Old Railway Bridge at Chaffeys Locks - now part of the Cataraqui Trail photo by: Ken Watson
The Rideau Canal is the most prominent of the historic transportation routes in the Township of Rideau Lakes that is still in active use, but early in the 19th century a number of roads passed through this northern part of Leeds County. These primitive arteries provided essential links between the established towns on the St. Lawrence River such as Kingston and Brockville and the growing communities of the hinterland. Within the township itself a grid of roads, many of which are still in use today, linked farm and village. In the latter half of the 19th century the railway brought a new facility of year-round and faster travel to the area. In 1888, the Brockville, Westport and Sault Ste. Marie Railway began its daily trips, but never past Westport. A couple decades later the C.N.R. traversed the township from Smiths Falls on its way to Napanee. VIA trains still race along the main CPR line from Brockville to Ottawa through the easterly side of South Elmsley Ward. The other lines have all been abandoned and many now serve as recreational trails opening up remote vistas of the Township to hikers and snowmobilers.
Old Kingston Road
The Old Kingston Road provided an early link between the township and Kingston (the "Limestone City" and fortress of Upper Canada). For much of its length, this road for stagecoach and buckboard appears to precede modem-day Highway 15 once taking dusty and shaken travellers through places called Whitefish Falls (Morton) and Singleton's Comers (Crosby). At Portland however, it went on a direct line to Oliver's (Rideau) Ferry, an important traverse of the Big Rideau Lake en route to Perth (once capital of the Bathurst District of Upper Canada). This section between Portland and Rideau Ferry still bears its old rustic charm and its name, "Old Kingston Road".
Perth or Rideau Ferry Road
Early settlers could also travel by road from Brockville to Perth via Rideau Ferry. Called the Victoria Macadamized Road after the young Queen Victoria, this was a toll road until 1903.
The Perth Road followed the route of modem-day Leeds County Road 10. Surveyed in 1852, this rugged path traversed the granitic hills of the Frontenac Axis and North Crosby Ward. Its purpose was to encourage settlement in the isolated townships between Perth and Kingston. Enjoy the vivid colours of an autumn afternoon as you drive along the Perth Road and see the commemorative plaque beside County Road 10 about 1.5 km. south of Westport.
Farmersville (Athens)-Westport Road
Following the route of the current day Country Road 42, this was a macadamized road for the use of which the grumbling traveller had to pay a toll during much of its early history. Along its route a number of early villages such as Philipsville and Newboro grew and thrived as rest stops for the weary and thirsty.
The Cataraqui Trail follows the route of the old Napanee, Tamworth and Quebec Railway, a ribbon of steel built in 1879 to connect the Bay of Quinte to the Ottawa Valley. The steel is gone but now the Cataraqui Trail follows its path across the Township of Rideau Lakes from Smiths Falls to beyond Chaffeys Locks. It is part of the Trans-Canada Trail and is maintained year-round by the Cataraqui Trail Management Board for the enjoyment and marvel of hikers, joggers, cross-country skiers, cyclists, horseback riders, bird watchers, naturalists and snowmobilers.
The Rideau Trail is a cross-country trail which runs 300 km. from Kingston to Ottawa. Marked with orange triangles, this trail is used primarily for hiking although some areas are suitable for cross-country siding. Within the Township of Rideau Lakes, the trail begins near Chaffeys Locks where it links with the Cataraqui Trail. The hiker then treks northward through North Crosby Ward along the 9th and 8th concessions, turning eastward along the north of Westport Lake, through Foley Mountain Conservation Area and along the north shore of Upper Rideau Lake, crossing County Road No. 3 just north of Narrows Lock. Enjoy an exhilarating experience of the Frontenac Axis, its rugged geology and its rich diversity of mixed-forest flora and fauna.