Smiths Falls, or rather the site of it was allocated In the year 1784 to one Major Thomas Smyth, a United Empire loyalist, -when lands were being given out by the Imperial Commission to the men who had suffered land losses and hardships as a result oi their loyalty to the crown during the American Revolution. To this Major Thomas Smyth fell lots one and two in the fourth concession of Elmsley in the county of Leeds. The central portion of the now prosperous town of Smiths Falls is located in the center of the Smyth allocation. The unfortunate part of the story i that Major Smyth lost possession of this property with its fine water power in the year 1825, just two years before the starting of the Rldeau Canal. In the year 1810 the Major became financially distressed. On the strength of this Rideau River property he borrowed two hundred and thirty-three pounds from one Joseph Bewell, a Boston merchant. The mortgage was for a year.
Smiths Falls- Joshua Bates’ and Truman Ward’s Wool and Grist Mills on Old Sly’s Road with the CNR train bridge in the background. c1870 —Vintage Smiths Falls & Perth
In 1824 the debt not having been repaid. Mr. Sewell brought action at York (Toronto) for foreclosure the mortgage. He obtained judgment. In August. 1825, Sheriff John Stewart offered the property for sale. The sale took place at Brockville. Charles Jones (afterwards the Hon. C. Jones) was the highest bidder. The property went to him at 105. In the following year the property sold by Mr. Jones to Abel Ward, one of three brothers (Empire Loyalists), who lived near Brockville. Mr. Ward, who was a lumberman, paid six hundred pounds for the property. Building of Canal. Then came the building of the Rideau Canal in 1827 and with it a voting surveyor from New York state, named James Simpson. Young Simpson bought two-thirds of the Ward property for fifteen hundred pounds. The value of the place was being rapidly enhanced. Ward and Simpson became partners in Improvements. They erected grist and sawmills and stores. Simpson made his home at the Falls. Simpson became a leader among the settlers. He initiated road building by means of “bees.” it was he who opened the first road from Smyth’s Falls to Beckwith. He took a contract for work on the Smyth’s Falls section of the canal.
In the year 1829 the village was “laid out” as a townsite for the owners bv John Booth, deputy provincial land surveyor, who lived at Elizabethtown. In 1832. the year the canal started operations, James Simpson sold out his interests to his brother, William Simpson, and went to California. Between 1832 and 1845 much of the village site had been disposed of in lots of a fifth of an acre. These lots were sold at an average price of one hundred and twenty-five pounds.
By 1840 there were Methodist, Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches in existence. The Anglican body used a government workshop as a place of worship. There were eight stores and fifty dwellings, a cabinet shop, a chair factory, a tannery, cooper shop, saddler’s, a foundry, two flour mills, two sawmills, and an oat mill. Up to the year 1835 no question of the validity of the Ward-Simpson title had been raised. Major Smyth died in 1831. In 1833 his two sons, Terence and George, who resided at Merrickville decided to take advantage of the establishment of a court of chancery and endeavour to regain possession.
A chancery lawsuit was begun by the Smyths. It lasted a long time and proved very costly. The case was not settled till 1844. The Smyth suit was dismissed. It is worthy of note that Abram Green, a brother-in-law of the Smyths, drove alt the way from Charleston, Penn., in a sleigh to give evidence in their behalf. Abel Ward lived till 1882. James Simpson went to California when he left Canada. He became a world rover and died at sea. Just how or when the name Smyth became corrupted to Smith is not clear. The CP.R. gave Smiths Falls its second boost in 1885 when it made the place a divisional point on its new Montreal to Toronto and Chicago “short line.”
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.