St. Lawrence Park
Few people today realize that the first St. Lawrence Park in Elizabethtown was located several miles west of where the present park is located in Brockville.
This park was located just to the west of Grant’s Creek and was accessed by the King’s Highway or by daily steamer’s that would dock at the park.
If you close your eyes, you can imagine a sunny day in 1865 and taking a horse and buggy ride out to spend the day at the park.
From the advertisements posted in the Recorder newspaper, we get a glimpse into the activities that could be had during a day spent at the park.
The park provided seats, swings, and every convenience for peoples’ accommodation. There was a Dancing Hall 30×70 feet, a large bowling alley, saloon and a dining room, capable of seating 130 persons, and for those who wanted to spend more time, there were bedding accommodations.
The Saloon would have been furnished with the best brands of Liquors and Cigars plus one of the best cooks in the area to prepare your meals.
For those of you who wanted to do something more exciting outdoors, there was a half mile track for racing. Row boats would be available for fishing or just taking you best girl out for a ride.
All kinds of games were also available, such as Quoits, Croquet, Ball and many more. They had set aside a large 20 acre field for games of all sorts.
When you drive by the area 150 years later, no traces remain of this fabulous park, but if you close your eyes you can see and hear the fun that was to be had in this area.
The advertisement as it appeared in the Brockville paper of July 19th, 1875 is reprinted here for easier reading:
St. Lawrence Park, (McDonald Point)
ONE AND A-HALF MILES above BROCKVILLE.
On the right bank of the RIVER St. LAWRENCE, in the midst of the beautiful scenery of the Thousand Islands.
The Proprietor would respectfully notify PARTIES, PIC-NICS &c., he has just fitted the St. LAWRENCE PARK with seats, swings, and every convenience for their accommodation. The PARK has a DANCING HALL 30×70 feet, LARGE BOWLING ALLEY, SALOON, DINING ROOM, (capable of seating 130 persons) and bedding accommodations.
Carriages to be had on short notice. First-class ROW BOATS and FISHING TACKLE. All kinds of Games, such as Quoits, Croquet, Ball, &c. Two large wharves, and everything necessary to make a visit, long or short, most pleasant. It has a most beautiful Grove, and the best fishing bay on the St. Lawrence.
Are furnished with all the best brands of Liquors and Cigars. One of the best Cooks that can be obtained has been engaged. Stabling for horses, and a track of half a mile in preparation. A large twenty acre field for Games. There is no more desirable spot on the whole length of the St. Lawrence. All orders by mail, addressed to A. McDOUGALL, Proprietor, Brockville, ONT., will receive immediate attention.
The Fire Brigade Band
Has been engaged in connection with the Park, and will furnish Music for parties at very reasonable rates. >No Charge for Boats landing at the Wharves. The Boats going East and West pass within twenty rods of the Park.
The “Peerless” can be engaged at reasonable rates for excursions and picnic parties. She is owned and kept at the Park.
Brockville, July 19th, 1875
Another advertisement from the Brockville paper:
Grand Excursion and Picnic.
Under the Management of Prescott Lodge of Good Templars, will take place on
Thursday, 29th June,
The Steamer ‘St. Jean Baptiste” will call at the Brockville and Ottawa Railway Wharf at 10 a.m., and thence proceed to Pic-Nic Ground.
Tickets 15 cents, or Two for 25 cents; to
Be had at M’MULLEN & Co’s. Bookstore.
Prescott, June 23rd, 1865
In an excerpt from Walter Kilborn’s book How Dear to my Heart he tells of going to St. Lawrence park in July of 1881
Next day was a holiday. The Farmers’ Picnic was to be held at St. Lawrence Park, a short distance west of the Brockville cemetery. My cousin had complained in the morning of being uncomfortable from the sunburn he had received the day before, but went with us to the picnic.
Tablecloths were spread on the grass under the trees, and dinner was served, everyone sitting around tailor fashion and enjoying the many good things from the lunch baskets, all but my cousin, who protested he did not care to sit, but leaned against a tree to eat his lunch.
In the afternoon there were swimming races, boat races, and a lot of other fun, but Vernon would not even get in a boat, as it hurt him to sit down, he said. It was a wonderful afternoon. The men got a long rope; choosing sides till twelve men were selected for each team and then had a tug of war. It was a great day, but to soon we were loaded onto the wagons, all but the big boys and girls who were staying for the evening to enjoy a dance at the pavilion.
For the complete story and others look on our website under Stories by Walter Kilborn “The Sunburn”
From The Athen’s Reporter and County of Leeds Advertiser Tuesday July 2, 1895 issue–
St. Lawrence Park
A large number of Athenians went to St. Lawrence Park on the excursion last Friday evening. The trip was unanimously voted to have been delightful, and some enterprising local organization should arrange a similar trip to take place at the annual illumination of the islands. It would prove an immense success. The river on Friday evening was simply covered with row boats going and coming from the park. The speakers addressed a very large audience on the general polities of the day but did not as some expected, make special mention of the Manitoba school question. The Athenians rushed home about 1 a.m. very much pleased with the evening’s outing.