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Driving Tour - Morton to Crosby
Heritage Route Along the Shores of the Rideau

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Paths by paddle and portage have crossed our landscape of Shield and Lowland ever since the most recent Ice Age melted away ten millennia ago. In recent centuries, ancient paths were followed by European explorers and traders. In the 1790s, saddle-bag preachers travelled paths from blazed tree to tree and from pioneer cabin to cabin. Survey lines and concession roads brought settlers fleeing the American Revolution to the flat and fertile sedimentary plain. In the 1820s, packed snow and ice gave path to teamsters with yokes of oxen. Their stone boats in tow were laden with rough ashars of sandstone destined for building the dams and locks of the Rideau Canal. After 1832, the path of the propeller marked the era of steamboat trade and travel along the Rideau Canal. In the 1840s tortuous rocky trails took settlers fleeing famine in Ireland onto the unforgiving Shield. By the 1880s, rails of iron brought year-round and relatively speedy travel to the north of Leeds County. By the 1930s, paths of pavement opened a new lattice of travel for residents of the Rideau and for visitors from afar. Beside these highways and byways are the farms, the homes and the villages that are testament to the lives and labours, the goals and skills, the joys and sorrows of the people whose lives have been linked through the Rideau community to the world. This is an invitation to travel some of these paths by road, possibly by boat, maybe with backpack. Enjoy "An Experience to Remember" here in the rich natural and cultural heritage as seen from some of our paths in the Township of Rideau Lakes.

Civic addresses are cited for specific buildings where available. Kilometre readings will vary slightly with vehicle. GPS values are given for intersections and end points noted along this heritage route. GPS values are rounded to 2 decimal places of minutes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines, set your odometers. Travel on Hwy. #15, northward from Kingston or southward from Ottawa. First stop in the village of Morton (GPS 44 32.19 N., 76 11.90 W.)

Even before the building of the Rideau Canal in the 1820s, dusty millers and sawyers were using the water power of Whitefish Falls. In the mid-1800s, both John A. Macdonald and George Morton had dreams. Morton envisioned a model community at Whitefish Falls to power his model mills. Model streets would be lined with bustling businesses and prosperous homes. On the floodplain of Whitefish (Morton) Creek, he developed a model dairy farm with a cheese factory to turn fertility into food. His brick yard turned clay into houses. George Morton even built a unique model school. But it was Sir John A’s dream that survived and thrived through the test of time.

1. James Manuel House, 7 Park St., Morton (front on Hwy.15)
Built in 1858 with stucco on local brick, the wide front gable of this house is similar to those of others in the vicinity. Notice the large windows with 6 panes in wooden sashes, shutters and the fancy woodwork under the eaves.

Morton General Store
Morton General Store
2. Morton General Store, 702 Main St. Morton (Hwy.15)
Built c1855, George Morton’s plan for his model community included a centrally-located general store. Notice its typically large display windows and its attached residence for the shopkeeper and his family. This general store was the commercial focus of the community of Morton for over a century.

3. Morton School "the Pimple", 24 Pearl St.
Built in 1852/53, this octagonal brick building fulfilled Morton’s plan for an innovative school. Large windows provided abundant natural light. Over a century ahead of its time, George Morton’s centre of education nurtured a "bright circle of learning. How could a teacher send an unruly student to stand in the corner when the corner was 135 degrees? Only one other octagonal school exists in the province.

Leave Morton and head north on Hwy #15 across the floodplain of Morton Creek. Once called Whitefish Creek, it is a major tributary of the Gananoque River System and offers an invitation to explore its meandering ways by canoe and kayak. Turn left at 0.6 km. (GPS 44 32.52 N., 76 11.90 W.) onto Cty. Rd. #11 (Jones Falls Road). Drive through some of the rugged landscape of the Frontenac Axis, part of Canada’s Shield. Cloaked in mid-latitude mixed forest, this is a favourite habitat for white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks and a few endangered black rat snakes. Turn left at 3.9 km. (GPS 44 32.82 N., 76 13.99 W.) into Parks Canada’s parking lot. You can walk to the hotel and other sites at Jones Falls. Here you will find a treasure of landscape and engineering of the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage Site and National Geographic Destination. Though the walking paths are wide, the Shield is very hilly.

