Joel Stone’s life before he was granted 700 acres on the west side of the Gananoque river and became the town’s founding father, merits telling. Since it isn’t part of our local history it is rarely looked at. This is the beginning of a series doing that.
Joel was born into a farming family but seems to have planned from an early age to be a merchant. When his older brother died unexpectedly Joel was a dutiful son staying on the farm to help until younger siblings took over. Then with his father’s blessing he became a traveling merchant for 3 years. At that point he had sufficient capital to buy into a local business. His prospects looked good until he showed loyalist tendencies and lost everything. He started over in New York, marrying into a seafaring family and learning about shipping. Unfortunately he again faced a major financial setback when instead of his ship coming in, it went down. Joel and his father-in-law set off for England. Joel to to see if he could get recompense from the crown for the properties lost because of being a Loyalist. His father-in-law was hoping to facilitate the settling of his brother John’s estate. John had been a commodore in the British East India Company and quite well off. Joel’s wife was also getting an inheritances from the estate. This took 3 years to achieve at which time Joel returned to North America and settled in Cornwall, Ontario. He ran a moderately successful distillery business for a few years while looking for the right spot build his empire. Unfortunately a poor growing season caused shortages and high prices for the grain he needed for the distillery. He was again in financial trouble. It was time to move on and he’d decided where to go. The point where the Gananoque River flows into the St Lawrence. Not just one but two sets of falls for producing energy, lots of raw materials. The perfect place for industry and commerce.