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More than a Salad Dressing & the Golden Apple Fire

Each month I seek links to the Islands which highlight the area's history and activities, to emphasize why the Islands should be known for much "more than a salad dressing1”! This month’s link relates to Ardele’s Golden Apple Restaurant, in Gananoque, which was damaged by fire in the early hours of Christmas Day - see link under “References”.

Fire in a well known and popular public building is always a devastating event, but for Gananoque it is particularly sad. The Golden Apple evokes many fond memories for tourists and locals alike. For me it a reminder of my daughter Janet’s youth. She, along with dozens of “Gan girls”, spent summers working as the “Coffee Girls” - serving coffee and the famous “sticky buns”.

The Golden Apple building dates to 1830. Joel D. Parmenter came to Gananoque in 1824 from Vermont and bought Brownson’s Hotel, later known as the International Hotel. He built a stone house for his family next to the hotel, on King Street.

Katherine Runyon, from New Jersey, had summered for many years on Carleton Island in the late 1800s. She returned in the early 1900s as the wife of Wall Street financier, Ira A. Kip. The Kips bought Thwartway Island (also known as Leek Island) in 1904. In 1917, during World War I, their Thwartway property was used by the Canadian government as a convalescent hospital for Canadian soldiers. Dr. Medford Runyon was hired as Chief of the medical staff. [interesting fact about Thwartway2]

The marriage between the Kips ended in divorce in 1919 and Katherine married Dr. Runyon. She continued to summer at Thwartway with her four children, but was anxious to start her own business. In 1928, Katherine purchased the Parmenter house for use as an antique shop. Her daughter often related that when her mother went into the back country to purchase antiques from local farmers, she felt great empathy for them by always paying “too much” for her purchases! Katherine expanded her business to include a tea room which she conveniently staffed with her household servants and cook, from Thwartway Island.  As word spread, much to the delight of Mrs. Runyon, The Golden Apple Tea Room became a well-known destination.

In the 1950s, the business, which now included The Apple Tree Guest House, was sold to her daughter and son-in-law, Kathleen and David E. Brenneman. Located midway on the major highway between Montreal and Toronto, the Golden Apple was well known in both cities.  The restaurant’s excellent reputation continued not only for its lunches and dinners but also for its afternoon tea which now included tea-leaf readings by a fortune teller. In 1966, the Brennemans sold the business to Davalex Inns Ltd., which continued operations for several years.

Unfortunately, I have not kept up with the recent history of the restaurant. However, I can only hope that this wonderful property may continue to provide both comfort and hospitality for many years.

Susan W. Smith,



Gananoque Reporter : Ardele's Golden Apple ravaged by fire Christmas day, Posted By LJ Matheson

Historic Gananoque by H.W. Hawke, Mika Publishing, Belleville, Ontario, 1974

Tim Compeau, a PhD candidate at the University of Western Ontario and Consulting Curator for the Arthur Child Heritage Museum and Gananoque Museum Collections has an excellent web blog with the additional Thwartway-hospital story. Friday, March 16, 2007, "From Your Soldier Patients..."

Interview with Mrs. Kay Brenneman, 5, July, 1982.

Food and Folklore of the 1,000 Islands by P. & M. Sykes, Dove Cottage Press, 1995

David Ray assisted in editing this article.


More than a Salad Dressing… Years ago, I met a young medical student and I was telling her about my favorite vacation region. I got carried away, and soon I was relating facts about the War of 1812, the ships that plied the St. Lawrence River, the battles… “Gee,” she exclaimed, The Thousand Islands is more than a Salad Dressing”. Since that time I have found many links to people, places and events that prove that links to the Thousand Islands are like six degrees of separation, and our region is almost the center of the world!


In the 1960, the Canadian government expropriated Thwartway (Leek) Island from the Kip/Brenneman families to expand the St. Lawrence Islands National Park.  The family was compensated with an estimated $100,000, which in those days was considered a fair settlement.  However, the family were adamant in their wish to retain ownership, considering it ironic that the same Government who thanked the family for their generosity in 1919, used expropriation forty years later.



Posted in: Places, People
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Bud Andress
Comment by: Bud Andress ( )
Left at: 9:26 PM Friday, January 16, 2009

I had always been told that my grandmother, Madeline Sampson (Madeline Forbes (1st husband), nee Knobbs) had once owned the "Golden Apple" building. She had emigrated to Gananoque from New Jersey following the death of her first husband, Charles Forbes. As I recall, sometime in the 1920's, she bought the building and ran a hair dressing salon. Shortly after arriving in Gananoque and running the salon, she married Jack Sampson (of the Sampson Coal Co.) and sold the building.

