every room. This also caught fire in 1912 when much of the Thousand Island Park was destroyed by fire (Common, 1949).

The club itself, built on George C. Boldt’s property on Wellesley Island, was known as the Millionaires’ Club as most of its members fitted into that category. In its by-laws was the following statement: “The particular business object of the Club is the promotion and cultivation of social intercourse among its members, and for enjoyment and recreation on the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries, and for yachting, boating, and fishing on the same, and fcr the advancement of their mutual interests as summer residents of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River” (Thousand Island Club By Laws).

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

relatedreading

 

 

Murder on Maple Island

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

Stories from Ash Island

The Almost Tragic Story of Robert Henry

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

The Lost Island– Now You See it- Now You Don’t!

Gold Mines and Disappearances

Did Anyone Find the Lost Barrel of Silver Coins That Lies at the Bottom of the Rideau Canal?

What Happened to the Gold on the Ramsay 7th line?

Gold in Dem Dar Hills of Lanark

Stories from Ash Island

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Stories from Ash Island

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They say that in 1900 many of islands belonging to the Thousand Islands were farmed. The people lived there year round and had to last out months of poor weather with sleds or boats.  On Ash Island, a farmer bought a Ford Model A.  There was one road that ran down the middle of the island through the farm and it would have been about one kilometre long.

To pay back misdeeds of the farmer, a group from the mainland drove the car around the island and sent it off the cliff on the west end. It’s still swimming with the fishes they say. My question is– if they found a wreck near the island (video below)

 

 - Makes Lone Voyage in St. Lawrence GAtUnOQUJ;...

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  26 Apr 1938, Tue,  Page 2

 - fam-fly' a Sees aAJIigator In St Lawrence C...

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  11 Jun 1931, Thu,  Page 1

 - -I Mr. W. D. Morris, of 9 narks street 'la...

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  27 Aug 1906, Mon,  Page 8

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

 

 

relatedreading

Murder on Maple Island

Bitten by the Kissing Bug — A Shocking Conclusion to the Life of Carleton Place’s Daniel E. Sheppard

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

The Man Who Would Be The Revenant

The Lost Island– Now You See it- Now You Don’t!

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Photos by Linda Seccaspina

 

There are many ‘Lost Island’ stories in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Region. The First Nations people have tales of lost islands. Samuel de Champlain was a great cartographer yet he mapped huge islands where there are none. Do you think they could have sunk in the great earthquake of 1663?

Another ‘Lost Island’ story occurred after the American Civil War. It seems there was once an island near Alexandria Bay which disappeared under 20 feet of water—and no, it was not due to the St Lawrence Seaway but much earlier than that.

One day in the fall of 1823, an old hunter rowed out to an island where he found a dead man. He didn’t want to be accused of murder so he just buried the body and told no one. About four months later he rowed out to the area again but found no island. It had disappeared. That frightened the man so thoroughly that his son kept the story alive long after his death.

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Photos by Linda Seccaspina

Story from Frontenac Arch Biosphere

In 1884 a tourist, hearing the story, decided to try to find the island. He saw an old woman paddling a canoe towards him and being the friendly sort, she invited him back to her island for tea. While there she showed him letters and other documents that told this story.

In 1820 she married a young soldier from Ogdensburg and they lived peacefully on one of the Thousand Islands. Later she learned he was a deserter but they were secure and happy on the island for years. Then, when they needed supplies, the man rowed to the mainland and never returned.

Two weeks later a man came to her island and said he was a friend of her husband’s. He promised to take her to see her husband who was ill in Ogdensburg.  She picked up her one year old son and went with him. Just off Alexandria Bay he stopped for water at a spring on the island. He grabbed her and tried to drag her into a hut. He then tried to kill her and said her husband had been shot by the army as a deserter. But she was in a fury over this and she shot him through the head.

She went on to Ogdensburg and found her husband was indeed caught, tried and executed. Friends of her husband helped restock her boat and she returned to her island home. On her return she went by the island where she killed the man and found it had disappeared.  Was it an earthquake? Did a cave fall in and collapse the island? No one knows.

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Photos by Linda Seccaspina

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

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Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

 

120 Lincoln's Assassins ideas | lincoln, lincoln assassination, american  civil war

 

 

Last summer as I traveled on the St. Lawrence Seaway I had the luxury of seeing one of the Thousand Islands where John Payne hid after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Payne is documented as being part of John Wilkes Booth’s conspiracy crew against the United States Government. He is also listed as being hung on July 7th, 1865 with the other accused for the assassination of President of the United States. Thousand Island lore and words written by John A. Haddock in a book called “A Souvenir of the Thousand Islands” say differently.

“A man bearing the description of John A. Payne, was seen in the vicinity of Sharbot and Rideau lakes, Ont., and at Smith’s Falls during the latter part of May, 1865, and shortly afterward at Gananoque, where he stayed for a day or two, and then settling his hotel bill, in payment of which he offered a gold piece of English coinage, he left, no one knew whither. Was it John A. Payne who made his appearance at Fisher’s Landing? The description and the time tally well. It may with some show of reason be asked: If he wanted to hide himself effectually among the islands, why did he not choose some spot among the myriad islands of the Admiralty group near Gananoque, or in the Navy group below?

