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Fall of 1816 Route

Section Summary

The road from Rideau Ferry to Perth follows close to the present day alignment of County Road 1 except in central area of the road where it goes around Otty Lake. The original road appears to have crossed Jebbs Creek near the outlet of Otty Lake. A some point prior to 1880 the road was re-aligned to the present day crossing of Jebbs Creek. In the 20th century more road straightening was done.

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Detailed Discussion

This was the most difficult section of the route to determine since we lack any good map or first hand written evidence of the exact route for the early road. Period (1816 - 1818) maps show it as a straight line, an example is Jebb 1816 where he simply shows the "direction of the new road to Perth" – his map drawn from his July 1816 survey of the Rideau Route (see map below). It doesn't tell us anything, the road is simply a line connecting First Narrows (Rideau Ferry) to Perth. Dickson 1818 is the same, showing a straight dotted line going from Rideau Lake to Perth.

Maps drawn during the building of the Rideau Canal (1826-1832) also show no detail for this road. Surveys done for the canal generally didn't include roads. The detailed 1831 map done from a survey by the Royal Engineers of the Tay River (Victor 1831) does not show the road.

It's not until 1841 that we see a bit more detail, on the Moody 1841 map (see map below). Although the scaling is a bit off, the outline of the Tay River is generally correct and we might assume that the representation of the road has some accuracy. A bit of a mystery on this map is the road to Port Elmsley, which is shown as originating in Rideau Ferry. Is that an error or did the original road go this way? There is no evidence of that road today.

Trace of proposed road in 1816
This map (Jebb 1816) was done before the Perth Road was built, it simply represents an idealized trace of the road.
Sketch of Road in 1841
The accuracy of the road on this map (Moody 1841) is uncertain. This map also shows the road to Port Elmsley originating in Rideau Ferry, a road not evident today.

The largest deviation of the Rideau Ferry Road from its present day course is in the area of Jebbs Creek (known for a time as Gibbs Creek). It appears that the original crossing was at the headwaters of the creek, the outlet of Otty Lake. Karen Hunt provided an article on Otty Lake written by Donald G. Oliver (Code pg 76). In that article he states that:
"At this time [late 1820s] the road from Oliver's Ferry (now Rideau Ferry) to Perth went by his [George Oliver's] house and crossed Jebbs Creek at the Old Dam and out to the present Rideau Ferry road, about the same as Wiseman's Clifford Crescent does."
George Oliver was an early settler, he purchased Lot 25, Conc. 8 from Benjamin Brown on September 28, 1827 (Brown was granted this property in 1805). Presumably George built his house by the Perth Road and lived there until he died in 1845.

Karen provided the exact location for the George's house. The information on the "old" dam (built in the 1960s and removed in the 1980s) comes from the June 1998 issue of Capt'n Otty's Log. Karen also noted that the owners of the property at the head of Jebbs Creek have the remnants of an old road running down towards the lake. Those property owners were told some years ago that it was part of the original Rideau Ferry Road.

The area was ground truthed by Karen Hunt, Murray Hunt, David Taylor and Ken Watson in April 2015. There is clearly an old road on the south side of Jebbs Creek leading down to the location of the 1960s dam. Unfortunately large cultural disturbances on the north shore of the creek have erased any evidence of an old road in the area of the creek.

Old Road Near Jebbs Creek
The row of fieldstones marks the edge of an old road interpreted as being part of the original Rideau Ferry Road. This is located on a slope leading down to the south side of Jebbs Creek. (photo by Ken W. Watson)

Old Road and "Old" Dam at Jebbs Creek
A view of an "old" dam abutment (1960s) referenced by Donald G. Oliver as being the location of the original Rideau Ferry Road. The old road in the top photo leads directly to this spot. Landscaping on the north side (lawn) has erased any trace of the road. (photo by Ken W. Watson)

The trace shown on the 2015 map is based on the location of this old road, the topography of the area (ravines and swamps), the description that it went in front of George Oliver's house, and interpretations done in Google Earth. North of Jebbs Creek an assumption was made that the early surveyors would have tried to follow the lot line from Perth south as far as they could, keeping to high (dry) ground before crossing the creek. This is a slightly different interpretation than provided by Donald G. Oliver who stated that the old road came out to the present Rideau Ferry Road about where Clifford Crescent does today.

