Edward J. Ryan
First Police Chief
Town of Gananoque
In January 1887, the Chief Constable for the Village of Gananoque, Nassau Acton, handed in his resignation after 12 years on the job. He believed it was time as he felt the Councillors were conspiring to dismiss him.
Eight applications were received by Village Council for the position of Chief Constable. On February 12, 1887, Edward J. Ryan, an iron moulder by trade, was hired as Chief Constable at a salary of $450.00 per year.
Through the years Chief Ryan would be handed various other responsibilities along with his role as Chief, such as Sanitary Inspector, Truant Officer, and even Inspector of Noxious Weeds. He usually had a staff of two other constables, with other special constables available when required for special occasions such as Canada Day and Halloween.
Chief Ryan was well respected in Gananoque. He was called Eddie as much as he was called Chief. A newspaper article, reporting a trial held in Kingston in which Chief Ryan was a witness of, referred to Chief Ryan as the “pride of Gananoque” and “a polished athlete, tall, straight, broad shouldered, intelligent and dressed in a neat fitting uniform.”
Chief Ryan worked through a time of many changes in Gananoque. He saw Gananoque inaugurated as a Town in January of 1890, which earned him the title as the first Police Chief of the Town of Gananoque. Chief Ryan would also see the introduction of electricity and electric street lights, telephones, and automobiles. As these new innovations were introduced into the Town, Chief Ryan would have to plead with Council as to the importance of lighting and a telephone in the police office. His pleading would go on for several years before having his requests met.
On June 8th, 1918, Chief Ryan had single handedly outwitted and captured two escapees who were at large from the Fort Henry Jail in Kingston. That night, before going to bed, he complained to his wife about pain in his side. Chief Ryan passed away in his sleep on June 9, 1918 at age 57. Chief Ryan left behind a wife, two sons, and a career he held for 31 years. Chief Ryan’s body laid in state in the Council Chambers until funeral services were held. Factories and businesses closed during the hours of the funeral out of respect and the funeral procession was lead by the Citizen’s band and included the Mayor, Town Council and other officials.