Perth & District Historical Society

Local History
An Introduction to Our Area's History
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Perth Military Settlement Map Thumbnail
Map of Settlement Area
(click to enlarge)

By following the links on the left of this page, you'll find the history of our area documented through reports and photos - beginning with the First Nations, and continuing through the formation of the 'Perth Military Settlement' that included present-day Perth and the adjoining early townships of Bathurst, North Burgess, South Sherbrooke, Drummond, North Elmsley and Beckwith.

The story of the First Nations begins thousands of years ago. The Anishinaabe peoples, originally from the Gaspé Region, migrated westward up the St. Lawrence River, to the Great Lakes region and the Kiji Sibi - the Ottawa River area. The Omamiwinini families settled in the Ottawa River area, including its tributaries the Mississippi, Tay, Fall and Rideau Rivers – and welcomed the early European settlers on their arrival in the early 1800s.

The story of the Europeans in this area begins in 1815, when the British Government conceived of a plan to deal with several serious problems arising, coincidentally, at the end of the 1812-14 war – serious unemployment at home and a concern for future American incursions in British North America. An emigration program was launched that offered land and support, including transportation, to families from Scotland, joined by discharged soldiers, willing to take up a new life in the Canadas, including Upper Canada.

As Jean S. McGill wrote in an early book1, "The industrial revolution of the century previous had continued to displace tradesmen and craftsmen throughout the British Isles. Now, with the end of the War ….. , Great Britain was overrun with discharged soldiers also seeking employment. Something had to be done quickly ….. .' Second, "……..the British Government had recognized that a loyal population must be established inland away from the St. Lawrence 'front' as a second line of defence in any future (American) threat."

Within a few years, the British Government program brought in thousands of immigrant families from Scotland, Ireland, the United States, and even Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Poland. Settling into the area north of the Rideau system, the first years of which ‘had no summer’, offered serious challenges for the Immigrants, who, fortunately, received assistance from the British Government, and help in surviving in this difficult environment from the Omamiwinini Nation.

The stories of our region from these earliest days to the present are told in this section of 'Local History'. If you have any that could be added, we would welcome hearing from you.

1 A Pioneer History of the County of Lanark, by Jean S. McGill, T. H. Best Printing Company, Toronto, 1968 and subsequent printings. ISBN 0-9690087-1-6
Perth, the Capital of the District of Dalhousie; from the N-East bank of the River Tay - painting by Thomas Burrowes, 1828, Archives of Ontario, I0002141

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