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A Picture Window onto Paradise

In 1972 my parents, Jim and Betty King, built their dream home at 120 Maple Street in Gananoque. The house was nestled among the mighty oak and maple trees that graced the lovely wooded lot on the edge of town. Several truckloads of good old Canadian Shield granite were carved from the ground to make way for the foundation. The house was designed with lots of bedrooms so that the kids, and grandkids, would always have a place to stay when they came for a visit. A screened-in gazebo in the back yard offered a tranquil place to sit and visit or to sleep on those warm summer nights. The kitchen window looked out on the woods at the back of the house and Mom spent many hours watching her furry and feathered friends while preparing delicious feasts that were enjoyed by all. This house was definitely a home and it holds many special memories for all the family members.

One of the special things about the location of my parent’s home was its’ close proximity to Bluff Park, a beautiful piece of town property overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It quickly became a tradition for “Poppa” to take the visiting grandchildren for a walk over to the park to check and see what was happening out on the river. The vantage point at Bluff Park also became one of my father’s favourite spots to take pictures from, and he took many! The photographs that follow are a sampling of some of the images of the river that Dad shot at different times of the day and during the different seasons from the park. For the residents of the Thousand Islands who are only here in the summer months the opportunity to witness the beauty and grandeur of the river during the rest of the year is truly a spectacle that is missed.

A magnificent summer playground
Image courtesy of the J.W. King Photography Collection ©
May Article - Figure 2
Image courtesy of the J.W. King Photography Collection ©
May Article - Figure 3
Image courtesy of the J.W. King Photography Collection ©
May Article - Figure 4
Image courtesy of the J.W. King Photography Collection ©
May Article - Figure 5
Image courtesy of the J.W. King Photography Collection ©
May Article - Figure 6
Image courtesy of the J.W. King Photography Collection ©
May Article - Figure 7
Image courtesy of the J.W. King Photography Collection ©
May Article - Figure 8
Image courtesy of the J.W. King Photography Collection ©

I have many personal recollections about Bluff Park that I fondly look back on. I docked my 14 foot aluminum boat below the park for several years and got to know every step from the boathouse to the top of the bluff very well. It never seemed to fail that you were almost to the top or bottom of the long climb when you realized that you had forgotten something at the other end!

Through the years I met many interesting people around the park but one particular gentleman stands out in my mind. Joe Pullaw was an old river rat, probably sixty years my senior, who enjoyed telling stories about life on the river “back in the day”. Joe had a boathouse below the bluff too and we would quite often hike up the hill together on our way home. Joe would like to sit on the stone wall under a huge oak tree at the top to catch his breath and it was there that he would fascinate me with his tales as we looked out over the river together.

There is also a rather humourous story related to Bluff Park that I will always remember. The Chitty family owned the house that was right beside the park and I would quite often see Mr. and Mrs. Chitty, either working in their gardens or sitting on their deck, as I made my way to the boat, usually with my dog, Heidi, following closely behind. On one occasion, several years after I had moved away from Gananoque, I was home for a visit and, as was the custom, Dad and I walked over to the park to check out the river. While we were there we met Bill Chitty and he commented that for years he had watched me and my dog head out in the boat. One day he noticed that something had changed – instead of Heidi sitting on the front seat of the boat, there was a girl. He said, at that point, he realized that I was growing up! Well, I am happy to report that as of this month that “girl” has been my wife for thirty years and we still share a deep love of the river and enjoy going out in the boat together.

As a footnote to this story I would like to mention that the last time I visited Bluff Park I was very touched to see that the old stone wall that Joe and I used to sit on, and which had fallen into a state of crumbling disrepair over the years, had been lovingly restored by the Chitty family, in memory of Bill. A beautiful bronze memorial plaque has been mounted on the wall for all to see. As I sat on the stone wall and drank my coffee, my heart warmed by the Chitty family’s beautiful gesture, I realized how lucky we are to have this treasure that we call the Thousand Islands as part of our lives.

By Tom King, Milton, ON.

