The Coutts House- Rideau Ferry Inn




The Coutts House was a summer hotel on the Rideau located at Oliver’s Ferry (now Rideau Ferry). The original house was built in 1853 by Archibald Campbell who married Elizabeth Buchanan, daughter of Rev. George Buchanan who was the pioneer Presbyterian Minister of Beckwith Township who ministered at Franktown. Archibald and Elizabeth’s daughter, Helen Buchanan Campbell, married John Coutts of Oliver’s Ferry in 1856. John was one of six children of Peter Coutts and Jean Geekie of Kettins, Angus, Scotland.




This family settled in Oliver’s Ferry in 1843. John Coutts and his wife Helen Buchanan Campbell moved into this house in 1870. This was the beginning of the Coutts House which grew into a fine summer hotel for folks seeking pleasant recreation and leisure time.  The first bridge at Oliver’s Ferry was built in 1871 replacing the Ferry. Anne Smith was the first Post Mistress there and in 1884 she had the name changed from Oliver’s Ferry to Rideau Centre and by 1909 it was called Rideau Ferry.


In the year 1893 an addition was built at the back of the original house. It consisted of three floors. The first floor was a large dining room and the second and third floors each had fifteen bedrooms and a bathroom, making a total of thirty bedrooms in the hotel. Barns and Stables were built at the back of the hotel. Later a well was drilled and a windmill erected so water could be forced into the kitchen for cooking and drinking, and pipes were laid from the lake and water was forced to the top story by a force pump.



Guests coming by train to Perth and Smiths Falls were met at the stations by the proprietor of the hotel, with a horse and buggy. John and Helen Coutts had a son Peter Coutts, born 1860, who moved into the Coutts House in 1898 and operated the business for seven years. For several years after, it  was rented to various people until 1947 when it was purchased by Mr. Wallace of Osgoode, torn down and replaced with a modern building of cinder block construction. This was widely known as the Rideau Ferry Inn, a favorite dancing spot for young people for many years until it was destroyed by fire in 1986. It was rebuilt and as of 2005 is now a restaurant-written by-Gary Darby

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.

2 responses »

  1. wonderful history about the Coutts House ! My Mom is daughter of George Archibald Coutts of Rideau Ferry and that was the original family house for them ! I recognize it now as rebuilt but wonder if there are any remnants of the old place?


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