Where Were the Miracle Salt Springs in Pakenham? I Love a Challenge!


I love a challenge- and when I am thrown one like the unknown tombstone that now sits in the newest display of “They Left Their Mark” in the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum— well, I could not sleep until I figured it out.

Jayne Munro-Ouimet posted my “Whale Found in Pakenham” blog in the ‎Lanark County Genealogical Society on Facebook and said,

“For years, I have been searching for the location of the salt springs near the village of Pakenham. I read an article a number of years ago that mentioned the daily excursions from Ottawa to Pakenham for a bath in the salt springs. Readers, this article , thanks to Linda Seccaspina, shines a light to my quest. They are somewhere out there.. Any ideas??”

Concept image of the six most common questions and answers on a signpost.

That was like lighting a fire under me.  if you lived in Carleton Place or Almonte, chances are your doctor would have advised you to go visit the Dominion Springs for your aches and pains in the late 1800’s.  Actually, there were two mineral springs in the area, and the Canadian Almanac made note of both of them in 1898. One was called the Dominion Springs, and was located on the Dominion Springs Road just outside of Pakenham. It was also referred to as the Dominion Springs Sanatorium. The cost was ten dollars for ten baths.

                                                                                 Dominion Springs

Mineral waters with supposedly curative powers were found nearby on land acquired from the Crown in 1835 by Francis Gillan.


A man named Checkley leased the land from Gillan and built a hotel, stables and bath houses. Stage coaches ran daily to meet trains at nearby Pakenham to deliver customers to the waters consisting of three springs.

In 1894, Michael Green from Appleton, leased the property and built a two-storey hotel and dancing pavilion that burned down in the early 1900s. The third lessee was William Gillan who built a new hotel called the Dominion Spring Hotel. Business boomed until the Depression closed the operation. Fire razed the buildings in 1933 and the business was never revived.


(See Gillan Farm info below)

Lot 26, concession 12, Pakenham township, Lanark Co.– Dominion Springs Road is next to Coady Creek.


1831 marked the arrival of the Gillan family in Canada from Longford County, Ireland. Their first home was a log house across the gully from where the present home now stands. This site, nestled in the rolling hills of Fitzroy Ward, is steeped in history.

The cottage-style limestone farmhouse at 3742 Dominion Springs Drive built by Frances Gillan in the 1850’s, proudly exhibits on its walls the original offer of purchase, dated October 18th, 1836. Since that date, additional farms have been acquired over the years. A truly warm welcome awaits you at this picturesque landmark situated on the hillside overlooking a triutary of Coady Creek.

                                                       Diamond Park Mineral Water– near Arnprior


Diamond Park Mineral Water was world famous in its day, and it was located near Arnprior.  Among the components in the water were salt and sulphur. and the water was said to have curative powers dealing with rheumatic problems, hangover headaches and an aid in flushing the kidneys. Diamond Park Springs was located on the edge of Pakenham Township in the late 1800s, but was flooded by Ontario Hydro when the dam was put in place at the head pond. At one point there was a 12-room hotel on site and proved to be a popular spa in its day. The plant was later sold to Sanitaris Ltd. who continued bottling water from their plant at the corner of John and William streets behind the current LCBO in Arnprior.




Sanitaris Natural Mineral Water Building, Arnprior, Canada’

Date: 1914 Location:
John Street, Arnprior, Ontario, Canada




img (22)

Thanks to

Karen Prytula –Director of Rural Built Heritage

Heritage Ottawa– we have more information:

UPDATE.. Thursday, July 24 1845 – “There is a spring of saline quality at Mr. Gillan’s, an Irishman, about 2 miles from Pakenham, this morning before breakfast I walked out with Mr. Forbes & Mr. Poole the schoolmaster to get a sample of the water.i Mr. McNaughton did not accompany us. I left him in bed unwell with bile. He took a lot of Cooper’s pills last night as a remedy. But conceiving the water of the spring might do him good, I persuaded him to walk out & drink some– “William E. Logan’s 1845 Survey of the Upper Ottawa Valley” by Charles H. Smith and Ian Dyck



Thanks to the sharp eyes of Linda Nilson Rogers and the kindness of Sylvia Stanton we now have photos of the Dominion Springs Hotel in Pakenham 



Interesting People –R. E. Irvine — The Story of a Bottle

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

4 responses »

  1. Hi Linda – loved the article. I have a question. When you speak of Gillan’s stone home, was that home on the sight of the hot springs? I ask because you also mention Gillan leased the hot springs land…so I am wondering if the hot springs are on a different parcel than the farm, or are they on the same lot as the farm. I am just thinking that the property with the hot springs should be plaqued, or memorialized in some way – or on one of our LCGS bus tours!


    • Karen- It over looks Coady Creek which has to be part of the mineral springs somewhere on that property. It has to be plaqued since the other one is under the water. Even Jennifer at our CP Museum had no idea about this.. Let me know what happens.. Someone should contact the property owners.



  2. Hi,
    Great article. Love learning more about the area.
    As you do seem to love a challenge. I have a question that I have very little info on. I have heard that the first tractor in the Arnprior, Pakenham, Fitzroy area was owned by Ceicle Grainger and that it was lost when it when threw the bridge near Antrim. Never to be recovered.
    Do you know anything or have access to any pictures that are relevant to this?


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