Tag Archives: merivale road

When Merivale Was the End of the Road

When Merivale Was the End of the Road


Here’s Construction Season in 1926, described as “Asphaltic Concrete – Merivale Road.”

George Boyce was then a boy of 16 and old enough to have clear recollections about the area and his family far in 1860. According to Mr. Boyce, Merivale Road was “the end of the road.”— literally. At a point about a mile south of the Boyce farm the road tailed off into a trail, and it wasn’t far from that when even the trail ended.

The road to Ottawa at its best points wasn’t much. In fact it was hardly a road at all in the proper sense. Most people who travelled it did so on horseback. Only a few of the dozen settlers owned vehicles of any sort. Although Ottawa was only from eight to ten miles from the Merivale settlers, “going to town” was not a matter of everyday occurrence, as it is now. But if the people did not go to town often, they made up for lack of travelling by visiting. They visited far more than at present– for both sociability and mutual aid. In these days people “borrowed” a lot from each other. They had to. None of the settlers had enough of anything to get along independently.

So they borrowed all sorts of things, from farm implements down to food. But, they always returned them and things were loaned cheerfully. The people who loaned knew that within a few days they themselves might be borrowers. Every borrowing meant a visit. “Borrowing” visits kept the settlers from being lonesome, and therefore it had its good points. Today borrowing is rare, and if a farmer runs short he jumps into into his vehicle as the case may be and whirls into town.


City View School in Nepean, located at 8 Merivale Road according to an Ottawa City Directory from 1923.

The settlers who were located in the Merivale district when the Boyces were there in 1860, were William Stinson, Joseph Switzer, Wm. Craig, James Craig. Wm. Caldwell, Robert Mowat (brother of the Ottawa tailor of the sixties). Joseph Green. Christopher Green. John Davidson, and the Keenan family to which belonged Mr. Keenan, the veteran pioneer teacher, and Dr. Keenan.

If the farmers of today in Nepean have comfortable homes, they can, in the opinion of Mr. Boyce, thank their ancestors. Both the men and the women of the 1850s and 1860s worked very hard, he says. As showing how the women of that period tried to help make ends meet, Mr. Boyce tells how Mrs. John McSorley, who lived “at the end of the road,” several miles past the Boyce farm, used to frequently walk to Bytown, a matter of 12 miles, and carry a pail of butter to the market.

When the Boyces went to the present Boyce farm in 1860 “bees” were of common occurrence. There were bees for log burning, for barn raising, for crop gathering, and for a dozen other things. As a matter of fact people could not have accomplished anything without “bees.” It was almost impossible to hire help, and if help had been available the the people still had no money to pay for it.

The people were not “afraid to to home in the dark” in those days. Mr. Boyce tells how the people, after dancing half the night after a “bee,” would go home several miles through the bush roads, utterly unafraid, though bears and even wolves still abounded.

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