Smyth’s Falls Wardsville and Names

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Smyth’s Falls Wardsville and Names

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As long as there’s a canal lock in Smiths Falls, the town will not be allowed to forget its link with the historic Rldeau Canal. That canal was once a main artery that gave life blood to a little hamlet born in the wilderness. After the war of 1812 with the States, there had been talk of building a canal to connect the waters of Lake Ontario with the Ottawa River. A survey was made but it was abandoned. The actual building of the canal came as a great surprise to the few scattered inhabitants of this still thickly timbered area when work began in 1827.

The engineer in charge of building the locks at Sly’s Rapids was James Simpson, a young engineer of 26, who came from County of Londonderry, Ireland by way of Lockport, N.Y.

 

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When he came to Smyth’s Falls or Wardsville in 1827, the place had no roads leading to it. It was an entire wilderness with the exception of an old saw mill newly rigged up by Abel Russell Ward, for the purpose of sawing lumber to build with, and his own dwelling, a log house nearby. The sawmill had hardly commenced operations when, by order of Colonel By, the officer in charge of the entire works, he removed it to make way for a dam for the canal.

 

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Ward came with about 20 men and with teams and opened a road from Smyth’s Falls to the Bytown Road, a distance of eight miles, also roads towards Perth about nine miles, and improved a road toward Merrickville. A road to Dack’s Tavern, on the post route to Brockville and a road of five miles from the Falls to the Rose Settlement was also done by Ward and his men.

The opening up of these roads all leading to the town and the improvements made by Abel Russell Ward and the others who settled in, make Smiths Falls what it is today.

 

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James Simpson was an energetic man whose enterprise served as a stimulant and inspiration to the men among whom he laboured. After he got the canal commenced, he built grist mills, stores and other buildings to serve the new community. In Smiths Falls, at dawn, on May 25, 1832, canons on the canal bank barked a salute to “The Pumper,” the first boat to puff its way up the newly, completed waterway with a group of distinguished persons that included Colonel By.

It was in January, 1858, the year Canada switched from sterling to decimal currency, when the first train over the Canada Central Railway made its trial run from Brockville to Smyth’s Falls and Perth. If the canal brought a bundling boom to Smyth’s Falls, the coming of the railway gave the town further success. By 1885 Smiths Falls was made a divisional point on the CPR and in 1910 the CNR came through the town.

 

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Robert Hawkins, George Street North or “Bobbie” Hawking as the townsfolk affectionately call this venerable gentleman was born in Leeds County near Brockville in 1864 and learned the hardware business in Perth. Always keenly interested in community affairs and active in the Conservative Party, Mr. Hawkins served five years on town council and was chairman of the all-important finance committee during those critical years. Mr. Hawkins retired in 1941 after 54 years in the hardware business.

A local boy who made good in the field of commerce was Clark Keith. After achieving for himself a reputation as an outstanding electrical engineer, he became manager of the Windsor Public Utilities Commission that included the Motor City’s electric power service. Clark Keith was honoured when the-Ontario Hydro steam generating plant at Windsor was officially opened and named after him.

 

relatedreading

Smiths Falls Oldest Inhabitants Interviewed — 19 Nov 1877

It’s Smyth not Smith Falls?

Downtown Smiths Falls 1887

Dr. William Pratt — Murder of his Housekeeper in Smiths Falls

Entire Dam Above Smiths Falls Swept Away

  1. The Smiths Falls Storm of 1897

  2. The Storm of June 1899

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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