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The Witch of Plum Hollow, Stories of Salem - The Historic Settlements of Rideau Lakes

Plum Hollow is one of over a dozen Historic Settlements in Rideau Lakes. At this time of year, you will often hear stories about The Witch of Plum Hollow (scroll for the story link below). It's the perfect time of year to explore these former hamlets on a fall colour drive, and recount your favourite ghost stories. As you travel to Plum Hollow, consider visiting one of the following "ghost towns".


Historic Settlements


Blair(s) Settlement

Blair(s) Settlement, also known as Centreville, was named for the large Blair family whose homes dotted Concession 9, which later became Perth Road and Country Road 10. Read more at Read more about Blair(s) Settlement


The Bush

There are a lot of theories about why this historic settlement is called The Bush, but probably the best explanation is that it was in the “bush” – a wilderness area when the road was named. This part of historic South Crosby was one of the first settled areas in the Township of Rideau Lakes. Read more about The Bush

luther coon and familyLuther Coon and family

dancy homeDancy home

dancy schoolDancy school


The historic settlement of California is located on the west side of Jones Falls in the Canadian Shield.  Although there are pockets of soil for farming, the area is basically very rugged.  The first question most people ask is about the origin of the name. Read more California

YorkBrothersYork Brothers

CaliforniaSchoolCalifornia School

CheeseFactoryCheese Factory

Clear Lake

The Clear Lake Road area started as a pre-canal settlement with mainly Irish-Protestant and some English settlers who were part of the Perth Military Settlements.  Read more about Clear Lake

Clear LakeClear Lake

Clear Lake SchoolClear Lake School




Cranworth, a post village in North Leeds county ontario on the rideau river, 10 miles from the CPR station of Smiths Falls, 28 miles north of Brockville and 46 miles south of Ottawa city. It has 1 methodist church, 1 saw mill and 1 cheese factory. Population 100. Read more about Cranworth

CranworthPicture7SS # 22 South Burgess (Cranworth) Public School


Located northeast of the village of Delta, the Historic Settlement of Daytown starts at Cty Rd 42 in Delta along the Upper Beverley Lake through to Cty Rd 5 linking to the settlement area known as Plum Hollow. Read more about Daytown.

Daytown Sarah Jane Huffman houseDaytown's Sarah Jane Huffman house

Daytown Nelson Lillie houseDaytown's Nelson Lillie house

Daytown Lillie FamilyDaytown's Lillie Family

Daytown Alfred Dean houseDaytown's Alfred Dean house


One of the largest early settlements in Rideau Lakes was the present-day location of Jones Falls. During the canal construction years from 1826-1832, the site was the home of at least 246 workers with additional family members. The contractor, John Redpath, a master stonemason from Montreal, recruited a number of Scots, Irish and French-Canadian workers for this project. In honour of John By’s wife Esther, the little settlement was called “Esthertown” also referred to as “Estherville.”  Read more about Esthertown

esthertown burrowes


Although the official name of this lock station has always been Davis Lock, most local people until this generation referred to it as Foster’s Locks. In the early 20th century, the area around here was also referred to as Fosterville. Around 1820, Walter Davis Junior, the son of an American settler took advantage of the waterpower at the future location of the locks and erected a sawmill.  Unfortunately, the mill didn’t last very long.  When the site was decided upon for a single lock, the mill was destroyed.  Davis himself died in 1830 leaving a widow and five children.  Read more about Fosterville

FostervilleDavis Lock c1910

Fosterville3Dennis Mahoney , his wife Ellen and members of the Alford and Mahoney families c 1910

Fosterville2Elah Alford and wife Martha c 1910



The community of Freeland, with the former Freeland Public School at its centre, is unusual in providing vivid evidence of mid 19th century agricultural prosperity. Read more about Freeland

Horace Sheldon homeHorace Sheldon Home

Thomas Graham homeThomas Graham home

Eaton homeEaton home 


The small hamlet of Newboyne, settled originally c1830, had grown by 1900 into a well-established farming community with numerous small farm based businesses, such as a general store (including a post office which was replaced in 1918 with rural mail delivery) a blacksmith shop, tailor and shoe shop. In the mid 1880s a cheese factory became part of the commerce of the community, lasting well into the 20th century.


Newboyne 11967, The last grade 8 class of the Newboyne Public School, SS # 2, Bastard & South Burgess


Newboyne 2c1860 farm home of one of the pioneering Newboyne families


NewboyneSt. Peter’s Anglican Church c1875


The Narrows

The name “The Narrows” identifies the narrow point between what are today the Upper Rideau and Big Rideau Lakes. Before the Rideau Canal was built in the 1830s, the entire stretch of water was called, simply, Rideau Lake. At that time, the Narrows were referred to as the “Upper Narrows”, to distinguish them from the “Lower Narrows”, at what is now Rideau Ferry. Read more about The Narrows

Narrows Lock Station 1900Narrows Lock Station 1900. Photo from Molly Kennedy

Narrows School 1915The Narrows School c 1915 



Oliver's Ferry

Oliver’s Ferry, now known as Rideau Ferry, is situated on a narrow channel between Lower and Big Rideau lakes on the Rideau Canal system. It is the narrowest crossing point between the locks at Poonamalie and Rideau Narrows. Today the village spans the crossing, and the south part is situated in the Township of Rideau Lakes. Read more about Oliver's Ferry


Otter Lake

Otter Lake, on the south shore of the Rideau waterway, drains into Otter Creek which meanders over ten miles to the Rideau River. The lake is situated on a limestone plain which formed the bed of the western part of the Champlain Sea from approximately 13,000 to 10,000 years ago. Read more about Otter Lake


Plum Hollow

It has been determined that Bastard Township was first settled by Elder Abel Stevens who arrived from Vermont in the early 1790s. In 1794, he was granted land where he finally settled and named the community Stevenstown, now known as Delta. Read more about Plum Hollow

Plum Hollow Cheese FactoryPlum Hollow Cheese Factory on the left and the home of the legendary Claude Flood (cheesemaker) at the right of the factory. Note an old barn in the background.

Plum Hollow Baptist ChurchPlum Hollow Baptist Church

Plum Hollow Jane Wiltse housePlum Hollow Jane Wiltse house


By 1806, the land that is now North Crosby and Newboro Ward had been surveyed and divided up into 10 concessions by 27 lots. It was called North Crosby Township. What became Salem was on the western edge, near the boundary with what is now Frontenac County. It saw its first settlers in the late 1820s. Read more about Salem

 salem grocery storeSalem grocery store


The Witch of Plum Hollow 

Rural Ontario has always had its mystics. In Ontario’s Leeds County, it was Elizabeth Barnes, better known as Mother Barnes, the Witch of Plum Hollow. Her date of birth is unclear. Some sources say 1794; others say 1800.

Read her story here.

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1439 County Road 8, Delta, ON K0E 1G0

613-928-2251 or 1-800-928-2250

Fax: 613-928-3097