Manotick Walking Tour 1
by Larry Ellis
Photos by Pat Drummond
The original tour was designed by the Rideau Township Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC)
Start at Watson's Mill (1859) 5525 Dickinson St.
(Tours 1 & 2 are identical from 1. to 7.)
1. The Cenotaph
The cenotaph just north of Watson's Mill overlooks the Rideau River. It was erected about 1962 by the Legion and Rideau Township. The fence around the cenotaph came from the home of Sir Robert Borden, Canada's Prime Minister during the First World War. We believe his home was on Chapel Street in Ottawa. The fence is identical to that on Parliament Hill and apparently was "left over" from there. The outer fence is part of the original railings from the bridge that used to span the back channel here from 1872 until 1957.
2. A. Y. Jackson Park
Across the river is A. Y. Jackson Park, on Arthur Crescent between Millview and Bridge Streets. It is a beautiful quiet park, named in honour of the co-founder of the famous Group of Seven. A. Y. Jackson lived in Manotick from 1956 till 1963, and the park named after him includes a gazebo on the nearby abutment which overlooks the mill. "Pianos in the Park" has placed a piano donated by the Riggs family in the gazebo for anyone to play. [More information]
3. Veteran's Way, Dickinson Street
The Veteran's Way is an interlocking pathway leading from the cenotaph to the Mill, of bricks that have been purchased by friends and families of veterans from both World Wars. Bricks can still be purchased from the Manotick branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. The flowers and shrubs along the walk have been planted there by and are maintained by the Manotick Horticultural Society.
4. Carriage House / Drive Sheds, 5524 Dickinson Street
Directly across from the Mill beside Dickinson House is what used to be the Mill Drive Sheds, where farmers would tie their horses while having grain ground in the Mill or when shopping in Dickinson's Store.
5. Watson's Mill, 5525 Dickinson Street
Watson's Mill was built in 1859-60 by Moss Kent Dickinson and his partner Joseph Merrill Currier. Both men were born in the United States but moved with their families to Canada when they were very young. Both men were involved in shipping and had lumber interests before the building of the Mill. It was then known as Manotick Mill and later Long Island Flouring Mills. The Mill itself is 64 ft. by 46 ft. built of limestone quarried from the riverbank where the building stands. The walls are 4 ft. thick narrowing by 6 inches at each floor. Power is generated by turbines manufactured in Ottawa at Currier's Foundry. (designated heritage building) [More information]
At the height of operations there were 6 turbines in working order and could generate 1,800 horsepower at a peak. The grind stones are made of very hard quartz and imported from France. The main floor has a few unusual features, like high base boards, plastered walls and fancy caps on the pillars, these place the Mill in a category by itself.
It was during a party celebrating the first anniversary of the Mill's successful operation that Joseph Currier's wife of only six weeks, Ann Crosby, was killed on the second floor. Her long hoop skirts became entangled in a shaft revolving at 120 times per minute; she was hurled against a pillar and was killed instantly. She may be seen from time to time depending on her mood.
6. Dickinson House, 5522 Dickinson Street (1867)
Across the street from the Mill is the Dickinson House, built in 1867. It belongs to the classic revival style that was imported into Canada from both England and the United States. It is characterized by gable roofs, symmetrical facades, corner boards and entrance doors with rectangular transoms and sidelights. It was the town's first post office, bank, trading post and general store. In 1870 Dickinson moved his family into the big house from Ottawa to be closer to the Mill.
The house served as campaign headquarters on several occasions for Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister. Dickinson himself was elected as a Member of Parliament for Russell riding in 1882. He was Mayor of Ottawa during 1864, 1865 and 1866. Dickinson died in the big, yellow house in July 1896. (designated heritage building, part of Dickinson Square) [More information]
7. Ayers Building, 1128 Mill Street (1902) / ROSSS
The building on the corner opposite the Dickinson House on Mill Street was constructed in 1902 to house the Union Bank. It served as a bank until 1963. The Union Bank of Canada received its charter in 1886, operated 329 branches from Quebec to Western Canada and was eventually absorbed by the Royal Bank of Canada in 1925. There is more than $260,000 in bank notes still outstanding. The old building has a certain heritage character about it enhanced by the solid brick walls, flat roof line, and trim on the eaves, semi-circular headed windows and decorative brick on the ground floor. The antique interior has been maintained with high worked baseboards, original window trim, authentic banisters and spindles. (part of Dickinson Square) The Ayers Building is now a City of Ottawa Unique Heritage Site (2009) and has an Ontario Heritage Designation. It is currently occupied by the Rural Ottawa South Support Services (ROSSS).
