By MAGGIE M, Editor, the wedge.LIVE
This writer is running out of English superlatives to depict the precious gems that are the villages, towns and cities in the wedge. Gananoque (“Gana-knock-way”) is vivid, sculpted, bucolic, enchanting… If ‘Gan’ were a woman, everyone would declare she is, “drop-dead gorgeous.” Her expansive gateway heralds beauty beyond our expectations.
Humor my personification a little longer. Gan is cerebral, expressive and witty. She is host to Canada’s largest outdoor contemporary art exhibit , Confederation Sculpture Park. This park, split by the cascading Gananoque River, is populated with large sculptures in mixed media, towering over its gardens and guests. Her Adirondack chairs are canvasses for local art students. I would call them, ‘interactive or kinetic art,’ as you can place your derrieres within them.
Gan, is well turned-out. Many of her town walls are covered with elaborate murals of scale. The Visitor Centre on King Street features perhaps the most striking mural (see below). It depicts a church service held at Half Moon Bay, Bostwick Island–a service that began 130 years ago and continues this day. The pulpit is a vertical stone on water’s edge; the congregation attends in water craft, not pews. This mural is a ‘must see.’ Can you identify the faces on this 6-panel work of art?
Downtown Gan features a unique theatrical experience, The Springer Theatre at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. Guests can enjoy a panoramic, open-air view of the St. Lawrence. It is widely referred to as ‘Canada’s Dockside Theatre.’ (The entrance is shown below.)
We can add a few digits to Gan’s intellectual quotient, as she offers up a bistro, The Socialist Pig. While the walls are papered over in what seems propaganda, C0-Owner, Shannon, corrects this writer, “It’s all in humour.” She was not inclined to discuss another barnyard hybrid, The Capitalist Cow. It’s not wise to foist ideologies unless it’s all in humour. Gan does not take herself too seriously.
Gan magnetizes visitors with its proximity to the Thousand Islands National Park. 1,864 islands are numbered among the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River. Only 19 islands belong to the Park (4 spots are actually on one island) for public exploration. The balance are private and many are within U.S. territory; but, there is no limit to kayaking, boating or cruise-hopping on its boat lines. The islands are situated from Kingston to Brockville; so, Gananoque is at the epicentre. The Thousand Islands are also world famous for a salad dressing by its namesake, lest we forget. (Read our archived story about its origins.)
Gananoque is ostensibly a marine town. One way or another there is a symbiosis between every person and place with its waters, the St. Lawrence River and its tributary, the Gananoque River.
In good form, Gan receives her guests with a grandeur and aplomb so far unmatched in my travels in the wedge. Her Visitor Centre surprised me. It is a sanctuary offering comfortable seating, wifi, refreshments, and endless guidance to visitors. It should be the first item on the itinerary. Jennifer Baril, Manager and Supervisor, and her staff, Morgan and Amanda come to mind, are at the ready with maps, lists and directions.
The Visitor Centre is thoughtful, offering solutions to visitors on bikes with a do-it-yourself bike repair unit. To boot, their washrooms keep you entertained with factoids and fish swarms within their cubicles. Gan has wit and humour right up to the latrines–no toilet humour required.
Consider this missive as one in a series with surprising vantage points to come. Stay-tuned for our Gananoque Seven Visits Marathon.