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The Cottage on Rose Bay

As the featured writer for the Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce Monthly Newsletter, I have the opportunity to spotlight local businesses, people, and non-profits.

The St. Lawrence River is magical. Every person that encounters the river is enchanted by her magnificent beauty.  They find solace and calm, even on the mightiest of days. When away, she calls to them, begging them to return to the river. They oblige, returning year after year, knowing she will be there waiting to bring them peace.

If you are one of the lucky few charmed to live on the River, you want to share her serenity.

About five miles outside of the village, down Route 12E, past Millens and Dodge Bays is a quiet cove nestled within the gentle curve of Beadle Point called Rose Bay.

Cape Vincent residents, Brian and Mary Lynn Leech have lived on the edge of the rapturous River in Rose Bay, enjoying every glorious sunrise and spectacular sunset, for forty years. When the opportunity to purchase the lot next to their home became available four years ago, they snatched it up. 

Renovations to the lot and existing cottage began immediately. Brian, owner of Rose Bay Builders, completed the repairs and remodeling in the evenings and on Sundays. It took a spell. Plus, Brian, a master craftsman, took his time to ensure each tile template, repurposed wood step, and corrugated tin trim was faultless!

Three years later, the pièce de résistance, a gorgeous, fully furnished year-round cottage with central heat, air conditioning and a beautiful gas fireplace. A spacious eat-in kitchen with a range, built-in microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator. There are two huge flatscreen Smart televisions — one in the living area and one in the bedroom. A large bathroom with a custom-built 4’x6′ tiled shower in the style of an old-timey wood porch. A spacious bedroom with a king-sized bed from which you can enjoy the river from the king-sized window. Plus, a large waterfront Paver Patio with a built-in wood burning fire pit and a shaded Pergola along the waterfront!          

Brian did not do this all on his own, he credits Mary Lynn for much of the design and plans. Upon entering the Cottage, if you are not instantly impressed with the tile work, repurposed wood, and cabinetry; you will be amazed by her exquisite Better Homes and Gardens-like feel of the River decor and theme.

I was fascinated that from bathroom to bedroom to living area to kitchen there was a view of the River — it was inescapable. And it was mesmerizing.

I asked Brian and Mary Lynn why they wanted to have a rental next door to their home. You would think their first response would be something along the lines of supplemental income or retirement fund. Instead, they said that they wanted people to appreciate the River as they do, to fall in love immediately with the swans swimming by and listen to the geese, watch the ships sail pass in the channel and view the magnificent sunsets.

And, they have created the perfect cottage to enjoy her.

Sitting in the Cottage at the kitchen table talking with Brian and Mary Lynn with the River in view, I felt her enchantment. I did not want to leave. There would be pauses in our conversation as we sat watching the River. Not awkward pauses, just a quiet calm.

It is no wonder they do not have to advertise outside of social media and the Chamber of Commerce. Word-of-mouth is all they need to promote their little bit of paradise. They have only been renting the Cottage for a year and already have repeat customers booking a month at a time. 

Plus, unlike some rentals along the River, theirs is year-round making it the perfect weekend getaway for a second honeymoon, winter holiday, or escape from the city. Imagine sitting around the beautiful gas fireplace with your loved one on a romantic getaway in a private, quiet bay on the River for an entire weekend!

The cottage offers every amenity you would possibly need, all you must bring is food and drink. You can swim, boat, and fish right from the shoreline. Off-season is $225 a night and on-season is $275 a night. There are no limitations on your stay – one night, three nights, a month — you choose. During the off-season, if you book two nights, the third night is free!

If the River is begging you to return to her waters, give Brian and Mary Lynn a call and stay at the enchanting Cottage on Rose Bay: 315-783-9642

For more information, visit: https://www.thousandislandsrental.com/

https://www.facebook.com/The-Cottage-at-Rose-Bay

“The Cottage of Rose Bay” was published in the Thousand Islands Sun newspaper, as well as the Chamber newsletter.

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The Cottage Bakery

As the featured writer for the Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce Monthly Newsletter, I have the opportunity to spotlight local businesses, people, and non-profits.

A sweet little roadside cottage along county Route 57, a half-mile onto Point Peninsula, may seem virtuous but open its door and the sinful delights inside will tempt and delight you: cupcakes, cookies, donuts, brownies, cheesecakes, and oh, so much more! These wickedly splendid treats are made by the most remarkable woman. She is a woman who has never been deterred by hard-work, hardship, or heartbreak.  Cathy Gallagher is the sole baker and owner of The Cottage Bakery.