Hotel Kenney
Hotel Kenney
4. Hotel Kenney, Jones Falls The original hotel at Jones Falls was built in 1849 by Bernard O’Neal. Thomas Kenney built the present hotel in 1888 after his first inn burnt. With balconies and open railings, its character is reminiscent of many turn-of-the-century resorts. Cottage styling and trim are still evident to-day from the 1910 renovations when the third storey was added. Presidents of the United States have been among the many who found friendly leisure and fishing lure at Hotel Kenney. Walk across the bridge to the great staircase of locks, the second highest lock gates in the world when they were built in the 1820s. Turn right to the Parks Canada Info Centre to study the site map, to find more information and to explore further this amazing site.

5. Blacksmith Shop, Jones Falls
Between 1841 and 1843, smithies were constructed at many of the lock stations to provide essential items of black metal for the Canal. The Blacksmith Shop is open and active during scheduled hours in the summer

6. Lockmaster’s House, Jones Falls
The British Ordinance Department constructed this defensible lockmaster’s house in 1841 of stone quarried locally. Now a museum, the Lockmaster’s House contains many items from the time of Peter Sweeney, the first and legendary lockmaster here at Jones. The Lockmaster’s House is open for guided tours during scheduled hours in the summer.

7. Great Arched Dam, Jones Falls
This 19 m. (62 ft.) high, stone-arched dam was the largest in North America when constructed between the years 1829 and 1830. Its builder, John Redpath put the strength of the Roman arch on horizontal plane to hold back the water of Sand Lake, one of a series of slack-water basins that Col. By and his Royal Engineers made from the complex and chaotic Cataraqui River System. Linked with the Rideau River, it made boat travel from Bytown (Ottawa) to Kingston possible. John Redpath went on to more fame and fortune in Montreal with stone masonry and sugar refinery.

Walk back to the parking lot. Turn left onto County Rd. #11. At 4.6 km., (GPS 44 33.16 N., 76 14.09 W.), turn right onto the Sand Lake Road toward Bush Rd. beneath a major power corridor that helps to keep the lights aglow in our national capital.

8. Pockrage Dancy House, 87 Sand Lake Road
Built c1858. The bricks of the lower storey are of a light brown and the upper storey bricks are red. Maybe it was because Mr. Dancy was very civic-minded that he donated land for the building of a local schoolhouse. Maybe it was because Mr. and Mrs. Dancy had a very large family that made their home in this cozy abode of brick.

At 8.6 km., (GPS 44 35.13 N., 76 13.24 W.), turn right onto Bush Rd. toward Hwy. #15. Notice the relatively flat landscape and rectangular fields on the sedimentary sandstone strata of the St. Lawrence Lowlands.

William Morris House
William Morris House
9. William Morris House, 484 Bush Road
Built c1850, this grand one-and-one-half storey farm house was masoned of fine local sandstone. Six-over-six windows and its front entrance with its original side lights have been restored to their original elegance.

At 10.2 km., (GPS 44 34.46 N., 76 12.42 W.), turn left onto Hwy. #15 toward Franks Rd.

10. William Sly House, 1903 Hwy. #15. (1846)
Cut stone lintels over the windows and doors add to this house’s simple elegance. Within 4 square kilometres, there are 7 one-and-one-half storey houses that have very similar characteristics, suggesting a common builder who had a popular architectural tune in his head. Master builders in lumber, brick or stone seldom carried rolls of architectural plans in the 1800s. John Johnston, master mason of Elgin could visualize his plans in 3-D.

At 12.5 km., (GPS 44 35.67 N., 76 12.42 W.), turn left onto Franks Rd. toward Bush Rd.

11. Justus Coon House, 212 Frank Road
Built in 1855, the original structure is the neoclassical section on the right. Its style manifests many of the characteristics of the majestic Colonial Revival homes of Virginia and Maryland. Its elegant verandah along the south and east sides promises sunlight in the cooler seasons and shade during the heat of summer, the perfect place for the poet’s perspective.

