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Spring of 1816 Route
STONE MILLS (Delta) to OLD LANDING (Portland)

Section Summary

The 1816 route from Stone Mills to Old Landing follows present day County Road 42 north to Harts Gravel Road and then Hartsgravel Road to Philipville. Then the route goes east along County Road 8 to Harlem Road. Then north on Harlem Road to its intersection with Fairview Road. From here it headed north, skirting the east side of Trotters Lake and creek, to Old Landing. The northern part of this road was abandoned sometime between 1841 and 1861. Old Landing is now a spot underwater just south of the eastern end of Sheep Island.

While County Road 42 (via Harts Gravel Road) and County Road 8 in this section are close to their original 1816 alignments, it is uncertain if the southern section of Harlem Road had the orientation in 1816 that it has today.

Detailed Discussion

The main question is which roads existed from Delta to Portland in April 1816. We have 3 possible choices. One is the current County Road 42 leading to Philipville and then Country Road 8 to Harlem Road. A second choice is the Daytown Road from Delta and then the Delta Road to County Road 8. A third choice is the now abandoned Cliff Road which heads east from County Road 42 north of Delta and then south to join with the Delta Road. The roads taken would obviously have had to exist in April 1816 and be suitable for wagon travel.

If you were to take the shortest route to Harlem today you would take the Daytown Road north from Delta to the Delta Road and follow Delta Road north to the intersection with County Road 8. But did a wagon road exist along that particular route in 1816?

The only road from Delta that we know with certainty existed in April 1816 is County Road 42 heading north. The one road shown on Jebb's 1816 map (to Lindsay's) is part of this road. It is also the road described by Cockburn when he travelled from Delta to Lindsay's in March 1816. It shows up on the Dickson 1818 map with a bit more detail, including its intersection with today's County Road 8 at Philipsville (then just a branch in the road, Philips didn't arrive in the area until 1825).

The March 1816 map may also be showing this route, it shows a split in the road some distance north of Delta. That split can be interpreted as being near present day Philipsville with the western split heading towards today's Elgin and the eastern along County Road 8 towards today's Chantry.

Section from Walpole's 1828 map showing the road to Old Landing
(click on map for full size version)


Walpole 1828 shows it as one of his best roads (a shaded road on his map described as one on which "wagons heavily loaded can travel during the wet season") heading north from Delta with an east-west divergence, very similar to the March 1816 map. The interpretation would be the same, County Road 42 to Country Road 8.

What doesn't fit on this map is that the road appears to stay south of Cooligan Creek (the creek on which Smith's Mill (Harlem) was located, flowing into Lower Beverley Lake). An explanation for this is that he is actually showing Corbett Creek, which merges with Cooligan Creek just north of Lower Beverley Lake. The road, on its way to Elgin, would cross this creek, but the section of road from Delta to Philipsville does not cross this creek. There are a number of other similar geographic errors on Walpole's map.

Walpole 1828 also shows a southern road which would be today's Daytown Road (Day was an early settler in the region). The straight road heading south from the "Mills" (Smith's Mills) would be today's Chantry Road. The road labelled "very good" would be a portion of today's Fairview Road.

The Delta Road, which should show as heading diagonally between Smith's Mills and Delta, isn't shown on Walpole's 1828 map.

A third road, Cliff Road, isn't evident on any of the early period maps. It does stay south of Cooligan Creek but swings south to the Delta Road.

To confuse matters, the Moody 1841 map appears to clearly show the Delta Road, but the Daytown Road east of Delta Road doesn't seem to be there. It does show CR 42 (in fact very similar to Jebb's 1816 map) as a road that goes to Murphy's Bay of Big Rideau Lake. County Road 8 is now well developed with Philips' Tavern located at the intersection of CR 42 and CR 8. A diagonal road is shown between the northern part of the Delta Road and Plum Hollow. That may be a poor representation of the Chantry Road and the lower part of Daytown Road (or perhaps an original road that ran in that direction).

The best fit from all this information for a road that existed in April 1816, and could easily provide reasonable wagon travel at that time of year, is County Road 42 to Harts Gravel Road (the original routing of CR 42), then on Harts Gravel Road to Philipsville and then County Road 8 to Harlem Road.

It's not clear how much road re-alignment has occurred over the years. On County Road 42, the section north of Harts Gravel Road (through a rock cut) is a later alignment. County Road 8 follows the road allowance between Conc. VII and VI in Bastard Township, with some diversions around swampy areas. The road from there to Harlem follows a lot line.

Today's Harlem used to be Smith's Mills. The first mill was established by Timothy Smith. Timothy is present in the 1813 census of Bastard Township (bachelor) and the 1814 census (with a wife and one daughter), so it may be that his mill was in operation at the time the settlers passed through this area. There is some evidence that Fairview Road may have existed in 1816 (likely as a path rather than a road) and if we measure the distance from the intersection of Fairview Road with Harlem Road, to Old Landing, it is 3.3 miles, very close to Kilborn's stated 3 miles of new road that had to be cut.

Waterfall on Cooligan Creek at Harlem on April 1, 2015
Falls of water such as this were used to power early mills. An old mill foundation exists just about where the photograph was taken and a flume would have extended from the height of water above the falls to the mill. The first settlers to Perth may have seen a very similar view to this (without the buildings except perhaps for a mill). The creek would have been easily fordable in 1816, no bridge was required to cross it. (photo by Ken W. Watson)

The road to Old Landing is clearly shown on both the Walpole 1828 and Moody 1841 maps. It skirted the east side of Trotters Creek on its way to Old Landing. The northern portion of that road in the area of the lake and creek is gone by the time you get to the Walling 1862 map. It's not certain if the portion of Harlem Road between Fairview Road and Thousand Acres Road was a portion of the original road cut by Kilborn and the settlers. It appears (from satellite views) that the present day and old road diverged just north of Thousand Acres Road. That portion of the road doesn't exist today.

Thousand Acres Road is shown on the Moody 1841 map. The road to Old Landing is shown heading straight from the intersection of Harlem Road with Thousand Acres Road. It's likely the road would have required a slight deviation to the east depending on the ground conditions in the vicinity of Trotters Creek. The land is likely more flooded today due to a combination of factors, including the raising of the level of Rideau Lake in 1832, which may have caused a rise in the local water table. Trotters Creek may also have been dammed (a sawmill is shown on the creek on Walling's 1862 map), expanding the swampy area around the original lake and creek, forcing the abandonment of the road.

The present day routing of Harlem Road is shown on the Walling 1862 map. The sharp jog to the west is near where it diverges from the original road to Old Landing. That northern section of Harlem Road is absent on the Moody 1841 map, so the old road must have been abandoned and the current northern section of Harlem Road built prior to 1862.

Possible remaining section of road to Old Landing
This road, leading from Highway 15 to Big Rideau Lake (to a point onshore almost in direct line with Old Landing), and located just east of Trotters Creek, is a possible candidate for the northern end of the original road to Old Landing. Another option, if the original road followed the high ground, would be a bit east of this location, a spot occupied by the former marina. (photo by Ken W. Watson).

Portland itself developed away from Old Landing. An obvious reason for this is the flooding of Big Rideau Lake in late 1831 with the completion of the Poonamalie dam. That created a shallow area in the vicinity of Old Landing since the low gradient shoreline in that area was extensively flooded. However, the western bay where downtown Portland is located today has much steeper topography. It retained deep water access close to shore. So the Village of Portland developed there, not in front of Old Landing.

Old Landing to Perth




Brockville to Stone Mills Top Old Landing to Perth
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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