HERITAGE TOUR - Central Rideau
Perth via Cty. Rd. 43 to Smiths Falls - We start our tour in Perth which was originally laid out as a military settlement in 1816 to help protect the inland water route connecting Lake Ontario with the Ottawa River, and to act as an administrative centre for settlers in the region. Its name derived from the source of many of its early settlers, Perth, Scotland. Many of these were military officers on half pay pensions. In Perth you will find many examples of the skills of Scottish stone masons.
Smiths Falls - One of the reasons that Smiths Falls has become the largest community in the Rideau region is that it was the hub of regional railroads in the first half of the 20th century. Accordingly our first stop will be at the Railway Museum. Before you get into town, turn right onto William Street. This will take you right to the museum. After visiting the railway museum, continue along William (it turns into Abbott Street). You'll cross over a bridge over the river and just after that, turn right onto the short gravel road into the parking lot for the Smiths Falls Detached lock. This is the location of a permanently raised bascule railway bridge, now a National Historic Site. After visiting that, continue south on Abbott street and cross over the swing bridge, and then turn left at the lights onto Lombard Street. Turn left at the next set of lights, and just after you cross the bridge, look for the small parking lot entrance for the Rideau Canal Visitor Information Centre [closed by Parks Canada in 2023]. There are lots of displays illustrating the history of the canal. It should be getting on towards noon, so ask at the desk for recommendations on where to eat. If you've brought a picnic lunch, you might want to sit down by the locks or sit at a table in Victoria Park, both easy walking distance from where you've parked your vehicle.
Smiths Falls via Cty. Rd. 43 to Kilmarnock Lock - The next part of our journey takes us to another lock, Kilmarnock. Cross back over the bridge (heading south) and turn left at the lights onto Jasper Avenue. Continue along Jasper, bearing left to Old Slys Road. You will be passing the Heritage House Museum, a classically styled Victorian house carefully restored to 1867-75 features. Stop in and have a look. Continuing on, we cross the canal again and turn right onto Cty. Rd. 43. Continuing along Cty. Rd. 43, look for a turn to the right for Kilmarnock Lock (about 8 km down the road). Kilmarnock is a quiet, isolated lock. If there are boats locking through stop and have a look.
Kilmarnock Lock to Cty. Rd. 17, south to Jasper turnoff, right onto Cty. Rd. 16 to Cty Rd. 29, south to Toledo - You'll probably want to keep the map handy for this part of the trip. All that can happen if you make a wrong turn is that you pass through some more interesting countryside, which is part of the reason for your outing in the first place. Following along the road, you will pass by Kilmarnock Apple Orchards, renown for it's tasty apples. If you keep right on this road, you will come to Cty. Rd. 17. Turn south and follow the signs for Cty. Rd. 29 (or Toledo). Don't go into Jasper, turn right onto Cty. Rd. 16 which will take you to Cty. Rd. 29. Follow Cty. Rd. 29 south to Toledo.
Toledo via Hwy. 8 to Philipsville, then west (right) on Hwy. 42 to Forfar - As you drive along these country roads, keep your eye out for T-Houses. Many farmhouses had to be expanded to make room for growing families. A common way of doing this was by adding an extension, going back at a 90 degree angle to the main house, forming a T shape (with the top of the T facing the road). Sometimes you will see three or more generations of extensions. All this driving may have made you a bit peckish, so stop in at the Dairy Store in Forfar. It is at the west end of town, just after Cty. Rd. 42 makes a sharp turn to the left. The present building dates back to 1923, but there were three previous cheese factories, dating back to the mid 1800s, located in Forfar. At one time there were 80 cheese factories in the county. Pick up a delicious taste of eastern Ontario for yourself and give the kids some freshly made cheese curd (fresh curd squeaks as you chew it).
Forfar via Cty. Rd. 42 to Crosby, cross Hwy. 15 and then turn north (right) onto Cty. Rd. 14 (Narrows Lock Road), take Cty. Rd. 14 to Cty Rd. 10, turn north and head back to Perth - Cty. Rd. 14 follows the path of one of the original roads in the region, dating back to the 1820s. The lockstation at the Narrows features one of the four blockhouses built in 1830-31 by Colonel By along the canal to defend it from invasion by the Americans. It was located here because of the road access to this portion of the canal. Now it watches as tourists such as yourself pass by. Stop for a few minutes, stretch your legs, munch some cheese, and imagine what this area must have looked back when the canal was opened in 1832. There is no rush to get back . Remember that the Perth town motto is, "make haste slowly". It is a leisurely drive from the Narrows Lock back to Perth.