Reflecting History

Rideau Lakes and Westport are steeped in history. Around every corner lies something significant to the shaping of our nation, whether it be important points along the Rideau Canal or the gravesite of the founder of the Canadian Navy near Portland.

Look past the stunning scenery and modern streetscapes to a time when carriages lined the streets of local hubs, and travelling to Westport from Morton took days along primitive paths. Rideau Lakes and the Westport region has numerous opportunities to learn about our local heritage!

The  Old Stone Mill  in  Delta is a National Historic Site showcasing milling technology and 1800s industrial heritage – while being one of the only operational mills with period equipment grinding grain into flour throughout the summer! Complemented by an intriguing Mill museum and the Delta Mill Society, this national landmark is an amazing experience for the whole family. Delta also incorporates many heritage plaques around the village for history buffs to get their fill. Find out more here:

Set to help in your exploring of yesteryear is the Rideau District Museum in Westport. Located at 29 Bedford Street, the Rideau District Museum is open for summer season, May to September. The Rideau District Museum  preserves and displays artifacts reflecting the history and people of our region’s past. It is housed in an authentic blacksmith and carriage shop constructed in the 1850’s.   The forges, bellows, and handmade iron tools remain in their original setting. 

The Chaffey’s Lockmaster’s House Museum is appropriately housed in the defensible lockmaster's house dating back to 1844. The museum features a permanent display of the history of South Crosby Ward and the daily work of the men and women who settled the shores of Opinicon and Indian Lakes. Open Victoria Day to Labour Day, 9-5. Free admission, with opportunity for donation.

Any of the Rideau Canal lock stations in the Rideau Lakes provide perfect examples of living history. We are fortunate to have Jones Falls, Davis Lock, Chaffey’s Lock, Newboro Lock, Narrows Lock and Poonamalie Lock within the Rideau Lakes. All have distinctive features and are worth a visit! Jones Falls is one of the most impressive locks on the Canal and is a focal point for visitors and locals alike. With the long bridge, an ice cream shop, a visitor centre, friendly lock staff, trails and the Stone Arch Dam, it’s a truly spectacular place to get an appreciation for all things historical along the canal. The dam received the nickname “The Whispering Dam” because the 106-metre long curved structure can carry a whisper from one end to the other! Be sure to give it a try.

The Red Brick School House in Elgin is a one-storey, one-room brick structure located on Halladay Street. The schoolhouse, restored through the efforts of the Elgin & Area Heritage Society, is designated by the Ontario Heritage Trust. Opened in 1887, this charming two-room brick school is an early example of the late 19th century campaign to improve Ontario’s system of public education through the construction of better buildings.

The Township of Rideau Lakes, has a downloadable heritage map of the township, and information about walking tours, driving tours, and historical societies.

The Rideau Heritage Route is another great resource, focusing on communities all along the Rideau Canal.