Tom King and his wife Marion, have lived in Milton, Ontario for the past twenty-five years, where they both worked and raised their family of three children; Kris, Mike and Becca. Tom still has a strong attachment to the Thousand Islands, having grown up in Gananoque and being a “river rat” from a very early age. The family tries to return to the islands every summer and for the past few years have been renting a cottage on Sampson (a.k.a. Heritage) Island, just out from Gananoque.

Editor’s Note:  This is Tom King’s fourth article for TI Life, the others related to the boating history of the region.  In addition to providing an important link to the past, Tom’s articles generated many comments adding important information -  This article is different as it relates to a beautiful part of Gananoque and remembers two important personalities. 

On a personal note, I appreciate hearing about the late Bill Chitty.  He came to visit me one day many years ago and asked if I would help establish the Arthur Child Heritage Museum in Gananoque.  I said “No”, but Bill Chitty had a way of showing you what was important.  A couple of arm twists later, and I was hooked.  Our lives have been made better by the memories people like Joe Pullaw and Bill Chitty have given us.   

Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


Brian Johnson
Comment by: Brian Johnson ( )
Left at: 8:35 PM Saturday, May 14, 2011
Again, Tom,
Your sharing those priceless photos of a very familiar place is wonderful!
Especially with the now long gone boathouses that were so characteristic of Gananoque!
These, as always, are GREAT
Ted Bradford
Comment by: Ted Bradford ( )
Left at: 2:50 PM Monday, May 16, 2011
Great shots Tom! Looking down from Bluff Park in Gan. I can't remember how many hours I spent up there and down below. I spent my formative years a couple blocks away on Dempster Drive. My Dad is still there...sadly, our boathouse near Rotary Beach is no longer.


Robert Chitty
Comment by: Robert Chitty ( )
Left at: 12:46 PM Saturday, May 28, 2011
Mr.King was a great photographer. This remains evident looking at the brilliant series of vistas he shot of the St. Lawrence River at Bluff Park.

The picture of Joe rekindled wonderful times past.

A fabulous record of images Tom. Thank you for making them accessible online.
Marg Chitty
Comment by: Marg Chitty
Left at: 2:28 PM Saturday, May 28, 2011
Dear Tom,
You brought a tear to my eye with your lovely article. Thank you for sharing your Dad's beautiful photos; I never tire of seeing the view. I often wished that Joe could have had his memorable stories on record. Hello to Marion. Hope you'll drop in. Fondly, Marg
Karen Wand (Chitty)
Comment by: Karen Wand (Chitty) ( )
Left at: 3:02 PM Saturday, May 28, 2011
Hi Tom
A delightful article including fabulous photos from your Dad's collection. Mom wanted to do something in my Dad's memory, and I suggested she fix the wall. So began the process. The saying was taken from the outside of a church in Kingston in the early '50's. Dad was so taken with it he filmed it and we have it in our home movie collection. The Chitty's have always had a photograph of your Dad's of the view from the Bluff in our home. Interestingly, this article arrived on my Dad's birthday (28th).

Thank you for this

Janet Smith Staples
Comment by: Janet Smith Staples
Left at: 1:47 PM Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Stunning photos and a very touching story.
Thanks for sharing them with us
Tom King
Comment by: Tom King ( )
Left at: 8:56 PM Saturday, June 4, 2011
The wonderful comments that have been posted with respect to this story have helped to validate the decision I made to undertake the huge task of sorting through my Dad's slide collection, digitizing them, and sharing them with others through forums such as this. It is personally very gratifying to know that these pictures and stories are still able to rekindle fond memories for the people who view them. I know that bringing pleasure to others through his pictures was a prime motiviation behind Dad's photographic pursuits and he would be pleased to know that a whole new audience is enjoying his images!
Paul Harding
Comment by: Paul Harding ( )
Left at: 8:34 PM Monday, February 18, 2013

Your Dad often spoke to me out in front of our house and told me how the view from Bluff Park was one of his favourites in the whole world. This is evident from his beautiful photos of that view, which we are blessed to enjoy every day. And, like Bob, the photo of Joe Pullaw takes me back with fond memories of days past. Thanks for sharing.

