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Gananoque - Its Many Spellings

The town's name is pronounced "Gan-A-Nock-wee" and is an aboriginal name which means town on two rivers.

"What’s that name again? How did you pronounce it? Gananoqueans are frequently asked by visitors or by those to whom they may be speaking, regarding the town. Little wonder it seems slightly confusing, being an unusual name, one of Indian origin.

Gananoque has probably the distinction of having more ways of spelling the name of the town than any other on the face of the globe.

Mr. Frank Eames, a local historian of by-gone days, collected a list of names used from the time of Count Frontenac during his tenure at Fort Frontenac, now Kingston, to the present day.

That the name is of Indian origin is clear from the records of 1783 when a survey party of "Loyal Rangers" under the leadership of Lieut. Gersham French travelled by way of the Ottawa River to the Rideau, and then to the River "Gananocoue" and down to the St. Lawrence River.

With their various meanings and origins, the various spellings of the name of the town are as follow:

On-non-da-qui, meaning up which many hunters go; Gan-non-o-qui from the Huron Oughsean, to a deer; Kah-non-no-kwen, a meadow rising out of the water, from Leavitt’s History of Leeds and Grenville; Ca-da-no-ghue, rocks in running water; Ga-na-wa-ge, from Morgan’s Map of the St. Lawrence; Ga-na-na-quy, the Ontario Archives; Co-na-no-qui, Ontario Arvhives; Ca-da-noc-qui, from Col. Joel Stone’s application to the Legislature for bridge and ferry privileges, 1801; Ca-da-no-ry-hqua, from Col. Stone’s letters; Ga-nen-no-quay, from an old account book of the colonel’s dated 1819; Gau-nuh-nau-quueng, rendevous or residence, from "History of Ojibway Indians", by Rev. Peter Jones; Ga-na-no-qui, not Iroquois, but supposed to be Huron; Ga-na-no-coui, from Chewitt’s plan of Upper Canada, 1793; Gar-an-o-que, from the Public Archives; and Ga-na-no-que, the accepted form today.

For years it has been said that the name of the town in the Indian language means "The Place of Health", since the Indians, after the long winters in the deep forest, would make their way down to the shores where the Gananoque River flows into the St. Lawrence. Here, as they basked in the brilliant sunshine, many of their winter ailments including scurvy, cleared up. Mr. Eames, however, makes no mention of this fact.

Suffice to say the great variety of ways of spelling the name seems to indicate that both Indians and early settlers thought the place worthy of honour and distinction, and made an effort to spell it according to the way it sounded.

Whether or not we pronounce it correctly today remains unknown. What we do know is that its location where the two rivers meet provides a setting of beauty equal to that of few other towns or cities, especially with the additional magnificence of the 1000 Islands on our "front doorstep".

 

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