. . . . . . . Tour #1 diverges from #2 at this point . . . . . . .
8. Weaver's House at 1131 Mill Street
The "weaver's" house was built about 1904 for James Waddell who was a tailor. It is similar in brick work to other buildings in Manotick, like the Ayers Building across the street and another house on O'Grady Street. The raised decorative brickwork, arching brick over the windows, hooded dormers, small cellar windows and low hipped roofs are all reminiscent of the late 1800s architecture. A small woodshed, hen house and stable were removed some time later when the new kitchen was added. (designated heritage building, part of Dickinson Square)
9. Miller's Oven, 1137 Mill Street (1880)
The property and building known today as The Miller's Oven has had a long and interesting story. Joseph Merrill Currier originally owned the land selling it in 1863 to Dickinson. For much of the latter part of the nineteenth century and until the late 1920s the building housed Fee's General Store, one of the most popular establishments in early Manotick. Fee's Store was widely patronized by residents of Manotick and surrounding area and was one of the more popular meeting places in the village. The store carried a large variety of merchandise including shoes, clothing, horse harnesses, dry goods, spices, lamps, tools and a well-stocked candy counter. Fee's was also the site of the first telegraph office in Manotick and had one of the first telephones in the village.
In 1926 the building was sold to the fraternal order, the Independent Order of Oddfellows. Meetings were held on a regular basis in the upstairs while pool tables were set up on the main floor for the use and enjoyment of members. The pool tables and the Manotick Public Library occupied a portion of floor space at one time before the Library was moved to the Ayers Building. From 1952 to 1979 Keith Lindsay operated a barbershop in the front section of the main floor. In 1981 The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority bought the heritage property from the Independent Order of Oddfellows.
In 1982 the Rideau Township Senior Citizens' Service Center began operation as a drop-in center and tearoom leasing the building from the RVCA but by 1983, the facility was scheduled to close. Many local people were upset at the news and a committee of volunteers undertook the challenge of taking over the operation. The committee bought the building following a decision by the Conservation Authority to sell in 1994. This was accomplished through local fundraising, special events and donations from customers. Volunteer seniors and student volunteers that number well over 100 staff the Millers Oven. Students are recruited through the schools and standards are high. It is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily where patrons can enjoy a hearty breakfast, lunch or mid afternoon snack. All surplus funds are used to support various seniors' organizations in the community.
The Millers Oven is recognized for its comfortable atmosphere, friendly service, good wholesome food and is one of the tourist attractions of the town.
10. Dickinson Park and Memorial
Finally, after 145 years, recognition of the founder of Manotick, Moss Kent Dickinson materialized when the Rideau Township Historical Society erected a monument in the park across from the Miller's Oven. Dickinson was the founder of Manotick, giving it the name which is Objiwa Indian meaning Island in the river". The island of course is the land on the opposite shore which is about two miles long and a mile long.
Dickinson's original plan for Manotick called for over 160 village lots ranging in size from 66' x 99' to 2 acres and forming an area of approximately 50 acres. Included in the plan was an area designated as recreation" and it is in this area that the monument has been erected. The description of the village was part of lots 1 and 2 Concession A" and the stone used in the monument is from the north half of lot 2, therefore appropriate for this use. Lots 1 and 2 were deeded from the Crown in the 1840s. More recently the farm was owned by Gordon and Ivy Scharf. The actual stone used for the monument came from this farm
11. Mill Street Florist, 1136 Mill Street (1877)
Mill Street Florist is a very well know business internationally. The original land was purchased by Moss Kent Dickinson in 1863; the house was built in the early 1870s by Mr. Dickinson as a residence for his mill workers. It originally was closer to the road but moved back on the lot which runs through to Tighe Street. The outline of the house is simple; the decorations and verandah are typical of the classic revival period. The house consists of three main sections the two northern ones, one behind the other were built at the time of original construction and the third section was added as a summer kitchen later. Hollow round wood pillars supported the front verandah and the floor is supported by logs. In the late 1890s the house was the residence of Dr. Mulligan, a veterinarian. Mill workers again lived in the house following Dr. Mulligan, and later it was the residence of Bill Edwards, a local blacksmith, from 1927 to 1944. A number of other families lived in the building after Mr. Edwards until the present owner, Joanne Plummer, opened Mill Street Florist in early 1980s. Joanne is a 6th generation Manotick resident, a direct descendant of Stephen Collins who settled here in 1810.
