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By Jane Cassie
For Travel Writers' Tales

"Welcome to Gananoque," my husband reads, pronouncing it incorrectly, as we cruise beneath the stone and timber archway. "It's actually Gan-an-ock-way," I respond, sounding out each syllable, "and it means 'a place of health'." During this two-day getaway, (while reminding him of the pronunciation at least a dozen more times) we discover that this hamlet, thirty minutes east of Kingston Ontario, lives up to its name.

A self-guided walking tour weaves over the downtown core and sheds light on this past. Front and centre is the Arthur Child Heritage Museum, an amazing depository that archives everything from the early fur traders to founding fathers. Steps away is the Town Hall, a brick-pillared gem that's served multi-purposes since 1831-courthouse, jail hall, meeting space-and today a wedding venue.

Tree-lined roads branch out from the main body of King Street and perched over the river's edge is the Thousand Islands Playhouse, a century-old structure that lures screenplay aficionados. There are two venues to choose from -somewhat edgier productions at the Firehall stage or more traditional performances at the Springer. We opt for the latter and see 'Till It Hurts'-a raging comedy about an exasperating telemarketer and a frazzled professor.

It's no surprise that Gananoque attracts lots of artisans. As well as this venue, we browse through works in the Woodchuck Gallery, the VAGA (Visual Arts of Gananoque and Area) and the Three Horse Art Show, an annual exhibit of original watercolours, oils and acrylics in the nearby community of Lansdowne.

When it's time to really escape we head to the Glen House Resort, a getaway six kilometers from town that hugs up to its own scalloped shoreline. Since 1962, the Seal family has maintained its century-old legacy by integrating vacationing pleasures with regional treasures. And though the fronting St Lawrence River is a favourite spot for boaters and fishermen, we find the backdrop just as alluring-eighteen velvety fairways of Smuggler's Glen.

"You'd better take a few extra balls," advises Doug Wark, the Director of Golf Operations, as we head out on the back nine of this Barr-designed beauty. I'd read that parts of this course were etched out of craggy Canadian Shield but with five ability levels at each tee, how many balls could I lose? I end up following Wark's recommendation-and it's a good thing I do. My first is gobbled up by the rough stuff that fringes the tenth tee. Adjacent ponds on fairway twelve drink up two more. A stand of white pine and bordering flora are now home to a few others. Yet in spite of my loss on these links, it's been well worth it. And even though I only have one ball remaining at the end of the game, I'd gladly do it all over again!

On our final day we head out on a boat tour and with Captain Jack at the helm we cruise the neighboring Thousand Islands. "This destination is somewhat of a misnomer," we're told through the loud speakers. "There are actually 1,864 islands in this archipelago that straddles the Canadian / U.S. border." The Thousand Islands Bridge offers another link to our American neighbours, and dotting the sapphire water just beyond are countless evergreen gems that range in size from rocky outcroppings to forty square mile (100 sq. km) landscapes. The major feature en route is the Boldt Castle, a mansion of towers and turrets and the story of a man's love and loss. In 1904 self-made millionaire, George C. Boldt had this hundred and twenty room estate constructed especially for his wife, but unfortunately she died before this gift was completed. All building was abruptly stopped and this broken-hearted widower never returned.

After looping beyond this fortress we retrace our route and take in more scenic overload. Jet skiers, swanky yachts and fishing boats join us in skimming the surface while divers dressed in neoprene seek out the treasures beneath. "Because of so many shipwrecks, I've heard this is one of the best fresh-water diving destinations in the world," I say to my husband as we pull into the dock at Gananoque. "Maybe that's why the Indians named it 'The Garden of the Great Spirit.' "And right next to a place of health," he replies. "It's gotta be good-whether you pronounce it properly or not!"


Where to stay:

The Glen House Resort
Toll Free 1-800-268-4536

1000 Islands Accommodation

Things to do:
1000 Islands Playhouse
Toll-Free 1-866-382-7020

Three Horse Art Studio Show & Sale
Smuggler's Glen Golf Course
Toll Free 1-800-268-4536

Gananoque Boat Line Ltd.
Toll Free: 1-888-717-4837

Check out Gananoque Tourism -

Photos by Brent Cassie

1. We cruise beneath the stone and timber archway into Gan-an-ock-way
2. Century old Thousand Islands Playhouse
3. An exhibit at the Three Horse Art Show
4. Glen House Resort hugs up to its own scalloped shoreline
5. One of the velvety fairways of Smuggler's Glen
6. Towers and turrets of Boldt Castle

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