Our Heritage Driving Tours are designed to acquaint visitors and residents with our rich local history and to illustrate our rich natural and cultural heritage that appeared as our Township grew and matured.
Heritage Driving Tours
Tours on Your Smartphone
Tours on your Smartphone: These tours plus our cycling tours are available as a free MyTOURS App for any Android, Windows or iOS (pending) Phone device. For links to the app see: My Tours or do a search for “Rideau” in your app store. Once downloaded to your device the tours can be used offline.
Morton to Crosby
Heritage Route Along the Shores of the Rideau
Paths by paddle and portage have crossed our landscape of Shield and Lowland ever since the most recent Ice Age melted away ten millennia ago. In recent centuries, ancient paths were followed by European explorers and traders. In the 1790s, saddle-bag preachers traveled paths from blazed tree to tree and from pioneer cabin to cabin. Survey lines and concession roads brought settlers fleeing the American Revolution to the flat and fertile sedimentary plain. In the 1820s, packed snow and ice gave path to teamsters with yokes of oxen. Their stone boats in tow were laden with rough ashars of sandstone destined for building the dams and locks of the Rideau Canal. After 1832, the path of the propeller marked the era of steamboat trade and travel along the Rideau Canal. In the 1840s tortuous rocky trails took settlers fleeing famine in Ireland onto the unforgiving Shield. By the 1880s, rails of iron brought year-round and relatively speedy travel to the north of Leeds County. By the 1930s, paths of pavement opened a new lattice of travel for residents of the Rideau and for visitors from afar. Beside these highways and byways are the farms, the homes and the villages that are testament to the lives and labours, the goals and skills, the joys and sorrows of the people whose lives have been linked through the Rideau community to the world. This is an invitation to travel some of these paths by road, possibly by boat, maybe with backpack. Enjoy “An Experience to Remember” here in the rich natural and cultural heritage as seen from some of our paths in the Township of Rideau Lakes.
Civic addresses are cited for specific buildings where available. Kilometre readings will vary slightly with vehicle. GPS values are given for intersections and end points noted along this heritage route. GPS values are rounded to 2 decimal places of minutes.
Even before the building of the Rideau Canal in the 1820s, dusty millers and sawyers were using the water power of Whitefish Falls. In the mid-1800s, both John A. Macdonald and George Morton had dreams. Morton envisioned a model community at Whitefish Falls to power his model mills. Model streets would be lined with bustling businesses and prosperous homes. On the floodplain of Whitefish (Morton) Creek, he developed a model dairy farm with a cheese factory to turn fertility into food. His brick yard turned clay into houses. George Morton even built a unique model school. But it was Sir John A’s dream that survived and thrived through the test of time.
1. James Manuel House
7 Park St., Morton (front on Hwy.15) Built in 1858 with stucco on local brick, the wide front gable of this house is similar to those of others in the vicinity. Notice the large windows with 6 panes in wooden sashes, shutters and the fancy woodwork under the eaves.
2. Morton General Store
702 Main St. Morton (Hwy.15) Built c1855, George Morton’s plan for his model community included a centrally-located general store. Notice its typically large display windows and its attached residence for the shopkeeper and his family. This general store was the commercial focus of the community of Morton for over a century.
3. Morton School “the Pimple”
24 Pearl St. Built in 1852/53, this octagonal brick building fulfilled Morton’s plan for an innovative school. Large windows provided abundant natural light. Over a century ahead of its time, George Morton’s centre of education nurtured a “bright circle of learning. How could a teacher send an unruly student to stand in the corner when the corner was 135 degrees? Only one other octagonal school exists in the province.
Leave Morton and head north on Hwy #15 across the floodplain of Morton Creek. Once called Whitefish Creek, it is a major tributary of the Gananoque River System and offers an invitation to explore its meandering ways by canoe and kayak. Turn left at 0.6 km. (GPS 44 32.52 N., 76 11.90 W.) onto Cty. Rd. #11 (Jones Falls Road). Drive through some of the rugged landscape of the Frontenac Axis, part of Canada’s Shield. Cloaked in mid-latitude mixed forest, this is a favourite habitat for white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks and a few endangered black rat snakes. Turn left at 3.9 km. (GPS 44 32.82 N., 76 13.99 W.) into Parks Canada’s parking lot. You can walk to the hotel and other sites at Jones Falls. Here you will find a treasure of landscape and engineering of the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage Site and National Geographic Destination. Though the walking paths are wide, the Shield is very hilly.
4. Hotel Kenney
Jones Falls The original hotel at Jones Falls was built in 1849 by Bernard O’Neal. Thomas Kenney built the present hotel in 1888 after his first inn burnt. With balconies and open railings, its character is reminiscent of many turn-of-the-century resorts. Cottage styling and trim are still evident to-day from the 1910 renovations when the third storey was added. Presidents of the United States have been among the many who found friendly leisure and fishing lure at Hotel Kenney. Walk across the bridge to the great staircase of locks, the second highest lock gates in the world when they were built in the 1820s. Turn right to the Parks Canada Info Centre to study the site map, to find more information and to explore further this amazing site.
5. Blacksmith Shop
Jones Falls Between 1841 and 1843, smithies were constructed at many of the lock stations to provide essential items of black metal for the Canal. The Blacksmith Shop is open and active during scheduled hours in the summer.
6. Lockmaster’s House
Jones Falls The British Ordinance Department constructed this defensible lockmaster’s house in 1841 of stone quarried locally. Now a museum, the Lockmaster’s House contains many items from the time of Peter Sweeney, the first and legendary lockmaster here at Jones. The Lockmaster’s House is open for guided tours during scheduled hours in the summer.
7. Great Arched Dam
Jones Falls This 19 m. (62 ft.) high, stone-arched dam was the largest in North America when constructed between the years 1829 and 1830. Its builder, John Redpath put the strength of the Roman arch on horizontal plane to hold back the water of Sand Lake, one of a series of slack-water basins that Col. By and his Royal Engineers made from the complex and chaotic Cataraqui River System. Linked with the Rideau River, it made boat travel from Bytown (Ottawa) to Kingston possible. John Redpath went on to more fame and fortune in Montreal with stone masonry and sugar refinery.