 

Evidently he was a shrewd observer. He well knew that the defrauded Brotherhood would hunt him to the death, but he also knew that they would be unlikely to venture to the American side of the St. Lawrence; while they would search every island in the Canadian Channel.”

 


 

Maple Island is by no means hidden, so no one would even fathom of searching for him on an island so exposed in the middle of the seaway. In August of 1865 several men arrived at Gananoque, Ontario making general inquiries about Payne saying that they had been previously employed by him. Those men were in reality “gentleman” from the secret “Brotherhoods of the South”.

As the story goes and not written in Canadian or American history books; lingering smoke plumes were spotted the next day coming from the island Payne was hiding on. The body of John Lewis Payne was found dead with his throat slit among the embers with a sign of three crosses carved on his breast. This is positive evidence that he met his death at the hands of the Brotherhood and not hung as written.

The fact that there were others who fell victim to the oaths of the Brotherhood makes me wonder why Ulysses S Grant was not at Ford’s Theatre the night Lincoln was assassinated. Grant and his wife had been invited to accompany Lincoln but declined the invitation at the last minute. Was Lincoln’s death really just a grand conspiracy planned by the Confederate leaders?

After many books and thoughts written on the subject I do not think we will ever know the true story.  In the Library of Congress there is a photo with names of all the guilty parties on the scaffold that are about to meet their fate. If John Lewis Payne was murdered in August of 1865 and his body found on Maple Island then who was about to be hung instead? As I watched the island fade into the distance I prefer to believe Haddock’s version. As you cruise through the narrow channels of the seaway around the islands there lies bottles of spirits that line the bottom from the prohibition era. Pirates roamed freely and the waters around the islands still carry their tales as the spirit of one John Lewis Payne still floats around the island as the real truth still blows in the wind.

Images from the Library of Congress

Coloured Images and Text by Linda Seccaspina

Quote from: A souvenir of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River- By J Haddock

 

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston

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The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston

Tales of the Life of Pirate Bill Johnston

Today’s theme is pirates and bad guys. Two from the 1000 Island region and one who might have slept here. I just thought they all kind of tied in together—and it felt like a pirate sort of day.

When I was younger I lived by the words of books. I was sometimes Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden but really I longed to be a pirate. Not just a “walk the plank” “swab the deck” sort of gal. I wanted to be married to a bad boy wearing skull and crossbones with a big pirate ship.

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing where big bad Bill Johnston, pirate at large,  lived among the Thousands Islands in the St. Lawrence Seaway. You may not know him from Captain Hook but this man was worthy of a jaunt into a Harlequin romance.

Bill was a Thousand Island smuggler running spirits and tea. You can see with his preference of illegal goods he was a bad boy but with a romantic side to him. He was also an 1812 American privateer and was the man the British most wanted to hang. They spent a fortune trying to hunt him down for years.

Bill Johnston spent his first 30 years as a loyal British subject and had been born to British Loyalist parents. I ask you what is more romantic than a man with a British accent with an occasional “Argh” in his vocabulary. He bought his first schooner, carried both legitimate and illegal cargo and made enough money to buy a small store in Kingston, Ontario.

Sadly I was not around in those days and he married a young American girl named Anne Randolph. Anne was left down on the farm to raise the children when the War of 1812 began and Bill went after the British when they confiscated all his property. He vowed undying revenge on the British and pledged himself to the American commander of a US fleet in Lake Ontario.

For two years Bill went after the British in fast light rowboat called a gig and were able to slip in and out of those narrow channels like greased lightening. He spied on the British, attacked their supply boats, robbed mail couriers, burned ships, and participated in battles at Sackets Harbor, New York, and Crysler’s Farm, Upper Canada.  

After the war he established a waterfront shop and continued smuggling tea and rum to Canada. Ironically, the US revenue service paid him to spy on Canadian smugglers coming into the US.


In 1837 he joined a bunch of American sympathizers and Canadian refugees known as the Patriots that Mel Gibson was most definitely not part of. Then he set out to capture the passenger steamer the Sir Robert Peel and eventually burned it down. Johnston surrendered to US authorities shortly after the Battle of the Windmill as he claimed he was tired of running. Bill faced numerous charges for his rebel activities and the Peel raid and in most cases, juries refused to convict him. When he was jailed, he escaped when the mood struck him and the authorities ultimately declared him more trouble than he was worth.

On the 12th of April 1953, Johnston was appointed Rock Island Lighthouse Keeper and was eventually pardoned by President Harrison. After receiving the pardon, he was given a commission on Rock Island and the very government that had put a price of $500 on his head, was now paying him $350 a year as keeper of a lighthouse—in plain sight of the watery grave of his infamous spoil, the Sir Robert Peel.

Bill Johnston the Pirate of the St. Lawrence Seaway did not die in a violent way as some might have thought. In reality he slipped on the dock and met his maker by hitting his head. Some days you can hear a snarl fill the air above the water of the St.Lawrence Seaway and hear the words of the immortal Bill Johnston,

“Aye, mateys,” he hollers at local pleasure boaters, “them whar’ the days!”

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Images and text by Linda Seccaspina