Blinkbonnie, Scottish for “beautiful view “,was built in 1812 and is one of the oldest homes in Gananoque, Ontario. It was the beloved home of 5 generations of the Macdonald family until Blinkbonnie became a majestic stately inn in the Canadian Thousand Islands in the 1920’s.
Blinkbonnie was home to a famous resident in his day, Charles Macdonald ASCE. Charles leaves a legacy as one of the most accomplished civil engineers of his generation. Charles was the owner of three bridge companies, a dedicated community leader serving on boards of directors for museums, foundations and commissions to investigate bridge failures. Macdonald became one of the preeminent authorities on iron bridge construction in his day. He was considered one of the leading bridge engineers of his time. He had a role in designing and building many famous bridges including the Hawkesbury Bridge in Australia; Poughkeepsie Bridge across the Hudson River and as a trustee of the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC which opened in 1883.
Blinkbonnie was built in 1812 by the first Charles Mcdonald. Charles had been instrumental in developing Gananoque as a town. He married the daughter of Joel Stone the founder of Gananoque. After a few years Charles was well off enough to build the first Blinkbonnie. That first house burned to the ground in 1826 the year Charles died at the age of 40. His son William Stone changed the family name to Macdonald and inherited Blinkbonnie.
William Stone Macdonald lived with his wife, Isabella Hall at the home. They restored and expanded Blinkbonnie by 1843. William and Isabella’s son Charles Macdonald II the “bridge builder” was born in 1837 at Blinkbonnie. Macdonald grew up in Gananoque and left to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) at Troy, New York. Macdonald graduated in 1857 as a Civil Engineer, ASCE.
Macdonald worked for the Grand Trunk Railroad in Ontario before and after RPI. While working at Grand Trunk the Civil War broke out and Charles joined the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Infantry as a corporal. He was sent on a special assignment that took him into Gettysburg, PA in 1863 where he was captured. He was paroled by the Confederate army at Gettysburg and returned to work on the Philadelphia and Reading railroad. Charles married Sarah Willard of Troy, New York in 1861. Charles and Sarah had several children a number died in infancy.
William Stone Macdonald died in 1902 leaving Blinkbonnie to his oldest son Charles Macdonald II. Charles made extensive renovations at Blinkbonnie to the main house and surrounding buildings. Charles remained at Blinkbonnie even after it was sold in 1923 until his death in 1928.
The Macdonald-Stone Foundation a Nonprofit Organization has been founded to save Blinkbonnie and to purchase and restore the home to its stately grandeur. It will become a cultural center and museum to serve the citizens of Gananoque and visitors of the Thousand Islands.