Walk back to the parking lot. Turn left onto County Rd. #11. At 4.6 km., (GPS 44 33.16 N., 76 14.09 W.), turn right onto the Sand Lake Road toward Bush Rd. beneath a major power corridor that helps to keep the lights aglow in our national capital.
8. Pockrage Dancy House
87 Sand Lake Road Built c1858. The bricks of the lower storey are of a light brown and the upper storey bricks are red. Maybe it was because Mr. Dancy was very civic-minded that he donated land for the building of a local schoolhouse. Maybe it was because Mr. and Mrs. Dancy had a very large family that made their home in this cozy abode of brick.
At 8.6 km., (GPS 44 35.13 N., 76 13.24 W.), turn right onto Bush Rd. toward Hwy. #15. Notice the relatively flat landscape and rectangular fields on the sedimentary sandstone strata of the St. Lawrence Lowlands.
9. William Morris House
484 Bush Road Built c1850, this grand one-and-one-half-storey farm house was masoned of fine local sandstone. Six-over-six windows and its front entrance with its original side lights have been restored to their original elegance.
At 10.2 km., (GPS 44 34.46 N., 76 12.42 W.), turn left onto Hwy. #15 toward Franks Rd.
10. William Sly House (1846)
1903 Highway 15 Cut stone lintels over the windows and doors add to this house’s simple elegance. Within 4 square kilometres, there are 7 one-and-one-half storey houses that have very similar characteristics, suggesting a common builder who had a popular architectural tune in his head. Master builders in lumber, brick or stone seldom carried rolls of architectural plans in the 1800s. John Johnston, master mason of Elgin could visualize his plans in 3-D.
At 12.5 km., (GPS 44 35.67 N., 76 12.42 W.), turn left onto Franks Rd. toward Bush Rd.
11. Justus Coon House
212 Franks Road Built in 1855, the original structure is the neoclassical section on the right. Its style manifests many of the characteristics of the majestic Colonial Revival homes of Virginia and Maryland. Its elegant verandah along the south and east sides promises sunlight in the cooler seasons and shade during the heat of summer, the perfect place for the poet’s perspective.
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths where highways never ran. But let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man. – Sam Walter Ross
At 13.9 km., (GPS 44 35.28 N., 76 13.39 W.), turn right onto Bush Rd. toward Davis Lock Rd.
12. Samuel Newman House (c1830)
122 Bush Road This fine log home seems to have been moved to its present location and preserved with the original windows, doors and sleeping loft in tact.
At 15.5 km., (GPS 44 35.89 N., 76 14.12 W.), turn left onto the Davis Lock Rd. toward Davis Lock. Cross the very noticeable transition from sedimentary plain into Canadian Shield landscape, roads, forest and settlement.
13. Patrick Murphy House (1850)
1026 Davis Lock Road This log house has been the continuous home for the Murphy and the Watters families. It is one of the very few second-stage pioneer homes still to be found locally. Originally there were inset chimneys on each gable between the first and second floor windows. The present owner has returned the exterior to the appearance of the period when it was constructed.
At 23.3 km., (GPS 44 33.82 N. 76 17.44 W.) stop at the Davis Lock parking lot. Walk over the Davis Lock Dam to one of the most picturesque and rustic lock stations of the Rideau Canal.
14. Lockmaster’s House (1842)
Davis Lock This lockmaster’s house has changed very little since it was constructed. It is the best-preserved defensible lockmaster’s house on the Rideau. You can still see the gun slits in the walls. Casement windows were replaced by double hung windows in the 1870’s. A succession of lockmasters and their families enjoyed the spectacular view along the Canal until the 1960s. From the upper dock, look across the bay and you can see a very picturesque and legendary cottage from the early era of the Rideau Canal.
Return to the parking lot and retrace your drive along the Davis Lock Road. At 28.0 km., (GPS 44 35.30 N., 76 16.12 W.), turn left onto Cross Rd., across marsh habitats for beavers and water fowl nestled among ancient pre-Cambrian hills. At 29.8 km., (GPS 44 35.97 N., 76 17.03 W.), turn left onto the Chaffey’s Lock Rd.
15. George Randall House
1495 Chaffey’s Lock Road Built in 1874, it was known at the time of its construction as “The Wayside Inn and Dance Hall”. The building became a farmhouse by 1881. The gingerbread trim, gothic windows and classic doorway reflects the popular Gothic Revival style that flourished during the latter part of the 19th century.
At 33.7 km., (GPS 44 34.72 N., 76 19.15 W.,), park at the Opinicon Lake boat launch at Chaffeys Lock and savor the scenic sites of Chaffeys Lock on foot.
Before the building of the Rideau Canal, Samuel Chaffey owned and operated a series of water-powered mills here. He lost his mills to the construction of the Canal. He lost his life to swamp fever (malaria). But relatives took the Chaffey name to fame in water management to California and Australia. Note the boat houses along the Canal above the Lock, a legacy from that era when fishing guides took visitors with rod and reel on fishing “Experiences to Remember”. Don’t miss the Chaffey’s Community Hall, an art form in wood, built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Rideau Canal. Nearby is a beautiful Celtic Cross dedicated to the Irish labourers who gave much sweat and toil to build this amazing waterway. The nearby cemetery reminds us of the ultimate price some paid to construct our World Heritage Site.
16. Lockmaster’s House (1844)
Chaffey’s Lock This building was originally constructed as a single storey residence. Thick stone walls contain rifle slits to defend the lock. The framed second storey was added in 1895 complete with a balcony. In 1982, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Rideau Canal, this house became a museum. (Open during July and August at scheduled hours).
