Did You Know the Village of Pakenham Moved?



Pakenham 1880


It is amazing what you do when faced with no internet to solve mysteries. Yesterday I found myself going through a very old book and was shocked at what I found. Let’s start with the village of Pakenham- more coming on Lanark and Appleton later.

In the beginning as they say, there was no Pakenham. It was just part of Johnstown district or the Bathurst wilderness as what this part of Lanark County was called. Pakenham was known first as Little Falls, then Harvey’s Mills, Harvey’s Rapids, and then as Bason’s Falls named after the men who established the first industry there– which was a lumber mill. It has been noted in a few places that *cows were allowed to roam at will through the settlement like the sacred cows of India.

In 1822, yes way before my time, the government opened up 5 new townships called: Lavant, Darling, Fitzroy, Torbolton and Pakenham. One of the first settlers to arrive was Jas. Harvey in 1823 and John Powell from Perth the next year.


Mary Stewart’s farm —Photo from the Macoun Field Club

In 1831 Andrew Dickinson bought out the Harvey & Powell Mill along with the water rights and the whole settlement became known as Dickson’s Mills. Not content with that name either the village eventually took over the name of the township which was named for a famous British general, Sir Edward Pakenham. Pakenham was the brother in law of the Duke of Wellington who camped with his troops at this very same site during the war of 1812.

It was said that Andrew Dickson had a lot of energy and initiative and was destined to have one heck of a colourful career which only added much lustre to the reputation of the settlement. Dickinson built the beautiful stone home on the river just beyond the bridge. He also named all the streets in the village after his wife and four daughters: Elizabeth, Jessie, Mary, Margaret and Isabel. In a very short time there was a Grammar School and five churches in the village. What I did not know was that Pakenham suffered a series of fires and when they rebuilt the village  the whole shebang actually moved down the river to its present site.


Photo from bytown.net

Like most small towns of that era, Pakenham began as a bustling industrial centre, well endowed with that essential to industrial well being—water power. But, as the forests were cut down and the land cleared for agricultural purposes the lumbering industry lagged and finally died out altogether.



Related reading–

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

Whale Sightings in Pakenham and Smiths Falls – Holy SeaWorld!

The Queen Versus Howard –Abduction with an OJ Defense?



Sandy Caldwell King of the River Boys


Pakenham is known far and wide for the only five span stone bridge in North America. Some even say the world.

*Cows and such–One day Peter McLaren’s cook had a bad batch of bread dough which he discarded outside. One of those roaming cows got ahold of it and made a meal out of it. It died shortly after and McLaren had to pay for the now deceased cow.

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.

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