Photo- Linda Seccaspina
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 14 May 1980,
In 1980 an old frame house near Old Sly’s Lock was going to be renovated and turned into a world class museum called Heritage House. Not everyone believed in the project, and some thought it should be located closer to town and more accessible to those on foot. Of course there was the fact that the structure was frame and not stone like the stone mill that was in disrepair at the time. Many thought attention should be made to stone and not frame. In the end the old mid century home sold for the sum of $13,500 and the property was Crown land administered by Parks Canada.
Photo- Linda Seccaspina
The frame building that had suffered a fire and neglect still had a lot of historical value as it was once inhabited by Truman Russell Ward, his wife Annabelle Chambers and their two children. Truman was the son of Able Russell Ward founder of the town of Smiths Falls. Anabelle’s Dad Captain McGill Chambers had donated the land and original building to the Smith’s Falls Hospital and the land to St. Francis Roman Catholic Church.
The house had many mysteries which were: hidden walled over fireplaces, a built in bake oven, and an unusual glass pattern in the casement windows. Plans were called to restore eight rooms in 1860s fashion and a rotating display room in the upper floor of the shed with the bottom floor housing a gift shop. Parks Canada plans at the time called for vegetable garden and an apple orchard.
If you have not visited this museum — you are missing a real historical treat.
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 07 Sep 1977, Wed, [Second Edition], Page 3
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 22 Jul 1980, Tue, Valley Edition, Page 3
Abel Russell Ward was the first resident of Smith Falls in 1826 or 1827, building a log house on what became Beckwith Street, close to the site of the canal locks soon to be built. When the Rideau Canal was first being constructed, and early settlement of Smiths Falls had begun, the two largest landholders in the area were Abel Russell Ward and William Simpson. Both of these men set aside plots of land for their own private cemeteries. When the settlers living in Smiths Falls needed a place to bury their dead, they would often approach Ward or Simpson, requesting space in their private burial grounds. CLICK HERE FOR MORE
Able Russell Ward – one of the founders of Smiths Falls. I am told that this headstone, which sits in the area to the left of the office, has the letters UEL (United Empire Loyalist) on the stone. I am also told that United Empire Loyalists were people who in some way participated in the War of Independence in 1776. Historians tell me that there is no way that Mr. Ward could have been a member of UEL as he wasn’t born until 20 years later! Though he may well be the child or grandchild of a member.
Lavenia Mirrick, the wife of Able Russell Ward. Directly related to those who founded Merrickville and also the person behind the names Lavenia Street and Merrick Street. Also of note, Able Street, Russell Street, and the fact that at one time, a part of Smiths Falls was named Wardsville.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)
Heritage House Museum
A visit to Heritage House includes a tour of 8 period rooms furnished to depict the lifestyle of the times. The Museum’s unique mirror-image facades, indoor brick bake oven and two-story privy preserve an atmosphere of the past in the once derelict house. Enjoy a picnic near our gardens or take a short stroll through parkland to the Rideau Canal and Old Sly’s Lockstation. Presented year round are changing exhibitions and art shows, a variety of special events, workshops and school and children’s programs. Also available are meeting space rentals, gift shop and a Victorian setting for wedding ceremonies and photographs.
11 Old Sly’s Rd,
Smiths Falls, Ontario, K7A 3M3
Spring May 13 – 31:
Weekends, 10 am – 5 pm
Summer June 1 – October 31:
Wed, Fri, & Sun, 10 am – 5 pm,
Thurs & Sat 12 pm – 8 pm
Fall November 1 – December 22:
Thursdays 12 pm– 8 pm, Fri & Sat 10 am – 5 pm
Appointments Welcome Year Round!
Youth (6-18) $3.50