17. The Opinicon Hotel
1697 Chaffey’s Lock Rd In 1899, William Henry Fleming constructed the central portion of this impressive structure as a 2 storey house. Two years later, William Laishley bought the house, added the first wing and called it the Idlewyld Hotel. In 1904, Randell Montgomery purchased the hotel on behalf of the Youngstown Ohio Fishing Club. The Opinicon Club became a private hotel and a second wing was added to the right. In 1921, William Philips and David Anderson acquired the club and turned it into a hotel and tourist resort. The style with its first and second floor balconies, open railings and wide steps is consistent with many of Ontario’s 19th century resort hotels. Royalty, diplomats, millionaires and authors have signed the guest book at The Opinicon.
Return to your car at the boat launch and retrace your route east from Chaffeys Lock. At 36.1 km., (GPS 35.53 N., 76 18.00 W.), turn left onto the Clear Lake Rd. Cross the Cataraqui Trail, a remarkable segment of our Trans-Canada Trail along which you can trek “From Sea to Sea to Shining Sea”. Plan to come back for some ambling among the spectacular scenery of the Frontenac Arch/Canadian Shield, especially in autumn. Then the deciduous trees of our mixed forest are in their vividly colourful glory. Pass the Clear Lake Cemetery which has been meticulously restored. Look over Clear Lake, so named because it is “clear” of any islands.
18. William Leggett House (c1840)
939 Clear Lake Road Note the unique and elegant combination of local brick with finely masoned stone quoining and horizontal lintels of sectional stone. Its symmetrical front façade boasts 2 windows on each side of its central doorway. A head light and side lights bring natural illumination to its central hallway. Unlike Ontario Cottages built later, this early Leggett house has no central front dormer to illuminate an upstairs hallway.
At 41.2 km., (GPS 44 37.79 N., 76 16.40 W.), turn left onto Garrett Rd.
19. Clear Lake Cheese Factory
212 Garrett Rd Originally constructed in 1878, it was moved to this location in 1899. It is one of the very few remaining cheddar cheese factory buildings of the dozens that once dotted our agricultural landscape. Early each morning, by horse and wagon, local farmers brought their cans brimming with daily milkings to the “weighing-in” platform. There, the milk was weighed and tested. Heated debate often ensued as to the merits of herds of Holstein, Jersey or Ayreshire cattle. Opinions on national politics and local rumour were also weighed at the “weighing-in” stand. Inside these factories, some of the finest cheddar in the world was made of the milk from cows pastured on the bountiful grasses nurtured by our favorable mid-latitude climate and the mineral-rich soils left from the Ice Age.
Return to the Clear Lake Rd. and proceed north-east toward the Crosby Rd.
20. William Stedman House (c1860)
1233 Clear Lake Road This is a finely-maintained example of a 1-and-½-storey Ontario Cottage farm home built of stone. Note the symmetry of first storey windows with sectional horizontal lintels about a central front entrance. Its moderate pitch of roof, returning eaves style and back kitchen and woodshed are typical of many nineteenth century farm houses in the Township.
At 42.8 km., (GPS 44 38.24 N., 76 15.73 W.), turn left onto Crosby Rd.
21. William Rowswell House
412 Crosby Rd Built in 1855, there were 3 Rowswell frame houses between here and Clear Lake. They were all similar and all were constructed in 1855, probably by James Stanton of a local family name renowned in building with lumber. The owners were the 3 sons of John Rowswell Sr., one of the first settlers in the area. He built a log cabin, cleared land and grew crops a decade before the coming of the Rideau Canal. John’s descendants never forgave Col. By for flooding some of their father’s fertile lands that had been cleared with so much of his sweat on his axe handle. Drive along the flank of one of the several drumlins or whalebacks that dot the local landscape, a heritage from the last Ice Age. Note the picket rail fences bordering some of the fields. Each farmer and region had slightly different styles of rail fencing. Their artistry in cedar rails has endured for decades.
22. Robert Leggett Farmstead
637 Crosby Rd A log cabin first sheltered a Leggett family at this site. The frame house was built in the 1860s. Then the brick residence was constructed in 1907 at a cost of $2 500. This impressive two and – one-half storey home manifests an Ionic-style classic revival appearance. At the peak of its roof is a bell that once summoned farm workers to meals. The barns are unique as well, positioned in a quadrangle around a central yard, a configuration common in Britain but rare here in eastern Ontario. The sunny south flank of Leggett’s drumlin was once the site of a very productive apple orchard.
Cross over Sucker Creek and pass the Crosby Cemetery with its eternal light and its bell. There are legends here. At 45.0 km., (GPS 44 39.08 N., 76 15.50 W.), turn left onto Hwy. #15. At 45. 4 km., (GPS 44 39.27 N., 76 15.42 W.), turn left onto Hwy. #42.
Back in the 1800’s, this community was called Singleton’s Corners. Early in the 1900’s, Crosby boasted a number of shops, a church, a school and a cheese factory. In the 1950s, you could watch “The African Queen” or “Ma and Pa Kettles” at Crosby’s Drive-in Theatre, one of the first such venues of entertainment (and romance) in eastern Ontario. Now a bustling flea market happens here every summer Saturday.
23. William Singleton House (c1850)
7745 County Rd 42, Crosby The five bay front of simple design is typical of some other stone homes in the area. Indeed it was Father William Singleton that gave his name to the Singleton’s Corners. The three-window dormer on William Singleton’s house was added much later.
24. William Singleton General Store (c1900)
7719B County Rd 42, Crosby The architecture of this typical general store closely copies the style of the Dargavel General Store in Elgin, opened 8 years earlier. About the same time as Son William opened Singleton’s General Store, the name of the community was changed to Crosby. Once upon a time, you could buy loaves of bread, bags of puffed wheat, bolts of iron and bunting of worsted here. Here and now you can buy fine boats and all the trimmings.
25. Crosby Public School (c1907)
12 Narrows Lock Rd This stately brick school was the third in a series of schools that served the educational needs of local families since the 1840s. Its grand windows provided abundant natural light for the learning of the three R’s. Like many public schools of its time, S.S. #2 had two entrances, one door for girls and one for “the whining school boy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school.” William Shakespeare (As You Like It)
Thanks for spending time exploring some of the sites and shores along a few of the pathways of our Township of Rideau Lakes, Keystone of the Rideau.
