Gananoque celebrates Town Square's new look

·3 min read

The Town of Gananoque held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday to inaugurate the revitalized Town Square.

With the financial assistance from the provincial Rural Economic Development and the COVID-19 Relief Fund, the Town of Gananoque undertook a revitalization to create a Town Square instead of the previous asphalt driveway.

The Town Square was created to allow events, farmers and crafts markets, as well as for the public to sit and enjoy having a coffee, having a sandwich or just chatting with their friends. Several small bistro tables have also been provided.

The two-metre pathways leading to the town square as well as the various pathways from Garden and Brock Street also allow residents to social distance and are wheelchair accessible.

In order to ensure that the public can enjoy the Town Square, as well as, have a safe environment at night, lighting was installed along the pathways, as well as, under the seating wall which frames the square.

“The Town Square design allows the Town Fountain and Cenotaph to be more prominent,” Gananoque Mayor Ted Lojko said. “It also encourages people to sit, explore and act as a meeting place for residents and visitors.”

MPP Steve Clark joined Lojko, councillors Dennis O’Connor and Dave Anderson, as well as Brian Mabee, the Town Crier, to cut the ribbon.

The town also held a opening ceremony for the official naming of the historic William “Bill” Rees Bandshell in Town Park.

Several family members were able to join in on the ceremony, including Larry, who is William’s great great grandson. Larry assisted in the ribbon cutting.

In a statement from the town, as Bill Rees made significant contributions to many aspects of Gananoque life and was an integral part of Gananoque’s prosperity, “it is only fitting that the unique band shell designed by Mr. Rees finally be recognized for its importance to our heritage.”

An inventor, a superb musician, composer, arranger, an influential industrialist, and businessman during the peak of Gananoque’s manufacturing heyday, Rees, according to the town, came to Gananoque from Cincinnati in 1888. He became leader of the renowned “Mechanics Silver Cornet Band” (founded in 1856) and served in this position until 1902, in addition to playing cornet in the band. Filling in again as leader when needed through First World War, he then designed the band stand, erected in 1922. Under Rees’ leadership, the band became renowned as the “Gananoque Citizens Band.”

Rees was the general superintendent of Parmenter & Bulloch for 45 years, inventing many of the riveting machines that Gananoque was known for internationally. He married Luella Bulloch and, after P&B was sold to American interests, became an engineering consultant for Ontario Steel Products until he was 80 years old.

Several of Rees’ compositions were published in New York and, after his death at 90 in 1959, his family honoured his memory by purchasing a seat in Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Centre, New York City.

(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times