Some updates to the History of The Rotary Club of Gananoque

1.  It started back around 1950 or 51.  Scott's Frozen Food Lockers was a grocery store and butcher shop on the west side of the Gananoque River very close to the dam and fronting onto Tanner Street.  They did custom butchering for people who bought a quarter of beef or pork or a few dozen chickens from the local farmers.  They also provided the same service for local hunters and fishermen.  You could specify what cuts you wanted and have your meat cut, wrapped and frozen.  Remember, this was in the days before the household freezer became popular.  The smoke house (always a fire risk) went out of control and burned the whole place to the ground about 1950 or 51.  There used to be a Tannery (hence the name of the street) , Furniture Factory, Harness Works and a Grist Mill on the west side of the River too.  But, they had all gone out of business before Jack Scott built his store and the Town wound up owning those properties, I think for the unpaid taxes.  Indeed, Jack Scott decided not to rebuild because the home freezers and grocery chains were already cutting into his business.  I believe his lot became owned by the Town at that point, but I'm not sure whether for unpaid taxes or as a purchase.  The west side of the "Mill Pond", as it was then known, became an undeveloped park of sorts, with the old buildings removed and only the stone foundations remaining.  Rotary took charge of the former Scott property and the one beside it, in 1951 or 52, as far as I know.  Rotary made a grassy park out of it with a featured Rose Garden on the slope, that is now used by children as a sliding hill in the winter, from Tanner Street to the edge of the pond below the dam.  This was very visable from the King Street Bridge. There is a picture that I have seen of the grassy park and the Rose Garden taken from across the pond, about the east end of the King Street Bridge.  Roses are time consuming to maintain and neither the Town nor Rotary want the job.  So, within a few years, the rose garden was turned into a grassy slope with a few trees.

2. In 1965 to 1968 Rotary was instrumental in really building the Park into what we know today as Confederation Park.  On the east side of the "Mill Pond" stood the Jones Shovel Company, making very sturdy hand shovels and gardening tools.  They made a great number of the shovels that our troops used in the trenches of WW1.  In the late 1950's the part west of the train tracks to the Mill Pond was a miscellaneous collection of old brick buildings from various years past.  Old photos show it as a near "Dickensian" old factory.  But, they had a good national reputation and a substantial distribution network for their products.  The property also included two better looking buildings, between the tracks and Park Street, that are now in use as the Information Bureau and the Public Library.  In 1962 or 63 a US company "True Temper" bought the entire operation, primarily for the distribution network in Canada.  They took the newest machinery and anything of value back to the US and abandoned the rest.  No property taxes were paid and by 1965 the derelict buildings, which looked pretty aweful, became the property of the Town of Gananoque and True Temper was long gone.  Then Rotary stepped in, lead by Basil Rogers, a Rotarian and local spark plug and Jack Gilbert, then the Mayor of the Town (1966-1968) and Rotary Past President.  They and the Rotary Directors of the day made up a project to level the old unsightly buildings, mostly brick, and turn the east side of the Mill Pond into a park, to be opened officially on July 1st 1967, Canada's 100th birthday.   About 1968, Mary Rogers and Gladys Bickerton, wives of two Rotarians, gave the Town two white swans for the Park.  Both turned out to be female. Their wing feathers were clipped to avoid the problem of the swans flying away.  There were also included about 10 white ducks. The swans became known as "Gladys" and "Mary", but nobody could tell them apart.

3. In 1993 Gordon Dowsley, a Gananoque native and Rotarian from Oshawa who still summers at his family cottage on Corn Island, and Carolyn Knight, Gananoque Rotarian and Past President, co-chaired a project to build a Sculpture Garden in Confederation Park.  Gord was connected with the Canada Council for the Arts and proposed to them that Gananoque should rent some pieces of Canadian outdoor sculpture that they had in storage and Gananoque Rotary would build mounts for the pieces here to be on public display.  The Sculpture Garden eventually came to be administered by a Town Committee, separate from Rotary.  They have added several sculptures by local artists.

4. In 1997, upon a bequest from the estate of a lady in Gananoque "to be used for the beautification of the Town", Rotary, under the Chairmanship of Bill Webster, put some more money with that bequest and installed a lighted fountain in the middle of the pond.  Unfortunately, large power consumption and water weeds became a problem.  Town Council decided to substituted a simpler fountain, without lights.  The original fountain was stored at the Gananoque Works yard.

In September 2022 a new fountain was purchased with funds from The Rotary Club of Gananoque, Town of Gananoque, The Business Improvement Area, The Tourism Advisory Panel, and Thousand Islands Accommodation Partners.