Crosby to Salem
Travel the Historic Stone Road
For millennia, people of our First Nations paced the portages that linked the Rideau and the Cataraqui River Basins. They hunted and gathered the riches of the mid-latitude forest and fauna. They fished the bounty of the lakes. Their trails were followed by European explorers and traders of the 17th and 18th centuries. Sightings by surveyors and sounds by timbermen’s axes lead to exploitation of rich forests of pine and oak. Early in the 19th century, pioneer families hastily built their log shanties, their first-stage shelters against oncoming winter. In time, they built more permanent abodes of squared logs with amenities like doors of sawn lumber, windows with glass, stone fireplaces and chimneys, their second-stage pioneer homes. By the decades about the 1840s, farmland was being cleared and wealth flowed from grains and livestock. Fine third-stage homes began to appear, crafted by talented artisans from stone, brick and lumber to grace the countryside along the “Stone Road”.
Join us as we travel along the north shore of Newboro Lake. Cross over the World Heritage Rideau Canal west of Newboro. Continue along the western shore of the Upper Rideau to the intersection with Leeds County Road 10. You have traveled the “Stone Road”, completed in 1857 boasting a macadamized surface made of compacted layers of crushed stone. Repeated winter frosts pushed larger stones to the surface and made the road extremely bumpy for wagons having iron-rimmed wheels. Payment of tolls just east of Newboro and near the junction of Perth Road caused even more consternation for weary travelers.
But now you are free to turn left onto the historic Perth Road and travel along country lanes to Salem. No witches were burned at the stake here! Our Salem was once a peaceful and thriving farming community boasting a cheddar cheese factory, general store, school and church. Thence you will turn north-eastward onto County Road 12, now called the Westport Road but once the “Mast Road”. Here tall sturdy pine “sticks” destined to mast British Naval Ships were hauled to Rideau Lake and on to the seas of the Empire. Much of this area west of Newboro was settled following the completion of the Rideau Canal in the early 1830s.
Prosperous farms emerged on this flat and fertile extension of the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Relatively straight roads and square fields distinguish this trek and terrain, strikingly different from the rugged Canadian Shield north of Westport or south toward Bedford Mills. Pause to study over a dozen fine buildings crafted by skillful masons and carpenters back in the 1850s and 60s. Appreciate the riches of climate, soil and vegetation along the Stone Road and Mast Road. Sense the toil and talents, joys and sorrows of the families who cleared farms and built community here over a century ago.
(N.44.6545°, W. 76.2571°) Back in the 1800s, the hamlet was once called Singleton’s Corners. Early in the 1900s this community boasted a number of shops, a church, a school, a cheese factory. In the 1950s you could watch Ma and Pa Kettles at the Crosby Drive-in Theatre, one of the first such environs of entertainment (and romance) in eastern Ontario.
Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines, set your odometers. Drive westward on Hwy. 42. First stop at 2.6 km., Little Rideau Lake Road (N.44.6603°, W.76.2901°) – see the map at the bottom of this page.
The Poole (Lewis) Farmstead
8286 County Road 42 This is one of the most complete turn-of-the19th century farmsteads to be seen here in Keystone Country of the Rideau Corridor. The log building standing near the centre of this scene was the home to which Mary Ann Scott, wife of Samuel Chaffey, founder of Chaffey’s Mills, moved in 1835. Widowed twice, Mary Ann found shelter with her brother and family at this homestead. This eleven log house has square-jointed corners, the logs chinked with shavings. It is now used for storage. Note a board-and-batten barn, a stone ashery where the Poole family once stored ashes for making lye soap, a traditional farm house with verandah and a hired man’s house adjacent to Highway 42. The hip-roofed barn with 2 concrete silos is a legacy of 19th century pioneer toil and talent that prospered through 20th century wars and depression. Also note the rail fence so typical of 19th century farmstead.
As you travel on toward Newboro, note to your left the embankment of the old B.W. and S.S.M. Railway that parallels Highway 42. Where trains once chugged all year, now snowmobiles roar in winter. Also to your left you can see a maple bush that still provides its sweet nectar each spring time.
At 4.6 km, at the eastern edge of Newboro is where the toll gate for the Stone Road was located back in 1862. But you need pay no toll now. Feel free to explore historic Newboro.
The Sappers and Miners Grave Yard is located west of Newboro (N. 44.6490°, W.76.2370°). You will see it just after you cross the Canal. The very challenging canal cut at Newboro was supervised by the Royal Sappers and Miners.
2. Brewster (Hutchings) House
9107 Hwy 42 This majestic stone home was built in the early 1860’s by James and William Brewster, sons of John Brewster from Scotland. Built of local Cambrian sandstone, note the massive stone lintels over the windows and the main entrance on the lower storey and the key-stoned arch over the upstairs dormer. Paintings on the front hall wall, done in 1892, remain as part of the interior decor.
3. Windmill at the Ryan Farm
9160 Hwy 42 One of the last functioning windmills in the area, this one is still connected to a hand pump. Prior to electrification in the 1940’s, virtually every farm had a windmill to pump fresh and refreshing water for home and stock.
4. O’Riley (Blair) House
9277 Hwy 42 Patrick O’Riley was a school teacher who emigrated to Canada from the Emerald Isle. In the 1860s, he constructed this fine home out of beautiful local sandstone formed by waves breaking on ancient Paleozoic beaches. Carefully masoned ashlars were meticulously fitted to make this secure abode for Patrick, his wife and their 8 children. Note the typical returned eaves at the corners of the roof.
At 10.2 km., turn right at Forresters Landing Drive (N.44.6682°, W.76.3669°).
5. Forrester House
12 Forresters Landing Drive Gabriel Forrester, a lumber merchant began construction of this magnificent 5-bay, 1½-storey stone house in 1859. Tragically, Gabriel fell from a stage coach and died before his house was completed. Stoically, his wife Catherine saw their home completed in 1866 masoned from fine local Cambrian sandstone. From the balconied veranda, generations of Forresters enjoyed a magnificent view across the Upper Rideau to the steep face of the haunting and daunting pre-Cambrian Shield.
