Happy Birthday Joel Stone

Joel Stone, founding father of Gananoque had a birthday party at the Visitor Centre on King St, Monday August 7th (2017).  

For those of you who didn’t make it to hear the stories. Here’s one.

Joel Stone and John Johnson got the first two land grants that became Gananoque. John Johnson already owner land in both Cornwall and Kingston got another 1,000 acres of land on the east side of the Gananoque River. Joel Stone got 700 acres on the West side of the Gananoque River. 

They wanted not just rights to the land here. They wanted access to the protected harbour where the Gananoque River joined the St Lawrence. Most importantly though they wanted the rights to the power the Gananoque River could generate. So important was the river that their grants were defined by the middle of it.

This is a section of the 1787 Surveyor’s map of Gananoque, showing the area of the grants.

Once John Johnson built the first grist mill and installed a manager he did little that affected Gananoque’s history. The manager Thomas Howland actually had more lasting effect. He is recognized for being involved with getting Gananoque its first bridge and school.

Joel Stone was truly a founding father. He was born into a farming family but seems to have planned from an early age to be a merchant. He had an interesting life before he chose to settle in Gananoque but that is a story for another time.In the first couple of years here, Joel and a group of skilled ambitious tradesmen he selected built grist and lumber mills with dams and canals to serve them. Other buildings soon followed housing the trades of these skilled workers.  A schooner the “Leeds Trader” built in Gananoque was used to transport goods for sale to Montreal and Toronto and to return with supplies.

Joel was not a young man when he settled in Gananoque, and as soon as his son William was of an age to be taking on some of the business responsibilities he did. Unfortunately in 1809 William died of TB. Enter Charles MacDonald. He married Joel’s daughter Mary and became the son Joel needed. Charles and his brother John were leaders in the community and successful businessmen. They eventually bought John Johnson’s property. The McDonalds helped continue the strong manufacturing growth of Gananoque leading to it being a small town that got the railway it dreamed of and the nickname “Little Birmingham”.

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