Charlie Donevan, ‘Mr. Gananoque,’ dies at 99

From left, Gord McFarlane, Mary Donevan, Charlie Donevan and Liam Solomatenko pose Charlie’s 99th birthday on July 31, 2023. –
Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter photo

Charlie Donevan, the original owner of what is now Donevan’s Hardware on the main street in Gananoque, and affectionately known as “Mr. Gananoque” for his community involvement, died last week, just shy of his 100th birthday.

His family made the announcement over the weekend.

“There comes a time in everyone’s life when it is time to leave,” the family said in a statement. “That time for Charlie was Thursday, May 2. He spent almost 100 years making Gananoque what it is today. There is an urgent project in the next world that needs his expertise. As usual, Charlie answered the call.”

Donevan’s passing comes as plans were being made to celebrate his 100th birthday with a community gathering in the town on July 1, Canada Day. The streets were to be closed, a parade was to be held.

Mayor John Beddows said the community lost a great man whose exemplary life all could do well to emulate.

“My condolences to the Donevan family, and my thanks to Charlie for all he did for others,” said Beddows.

The Town of Gananoque announced that flags at Town Hall have been lowered to half-mast in memory of Donevan.

“Charlie served as an ambassador for his beloved Gananoque for over 90 years,” the Town said in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Donevan was born July 31, 1924, at the former Gananoque Nursing Home. Upon graduation from Queen’s University, Donevan entered the family business of Donevan’s Hardware full time, the original Joel Stone Trading Post, then James Donevan, and Charles Donevan Sr. in 1947.

He had many interests including bicycle deliveries at Donevan’s at age five, painting, tin and wooden boat building, cottaging and voyaging on the St. Lawrence River.

“He was always actively involved in all aspects of his family church, Grace United,” Donevan’s obituary reads. “He recruited directors of the United Church of Canada in the project closest to his heart, Landon Bay, in 1965.”

As a talented and versatile builder, Donevan developed the Landon Bay Vacation Centre with camping and programming.

As Canada’s newest National Park, thousands have enjoyed all aspects of nature at its finest, in the Thousand Islands, and the Frontenac Arch Biosphere.

Donevan’s projects and contributions to Gananoque were countless, including in the arts, music and festival.

“A special thank you and appreciation is extended to all who knew and loved Charlie, and contributed to the richness of his life,” the obituary ends.

Services are to be held at a later date.

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