Proceed back out to County Road 42 and continue west.
6. Catton Hall
9825 Hwy 42 The other toll gate on Stone Road was in front of this house. This grand house, of 1½-storey Classic Revival style with 5 bays was built in 1851 by Agamondesham Roe. He was the toll gate keeper at the Westport end of Stone Road. Note the sectional stone lintels above the 6/6 windows downstairs, its symmetrical main entrance with its headlight and side lights illuminating the central hallway; its central dormer with key-stoned Roman arch and casement window enlightening the upper hallway. An elaborate veranda once graced the front of Mr. Roe, toll keeper’s home from whence many comments, profound and profane were undoubtedly exchanged.
At 13.1 km., turn left off Hwy. 42 onto County Road 10 (N. 44.6706°, W.76.3936°), the historic Perth Road that once bore horse, wagon and teamster from Kingston to Perth.
At 15.9km (N.44.6537°, W.76.4215°) cross the 9th Consession Rd. onto the Centerville Rd.
7. Laidlaw House (Stepping Stone B&B)
328 Centreville Road David Laidlaw, a mason by trade, began construction of this fine 1½-storey, 3-bay house in 1849. He quarried the stone from strata on his own land and completed his home in 1852. This beautiful heritage structure has been exquisitely enhanced in period format and now hosts guests seeking peace and reflection and/or grand festivity and reception. Welcome to Frontenac County, to the Frontenac Arch of the Canadian Shield, to hilly and winding roads, to forests, fields and farms with irregular geography.
Proceed along the Centerville Rd. to the Devil Lake Rd. at km. 18.7 (N.44.6414°, W.76.4502°). Turn right onto the Devil Lake Road and proceed to the Salem Church at km. 20.3.
8. Salem Church
12 Devil Lake Road This Wesleyan Methodist Church was constructed in 1865 of local Cambrian sandstone similar to that quarried two decades earlier for the next five homes you will see on this drive. It is now a private home but still graced with beautiful gothic windows and subtle gingerbread trim.
From the Devil Lake Road, (N. 44.6557°, W.76.4536°) turn right onto the Westport Road (County Rd 12). Welcome back to Leeds County, to the St. Lawrence Lowlands, to roads that are straight and level (almost) and to fields and farms that are rectangular (usually).
9. Samuel Ripley House
4748 Westport Road This large and typical 1½-storey house is one of the earliest third-stage pioneer homes built of stone in the area. Samuel Ripley was a blacksmith by trade and came to North Crosby in 1837. The smithy was essential to every pioneer community.
“By the fierce red light of his furnace bright, the strokes of his hammer rung”. Tubal Cain by Charles Mackay
Samuel prospered and commenced building this house in the early 1840s. Highlighting its carriage shed is a unique stone arch over its wide double doors.
10. Alba Taggart House
4809 Westport Road Again, another beautiful home fashioned from stone in Ontario Cottage style. Typically 1½ storeys, the Taggart house has 3 bays and is built on an “L” design. It was built by stone mason, Peter Ewing who learned his trade in Scotland and built this house in 1848. Like most master masons and carpenters of his time, Peter carried his plans in his head. The dormer and its window reflect Peter’s slightly different interpretation of these architectural features.
11. William Ewing House
4852 Westport Road Peter Ewing constructed this house for his brother William in the 1850’s. William originally bought 50 acres on this lot in 1841. This stone house was listed in the 1861 census. Again they manifest Peter’s skill and versatility. Look carefully at the large quoins, exceptional ashlars that required a distinct quarry stratum. This work of his artistry is distinct from other stone homes in the immediate area: similar in having a roofline with returned eaves; different in having no central dormer.
12. The Halladay School
4992 Westport Road This beautiful school house, now converted to a residence, is evidence of the priority of education for their children among families living along “Mast Road”. Previously a log school, dated 1848 occupied this site. The last teacher in the log school (S.S. No.5) was Matilda (Hamilton) Palmer and she with her students moved into this fine new school in September 1868. Note the 12/12 windows, small of pane but especially large of window for schools of that time. When not attentive to their 3 R’s, Matilda’s students, especially boys might cast an envious eye to fishin’ on nearby Westport Sand Lake or to huntin’ on Westport Mountain and the granite wilds beyond.
At km. 24.8, note the maple sugar bush along the ridge to your right. It is a sample of the remarkable mid-latitude forest that graces our area and provides habitat for a wide range of fauna including white-tailed deer and red-tailed hawks.
13. Palmer House
5020 Westport Road Benjamin Palmer was born in Canada in 1801, moved to North Crosby in 1840 and purchased 25 acres of this lot. In 1861, he was still living in a log home, a second-stage pioneer dwelling. But shortly thereafter, he built this fine 1½ storey, 3-bay stone home, a typical and beautiful third-stage pioneer house. Nine-over-nine windows illuminated the dining room and parlor and guests were welcomed through the front doorway graced with headlight and sidelights. Continue north-eastward along Westport Road to the village of Westport at the corner of Bedford and Concession Streets (25.3km). (N.44.6598°, W.76.4038°) Spend some leisure time at Foley Mountain Conservation Area, its Spy Rock vista, enjoyable hiking trails and fine beach. Enjoy the hospitality of the many fine services and activities of the Village of Westport, a “Community for All Seasons”. Follow County Rd 42 back to Newboro at km 34 for fine food and shopping. Take a leisurely walk around this historic village at “the Top of the Rideau” with the guidance of our Walking Tour of Newboro brochure. Newboro boasts some of the finest fishing in North America in the summer; dog-sled racing in the winter; just two of Newboro’s many activities.
Follow Hwy. 42 back to Crosby at km 39.6.
We hope you enjoyed this driving tour of the Township of Rideau Lakes. This tour is just a sample of our many scenic highways, byways and waterways that make our Township an “Experience to Remember”. Thank you for your interest in some of our many “World Class” natural and heritage treasures.
