Aug 26, 2022 —
There’s a cluster of islands off of Gananoque, ON and in the middle of that cluster is a blue and white cottage with a wrap-around veranda. On a warm summer day, Susie Smith watches kayakers paddle by.
Susie’s story here in the Thousand Islands starts back when she married her summer sweetheart– Eliot Smith. The two were living in the Montreal area, where Susie grew up. One summer they decided to bring their boat a few hours west to the Gananoque area.
“We had a cruiser and we came up here with friends who rented those green houseboats from Ivy Lea,” says Susie, “and we had such a wonderful time and we just fell in love with the Thousand Islands.”
So they came back, summer after summer. They’d bring their two kids with them, sleeping on the boat at night and cruising around the river during the day. And then, the Canadian government called Susie with a job offer. They wanted to hire her to write a research paper about the Thousand Islands.
“I was thrilled to get this so-called job, it was really exciting,” says Susie. “I would go around to different islands and knock on the door and say ‘I’m Susie Smith, and I’m from Parks Canada and I would like to know the history of this island.’”
Susie did that work back in the 1970s and early 80s. She and her husband boated around together, collecting stories and photos from folks. It was during those years on the river that Susie got an idea for a bigger project– a book all about this region.