Teresa Grausenburger
Comment by: Teresa Grausenburger ( )
Left at: 7:47 PM Thursday, April 17, 2014
Just found this article. Sure brought back lots of memories of Bluff Park. I usually stop by there each time I'm back in Gan. Love those beautiful oak trees. I have taken many photos from there also, but they didn't turn out as nice as these. Your dad sure captured the different seasons. I hope to move back to town when I retire in a few years. Say hi to Marion for me and maybe I'll see you in town soon.
Cheers, Teresa
Jack Patterson
Comment by: Jack Patterson
Left at: 12:48 PM Thursday, October 5, 2017

Old Joe – rolled his own. Maybe thirty years with my grandparents. Grew up with him. To get down to Papula (beyond, 'the jungle') I had to pass the still smoldering garbage … sure the boogie-man was going to get me. Only once a month the full moon. As soon as I could I called out to Betty Jane, “I'm coming.” Then felt safe and skipped across the two little bridges to the cabin. So, Joe came every morning in, I think- eventually, the 'Squaw' with ice, milk, help for the day (may though have always come in his own boat). Maybe Sedge, Ben or both along. Nana had Mary Hutar (from the 'Bron-nex'), all Summer. Joe did all stuff - everything except, say, 'handle', 'manage' – a difficult work situation, my grandfather. We'd all clear out. Two, 'knuckle heads'. But maybe/likely/eventually … it was a tie. Gruff/grumpy, slams the ice into the tin-lined ice box early, wakes everyone (everything) up. Muttering … Bam/Crash! We on Papula learn of the latest disaffection. Our mother, however, fond of Joe, calls out, cheerily … “Good Morning, Joe!” Rattles the ice tongs. Frank would come up from the big city over to Chaumont. Nobody wanted to pick him up. Attempted to, 'wave' and pass-run customs. Not less than 25 mph.“Oh no, Frank.' Strong headed, Joe says, “I quit!”… Frank, “I fired him!” Comes to my mind, two billy goats … head-to-head. But Joe central as were all the river-men ('Boatmen') such as himself. What? Chain blocks-slings, cradles … water systems, pumps ... 6 and 8 cylinder inboard engines all gasoline, generators, outboards too. Aladdin lamps, kerosene stoves, coal oil. Boats- sail and powered/skiffs. Bail - pump out. Carpentry/repair, maintenance-screens-shutters-leaky roofs..Gardens, paths, docks-piers … spiders. Doyens, privileged children, men. Marjorie, 'Nana', lived 100 years, Joe not far behind. Too, it did come to pass the final quarrel. Joe purchased Fort Wallace, over near the US boundary. Him often there working on his cabin(s), stopping by with flowers for my great grandmother. Marjorie, wrote a 'vanity press' handwritten, eventually printed, work of nonfiction/memoir … about her life. Several sections covering the purchase and forward on Axeman. Was, say, a 'Runyon' island - Dr, Runyon of Leek, etc., Golden Apple. WW I hospital on Leek. But first, these two pioneers, and their four children- all girls … renting for two years on Wood Isle, owned no home elsewhere (and) three days – one way, from where, in 1926, they lived, spending all their savings on a rough recently burned-over island in Canada. Hm. 'Nana', in writing her life story, “5 Generations; A Memoir”, frequently mentions Joe as to the river … I count pages – have it written here … page 77, 78, 79, 88, 96 (likely I missed some). Also I think, written with fondness: “Joe was great in improvising. He would use nails or bobby pins to fix this or that. He was a great old Joe mostly, but when a periodic urge … overcame him, he was quite impossible for several days after … He had a real feeling for the island and joined me with gusto in clearing up the 'jungle' as he called it. He also loved to pick huckleberries into his cap and present them to me. Joe filled the ice house winters from the frozen river. We had only an ice chest without partitions into which an ice cake from the ice house was put daily.” Eschewing cigarettes, Sweet Caporal's, say, (they sold in the Canadian market for at least 125 years), Joe rolled his own … cigarette 'papers', tobacco pouch.