South Elmsley/ South Burgess
Be prepared for an amazing trip through diversity. Travel along winding, forest flanked roads over hills and fens of the Canadian Shield, then down arrow-straight roads flanked by rail fences and fertile fields of the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Observe antique bank barns and state-of-the-art farmsteads. Appreciate the evolution of agricultural technology of which they tell. Look at a humble stationmaster’s house and through a spectrum of abodes, of stately homes made of stone, brick and board and of whispers of the joys and tears of generations. A fairy-tale cottage overlooks the Rideau Canal as boats of peace and pleasure pass by on this World Heritage Waterway. But the famous Rideau Canal was built for war and “rumors of war”. Lands were granted to those loyal to King and Empire, including the family of General Benedict Arnold, on which many heritage farmsteads and homes now stand. Several trains per day once chugged along a busy railroad. Now you can hike or snowmobile this route from sea to sea to sea. Churches tell of diversity of faiths, of people who worshipped and worked in their community with a spirit of ecumenicalism, past and present. A colourful fairground tells of the diversity and spirit of community, present and future. This tour provides a mere sample of the wonderful “Experience to be Remembered” you can enjoy as you travel through the Souths of Elmsley and Burgess in the Township of Rideau Lakes, “Keystone of the Rideau”.
Gentlemen (and ladies), start your engines at GPS 44° 49.575N. 76° 05.311W.
1. Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church (1899)
690 Highway #15 Catholics of the district worshipped in Toledo until 1898 when contractors Casper and James Speagle of Jasper turned the first sod for their new church on land in Lombardy provided by Edward O’Mara. Parishioners drew stone from Michael O’Mara’s quarry and brick from Matthew Ryan’s kilns on the Jasper Road. The church was formally blessed and opened on June 17th, 1900. Travel a short distance southward from Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church to GPS 44° 49.499N. 76° 05.367W. Turn left onto County Rd. #1 (Anglican Church Rd.). Drive up the hill.
2. Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Cemetery (1911)
County Road 1 Located on the north side of the Anglican Church on land high and dry and purchased from John Breen, it serves the congregation of Blessed Sacrament Church which is located on Hwy #15 at the north edge of Lombardy Village.
3. Holy Trinity Anglican Church (1862)
29 County Road 1 Originally consecrated as “The Church of the featured gothic windows. It was later veneered school. The original wooden structure parishioners worshipped in the first village the village of Lombardy where its pioneer Trinity”, the church sits on a hill overlooking with brick, then stuccoed in 1979. Around this time, the church became known as Holy Trinity. The Anglican cemetery is located on the south side of the church.
Continue south on County Rd 1 a few hundred metres over the crest of the hill.
4. Lombard Cemetery
(on private property) Located on the right, in the middle of a field belonging to the MacMillan farm, this was part of the original Francis Lombard farm. Members of the Lombard and Belanger families were buried there along with other French-Canadian residents of the Township. The Lombardy Women’s Institute was instrumental in having the headstones restored in the 1960s.
Continue south for 2.4 km. to the intersection with Townline Road at 44° 48.200N. 76° 04.069W. Turn left onto this road between the Township of Rideau Lakes (South Elmsley Ward) and the Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley. Drive eastward on Townline Road which becomes gravel at 1.6 km. and then back to pavement.
Note the flat countryside, straight roads and rectangular and fertile fields of the St. Lawrence Lowlands; such a contrast to the Canadian Shield landscape you will experience later in this heritage adventure along the Old Kingston Road! The traditional rail fences are a visual link to the early settlers of this area.
5. The Robert Goodfellow House (1833)
550 Townline Rd. Erected on a 100 acre parcel of land six-over-six windows with horizontal lintels, and-a-half stone home with shutters features purchased from the Arnolds, this storey-corner quoining and two chimneys.
6. The Willam South House
622 Townline Rd. Built of locally quarried stone on part of the Attractive corner quoining and horizontal home features multiple head and side lights. front door of this one-and-one-half storey Benedict Arnold land grant, the spacious stone lintels over the windows were popular architectural features of that era.
Drive 5.5 km. to the intersection with Hwy. #29 at 44° 50.105N. 76° 00.804W. Turn left onto Hwy. #29 and travel northward for 2.3 km. to 44° 51.275N. 76° 00.791W. Then turn left (westward) onto Hunter Road.
7. Robert Ferguson House (1903)
16 Hunters Road This two-and-one-half storey brick home, with spacious wrap-around porch was built for $3,500 on land purchased from George Ferguson in 1870. It was one of the first homes between Brockville and Smiths Falls to have indoor plumbing. Note the two small circular windows and the elaborate arched front window. This property was originally part of a 200-acre Crown Patent granted in 1803 to the widow of General Benedict Arnold.
8. Peter Hunter House (1902)
52 Hunters Road This two-storey home was built of brick for $3,000 on land that was part of the Arnold Patent grant. It is near the site of an old stone house and close to the unique and original stone barn which features corner quoining, a sectional stone arch and lintels over the doors. A high end door provides access to the loft. This is a unique and distinct variation of barn architecture.
9. John J. Purcell House (1908)
79 Hunters Road This stately large home was built on property originally owned by John Ward. The white bricks were brought all the way from Fallbrook by horse and sleigh in winter. It should be noted that it was often easier to travel and transport on the frozen snowy ground and icy lakes of winter than on the dusty bumpy trails of summer or the muddy trenches of spring and fall. Note the original and longlasting metal roof. In 1920, Purcell was one of the original incorporators of the Brockville Road Rural Telephone Company.
Turn around at the Purcell House 44° 50.800N. 76° 01.557W. and return east on Hunter’s Rd.
10. John Alexander Hunter Homestead (c1862)
21 Hunters Road This one-and-one-half storey Ontario Cottage style stone home with its large verandah was built by Hugh MacGregor on land purchased from George Roman. It was originally granted from the crown in 1803. MacGregor’s daughter, Jessie, married John Alexander Hunter who died at the age of 34 but left a tradition of Hunter family for four generations. The Hunter family presently owns this very modern dairy farm with a complete range of traditional and modern buildings dating from the 1800s to 2006. This very complete farmstead includes a board and batten woodshed and carriage-house attached to the back of the residence. A traditional stone home, it manifests two original chimneys, horizontal lintels over the upstairs windows and dormer pediment windows among its many interesting features.