I remember she herself telling me of grand balls held on Leek Island in the 1920's where one would be picked up in Gan. by the island boatman and taken to the island for "a grand ol' time". This would mean she had close contact with Katherine Runyon and perhaps a deal was struck (?).

Have you come across any information to suggest this family tale is correct?

Mark Bond
Comment by: Mark Bond ( )
Left at: 5:45 PM Saturday, January 17, 2009
This is such a shame. The Golden Apple used to be such a good place to eat, although it has gone through a rough patch in the last 4 or 5 years. I hope it can recover. Meanwhile, Muskie Jakes at the Gananaque Inn or the Maple Leaf in town is always great ! Happy winter!
Susan W. Smith
Comment by: Susan W. Smith ( )
Left at: 10:24 PM Saturday, January 17, 2009
Yes Bud. I think you are right. I have "Sampson Family" written in my notes, but I don't have much else. The house was known as the Parmenter House, but your family could easily have been the owners at the time. I will look for more information.

Susan W. Smith, article author
Rob MCLellan
Comment by: Rob MCLellan ( )
Left at: 5:13 PM Saturday, August 15, 2009
Hey I'm the owner currently now you need any info let me know I'd be happy to help you or you help me cause we need all the help we can get cause the insurance company are not helping us very much and we would love to get it up and running again. Thank you so much Susan for this article you've created it's good to still know that people remember this place. I want to make the golden apple Shine once again.

Thank you
Bud Andress
Comment by: Bud Andress ( )
Left at: 7:30 PM Saturday, August 15, 2009

I truly wish you all the best in getting the Golden Apple going again as a business. Yes, it's fare had become not what it was in the past, but patrons need to see that place no matter what the current entrepreneur has decided fits his or her needs best to carry on business in Gananoque.

I was always told my grandmother, who had emigrated from New Jersey as a young recent widow with one daughter (Phyllis Forbes//Phyllis Andress//Phyllis Norris), had bought what became the Golden Apple Restaurant buiding in the early 1920's and operated a ladies hair dressing salon. She was striking in appearance ans was quickly courted by John Britton Sampson (Jack Sampson), of the Sampson Coal Co. which used to be situated where Gordon Marine presently is located. Her name was Madeline Ann Forbes (known to locals as Maddie Sampson). Susie Smith has tied in the later Thwartway (or Leek Island) connection, and it's interesting because I remember my grandmother telling me of going to great "balls" at that island......picked up by the island's boatman at the Stone Street dock and ferried to the great boathouse in the sheltered southwest bay.

I truly wish you success in fire renovations and a great re-opening.

Bud Andress
Hill Island
Vic Evans
Comment by: Vic Evans ( )
Left at: 7:19 PM Friday, May 7, 2010

I am very pleased to see this article and I hope that the Golden Apple has a great re-opening.

I remember staying at the Apple in the 1950s as my grandparents lived on the property. I believe both my grandfather, Albert Harris and grandmother, Florence Harris (Graham) worked at the Apple from the 1930s or perhaps earlier until about 1958. My grandfather retired then and at that time was Manager of the Apple for Mr. Brenneman. I remember my grandfather being particularly proud of the superb roast beef and other fine food available at the Golden Apple. I believe my grandmother worked for many years for the Apple as pastry chef. Some of my earliest memories from the 1950s are being with my grandfather in the golden coloured golden "woodie" station wagon automobile owned by the Golden Apple.

My grandparents often mentioned the names Sampson, Runyon and Brenneman but I only vaguely remember meeting Mr. Brenneman when I was a young child.

Best wishes,

Vic Evans
Hanmer, Ontario
Doug Nobbs
Comment by: Doug Nobbs ( )
Left at: 2:36 PM Friday, January 21, 2011
I accidently found this site. I have been doing an ancestry search and would very much like to talk to Bud Andress. Madeline Nobbs born 1899 in New York. She became a Forbes then a Sampson. My parents Fred and Vivien Nobbs used to visit her in Gananaque. Fred was her brother. I have pictures of Phyllis Forbes at age about 4.
Susie Washburn
Comment by: Susie Washburn
Left at: 11:13 AM Thursday, January 17, 2019
Vic Evans - the Brenneman's were my grandparents and I remember your grandparents so very well!! They were so kind and we just loved them. I remember the milk machine in the kitchen - we called it Al's cow. I remember one time he cut his hand pretty good but didn't say a word - I saw trail of blood and Nana and Grandpa had him to the doctor immediately for stitches. He just didn't want to be a bother Oh to go back to those wonderful days!!