Cathy was not destined to be a baker. After graduating from Watertown High School in the 70s, she attended St. Joseph’s College of Nursing in Syracuse. Bumps in the road happened and she dropped out. She tried staying in the field, becoming an hospital aide for a while, but it was not to last.

One night, while enjoying a night out with co-workers at Benny’s Steakhouse, a prominent Watertown professional robustly attempted to coax Cathy to be his mistress. A handsome young man saw what was transpiring, placed his arm around Cathy’s shoulders, and sternly told the married gentleman to “leave my future wife alone.” 

That handsome young man was Bob Gallagher. He and Cathy started dating after that evening and married on February 21, 1976 at Sacred Heart Church in Watertown. Bob was always Cathy’s biggest supporter and champion. Cathy describes Bob as her one true love, her soul mate. They were together 43 years until his untimely death this past June.

Between her two professions of hospital aide and baker, Cathy worked at a Watertown radio station as a Traffic Manager. She worked at that radio station for twelve years, from the ground up, until a portentous merger and the top tier were let go on New Year’s Eve.

Undaunted, she took the severance package from the radio station and enrolled in classes at Jefferson Community College, graduating with two Associate degrees, one in Business and the other in Culinary Arts. 

She also began working as a prep cook at Sboro’s Restaurant. As her dessert making skills improved and gained recognition, she graduated from prep cook to dessert maker.

Post JCC, at 44 years of age, she pursued her Bachelors degree from SUNY Potsdam in Economics. 

Steadfast and focused, still regularly working at Sboro’s making desserts, her two children both teens at the time, Bob always her encourager, she attended classes at Potsdam on Tuesdays and Thursdays from sun-up to sundown. And, in one and a half years, she graduated in 2002 with honors, Magna Cum Laude.

Her desserts were gaining notice, and a profit, at Sboro’s. Before she took over, only 8% of their food revenue was dessert-based. After Cathy took over, that percentage jumped to 30%! With Sboro’s encouragement, Cathy created Desserts by Design, a high-end bakery creating signature desserts for local restaurants, special occasions, and fundraisers; all created in the kitchen at Sboro’s solely by Cathy. Cathy still supplies Sboro’s desserts to this day, employing her for over 22 years now.

Then came the call from JCC, an instructor remembered her culinary talents as a student and asked if she would be interested in sharing her skills as an Adjunct in their Culinary Arts Program. She accepted. Cathy taught Intro to Culinary, Baking 1, Baking 2, and Quantity Foods from 2006 to 2018.

Along the way, Bob and Cathy purchased land on Point Peninsula and built a garage with an apartment. They sold their house in Watertown in 2009 and moved into the apartment above the garage while an adjoining house was built. 

After the house was completed, the apartment space above the garage was the perfect space to convert into Cathy’s Desserts by Design kitchen. When the space was ready for production, the Health Inspector noticed during the review the large amount of traffic that passed by the residence — it IS the only road in and out of Point Peninsula — and suggested to Cathy that she put a stand with her desserts by the road.

And…The Cottage Bakery was born!

Cathy, never one to retreat from extra work, purchased a 10 x 12 shed from North Country Storage, and in addition to her Sboro’s responsibilities, JCC classes, and recurring Desserts by Design orders, she started stocking The Cottage Bakery shed in 2012 with cupcakes, cookies, fried cakes, brownies, breads, and so much more! 

The Cottage Bakery operates on the “honor system”  — a system that works well in our rural small towns — where her customers pay for the desserts they choose to purchase with cash and leave it in a lock box located within the shed.

The honor system only works for the honorable and Cathy had to take matters into her own hands on one occasion. 

A few years ago, Cathy noticed a red pickup frequenting her Cottage throughout a Father’s Day Sunday and at the end of the day, when totals were much lower than expected she became suspicious. When she saw the same red pickup truck make a second stop at her Cottage the following day, she confronted the perpetrator! Without fear, she questioned the young man, observed incriminating physical evidence of his crimes in his truck, and threatened him. After he left, she called the police and an arrest was made.

Today, in its ninth season, the Cottage Bakery is a bit bigger. Cathy has replaced the original 10 x 12 shed with a 12 x 16 shed, and her son, Ethan has finished the interior so that she can be open year-round. So, although the Cottage is typically open Memorial Weekend though Columbus Day, Cathy has already opened for the season with the renovations to the Cottage. As well as offering her scrumptious treats, she has expanded the menu to include: soups, side dishes, one-dish meals, local farm-fresh eggs, and seasonal local produce. She also offers hot coffee, iced coffee, and bottled beverages.

