I love looking at photographs of the Thousand Islands. In fact, I can never get enough of them, so when I learned that Doug Rombough, born and raised in Gananoque gave his collection of photographs to the Arthur Child Heritage Museum and to Queen’s University – I took notice.
Linda Mainse, executive director of Gananoque’s waterfront museum, showed me some of the photographs and I realized that once again, I had found “gold”.
Doug started collecting postcards in the 1970s when he was president of the Gananoque Historical Society. He made 35mm slides of the collection and travelled around taking photographs of similar scenes.
“Then,” he says, “I took the ‘then and now’ slide show to various service clubs in the area.”
For many reasons including moving to Toronto he decided to sell his collection to Queen’s University Archives. Then three or four years ago he started collecting again. He is not quite sure why, but it is safe to say, once a collector – always a collector. “With major changes in the ability to locate, acquire and relocate views (the IT equipment, scanners, computers and software), I was able to use technology to produce a more user-friendly collection.”
When I asked what was his first “unique” find. He pointed to the photograph of the Kingston.
“Although not a first, the photo of the R. & O. N. Co.’s steamer Kingston at the Gananoque’s wharf shown in my “Tour Boats, Steamers, Ferries & Hotels, Thousand Islands” collection is a rather unique ‘find’. Last year when searching through various boxes belonging to the former Gananoque Museum, I ran across the old photograph, unidentified and not categorized in any manner in the old photo collection. I scanned the photo to include in my presentation of old steamships hoping to determine at a later time the date it was taken and other pertinent historical facts.
I later found the photo shown in Adrian Ten Cate’s “Pictorial History of the Thousand Islands” with the description that it was the 1860 Royal visit by 18 year old Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the British Throne, future King Edward VII upon the death of his mother, Queen Victoria. On close inspection of the photo I discovered that it showed the Swing Bridge in the background. Since I knew that the bridge had been constructed in 1884 (like many of our readers will remember seeing the date on the bridge while going up the Gananoque River) the 1860 date and royal tour details were in error.
I searched the web for royal tours to Ontario between 1884 (the date the bridge had been constructed and 1913 (when the Canada Steamship Lines had acquired and renamed the R. & O. N. Co. and its steamships) and found on page 130 of the text entitled “The Tour of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York through the Dominion of Canada in the year 1901” by Joseph Pope, C.M.G., Under-Secretary of State, Ottawa, 1903. It contained a brief description of the tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (became King George V and Queen Mary in 1910) and that the royals had arrived at the Gananoque wharf onboard the “Kingston” on September 15, 1901. The following is an excerpt from the article:
“From the College (viz. Royal Military College) Their Royal Highnesses returned to the city (viz. Kingston) and went onboard the Richelieu Company’s (viz. Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company – R. & O. N. Co.) steamer Kingston which had been chartered to convey the royal party to Brockville.”
“At Gananoque a surprising large number of people had assembled on the wharf, among whom was Mr. George Taylor, MP. The Duke was standing on the bridge at the time in the company of Mr. Gildersleeve (viz. president of the company) and Captain Esford and the crowd cheered his Royal Highness with the utmost good-will.”
If you look carefully you can see a regal looking person on the second deck of the steamer.
Doug explained some of the sources of his “finds”. For the most part he discovered material on eBay, in auction houses, antique stores and flea markets. He received permission to use material from the former Gananoque Museum, which is owned by the Town of Gananoque. He also collected material from Queen’s University Archives. Research behind each scene can be found in old newspapers, published books, pamphlets, articles from both his own library and in public libraries. He also appreciates the holdings of the Gananoque Historical Society Newsletters and best of all in discussions with “old timers”.
Since his collection is a work in progress, he periodically delivers an updated version to the Arthur Child Museum and Queen’s Archives on both a memory stick and a CD ( He reports “To maintain control to ensure they have the most recent version, I retrieve those previously delivered”)
Doug also provides the collection to those who have expressed an interest including Gananoque native John Nalon who is the current president of the Gananoque Historical Society who also has an extensive postcard collection.
“I prepared my slide collection with the view of contributing in a small way to the digitalization process facing organizations such as the local museum and Queen’s Archives and to provide another medium for persons interested in Gananoque’s past.
Doug is still looking for pictures/postcards with dates and historical information (pre 1950’s). In fact his list is long, “I am especially interested in Gananoque industries (manufacturing, saw mills, grist mills, etc.).” Then he goes on to suggest the subject of Ice cutting, storage and delivery. He is always look for drawings or photographs of the old canal that existed on west side of the Gananoque River used as source of waterpower. What about the industry along the waterfront (e.g. old Thousand Islands Railway station, warehouses, Shortall Coal yards, Sampson Coal yard, etc.); more steamers and ferries (e.g. Yennek, Missisquoi, etc.). Don’t forget the milk and bread delivery horse-drawn wagons, trucks; businesses and other structures on the north and south sides of King Street East between Charles and William Streets. And finally the hotels, the opera houses… I think he still has a lot of work to do…
The Steamer “Kingston”
Below is a sample of a collection compiled by Doug Rombough. There are 21 other slide shows available for viewing at the Arthur Child Heritage Museum in Gananoque or through the Queen’s University Archives. Most of the slides represent the history of Gananoque.
Click to Enlarge photos below, or view three slide shows on Steamships, Tour Boats and Hotels on our new TI Life Section on the Tab: Photos
View three more slide shows on Steamships, Tour Boats and Hotels on our new TI Life Section on the Tab: Photos
By Susan W. Smith, Editor email@example.com