There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths where highways never ran. But let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man. -Sam Walter Ross
At 13.9 km., (GPS 44 35.28 N., 76 13.39 W.), turn right onto Bush Rd. toward Davis Lock Rd.

12. Samuel Newman House, 122 Bush Road. (c1830)
This fine log home seems to have been moved to its present location and preserved with the original windows, doors and sleeping loft in tact.

At 15.5 km., (GPS 44 35.89 N., 76 14.12 W.), turn left onto the Davis Lock Rd. toward Davis Lock. Cross the very noticeable transition from sedimentary plain into Canadian Shield landscape, roads, forest and settlement.

Patrick Murphy House
Patrick Murphy House
13. Patrick Murphy House, 1026 Davis Lock Road. (1850)
This log house has been the continuous home for the Murphy and the Watters families. It is one of the very few second-stage pioneer homes still to be found locally. Originally there were inset chimneys on each gable between the first and second floor windows. The present owner has returned the exterior to the appearance of the period when it was constructed.

At 23.3 km., (GPS 44 33.82 N. 76 17.44 W.) stop at the Davis Lock parking lot. Walk over the Davis Lock Dam to one of the most picturesque and rustic lock stations of the Rideau Canal.

Davis Lock Lockmaster's House
Davis Lock Lockmaster's House
14. Lockmaster’s House, Davis Lock. (1842)
This lockmaster’s house has changed very little since it was constructed. It is the best-preserved defensible lockmaster’s house on the Rideau. You can still see the gun slits in the walls. Casement windows were replaced by double hung windows in the 1870’s. A succession of lockmasters and their families enjoyed the spectacular view along the Canal until the 1960s. From the upper dock, look across the bay and you can see a very picturesque and legendary cottage from the early era of the Rideau Canal.

Return to the parking lot and retrace your drive along the Davis Lock Road. At 28.0 km., (GPS 44 35.30 N., 76 16.12 W.), turn left onto Cross Rd., across marsh habitats for beavers and water fowl nestled among ancient pre-Cambrian hills. At 29.8 km., (GPS 44 35.97 N., 76 17.03 W.), turn left onto the Chaffey’s Lock Rd.

15. George Randall House, 1495 Chaffey’s Lock Road
Built in 1874, it was known at the time of its construction as "The Wayside Inn and Dance Hall". The building became a farmhouse by 1881. The gingerbread trim, gothic windows and classic doorway reflects the popular Gothic Revival style that flourished during the latter part of the 19th century.

At 33.7 km., (GPS 44 34.72 N., 76 19.15 W.,), park at the Opinicon Lake boat launch at Chaffeys Lock and savor the scenic sites of Chaffeys Lock on foot.

Before the building of the Rideau Canal, Samuel Chaffey owned and operated a series of water-powered mills here. He lost his mills to the construction of the Canal. He lost his life to swamp fever (malaria). But relatives took the Chaffey name to fame in water management to California and Australia. Note the boat houses along the Canal above the Lock, a legacy from that era when fishing guides took visitors with rod and reel on fishing "Experiences to Remember". Don’t miss the Chaffey’s Community Hall, an art form in wood, built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Rideau Canal. Nearby is a beautiful Celtic Cross dedicated to the Irish labourers who gave much sweat and toil to build this amazing waterway. The nearby cemetery reminds us of the ultimate price some paid to construct our World Heritage Site.

16. Lockmaster’s House, Chaffey’s Lock. (1844)
This building was originally constructed as a single storey residence. Thick stone walls contain rifle slits to defend the lock. The framed second storey was added in 1895 complete with a balcony. In 1982, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Rideau Canal, this house became a museum. (Open during July and August at scheduled hours)

Opinicon Hotel
Opinicon Hotel
17. The Opinicon Hotel, 1697 Chaffey’s Lock Rd.
In 1899, William Henry Fleming constructed the central portion of this impressive structure as a 2 storey house. Two years later, William Laishley bought the house, added the first wing and called it the Idlewyld Hotel. In 1904, Randell Montgomery purchased the hotel on behalf of the Youngstown Ohio Fishing Club. The Opinicon Club became a private hotel and a second wing was added to the right. In 1921, William Philips and David Anderson acquired the club and turned it into a hotel and tourist resort. The style with its first and second floor balconies, open railings and wide steps is consistent with many of Ontario’s 19th century resort hotels. Royalty, diplomats, millionaires and authors have signed the guest book at The Opinicon.

