It seems fitting that the 1831 residence of John and Henrietta McDonald was Gananoque's Town Hall, since in the 1840's John was influential in the town's political and social life, and was a Legislative Councillor, when Kingston was the capital of the United Canadas.
Although, at first, it may be difficult to relate the current municipal use of the brick structure to its original function as a domestic house, the 1978/79 renovations have tried to bring out the best of both roles. The McDonald House had a number of formal rooms which have lent themselves well to contemporary life; for instance, the elegant second-floor ballroom is now the council chambers. This area can be divided into two rooms, each with a Tuscan fireplace, by closing the tall, false-grained doors, with their moulded paneling.
The spacious upper and lower hallways with the connecting curved staircase speak of a gracious age, when the McDonalds who had the most fashionable house in town, would have received many traveling dignitaries, as well as hosting town and family festivities.
With only the company of her daughter Georgiana, Henrietta must have found the house quiet, after the death of John in 1860. However, there were many visits from her married children, and she was devoted to the house and its furnishings which she had carefully designated for inheritance by the time of her death in 1900.
In 1911 the family deeded the house and its grounds to Gananoque for civic purposes, such as town hall, offices for municipal officials and meeting rooms. Recently citizens have generously donated appropriate furnishings, while grants for organizations, such as the Ontario Heritage Foundation and Wintario, have made it possible to recapture the architectural beauty of this house.
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