I should have been to Gananoque before now. It's one of those Ontario towns I've always had on my list of places to get to know, with its Thousand Islands cruises always having been the pull for me. With just that faint bit of awareness on my part, it's no surprise that what I found when I did get to spend some time in what locals call "Gan" recently was that there's so much more to this attractive, impressive little town.
Ottawans know Gananoque: it's only an hour-and-a-half away for them, and the Thousand Islands have lured them to the town on the St. Lawrence River for getaways for years now. For Torontonians, Gananoque is about three hours-or-so east of Toronto on the 401 or VIA Rail, so while we're not as plentiful a presence in the town, we're not quite unknown there. It might be time though, to mount an expeditionary force.
If you're one of the Torontonians who have visited once, twice, or many times, you know that the town sits in a very picturesque setting where the Gananoque River meets the St. Lawrence. The rivers lend plenty of opportunities for sailors, yacht lovers, kayakers, canoeists, and swimmers to splash out just about any way they'd like.
Streets in the old part of town are quiet and lined with some stellar Victorian gingerbread, some homes that you would consider painted ladies; you'll find the odd one has become a café in recent years. The town is well treed, and some of the gardens are incredibly lush.
Brought into existence in 1789 by Joel Stone, a Colonel in the Loyalist militia during the American Revolutionary War, the downtown features many fine heritage structures, some in brick, many in stone, enough that some Torontonians will look upon them with admiration… and maybe even some jealousy.
Many are beautifully preserved or recently restored, many have been more casually modified over the years, and others are being brought back to life currently, like a theatre on the main street, and a warehouse and factory at the mouth of the river: the town has been rediscovered by those who understand the qualities of older buildings and who want to adapt and repurpose them for modern life.
One of the town's older buildings is a 1860 factory/warehouse with stone walls, and huge wooden post and beam structure inside, now converted into a flea market in the back, and more to my interest, the Gananoque Brewing Company brewery up front. They've been around for 10 years now and have quite a selection of very tasty brews to enjoy, made with local organic ingredients. The company's founder, Bruce Davis, is a decamped Torontonian who in an earlier stage of his career started Novae Res Urbis, a publication aimed at Canadian urban planners. Small world (and good pedigree!), and getting back on track: great beer!
Like the Gananoque Brewing Company, several of the town's restauranteurs are looking to fresh local ingredients whenever possibly now too, so places like Riva with Italian fine dining, Laverne's Eatery, and the Purple House Café (and I suspect more) are on par with the indie places in Toronto that you come to rely on for great meals out.
My recent "discovery" of Gananoque is thanks to CaraCo, one of nearby Kingston's largest developers. The company is building a waterfront condominium called Stone and South, for the intersection where it's located. Stone Street, named for the town's founder, is the main drag running from downtown to the water, while South Street runs right along it. The Stone & South site slopes down to the water at a great location overlooking the island-speckled bay… and one that when you see it, you know exactly why CaraCo is building here.
Full disclosure: CaraCo invited us down, covering the expenses for our visit. You may have seen ads for Stone & South running on some UrbanToronto pages: they pay for those of course, but are not contracting us for any coverage. This story is here as both a "thanks for the trip" and because we like to bring you a getaway location on a long weekend every summer… and this turned out to be such an attractive setting.
Stone & South is to be built in two phases, both designed by Chamberlain Architect of Burlington to blend with the town's heritage vibe. The first phase—seen below—with 41 suites over 6 floors. All suites face the water: the hallways connecting them all to the elevators are on the north side of the building. Suites are in two-bedroom, two-bedroom-plus-den, or three-bedroom layouts, and range between 913 and 1,547 square feet. They start at $488,900. All suites have balconies that are 8 feet deep so that you've got plenty of room for dining or lounging outdoors.
Stone & South is prepared for frolicking on the river, and will have its own marina for its residents, and tie-ups for their guests. Boat slips are available to suit 30, 35, or 40 foot-long watercraft. Storage for kayaks and canoes is being built into the complex, and there will be docks for swimming and fishing.
There are also plenty of amenities for when you don't want to get your feet wet. Outdoors, residents will be able to enjoy an off-leash area for their dogs, and landscaped grounds where they'll find places to barbecue and eat. Indoors, they all find a lobby lounge, a fitness centre, and a room for socializing in, kitted out with a kitchen for entertaining.
You will find renderings of the party room and terraces facing the water in our database file for the project. If you'd like to talk about Stone and South, we do not have a thread dedicated to it, but you may leave comments in the space provided below.