Mill Street Florist has become a fixture in Manotick and a true destination shop, drawing visitors from hundreds of miles around. Known throughout the region for its artistic floral design, Mill Street Florist's client list reads like a who's who of Ottawa society. This genteel shop has provided flowers for Kings and Queens, Prime Ministers and Presidents, rock stars and sports heroes.
12. O'Brien Hotel, 1143 Mill Street (1860s)
The property was originally owned by Moss Dickinson passed through a few owners before John Jennings sold it to Alex Davidson who operated the building as a hotel in about 1875. Robert Powell bought the hotel in 1884 then in 1898 rented it to Mr. O'Brien. Robert Fee, who operated the store now the Miller's Oven, purchased the building in 1899 and changed it into a residence. The main unusual part of the building is the two front steps that used to lead to a plank sidewalk. The lower verandah on the east side with its spools and treillage is unchanged from an early photograph.
13. Pratt's Store, 1145 Mill Street (1902) / Allure Hair Design
The building now known as Allure Hair Design & Spa has a varied history. Records indicate that the property, first owned by Joseph Currier, was sold to Moss Kent Dickinson in 1863 and passed on to Dickinson's son, George. In 1903, Fred H. Pratt bought the two 66' x 99' lots from George Dickinson for $500.
Fred Pratt was a Manotick school teacher who wanted to be self-employed, so, after renting a building on the site of the present Wilson law office on Main Street for a short period, he built the house at the corner of Main and Mill. The house was built in 1903 by Tom and Sandy Cummings, assisted by Mr. Pratt. The wood came from Gatineau, the brick from the Ottawa brickyard and the stone sills were brought up the Rideau by barge, probably from Kingston. The roof is truncated hip," unusual for Manotick, as many are gable. The house has round, hooded windows to light the attic, but no gingerbread because of the roof shape. In Mr. Pratt's new building, the general store took up the whole of the main floor. The family lived upstairs, with a separate entrance through the spiral staircase. Besides being a storekeeper, Mr. Pratt officiated as a Justice of the Peace, and was therefore allowed to perform marriages.
Fred Pratt's son, Mack Lancelot Pratt, known as Mac," returned to Manotick in 1935 after graduating from Dental College in Toronto. He practiced dentistry in a nearby building until after his father's death in 1939, when he and his wife Hattie moved into the big house. The dental practice closed during the war, when Dr. Pratt joined the Army. After the war, he returned to his practice and set up a portion of the main floor of the big house for his office. He was Manotick's only dentist until his death in 1959.
A succession of businesses then followed, each remodelling the main floor to accommodate their own requirements. December 1998 saw the opening of the Allure Hair Design and Spa in the building, after it was beautifully redesigned, keeping in mind its heritage aspect.
14. Funeral Home / Vacant Building
The small building with the boom type front across from the Royal Bank was Manotick's last funeral home. In the early 1900s, Howard Bradley carried on an undertaking business" in the building and lived in the house next door. At the rear of the building was an old garage with room for four vehicles; the hearse and the funeral cars. Records indicate that both the house (originally frame but bricked over approximately 1936) and the funeral parlour were in the Bradley family name from 1872 to 1946. In 1946, Gordon Bradley closed the business; it has been said the reason for closing the Manotick Funeral Home was, There was not one funeral for a year."