Cathy truly has a passion for baking. She describes her kitchen as her sanctuary. And, nothing makes her happier than seeing the smiles her desserts bring to her customers’ faces.

Despite the heartache of losing Bob in June, she has not slowed down. During our conversation, she pointed to a box of tissues and mentioned that there are several boxes around her kitchen and house. She allows herself to mourn, to cry but then she wipes her tears and keeps moving forward.

__________________________________________________

Cathy is always available for a fundraiser. She regularly collaborates with the Lyme Free Library hosting Victorian Tea Parties and Culinary Classes in her kitchen. Give her a call for your next charity event: (315) 408-7318

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St. John’s Episcopal & the Child Advocacy Center

As the featured writer for the Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce Monthly Newsletter, I have the opportunity to spotlight local businesses, people, and non-profits.

The Child Advocacy Center was established in 2006, when Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services recognized the need for a safe space for victimized children, where the child would be interviewed only once by a forensic interviewer and not by multiple agencies. The Center is 97% grant -funded and is under the agency of The Victims Assistance Center.

The CAC houses interview rooms, a medical examination room, a waiting room with stuffed animals, toys, age-appropriate movies on the TV and warm, inviting colors. Most important of the rooms in the CAC is the room where all the agencies involved in the case can gather to review the interview. In that room, the walls are lined with laptops and headphones. This is the reason the Center was established. One interview. One Interviewer.

Watertown is the Main Hub for the CAC, but they also have two satellite offices, one in Lewis and another in St. Lawrence county. As well as, two 33-foot-long Winnebago’s outfitted with victim intake capabilities that travel to destinations in rural Lewis and St. Lawrence counties when travel is difficult for the victims.

Of the cases the CAC manages:

  • 95% Sexual Abuse
  • 5% Physical Abuse/Witnesses of Traumatic Event

Of the children served in 2019:

  • Jefferson: 397
  • St. Lawrence: 279
  • Lewis: 90

Ages

  • 0-6:    234
  • 7-12:  292
  • 13+:   240

St. John’s Episcopal Church of Cape Vincent has been a blessing to the children of CAC. 

In 2018, St. John’s wanted to make the rectory a Safe House but requirements such as 24-hour police accessibility were not attainable. So, they sold the house and the funds were allocated to the Child Advocacy Center. The center used $25000 of the allocation in 2018 to update their offices with contemporary equipment, furnishings and technology. The remainder of the funds were to be contracted in the amount of $5000 over the course of four years. In 2019, the CAC used the first $5000 to purchase all new furniture to outfit their site. This year, they are testing the theory of digitizing documents, and using iPads in the field, so CAC Advocates and the agencies they work with can quickly sign and release critical and time-sensitive materials.

But St. John’s support is not just financial.

An exuberant woman by the name of Charlie Fix, a retired Fort Drum Public Health Nurse and member of St. John’s, first introduced me to the CAC – St. John’s connection during a French Festival Committee meeting I attended in January. She talked about how not only did one of the CAC Winnebago’s participate as a float in the parade but also joined forces to provide a Comfort Station for festival goers. 

I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about St. John’s involvement. Charlie set up a meeting for me with Amy, the CAC Program Director, Priest Lisa of St. John’s, and Therapy Dog Emelia, at the Watertown office. 

Amy has been with the CAC since its inception. First as an Advocate (an Advocate works directly with the non-offending family members of the victim), then as Coordinator, and now in her present position. She is also the lucky soul that gets to take home the beautiful golden Emelia each night at the end of the workday.

Amy was more than happy to discuss the support St. John’s provides the children that enter the doors of the CAC. In the Waiting Room, along the mantle, are a row of stuffed bunnies. The bunnies are made by a woman in Cape Vincent. Before the bunnies are transported to Watertown, Priest Lisa blesses them. When a child is interviewed, they are given one of St. John’s blessed bunnies for comfort. When the interview is over, the child can take the bunny with them to continue to be consoled.

St. John’s regularly donates much needed blankets. Some are made (knitted, sewn), some new, others gently used – which are given to the child, like the bunnies, to hold and take with them for comfort. They also supply snacks for the Waiting Room to keep the waiting child engaged and nourished.

At the beginning of the school year, backpacks are prepared with school supplies for those children in need. And, when a child comes into the CAC with few personal items, Amy lets St. John’s know and the clothing and donations flow in abundant.

St. John’s does not just provide indispensable care and donations to the children. Recently, when the staff of the CAC had endured a couple grueling months a harrowing, sometimes unresolved cases, the emotional toll was evident. To help boost morale St. John’s hosted a luncheon to remind them that they are worthy, supported and the job that they provide is vital.