The 1841 map possibly support the alignment of the road via the outlet of Otty Lake. We can assume the scaling is not accurate, but the alignment of the road in the area of Jebbs Creek on that map is fairly straight, where today it has an extended curve. But it's not very definitive.

1846 Map of North Elmsley (Smith 1846)
This map on first view appears to support the present day alignment, but much of the road is actually plotted 1 lot to the east of where it should be. A portion of "Sketch of the Proposed Line of Road from the Rideau to the Boncher [Bonnèchere] showing the old Road and the alterations made by Malcolm McPherson, D.P.S. April 1846. N. Elmsley township north to Bagot and McNab townships" by W.M. Smith and Malcom McPherson, Canada Board of Works. Library and Archives Canada, NMC 14281.

The next available period map that clearly shows the road is Smith 1846 (shown on the right). That map can be interpreted in a couple of ways. At face value it appears to support the jog to the east that matches today's road. It shows the crossing of Jebbs Creek to be at the top northeast corner of Lot 25, Conc. 8, which is where it crosses Jebbs Creek today. But much of the road on this map is actually plotted 1 lot east of where it should be (presumably a draughting error). If we shift the road one lot west, then we have the Jebbs Creek crossing in the northeast corner of Lot 26, Conc. 8, the general location of the old dam. If that's the case, then the sharp jog to the east south of the Jebbs Creek crossing represents the road running in front of George Oliver's house.

1880 Map of North Elmsley (Walling 1880)
(click on map for larger version)

The first really definitive look we have of the change in alignment is the Walling 1880 map. It clearly shows the road cutting through the north-east corner of Lot 25, Conc. 8, almost as it does today.

So, it appears that the road was re-aligned away from Otty Lake, perhaps to avoid flooding of the road or to provide an easier bridge crossing, sometime prior to 1880.

South of this section the old road still exists in the form of part of Lakewood Lane and south of that the old road crosses Elm Grove Road just to the east of today's Rideau Ferry Road (that routing is shown on the Walling 1880 map). There is also a small section of old road to the north of the present day road, just to the west (Perth side) of the Port Elmsley Road intersection. That intersection has also seen road straightening. These changes to the present day routing of the road all happened in the 20th century. Outside of these areas, the rest of the Rideau Ferry to Perth road appears to be pretty close to its original alignment other than small road straightening changes.

Rideau Ferry Road - Old and New (looking south)
A view of the old road with the present day Rideau Ferry Road to the right. The road in the centre background is Elm Grove Road. The asphalt surface of the old road suggests that the re-alignment of this section took place in the 20th century. (photo by Ken W. Watson)

Maintenance of the original road appears to have been a constant issue, over twenty years after it was first built, it was noted by William and John Bell (sons of Rev. William Bell) that the road was a mess. In mid-November, 1840, the Bells wrote to a Montreal merchant house that “our Tay Canal is out of order and for some months we have had everything to cart out and up to the Rideau Canal over a horrible road which is now totally impassible so that we cannot send anything.” (Turner, 2009, p.73)

Over the years the road was improved and today it is an extremely pleasant drive along this road into Perth.

The image at the bottom of this page (and every page on this website) is an 1828 view of the Rideau Ferry Road entering Perth. It is looking northwest down Gore Street as it crosses the island (then mostly undeveloped) in the middle of town. "Perth, the Capital of the District of Dalhousie; from the N-East bank of the River Tay: sketched 20th Augt 1828" by Thomas Burrowes, 1828, Archives of Ontario, I0002141


Fall 1816 - Rideau Ferry Top Bibliography
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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