Return to your car at the boat launch and retrace your route east from Chaffeys Lock. At 36.1 km., (GPS 35.53 N., 76 18.00 W.), turn left onto the Clear Lake Rd. Cross the Cataraqui Trail, a remarkable segment of our Trans-Canada Trail along which you can trek "From Sea to Sea to Shining Sea". Plan to come back for some ambling among the spectacular scenery of the Frontenac Arch/Canadian Shield, especially in autumn. Then the deciduous trees of our mixed forest are in their vividly colourful glory. Pass the Clear Lake Cemetery which has been meticulously restored. Look over Clear Lake, so named because it is "clear" of any islands.

18. William Leggett House. 939 Clear Lake Road. (c1840)
Note the unique and elegant combination of local brick with finely masoned stone quoining and horizontal lintels of sectional stone. Its symmetrical front façade boasts 2 windows on each side of its central doorway. A head light and side lights bring natural illumination to its central hallway. Unlike Ontario Cottages built later, this early Leggett house has no central front dormer to illuminate an upstairs hallway.

At 41.2 km., (GPS 44 37.79 N., 76 16.40 W.), turn left onto Garrett Rd.

Clear Lake Cheese Factory
Clear Lake Cheese Factory
19. Clear Lake Cheese Factory, 212 Garrett Rd.
Originally constructed in 1878, it was moved to this location in 1899. It is one of the very few remaining cheddar cheese factory buildings of the dozens that once dotted our agricultural landscape. Early each morning, by horse and wagon, local farmers brought their cans brimming with daily milkings to the "weighing-in" platform. There, the milk was weighed and tested. Heated debate often ensued as to the merits of herds of Holstein, Jersey or Ayreshire cattle. Opinions on national politics and local rumour were also weighed at the "weighing-in" stand. Inside these factories, some of the finest cheddar in the world was made of the milk from cows pastured on the bountiful grasses nurtured by our favorable mid-latitude climate and the mineral-rich soils left from the Ice Age.

Return to the Clear Lake Rd. and proceed north-east toward the Crosby Rd.

20. William Stedman House. 1233 Clear Lake Road. (c1860)
This is a finely-maintained example of a 1 & ½ storey Ontario Cottage farm home built of stone. Note the symmetry of first storey windows with sectional horizontal lintels about a central front entrance. Its moderate pitch of roof, returning eaves style and back kitchen and woodshed are typical of many nineteenth century farm houses in the Township.

At 42.8 km., (GPS 44 38.24 N., 76 15.73 W.), turn left onto Crosby Rd.

21. William Rowswell House, 412 Crosby Rd.
Built in 1855, there were 3 Rowswell frame houses between here and Clear Lake. They were all similar and all were constructed in 1855, probably by James Stanton of a local family name renowned in building with lumber. The owners were the 3 sons of John Rowswell Sr., one of the first settlers in the area. He built a log cabin, cleared land and grew crops a decade before the coming of the Rideau Canal. John’s descendants never forgave Col. By for flooding some of their father’s fertile lands that had been cleared with so much of his sweat on his axe handle. Drive along the flank of one of the several drumlins or whalebacks that dot the local landscape, a heritage from the last Ice Age. Note the picket rail fences bordering some of the fields. Each farmer and region had slightly different styles of rail fencing. Their artistry in cedar rails has endured for decades.

22. Robert Leggett Farmstead, 637 Crosby Rd.
A log cabin first sheltered a Leggett family at this site. The frame house was built in the 1860s. Then the brick residence was constructed in 1907 at a cost of $2 500. This impressive twoand- one-half storey home manifests an Ionic-style classic revival appearance. At the peak of its roof is a bell that once summoned farm workers to meals. The barns are unique as well, positioned in a quadrangle around a central yard, a configuration common in Britain but rare here in eastern Ontario. The sunny south flank of Leggett’s drumlin was once the site of a very productive apple orchard.