The CAC and St. John’s will work together again this summer for the 52nd Annual French Festival, entering one of their Winnebago’s in the parade, providing a Comfort Station for Festival goers, and offering the public insight into what an important program the Child Advocacy Center is for the victims of abuse.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Promote the prevention of child abuse by considering a donation to the Victims Assistance Center, the Child Advocacy Center, or by purchasing a Blue Pinwheel from the Cape Vincent Community Library.

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Mary Madison Studios

As the featured writer for the Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce Monthly Newsletter, I have the opportunity to spotlight local businesses, people, and non-profits.

Weddings are magical. As in, whether a large ceremony with hundreds of guests, or standing together in front of the Justice of the Peace with your closest friends and parents, you’ll be in a dreamlike state for the entire event. When the day is over, and the enchantment has worn off, the two of you will look back on the day and wonder, “did we eat?”

Enter the importance of the wedding photographer! Photos of your special day will help you recall all the beautiful memories of the occasion.

What better duo to capture those memories, than the husband and wife team of Mary Madison Studios! They understand the enchantment, the flow of the wedding, the unexpected moments, and the occasional bumps in the process. They’re married; they’ve experienced the magic, and they know exactly how to seize those moments that seem fleeting during your cherished day!

Kathleen and Dave Bonney are the artists that make-up Mary Madison Studios. The business name comes from their middle names: Kathleen Mary and Dave Madison. Both grew up in Cape Vincent, became friends over their passion for photography, and fell in love. 

Kathleen, also known as Kat, formally a Trottier, credits The Latimars, a brother and sister photography team from Boston, for teaching her the fundamentals of wedding shoots. Dave attributes his time spent in Rochester after graduating from JCC and years photographing arbitrary patrons while tending bar, for honing his skills. And, both acknowledge the discovery of their eye for photography to Cape resident, and retired TI Art Teacher, George Mingle. When each was a High School student, they took his Black & White Photography Class and realized then they had a talent with the camera.

Mary Madison Studios has been in business since 2015. In those five years, they have fulfilled 75 weddings! As well as, get married to each other – in June 2017 – buy a house, and have a baby – in July 2019. WHEW!

What sets Mary Madison apart from other wedding photographers, is the time and care Dave and Kat spend with the couple. Dave credits Kat with an important conversation that many are afraid to present. Kathleen sits down with the bride-to-be to discuss the realty versus expectation of the wedding day to dispel unrealistic goals.

On the day of the wedding, Dave and Kathleen start their day early, and are the last to leave at the end of the day. They split at first, Kathleen follows every movement of the bride and bridesmaids, Dave monitors every detail of the groom and the groomsmen. Coming together for the ceremony to work jointly to get those perfect shots. At the reception, they work the crowd to get those “spontaneous” shots as well as the traditional. Dave has been known to prove his skill for dancing too when the party floor needs a livelier participation. 

By spending that extra time with the couple, caring enough to be early and stay to the very end, they guarantee the couple more genuine memories of their special day.

I asked Dave and Kathleen if the wedding photography field was a cutthroat business. They completely dismissed any notion of competition. Just the contrary, they described it as a nurturing and generous environment. They’re friends with most of the North Country photographers. And, if Dave and Kat can’t fulfill a wedding, they happily refer the engaged couple to one of the trusted, local wedding photographers, because they know the same would be done for them.

One local wedding photographer, whom Dave and Kathleen seek advice from and consider a mentor, also lives in Cape Vincent. Kristen of Kristen Charles Photography is a portrait photographer with a studio located in Watertown. When Dave and Kathleen need business advice, or have a question about photography, they go to Kristen. It was Kristen, whom they chose, to be their photographer when they wedded in Dave’s father’s backyard in the summer of 2017.

Talking with Dave and Kathleen, it’s clear their passion for photography. They both get a twinkle in their eye and a glow about them when they talk about their craft. And, they don’t do just weddings, they also do engagement, newborn, maternity, lifestyle, and senior photos. 

Mary Madison Studios is not their only profession. Kathleen is employed at Converse Laboratories Inc in Watertown. The company that originally started as a dairy lab, and today is better known for testing drinking and non-potable water supplies. Dave works for Watertown Savings Bank. He is also a trustee on the Village Board; and, is enthusiastic to be working with current Mayor Golden and his vision for riverfront revitalization.