Continue east along Hunter Road to Highway #29 at 44° 51.275N. 76° 00.791W. Turn left and travel north-east.
11. William Ballantyne School (1860)
448 County Rd 29 Walter Lawson originally owned this property where William Ballantyne built this school of local sandstone on the site of an old log schoolhouse. Usually open 12 months of the year during the 1850s and 60s, the younger students attended during the summer months when the older boys had to work on the farms. Closed in 1954, this fine stone building served as a community meeting place for several years.
12. William Ballantyne House (c1850)
443 County Rd 29 This Scottish carpenter and stone mason built his unique “L” shaped one and one-half storey stone home shortly after arriving in Upper Canada. It features 6-over-6 windows and a headlight over the offset front door which opens onto a wide verandah. With his sons, William built several business blocks and numerous private homes of finely masoned stone in Smiths Falls.
Continue north-east on Hwy #29. At the traffic lights at 44° 52.365N. 76° 00.833W., turn left onto the Golf Club Road. At 3.7 km., you will cross the Cataraqui Trail.
Once a CNR railway track, this scenic route is now part of the Trans-Canada Trail that can take you by foot, snowmobile, horse or bike to any or all three of Canada’s ocean shores. At the STOP sign, turn right toward the traffic lights at 44° 50.737N. 76° 03.556W. Turn left onto Hwy. #15. This highway, part of the Rideau Heritage Route, takes you past the Lombard Glen Golf Course and the Lombardy Agricultural Society Fair Grounds, known for its many buildings with brilliant orange roofs. Thousands attend the annual summer fair on the August 1st long weekend. Many other community events highlight the year such as the Tri-Church Pancake Feast on Shrove Tuesday and the Relay-for-Life that brings thousands of participants each year to support the Cancer Society.
Approaching the village of Lombardy once again, you will see two churches on your right.
13. Lombardy United Church (1866)
688 Highway 15 Originally the Lombardy Methodist Church, it was built on land sold to the congregation for $75.00 by Michael O’Mara. This red brick structure with Gothic style windows was finished in finely crafted ash and maple. Due to contributions of many kinds from its members, it was completed mortgage-free for $1,350. Continue south past Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church along Hwy. #15
14. McKinney House (1856)
798 Highway 15 On your right just south of Lombardy, this beautifully restored stone home sits on land originally granted by the Crown in 1803 to the family of American General Benedict Arnold. William McKinney bought the land from Joseph Falkner in 1852 for 250 pounds and first lived in a small log house on the north side of the present house. In 1856, stone mason William Tweedy of Bass Lake was paid $1.00 a day to build this elegant home. Mr. McKinney was a prosperous farmer and blacksmith and his establishment was well used by stage coaches traveling between Bytown/Ottawa and Kingston. Wheels could be repaired, horses watered and passengers refreshed in gracious surroundings renowned for beautiful flower beds, water fountains and colourful peacocks.
Continue south-westward on Hwy. #15.
More and more outcrops of the Canadian Shield poke up through layers of Nepean sandstone of the St. Lawrence Lowlands.
15. Robert Polk House
2827 Highway 15 This designated residence of one and one-half storeys was constructed of local brick with contrasting quoining and with the lower storey plastered. Of enhanced Ontario Cottage design, it manifests a brick summer kitchen and clapboard woodshed. It is roofed with patterned heritage metal and a gable in its front façade boasts a rectangular casement window with semi-elliptical head. Two dormer windows augment the roof of the rear wing. The original windows are double hung in 2 / 2 arrangement. The main entrance is set in a recess with moulded frame, rectangular transom with multiple lights and sidelights. The solid 5-panel door retains its original interior bolt. The front and two sides of this fine home are graced by a verandah that has recently been meticulously restored.
Canadian Shield Country
At 44° 42.952N. 76° 10.420W., turn right from Highway #15 onto the Old Kingston Road which once wound its way from Fortress Kingston to Perth, centre of Bathhurst District.
Once a number of prosperous dairy farms, a road house (inn) and a one room school could be found along this road. This rugged landscape demanded irregularly-shaped farms and fields that are now being reclaimed by nature. The Old Kingston Road winds through part of the Canadian Shield which contains diverse ancient minerals such as mica, apatite, red ochre (hematite) and graphite, some of which were once mined. Now numerous cottage roads lead down to the scenic shores of the Big Rideau Lake.
16. Hip-roofed Barn at 4421 Old Kingston Road
Built on a foundation of local sandstone when family farms prospered and labour was cheap, its ramps and oversized doors admitted horse-drawn wagons to fill the large high lofts with loose hay. This fodder sustained a fine herd of dairy cattle stabled below through long cold winters. This barn represents a very different stage of dairy farming technology from the very modern Hunter Farmstead at #10.
Stay on the Old Kingston Rd as it crosses the Houghton Bay Rd. at GPS 44° 45.974N. 76° 10.324W. Notice the reddish colour of patches of this gravel road; Canadian Shield red ochre or hematite. Nearby is the Mill Pond Conservation Area, a treasured part of the Rideau Valley Conservation Area.
Travel along the Old Kingston Rd to the intersection with Mahon Rd. at 44° 48.288N. 76° 09.941W. Continue to the right and drive to the intersection with County Rd. #1 (Rideau Ferry Rd.) at 44° 50.671N. 76° 08.248W. Turn left and drive through the hamlet of Rideau Ferry by crossing the bridge over the Rideau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Geographic “Destination”. You are now on part of the Rideau Heritage Route.
You have left Leeds County and driven into Lanark County. You have left the Township of Rideau Lakes and entered the Twsp. of Drummond – N. Elmsley. Turn around in Rideau Ferry, once called Oliver’s Ferry. As you pass back over the bridge, notice the beautiful heritage cottage to your left on the south shore.
