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The Manotick Directory

History of Rideau Township 1974-2000

Founded: 1974
Population 1974: 7,500
Population 2000: 13,000
Mayor: Glenn Brooks
Councillors: 4
Staff: 30 full-time staff

The name 'Rideau Township' may fade away with time, but residents of villages and farms from Manotick to Burritts Rapids will continue to embrace a proud history and rural lifestyle.

Manotick was named in the 1860s after the Ojibwa Indian work meaning 'island in the river.' Its location 20 km. south of downtown Ottawa along the Rideau River has made it a prime site for residential development.

Rideau Township - Goodbye to a region

by Jennifer Campbell

The Ottawa Citizen December 19, 2000

Traditions die hard in the new Ottawa's rural ring.

In 1865, the village of Wellington, in what is now Rideau Township. changed its name to Kars to honour a Turkish city that had fought off a attack in the Crimean War.

"It took a long time for people to forget that name," recounts Georgie Tupper, the head archivist at the Rideau Township archives.

"I would say it took a good 50 years."

So, when the township ceases to exist on Jan. 1 and becomes part of the new city of Ottawa under another Provincially sanctioned amalgamation plan, it's not expected much will change in these parts.

Residents will continue to call their respective villages North Gower, Manotick, Kars, and Burritts Rapids. If anything, the name 'Rideau Township' will fade.

Right now, it appears only on municipal government signs. Perhaps that's because Rideau Township was a construct - a product of provincially sanctioned amalgamation in 1974.

Bill Tupper, Mrs. Tupper's husband and the first mayor of Rideau Township, says he expects life will go on unchanged after amalgamation with Ottawa, just as it did after the last amalgamation in 1974.

"In reality, it wasn't much different," he said.

"Life focused around the villages and the farming community and still does. There's still the same sort of friendship and conviviality and price that 'this is my community.' Perhaps the farms are a bit more productive but I think the great bulk of the community identity remains."

And so it will, said the beef-turned-cash-crop farmer of Kars.

Many of those who inhabit the distinct villages are descendants of the Loyalists who settled the area in the late 1700s. And those who've arrived in recent years, the ones who commute to Ottawa to work, moved here because they sought a small-town feel and small-town values.

In these tiny towns, the "new people" are defined as those who've lived in the area for less than 30 years. Yet they're welcomed because they embrace the lifestyle. There is, after all, a palpable difference between Kars and Kanata.

When the sun comes up on the morning of Jan. 1, the locals will still meet for a coffee in the mornings at the North Gower Bide A Wee restaurant and ice cream parlour.

Farmers will still gather at the co-op feed centre to exchange views on the news of the day and progress on the farm.

Perkins Lumber, the independently owned lumber yard and timber mart founded in 1936, as well as Lindsay & McCaffrey's general merchants, founded in Manotick in 1933, will still stand as living, functioning pieces of the area's heritage.

Still Standing in Manotick will also be the revered old stone grist mill built by builder T. Langrell of Ottawa for Moss Kent Dickinson and his partner, Joseph Merril Currier.

One mill story in Harry and Olive Walker's Carleton Saga has Mr. Currier showing the mill to Ann Crosby, his bride of two month, when her crinoline caught in the revolving shaft and threw her against a post, killing her instantly.

Mr. Currier promptly left the mill business, moved to Ottawa and got into lumber. He built 24 Sussex Drive and served as an Ottawa MP from 1963 to 1882.

Today, the mill is a provincially designated historic sites, not to mention a tourist attraction. The "ghost" of Ann Crosby is said to inhabit the mill - several people have seen a woman looking out an upstairs window.

On an adjacent site, town Officials are building a park which they're naming after the Group of Seven painter, A.Y. Jackson, who lived briefly in Manotick.

They're installing a huge stone, ostensibly one on which Mr. Jackson sat to paint.

Mayor Glenn Brooks laughs when he admits he has no proof that Mr. Jackson ever even saw the stone.

"I'm trying to create a legend here," he says with a smirk.

The eastern part of the township is steeped in history and beauty. It borders the Rideau River, and both Kars and Manotick enjoy the scenic imagery the banks of the river provide. To the north, Rideau is bordered partly by Nepean and partly by Goulbourn and to the west, it hugs the shoulders of Montague Township.

But the western part is also no stranger to heritage and historical tales.

Nearly half the land mass of the township is made up of a large swath of intensely rural land to the west, previously known as Marlborough.

It was amalgamated with North Gower in 1802, but the names remain distinct even today.

This north-western part is home to the Marlborough Forest, a near mythical pride of the township.

The stuff of fairy tales, it it heavily forested with cedar, spruce, hemlock and dozens of others and is designated a protected area.

Here, says Mr. Brooks, who will serve as Rideau Ward's councillor (now called Rideau-Goulbourn) in the new city, bears roam, and, if you stand still long enough, you're almost assured of meeting a deer.

Though there may be fewer landmarks in this neck of the ward, it's rich with history. Marlborough lays claim to the first settler of Carleton County, the colourful Roger Stevens, who arrived in 1790 after fleeing Vermont. The British sympathizer had served as a spy and was granted land along the St. Lawrence in 1784, but moved to what would later become Carleton County in 1790.

The "forgotten patriot," as his 91-year-old descendant Elizabeth Stuart, calls him, raised his family in the area and the name Stevens remains prominent to this day.

One of his daughters married Stephen Burritt, of the family for which Burritts Rapids is named, joining two of the most prominent settler families.

Mr. Stevens, who now, has Roger Stevens Drive named for him drowned in Rideau Creek, since renamed Steven's Creek. For choosing Marlborough as his place of choice to settle, Mr. Stuart credits him with making Carleton County what it is today.

Through her knowledge of the area's history, Mrs. Tupper recalls a time, long before Ottawa, when the boundaries of Carleton County were much as they will be for the new city.

To the suggestion that the City of Ottawa is annexing into old Carleton, Ms. Tupper laughs.

"We like to think of it as the reverse," she said. "We figure we're expropriating Ottawa."

Though the rural municipalities fought against amalgamation, Mr. Brooks agrees with others that the the communities within Rideau Township will never die. If anything, the term Rideau Township will fade away," he said.

"But the villages will stay and keep their character. Having this kind of diversity, creates a more interesting community. The rural municipalities will bring a richness to the new city."

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