Note: you'll find the map at the bottom of the page
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 travelled 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.
Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines, set your odometers. Travel on Hwy. #15, northward
from Kingston or southward from Ottawa. First stop in the village of Morton (GPS 44 32.19
N., 76 11.90 W.)
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.
Morton General Store
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.
William Morris House
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, 1903 Hwy. #15. (1846)
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 Frank 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
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, 122 Bush Road. (c1830)
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.
Patrick Murphy House
13. Patrick Murphy House, 1026 Davis Lock Road. (1850)
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.
Davis Lock Lockmaster's House
14. Lockmaster’s House, Davis Lock. (1842)
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, Chaffey’s Lock. (1844)
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
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. 939 Clear Lake Road. (c1840)
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.
Clear Lake Cheese Factory
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. 1233 Clear Lake Road. (c1860)
This is a finely-maintained example of a 1 & 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 twoand-
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 fi rst such venues of entertainment (and romance) in
eastern Ontario. Now a bustling fl ea market happens here every summer Saturday.
23. William Singleton House, 7745 Crosby (c1850)
The fi ve 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, 7719B. Crosby (c1900)
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 fi ne boats and all
Crosby Public School
25. Crosby Public School, 12 Narrows Lock Rd. (c1907)
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
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.
NOTES: Please note that the Heritage Advisory Committee of the Township of Rideau Lakes
has made every effort to ensure that the information provided herein is accurate and is to be
used as an information source only. We welcome new information as it becomes available
and will consider refi ning details in future publications. We cannot be liable for any injuries,
inconvenience or fi nancial loss that may occur to persons participating in this tour. Please
be advised that our walking, driving and bicycling routes are not maintained exclusively by
the Township of Rideau Lakes. Accordingly, the Township of Rideau Lakes does not take
responsibility for the condition of said route or paths. Please enjoy your amble through the past
here in the Keystone of the Rideau. Please use courtesy and common sense when traveling our
Heritage Routes. Please help us preserve our UNESCO World Heritage and National Geographic
Destination privelage and responsibility.
Published by the Municipal Heritage Advisory Com. of Township of the Rideau Lakes. Edition
No. 2, 2010. Original text: Neil Patterson. Revised text: Doug Bond. Artwork: Jennifer Bond. Cartography: Bryan Babcock.
For more information
on heritage life and
architecturally significant buildings
in the Township of
Rideau Lakes, visit
any branch of the
Rideau Lakes Union
Library. Ask to peruse:
by Barbara Gibson
(South Burgess); "Hub
of the Rideau" by Sue
Warren (South Crosby
Ward); "My Own Four
Walls" by Diane Haskin
(Bastard and South
Burgess Ward); "South
Elmsley in the Making"
by James Kennedy; "The
of Newboro" in the
Newboro Library; and
the many resources
illustrating heritage life
in North Crosby to be
found in the Newboro
and the Westport
Library and the
Westport Museum. Also
ask about our video
"Best Kept Secrets"
which highlights some
of the folks and facets
of our Township of the