© Parks Canada. Illustration by Dorothea Larsen

The Village of Merrickville-Wolford spans the Rideau River southwest of Ottawa. The current municipality dates to 1 January 1998 when the Village of Merrickville and Wolford Township amalgamated. Merrickville, where village streetscapes reflect the era of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, has blossomed into a favoured tourist destination. Merrickville has deep Loyalist roots. Lieutenant Roger Stevens, a King’s Ranger from Vermont, lived with his family at the north side of the Rideau River by 1791 above what is now Andrewsville. His mill was at the Great Falls, the future site of Merrickville. However his untimely death by drowning ended his early improvements. 

Captain William Merrick, a Massachusetts Loyalist, received a Crown Grant of 200 acres at the Great Falls in 1793. He completed Stevens’ unfinished mill and developed water-powered industries. Intrepid settlers moved toward to the region.

The three sons of Benedict Arnold received land grants on the west side of Wolford Ward south of the current Kilmarnock Lockstation. In addition to Merrickville, the village comprises smaller communities in Wolford Ward. Only Easton’s Corners and Jasper to the west stand as more than names on a map. Easton’s Corners was named for Joseph Easton, a Loyalist, who settled in the area in the 1790s. Jasper, a later community, owes its origin to the arrival of the railway in 1859. To the east Andrewsville was founded around water power.

The Merrickville flourished with the opening of the Rideau Canal in 1832.  What was built as a defensive work, to bypass the St. Lawrence River should there be another war with the United States, immediately became a transportation route for the settlers coming to the interior and the growing number of businesses. More than 50 industries clustered by the river. Grist mills, sawmills, a cloth factory, woollen mills and foundries accompanied manufacturers of farm equipment and domestic goods, along with a tannery, creamery, cheese factory, and other industries essential to supplying an increasingly populous Canada.

Merrickville survived the late arrival of the railway in the 1870s and flourished until the shocks of the 20th-century. Over the past four decades, they have been relegated to the past. Merrickville-Wolford is committed to an attractive living and working environment based on preserving the community’s heritage character and natural resources.

Written by Michael Whitaker of the Historical Society

© PARKS CANADA. Illustration by Dorothea Larsen