It isn’t a very big sign on the lawn of 15 Princess Street, Gananoque, but the reason for the sign is an excellent one. This is the home of Ruby Gallery & Gifts, and it is well worth the drive from any direction.
When people hear the name Gananoque, Ontario, they tend to think only of the 1000 Islands, or the Thousand Islands Playhouse, the St. Lawrence River, boat trips, or fine dining. Over this past winter Margaret Abbott has added her art gallery to Gananoque’s cultural landscape.
Now, many individuals and small groups have already added this amazing small gallery as a destination point for a day trip or as a place to visit as part of their holidays. One Ottawa resident even bought three beautiful paintings before there was enough time to arrange them on the walls.
Ruby Gallery & Gifts, however, isn’t just about paintings, although work in acrylic, watercolours, oil and mixed media, in various sizes , is tastefully displayed. Perfect shelves that had once been a ‘stubborn chocolate brown’ received four coats of paint to become the wonderful backdrop for objects d’art, painted linens, pottery, small paintings, wooden bowls and so much more. Unique hand-crafted wood toys and jewellery plus hand blown glass, beeswax candles, and stained glass are also among the art work that provided artistic memories where there is something for everyone from just two dollars up to $2,500.
“The Gallery is primarily local art, and will always be Canadian,” owner Margaret Abbott noted recently. “And the goal is to have some really nice artistic souvenirs to remember the 1000 Islands; smaller things that people can tuck into their suitcases.”
Margaret Abbott has very high praise for the artisans, who were willing to take a chance on her, when she first pursued the idea of opening her gallery. She had already noticed, after her move to the town last year, that there wasn’t a year-round gallery where artists could display their work. At the ‘Before the Rush Art Show and Sale’ at Ivy Lea, in the fall of 2015, she approached a number of artists who agreed to show their work at Ruby Gallery & Gifts. Now word of mouth has continued to turn Margaret Abbott’s idea into a reality.
Her interest in the arts goes back to the time when Margaret was between Grades 11 and 12 at school. “I went to work part time at the ‘Kamloops Sentinel’ in British Columbia, where I would design letterheads and brochures for local resorts. I worked as a commercial artist, and when I was only in my early twenties, I started my own printing shop in Kamloops.
“My father loaned me the money to buy my own printing press. It was an Addressograph-Multigraph Printing Press and was about $2500 at the time. Later I heard that the same model, as the one I owned, had been used to counterfeit money, but it wasn’t mine.”
The name of the new 15 Princess Street gallery is a legacy to a special artist in Margaret Abbott’s life. The gentleman used to say that when he sold a big expensive painting, he would buy her a ruby ring; the ruby for the month of July being her birthstone. The friend is now gone, but Ruby Gallery & Gifts has become part of the legacy to an extraordinary someone who used to create beautiful works of art.
Visitors to the gallery began enjoying the insightful vision of Margaret Abbott, early last December. Well done for creating another clever Gananoque, Ontario destination choice. Those of us who have already enjoyed Ruby Gallery & Gifts look forward to your continued success.
By Carole Moult, Editor, Riverview Park Review, Ottawa, ON
Carole Moult is the Editor & Advertising Manager of the “Riverview Park Review”, published in Ottawa, ON. The popular paper is printed five times a year, and distributed in the AltaVista, Riverview Park communities. It is also available online. Carole maintains her family home in Gananoque and often computes to join in community activities.
Editor’s Note: Article first published in the “Riverview Park Review” in June 2016.