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Joel Stone Park – Honouring the founder of Ganonoque

October 2022

Joel Stone Park, in the southern Ontario town of Ganonoque, is named in honour of the United Empire Loyalist and Militia officer who founded the town in 1789. Born in Guilford, Connecticut in 1749, Stone was given a 700-acre land grant in reward for his service to the British crown during the American Revolutionary War.

He built a sawmill and a gristmill along the Ganonoque River, becoming a successful businessman in the process. Many other settlers also built mills along the river and the growing village became a booming industrial site by the dawn of the nineteenth century. By 1801, Stone had also established a ferry service across the Ganonoque River.

Amongst the many duties Stone undertook in the blossoming town were serving as the roads commissioner, customs collector, a justice of the peace and a Colonel in the 2nd Leeds Incorporated Militia Regiment.

Stone and his regiment saw action during the War of 1812, including on 21 September 1812, when American soldiers, led by Captain Benjamin Forsyth, attacked Upper Canada at Ganonoque in an effort to steal needed ammunition and assorted supplies. Coming across the St. Lawrence River from Ogdensburg, New York, Forsyth was well aware that Ganonoque was a key supply depot for the Kingston and Montreal areas, and that it was minimally defended at the time.

Captain Forsyth’s troops encountered resistance from the 2nd Regiment of Leeds Militia, Colonel Stone’s regiment, although Stone himself was not present during the attack, Stone’s militia did its best to hold off the attack, but considerable damage was inflicted upon the settlement, as he escorting a convoy to Kingston. His wife, Abigail, who was hiding the valuables in her home, was wounded after being shot in the hip.

The attacking Americans successfully destroyed the storehouse and returned to the United States with captured supplies. The British Army sent a force across the river to intercept Captain Forsyth and his troops, landing at Burton’s Point, but were unable to locate them. Instead, they burned a blockhouse and returned to Ganonoque.

Following the attack, the British built a blockhouse and naval station at Ganonoque as part of the system of defense for the St. Lawrence River.

Stone fought throughout the War of 1812, and continued to live out his years in Ganonoque, until his death in 1833 at the age of 84.

Joel Stone Park was built at the west end of Water Street, partially on reclaimed land. The park features a children’s playground, an amphitheatre with stone block seats and a beach. A gun position, with three guns: a restored 1807 24-pound cannon, and two recently manufactured 8-pounder replicas, sits near the water’s edge, in recognition of its former military history.

The entrance to the part features two flanking stone walls with plaques explaining the park and its significance. Just inside the stone wall is a model of the village as it was during the 1812 war.

On the water’s edge, at the west end of the park, is a large 80 foot flag pole and a small,17-foot square pyramidal wood tower, painted white with red trim. 

Sources: https://tilife.org/BackIssues/Archive/tabid/393/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/954/Where-it-all-Began.html, https://www.ibiblio.org/lighthouse/onse.htm, https://www.ibiblio.org/lighthouse/onse.htm, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Stone.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/joel-stone-park-honouring-the-founder-of-ganonoque/

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