15. Palace Hotel, 5539 Main Street / Royal Bank
In 1864, John McIntyre purchased the property from Joseph Currier who was the partner of Moss Dickinson. McIntyre apparently moved from Long Island Locks Village and built the Manotick Hotel sometime before 1869. Between 1869 and 1874 it is not clear what took place, but records show that in 1874 Peter Doyle bought the business and operated it as the Doyle House Hotel, until it was destroyed by fire in 1876. Records show that Doyle rebuilt and this time a more imposing edifice. It is described as a brick structure with verandahs on two stories across the full width of the Main Street facade.
In 1878, Mr. Doyle fell from a load of hay when his horses bolted, and he was trampled to death. One of his barkeepers, Barney McCarney, took over the hotel and soon married Doyle's widow. Peter Doyle Jr. later became the proprietor of the Doyle House and eventually sold the building in 1905 to Dennis Clarke, who renovated it and changed the name to the Palace Hotel. A mysterious fire destroyed this hotel on a warm summer evening in 1917. The next building on the lot was a store, operated by A. Paradis and Son for the United Farmers Co-operative during the early 1920s and owned by the Manotick Realty Company. This store was leased to George McLean in 1929; it too was destroyed by fire, in 1937. Mr. McLean then bought the lot and built a new store with living quarters above. Ten years later, McLean sold the business to Alan Armstrong, who operated the store until it was the victim of a spectacular fire in 1961. The Royal Bank of Canada then bought the lot, erected the present structure and moved into the building in 1963.
16. Tea Room, 5536 Manotick Main Street / Burgers on Main
Manotick Tea Room has been a restaurant for many years. Earliest records indicate that Richard Tighe purchased the property in 1865. Title passed to various people until Robert H. Lindsay built a store on this site in 1896; the following year, the post office moved into part of the Lindsay store. The store and post office were destroyed by fire in 1928. The property was then sold to Frank and Annie Chapman in 1929. The Chapmans erected a small building and operated a snack bar on weekends for the next three years.
Bill and Myrtle Mandia purchased the building in 1932, changed the name to Mandia's Tea Room" and then added an addition in the early 40s. The jolly couple ran a thriving business as the only restaurant in town, including the first and only pinball machines. Peter and Teresa Krupa purchased the Tea Room in 1952, changed the name to Manotick Tea Room" and continued to operate the business until 1988. Until the mid 1960s, Highway 16 ran through the village, and the restaurant was more like a truck stop probably the busiest one between Ottawa and Prescott.
In 1988, the Kuiack family leased the premises and continued the operation of the Manotick Tea Room; the last supper" in the Manotick Tea Room by the Kuiacks was served on August 30th 1998. In 2001, Pasquale DiCintio opened the doors on a new Italian-style restaurant, following renovations that make for comfortable dining in an elegant atmosphere. Pasquale brought with him many years of experience in fine dining, homemade pasta and other unique creations.
17. Falls House
This house was probably built about 1896 by Alex Montgomery after purchasing the property for $400. The front of the house is uncommonly narrow and its vertical portions are typical of urban house styles of the early 1900s. It features steep pitched roofs, gables and bargeboard. Stone and concrete foundation surrounds a deep basement. The verandahs, spindles, window frames and doors are all interesting in contemporary design. The interior of the house has been plastered, has wide pine baseboards and wide framed arches and doorways; typical of older type homes. The garage at the back was used as a stable for horses. As far as we can tell there have been only 3 owners, including the present owner, of this house in more than 100 years.
18. St. James' Anglican Church, 1138 Bridge Street (1985)
The land for St. James' was donated by Moss Kent Dickinson in 1875. The contract for the building was given to William Beaman for $1,047 in 1876. Originally designed and built the church was rectangular, gothic style with open roof chancel, vestry and porch with seating for about 200. The main entrance was at the south end and facing what is today called Clapp Lane. An organ was installed in 1879, bell tower was added in 1911, and electricity was installed in 1926. It was decided at a meeting in 1984 that a new and larger church was needed to serve the growing community of Manotick and should be built on the same site. The renewed church was turned around" to face north and many of the original furnishings were incorporated into the new building. It was dedicated in 1985 and in 1998 an addition was added to provide an elevator as well as office space and meeting rooms.