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
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 skilful 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.
Civic addresses are cited for specific buildings where available. Kilometer readings will
vary slightly with vehicle and tire wear. GPS values are given for intersections noted along
this heritage route. GPS values are rounded to 4 decimal places of degrees.
Crosby (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.
Lewis Poole Farm
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.
This eleven log house has square jointed corners and between the logs were jammed log shavings a method of chinking. To the right of the log home is the original stone ashery where soap was made.
At the eastern edge of Newboro, at 4.6 km., is where the toll gate for the beginning of the Stone Road was located in 1862.
The Sappers and Miners Grave Yard located after the Canal is crossed at 5.8 km. The canal cut at Newboro was supervised by the Royal Sappers and Miners.
2. Brewster (Hutchings) House - 9107 Hwy 42This 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, 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.
O'Riley (Blair) House
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
Forrester’s Landing Drive
5. Forrester House - 12 Forrester’s 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)
Samuel Ripley House
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.
Alba Taggart House
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.
William Ewing House
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.
The Halladay School
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 fi ne 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 fi ne beach. Enjoy the hospitality of the
many fi ne services and activities of the Village of Westport, a “Community for
All Seasons”. Follow Hwy. 42 back to Newboro at km. 34 for fi ne 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 fi nest fi shing 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.
Published by the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee of the Township of Rideau Lakes,
Doug Bond Chairman.
Artwork: Jillian Bond and Margaret Martin
Original research and text: Neil A. Patterson