Built in 1844 as a low cost substitute for a blockhouse to defend the canal against American-based raiders, the Chaffey's Lockmaster's house was originally a one-storey limestone building. A tin roof protected it in case of fire and two stone porches and gun-slits provided extra defense in case of attack.
The house was occupied continuously from 1844 until 1967, by only five lockmaster's families. In 1894 it was renovated and a frame second-storey and kitchen addition were added.
During its heyday, the house was the social centre of Chaffey's - it had the only phone in the village and housed the local post office. Campers and cottagers often visited and stayed for dinner. Stories abound about raids on the garden and boaters lining up to buy the delicious-smelling bread baking in the oven.
Then in 1967 the house was abandoned and remained vacant through the 1970s. At one point, the government had plans to turn the house into an office. Fortunately, the Chaffey's Lock Wommen's Institute, The Chaffey's Lock and Area Heritage Society and other village organizations banded together and plans for a community museum were born.
After extensive renovations, the museum finally opened in 1982, the 150th anniversary of the Rideau Canal. Since then it has sponsored many different exhibits centering around the economic and social life of Chaffey's and in 1992 a permanent exhibit was established on the main floor, depicting the history of the house and Chaffey's Lock.
The film, "The Golden Years" is a central part of the museum. Produced in 1982 as a joint venture of the National Film Board, Parks Canada and the village of Chaffey's Lock, it details the golden years, hardships and joys of life in early Chaffey's. Much of the footage is based on films taken during the 1930s and 40s by Don Jarrett, then owner of the Opinicon Hotel. It's well worth viewing!
1724 Chaffey's Lock Road, RR1
Elgin, Ontario K0G 1E0
website maintenance & design donated by Ken W. Watson
©2016 Chaffey's Lock and Area Heritage Society