Cross over Sucker Creek and pass the Crosby Cemetery with its eternal light and its bell. There are legends here. At 45.0 km., (GPS 44 39.08 N., 76 15.50 W.), turn left onto Hwy. #15. At 45. 4 km., (GPS 44 39.27 N., 76 15.42 W.), turn left onto Hwy. #42.

Back in the 1800’s, this community was called Singleton’s Corners. Early in the 1900’s, Crosby boasted a number of shops, a church, a school and a cheese factory. In the 1950s, you could watch "The African Queen" or "Ma and Pa Kettles" at Crosby’s Drive-in Theatre, one of the fi rst such venues of entertainment (and romance) in eastern Ontario. Now a bustling fl ea market happens here every summer Saturday.

23. William Singleton House, 7745 Crosby (c1850)
The fi ve bay front of simple design is typical of some other stone homes in the area. Indeed it was Father William Singleton that gave his name to the Singleton’s Corners. The three-window dormer on William Singleton’s house was added much later.

24. William Singleton General Store, 7719B. Crosby (c1900)
The architecture of this typical general store closely copies the style of the Dargavel General Store in Elgin, opened 8 years earlier. About the same time as Son William opened Singleton’s General Store, the name of the community was changed to Crosby. Once upon a time, you could buy loaves of bread, bags of puffed wheat, bolts of iron and bunting of worsted here. Here and now you can buy fi ne boats and all the trimmings.

Crosby Public School
Crosby Public School
25. Crosby Public School, 12 Narrows Lock Rd. (c1907)
This stately brick school was the third in a series of schools that served the educational needs of local families since the 1840s. Its grand windows provided abundant natural light for the learning of the three R’s. Like many public schools of its time, S.S. #2 had two entrances, one door for girls and one for "the whining school boy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school." William Shakespeare (As You Like It)

Thanks for spending time exploring some of the sites and shores along a few of the pathways of our Township of Rideau Lakes, Keystone of the Rideau.


NOTES: Please note that the Heritage Advisory Committee of the Township of Rideau Lakes has made every effort to ensure that the information provided herein is accurate and is to be used as an information source only. We welcome new information as it becomes available and will consider refi ning details in future publications. We cannot be liable for any injuries, inconvenience or fi nancial loss that may occur to persons participating in this tour. Please be advised that our walking, driving and bicycling routes are not maintained exclusively by the Township of Rideau Lakes. Accordingly, the Township of Rideau Lakes does not take responsibility for the condition of said route or paths. Please enjoy your amble through the past here in the Keystone of the Rideau. Please use courtesy and common sense when traveling our Heritage Routes. Please help us preserve our UNESCO World Heritage and National Geographic Destination privelage and responsibility.

Published by the Municipal Heritage Advisory Com. of Township of the Rideau Lakes. Edition No. 2, 2010. Original text: Neil Patterson. Revised text: Doug Bond. Artwork: Jennifer Bond. Cartography: Bryan Babcock.

For more information on heritage life and architecturally significant buildings in the Township of Rideau Lakes, visit any branch of the Rideau Lakes Union Library. Ask to peruse: "Cranworth Chronicles" by Barbara Gibson (South Burgess); "Hub of the Rideau" by Sue Warren (South Crosby Ward); "My Own Four Walls" by Diane Haskin (Bastard and South Burgess Ward); "South Elmsley in the Making" by James Kennedy; "The Tweedsmuir Book of Newboro" in the Newboro Library; and the many resources illustrating heritage life in North Crosby to be found in the Newboro and the Westport Library and the Westport Museum. Also ask about our video "Best Kept Secrets" which highlights some of the folks and facets of our Township of the Rideau Lakes.

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You may also wish to see:

Chaffeys Lock Tour   Delta Tour   Elgin Tour     Newboro Tour     Portland Tour

Driving Tour - Crosby to Salem

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Tel: 613-928-2251 or 1-800-928-2250 - Fax: 613-928-3097

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