Your location: Rideau Canal Home Page > History > Communities > Village of Portland

Village of Portland

Village of Portland

checkedDocking checkedGrocery Store checkedRestaurant
checkedMarine Services checkedLiquor Store checkedGas Station
checkedBank uncheckedPharmacy checkedPost Office
checkedBank Machine uncheckedLaundromat checkedDoctor/Clinic

Google Earth View Portland in Google Earth
(You must already have Google Earth - click here for more info)

Portland is a small village located on Big Rideau Lake and adjacent to Highway 15. Portland boasts two full service marinas and is one of the main gateways for visitors to access Big Rideau Lake. There are a variety of places to stay in the area. Both boat tours and boat rentals are available in town. For more information see the boat rentals and tours page.

In addition to boating, there are many things for the landlubber to do and see in the Portland area. The Cataraqui all-season trail passes just a bit east of town, golf courses are located nearby, one of the local B&Bs offer horseback riding, and cheese lovers will want to visit the Forfar dairy store, located just a few kilometres south of town.


Portland is one of the early settlements along the Rideau. Although land was granted in the area of Portland in 1801, it was not until the early 1820s that a community started to grow in the location of the present day town. An 1818 map shows a trail leading to the location which is named "Old Landing." An 1828 map also shows it as "Old Landing" with more of a substantial road leading to it (a road built in 1816). Local history credits the first settler on the village site as being Ami Chipman (b.1807, son of Heman Chipman). An 1830 map shows a "small settlement" in this location. The name of the small community was changed to Portland in 1833, in honour of William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, the 3rd Duke of Portland. The name Portland comes from the Isle of Portland, which lies off shore from Weymouth in Dorset, England.

Portland remained a centre of commerce through the 1800s, serving the commercial boat traffic that plied the Rideau. The business directory for 1866-67 listed coopers, hotel keepers, store keepers, blacksmiths, wagon makers, mitten makers, a watch maker, a miller, and a dentist. When commercial activity along the Rideau slowed down in the early 1900s, the main activity in Portland became a service centre for local residents, including the many people starting to cottage on Big Rideau Lake. This remains Portland's raison d'être to this day with two large marinas serving Big Rideau Lake boaters.

There are several interesting buildings to see in Portland. These include the former Emmanuel Anglican Church located on the height of land at the south end of town which was built in 1862. It was expanded in 1885 and in 1897 a tower with bell was added. Today it is the Emmanuel Heritage Centre run by the Portland on the Rideau Historical Society.

For more heritage information about Portland, view the Portland Walking Tour on the Township of Rideau Lakes website,

For more information about Portland, follow the Portland links on the Links Page

Back to Map Page or to Community History Page

Comments: send me email: Ken Watson

©1996- Ken W. Watson