17. Ferryland Cottage (c1895)
Best seen from the bridge. On land purchased by Alexander Martin of Ottawa in 1889 for $125.00, the original structure is still visible. It was built in the early 1890s with ballroom frame design, clapboard exterior and a striking turret from which to enjoy this very prominent view of the Rideau. A 2-storey addition, a gazebo and a boat house were added over the intervening decades, always bearing in mind the Victorian theme of the original cottage. Come back to Rideau Ferry at Christmas time to enjoy this scene illuminated with over 2,000 lights.
Note the maple sugar bush along the ridge on your right, an example of the remarkable mid-latitude mixed forest that graces our area and provides homes for a wide range of flora and fauna including white-tailed deer. Consider the ages and stages of farm architecture you can see along this road from bank barns, hiproofed, arched roofed to modern plastic arch barns.
Continue driving south on County Rd/ #1 (Rideau Ferry Road) toward Lombardy.
“The largest Crown Grants of land at this time went to the widow and children of Benedict Arnold, the famous American who defected to the British in the Revolutionary War. Widow Margaret, her one daughter Sophia and five boys received title to a total of over 8 800 acres in Elmsley. Twenty-eight of the 44 lots granted were situated in what became South Elmsley.” (Kennedy, James R. “South Elmsley in the Making, 1783-1983” 1984, p. 11)
As more settlers arrived in this area during the mid and late 1800s, many of them purchased land from the Arnold Family.
18. H. Nelson Covell House and Farmstead (c1887)
129 County Road 1 (Rideau Ferry Road) The house and barns were built on land purchased for $1,500 from George W. Phipps, grandson of Benedict Arnold. Kilns on the Old Kingston Road supplied the brick for this one-and-one-half storey, highly ornamented Ontario Cottage style home which still has the original steel shingles. Here you see a very complete late-1800s farmstead with a wellmaintained bank barn. Fancy corner quoining is featured on the unique carriage shed, just one building in this remarkable and complete farmstead representative of the 1800s. The area above the arched double door of the carriage shed was initially solid brick. But during major repairs to the back wall (c1950), a high wind blew out the upper front wall which was then replaced with a row of windows to light a hen house. In 1923, Nelson Covell’s son Mervin sold the farm to Ormand Wright, a Lombardy cheese maker for $9,535. It is still farmed by his grandson.
19. S.S. #6 Lombardy School (1895)
County Road 1 (Rideau Ferry Road) This red brick school, measuring 36 by 26 feet, replaced a smaller log school located near the Union Cemetery in the village and was typical of one-roomed schools in the area. Built by the Gilday Bros. of Lombardy, it closed in 1963 when a large modern school was built on Hwy. #15 a few kilometres north of the village.
20. Stationmaster’s House
174 County Road 1 (Rideau Ferry Road) Moved from the small CNR Lombardy Station to its present location in 1933, it became the home of legendary Lombardy blacksmith, Donald Moodie. His antique steam engine, built in Sarnia Ontario in 1912 was shown at many local fairs and parades. This former stationmaster’s house was very typical of the simple and functional railway architecture representative of the Age of Steam.
Continue into the Village of Lombardy, once a thriving community with waterpower from Otter Creek, a saw mill, several shops, inns, a cheese factory and a blacksmith shop. Originally called Lombard’s Corners, it was named after Francis Lombard, a French soldier who was captured by the British during the Napoleanic Wars. When given the choice between life in prison or exile to Canada, he preferred the latter and settled here in the vicinity of Otter Creek. He died in 1863 at the age of 92. The village name was changed to Lombardy in 1879.
In Lombardy, at 44° 49.438N. 76° 05.532W., turn left onto Blacksmith Road.
21. O’Reilly Hotel
973 Blacksmith Road This building originally operated as one of several hotels in the village. Later, in 1853, the red brick portion housed the first post office with Elisha Landon as postmaster. The South Elmsley Telephone Co., formed in 1913, was also located here and by 1914 had 68 subscribers. Note the arched lintels over the windows and the corner quoining. In 1920 the stone portion of the building contained the municipal offices and for many years served as the community hall. Now it is Otter Creek Antiques.
The Otter Creek Cheese Factory, c1870 was located a short distance down the street. A patrons’ organization, it processed the milk from over 500 dairy cows into cheddar cheese. Cheese factories were prone to fires and this one burned in 1940, was rebuilt and became a private residence. But in turn, it too was destroyed by fire in 1970.
Continue to the turn-around at 44° 49.525N. 76° 05.403W. and drive back toward County Rd. #1.
22. Klyne Hotel (1876)
17 Blacksmith Road Originally called the Revere Hotel, it was built of brick by Joseph Klyne. It also served as a tavern until the First World War. The street contains other buildings which were built as hotels, stores and private residences, most erected in the late 1800s. #27, a 2 storey red brick building was originally Henry Polk’s Store and #23 was the grey stone Duffield Home.
Continue along Blacksmith Road crossing County Rd. #1 (Rideau Ferry Road).
23. The Blacksmith Shop (orig. 1860)
beside 34 Blacksmith Road Built by George Houze, it was first used as a cooper’s shop, then sold in 1933 to Donald Moodie who operated it as a blacksmith shop for many years, repairing sleighs and cutters, shoeing horses and setting wheels. He built a grist mill beside it in 1935 which was active for several years. The smithy was essential to any pioneer community, an able physician of the temper of metal and the pulse of community.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For lessons thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.
The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow
Continue down Blacksmith Road, park in the turn around at 44° 49.230N. 76° 05.560W. and visit the Union Cemetery on the hill.
24. Union Cemetery (c1846)
52 Blacksmith Road Established on ¾ of an acre of land donated in 1846 by David Brown, it was deeded for a school and a cemetery for the Protestant families in the area; Methodists, Holiness Movement and Brethren. The present Masonic Lodge is located on this site of the first village school, a small log building constructed in the early 1850s, then sold in 1876, after a new and larger school S.S. #6, was built on the Rideau Ferry Road.
Return to County Rd. #1 (Rideau Ferry Road)Turn right and continue to the intersection with Hwy. #15 at 44° 49.381N. 76° 05.442W. Turn left onto Hwy. #15 and return to our starting point at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church.