When they are not working their day jobs or shooting photos, they are busy caring for and raising the cutest baby. Owen entered their lives in July 2019. Always the professionals and undeterred by swollen ankles, Dave and Kathleen were shooting a wedding five days before Owen’s arrival! They also like to work on their house, as well as travel when they get the chance.

You can access the Mary Madison Studios portfolio through their website: http://marymadisonstudios.com/  You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram

“Mary Madison Studios” was published in the March 11th edition of the Thousand Islands Sun newspaper, as well as the Chamber newsletter.

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Riverfront Properties

As the featured writer for the Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce Monthly Newsletter, I have the opportunity to spotlight local businesses, people, and non-profits.

In our small town, nicknames bestowed during youth tend to carryover to adulthood. To overhear a conversation amongst year-round residents, you’d get a feeling you were listening to fictional characters in a Francis Ford Coppola movie: Big John, Butch, Woody, Little Davey, Buck, Shorty, Beaver, Pookie. Recently, I met with the co-owner of Riverfront Properties. She grew up in the village of Cape, her family well-known pillars of the community, and although she herself is an adult, is still referred to by her childhood nickname.

Jacqualine Johnson Costello, the daughter of the late Joan and Bob Gosier, affectionately referred to as Bopper by friends and family, and her husband, Jim, own Riverfront Properties.

Bopper met Jim when he was still an up-and-coming Funeral Homeowner in Alexandria Bay. Jim is originally from Utica but spent his childhood summering on the River, not far from the Cape, at Sand Bay. As a young adult, he knew no better place, than the beautiful 1000 Islands to open his Funeral Home business. At 23, he bought a small house in Alex Bay. Breaking into the Funeral business is difficult, but Jim was determined. He immersed himself in the community, worked multiple odd jobs, and built upon his small house.

In their late twenties Jim and Bopper met through mutual friends.  In time they were drawn to each other over their love of the River and the Thousand Islands. It was a perfect match. Today, Jim and Bopper have established an esteemed business; and, Costello Funeral Service is the first-place families entrust with their recently deceased loved ones.

A few years back, wanting more participation in the town where she grew up, where her parents still lived, and looking to complement their income with a rental property, she and Jim spied a trailer in a picturesque spot along the river. It was an older trailer with an addition, the interior had a dated 70s motif with a Brady Bunch feel, but Bopper and Jim saw its potential. The price was a bit high for what they were willing to pay so they waited. Patience prevailed. The price came down and they purchased the trailer in 2009.

A little bit of structure remodeling and Bopper’s expertise at décor, the trailer was ready for rental the summer of 2010.

Jim and Bopper and their family enjoyed the refurbished trailer, family visiting from out-of-town stayed there too, helping a new generation form a bond to the River. And, when the trailer was not being used by family, they easily rented it out based on its location, convenience, and features.

In 2012, Bopper and Jim were kayaking on the River when they spotted a vacant cottage along the shore. Jim pointed out the possible potential of the cottage but this time, Bopper was a bit hesitant. She thought maybe Jim, a Waterfowl Hunting Guide, was just considering the locale for hunting purposes.

After convincing Bopper that he didn’t have an alternative motive, and falling in love with the location, they purchased the property. However, unlike the first property, that just needed a little fine tuning, this cottage needed some serious structural repair and updating as well as shorefront cleanup and dock repair. Jim and friends took the year to work on the necessary construction to make the cottage structurally sound . When done, Bopper used her magic to create a charming summer residence.

Jim and Bopper loved the cottage and location so that they use it to this day as their primary summer getaway, only renting it out on the rare occasion that they are not using it.

Both properties included dock access to the River, however the high winds and high waters of Spring 2019 and then again in that following Fall, caused damage to the docks and made them unusable. Plans are in the works to have those docks repaired.

Riverfront Properties, along the St. Lawrence River, are located at 32322 NY State Route 12E and 32783 NY State Route 12E. The properties are on the River that both Bopper and her husband grew up playing in, and so dearly love. They rent out seasonally. The locations and the beauty of the properties sell themselves so well, that Bopper and Jim are booked far in advance and rarely must advertise.

Today, Jim, Bopper, and their children, Robert (19), Elizabeth (17), and River (12) live in Alex Bay. They continue to serve Alex Bay and surrounding communities with the business Jim started in his twenties, Costello Funeral Service. And every chance they get, spend their down time on the magnificent St. Lawrence River.

As Bopper and I both agree, it’s nice to know in a resort area sought for large corporation development, rental properties are still owned and maintained by local folks.

“Riverfront Properties” was published in the Feb 12 edition of the Thousand Islands Sun newspaper, as well as the Chamber newsletter.