Gananoque traces its history to United Empire Loyalist times; after the American Revolution, Loyalist militia Colonel Joel Stone received a land grant and established a mill site in 1789, The town was attacked during the War of 1812 and stores in the government depot looted by Americans. A five-gun Gananoque Blockhouse, completed in 1813 to defend against further US attacks, stood until 1852.
The Gananoque River watershed was an important water transportation corridor, extending north to the Rideau River watershed. In 1830, water was diverted westward to the Cataraqui River as part of the Rideau Canal, redirecting this traffic to Kingston. A short-line railway, built to haul timber for river shipment, carried mainline passengers to the Gananoque waterfront from 1884 to 1962; the right-of-way is now a hiking trail.
It's best to drive to Gananoque. While you can take a bus, train or plane to Kingston, add a $50 taxi ride (one way) from Kingston to Gananoque and this becomes an expensive alternative. The town is on Highway 2 or 401 on the beaten-path Windsor-Quebec corridor. From Watertown (New York), I-81 north (Penn-Can Highway) ends at the 401; Gananoque is 10 miles (16 km) upriver from the Thousand Islands bridge.
VIA Rail trains pass through Gananoque Junction often on their way from Toronto to Ottawa, but typically only one stops daily. Intercity scheduled buses no longer stop, although charter buses and casino shuttle services are often seen in Gan in peak summer travel season.
There is a tiny airport with no scheduled service.
Cruising on small craft? There is a municipal marina downtown (directly west of the 1000 Islands Playhouse) and a dock at the Playhouse. There are two private marinas which sell gasoline (but not diesel oil):
- 1 Clark’s Marina, 35 Clark Drive, RR #3 (west of town, Hwy 2 at Clark Drive), ☏ , fax: . VHF Channel 68
- Brennan Marine, 67 Mill St., ☏ .
Due to the town's small size (just over 5000 people), there is no local transit system; it is relatively easy to drive or walk anywhere within Gananoque. Visitors to the parkway may wish to bring or rent a bicycle as extensive trails exist.
Local taxis are available from A-One Taxi +1 613-382-3777 or Gananoque Taxi +1 613-382-3399.
- Heritage Museum of the 1000 Islands, 125 Water St (in waterfront Historic Thousand Islands Village complex), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Museum of natural and cultural history of the 1000 Islands region on site of former 1000 Islands Railway station.
- 1000 Islands Boat Museum, 125 Water St, ☏ . seasonal.
- Gananoque Boat Line. Regular tours available from mid-May to mid-Oct. More tours available late-June through early Sept. Offers one to five hour boat cruises that travel around the 1000 Islands. One hour: $27/$12.83, 2.5 hour: $36.50/$14.01, 5 hour: $46.50/$17.50 (adult/child, Aug 2016).
- HMG (Hoagies Movies Games), ☏ . Tu-F 3-9PM, Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-7PM. A 60-seat cinéma (one screen) and video rental, squeezed inconspicuously into a former warehouse in an industrial area. $8/adult, $6/seniors-kids, $4 on Tue.
- 1000 Islands Parkway. Scenic waterfront highway from Gananoque to Brockville. This had four lanes as a pre-1968 segment of Ontario Highway 401. When the freeway was moved inland, two lanes were paved as a scenic road with the remainder of the right of way used for walking and cycling trails.
- 1000 Islands Cycle, 711 King St East, ☏ . Bicycle rental with easy access to the 1000 Islands Parkway's 40km of waterfront cycling trail. $35-50/day.
- 1000 Islands Playhouse, 690 Charles St S (On waterfront at South Street), ☏ , toll-free: . Live theatre in former 1909 Gananoque Canoe Club (360 seats) and adjacent old fire hall. Docking is available ($24/night) for small pleasure craft. Open late May - early November.
- 1000 Islands Heliport, ☏ . Helicopter tours run from 88 County Rd 32, Leeds and the Thousand Islands.
- Ribfest, Gananoque Town Park. Dominion Day weekend.
The main commercial district in Gananoque is King Street (Ontario Highway 2) east of the Gananoque River, although there are a handful of businesses near the waterfront at the base of Stone Street South (former Highway 32) including a marina and tour boats. Fuel is usually cheaper on the main street than at the 401/CR32 offramp.
There is no mall and no major department store in town. There are two major supermarkets, a Metro and a No Frills. Housewares are available from Donevan's (downtown), Home Hardware (401 exit 645) and Canadian Tire (King St. E); clothing is available from various small independent merchants on King Street downtown.
There are three tiny art galleries: Little Pump House gallery (2 King St E), Heather Hanes Gallery (27 King St. E) and O’Connor Gallery (130 King St. E).
- Gananoque Farmers' Market, Town Hall Park, King St E. Jun-Oct: Th 4PM-7 PM.
Major fast food chains (Tim Horton's, McDonalds, Dairy Queen) are available on King St. East (Ontario Highway 2), along with a few independents. Many of the hotels (including the Gananoque Inn on the waterfront and a few on King St. E.) have restaurants on-site.
- Moroni's Restaurant, 155 King St. E., ☏ . Mediterranean and Italian. West Side bar adjacent.
- Riva Restaurant, 45 King St West, ☏ . Daily 11:30AM-9PM. A traditional Italian tavern, paired with local and nautical elements.
- The Socialist Pig: food for everyone, 21 King St E, ☏ . Coffeeshop with dining room and a patio looking onto the local Gananoque Brewing Company. Handcrafted espresso-based classics, desserts, premium sodas and homemade lemonade, international flavours and the comfort of home with local ingredients, local craft beer and seasonal cocktails.
- Gananoque Brewing Company, 9 King St East. Brewed locally, this beer is on tap at various local watering holes.
- The Old English Pub, 124 King St E., ☏ . Draught beer, cod and chips, full menu of British food from $10-20/main course.
- Various hotel chains (Ramada, HoJo, Holiday Inn Express, Quality Inn, Travelodge) are represented on King Street East (Highway 2) between the downtown and Hwy 401 (exit 648). There are also a few independent motels on King Street West as the old road leaves Gananoque for Kingston.
- Bed and breakfast is available in central locations, including Stone Street South near the water.
- Colonial Resort, 780 King Street W, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Seasonal property--open April to October. Hotel, restaurant and spa. 48 standard rooms, plus six premium rooms with jacuzzi and fireplace. Non-smoking. $80-165.
- Country Squire Resort, 715 King St E, ☏ . Best Western with spa, fitness area, indoor and outdoor pools, squash courts, conference rooms and on-site Cousins on King restaurant.
- Gananoque Inn & Spa, 550 Stone Street S, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Waterfront 1870s historic inn (hotel/motel and former carriageworks) with spa and restaurant at the mouth of the Gananoque River. Rate includes wireless Internet and breakfast in the attached restaurant. $200-300/night (double occ).
- Stonewater B&B Pub and Irish Eatery, 490 Stone St South, ☏ (B&B), (Pub).
- Beggars' Banquet, 126 King St East, ☏ . Internet café, book store, sodas and fair trade coffee.
- Gananoque Public Library, 100 Park St (Beside town hall and Gananoque River), ☏ . Small municipal library with public-use computers, will issue membership cards to non-residents.
- Gananoque is close to the Saint Lawrence Islands National Park and the Thousand Islands. Follow the 1000 Islands Parkway eastward through the 1000 Islands region to Brockville.
|Routes through Gananoque|
|Toronto ← Kingston ←||W E||→ Brockville → Montreal|
|Toronto ← Kingston ←||W E||→ Brockville → Ottawa|
|Toronto ← Kingston ←||W E||→ Thousand Islands and Mallorytown → Montreal|