A Digital History of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, Canada
Including the Cities of Ottawa and Hull / Gatineau
1600 to 2015
A Digital History of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, Canada, Including the Cities of Ottawa and Hull / Gatineau
You can use the Search Engine below to find keywords. For example, surnames of your
ancestors (E.G. Sullivan) or geographical areas (E.G. Tipperary, Glebe, etc.), or subject
areas (E.G. famine, canal, mayor).
People of the Algonquin First Nation have been in the Ottawa, Canada area since time immemorial.
(Source: Since Time Immemorial: "Our Story")
The former City of Hull, Quebec was first settled in the year 1800 by Philemon Wright who came from Woburn, Massachussets.
The Town of Bytown became the City of Ottawa on January 1, 1855.
The City of Ottawa, Ontario became the capital of Canada on July 1, 1867.
Today, the Ottawa / Gatineau region is the fourth largest urban area in Canada.
Where is Bytown / Ottawa / Gatineau ?
In 1862, the English novelist Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) witnessed the early stage of the construction of our Parliament Buildings and reported
I know of no modern Gothic purer of its kind or less sullied with fictitious ornamentation. Our own Houses of Parliament (in London) are very fine, but
it is, I believe, generally felt that the ornamentation is too minute; and moreover, it may be questioned whether perpindicular Gothic is capable of
the highest nobility which architecture can achieve. I do not pretend to say that these Canadian public buildings will reach that highest nobility,
they must be finished before any final judgment can be pronounced; but I do feel very certain that the final judgment will be greatly in their favour.
Source: Donald Smallery and Bradford Allen Booth, eds., Trollope, North America, New York, Knopf, 1951, page 72.
The name "Ottawa" is a misnomer. It refers to the Ottawa Indian Nation whose home was in the northern Lake Huron area and Manitoulin Island.
The Ottawa Indians were in control of the Ottawa River Watershed only briefly - between 1681 and 1686. For the rest of our history, the
Algonquin Nation has been located in the Ottawa area, from at least 1,000 B.C. to the present time.
This web site is large -- over 1,700 web pages. You are on our main web page. All of
the web pages are linked together to form a history of the people and places of Eastern
Ontario and Western Quebec (see maps) to which area thousands of immigrants came in the 1800's.
Many of the original settlers stayed here in the City of Ottawa, the Ottawa Valley and the
Gatineau Valley. Many left to pioneer in other parts of North America.
Here are some maps from 1824-1827 which show the earliest settlers in what became the
town of Bytown. The pioneer families in Bytown and shown on the maps are Nicholas Sparks, Captain John Lebreton and
Justice Livius Sherwood. The government purchase of land at Parliament Hill is also shown.
Thanks to the the hundreds of contributors to this site it includes early folks of First Nations, English,
Irish, Scottish, French, Jewish, German, Polish, Italian, Vietnamese, Ukranian, Chinese and American origin.
If you are researching your UEL ancestors in the Ottawa area, try a search on our web site for "UEL", no quotes.
Here is a reference to the Sir Guy Carleton Branch of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.
The City of Ottawa main Immigration Web page .
Ici, on parle français et récherche aussi les histoires des familles françaises.
The Ordnance Department kept a list of property holders in Bytown in 1835. These are some of our earliest settlers.
In the early 1850's, a French-Canadian group formed L'Institut Canadien Français d'Ottawa. This organization consisted of
professionals and intellectuals who met for discussions and lectures regarding a wide range of ideas.
The year 2012 is the 160'th anniversary of the L'Institut.
The family of Antoine MORIN and Domithilde Blais came from Quebec to the City of Ottawa.
The Algonquin Nation populated the Ottawa and Gatineau Valleys for thousands of years, before the first
white settler (Philemon Wright) came to the north side of the Ottawa River from Woburn, Massachussetts, in the year 1800.
The first black man to arrive in Hull was London Oxford who came with the Philemon Wright group in 1800.
The first black family to arrive in Bytown / Ottawa seems to have been Perry Adams and his wife Henrietta Joyce who
baptized their child, Frances, in Bytown in 1844 at Notre Dame Cathedral on Sussex Drive.
If your ancestors were black, you can record their history (including old photos) on our Black History web page.
In the late 1970's, Vietnamese "Boat People" began arriving in the Ottawa area. For over two hundred years, Ottawa has
been a city and region built by immigrants.
Here is a list of persons who were born in Germany and who were in Ottawa in time for
the 1881 census. Immigrants from Germany began arriving in the nation's capital area about the time of Confederation.
Simultaneously, a lot of German pioneers settled in Renfrew County. The Romhild family settled in both Renfrew and Ottawa.
Italian families began arriving in Ottawa in the 1880's.
Paul-Antoine Lavoie has a web site for his LAVOIE and WHISSEL ancestors
in the Ottawa and Gatineau area. It also contains a lot of information regarding
early Quebec and Montreal area history and genealogy. The early family of Joseph Vezina
and Elizabeth Dupuis were in Bytown by 1829. This family settled in what is now Orleans.
To add your genealogy or local history research interests to this Web Site, e-mail Al Lewis.
Your surname interests will be posted to a separate web page on this site and your e-mail address will be included on the page as a contact
to exchange information with other researchers. Thie web site is a good place to record your family history, including your
text and photographs.
And here is a fascinating document, dated 1825, from Markethill, County Armagh, Ireland. It is a letter of recommendation
written for John Trainor by his Parish Priest as he embarks on his emigration to Canada. This letter would have been valuable
to John - it could help him secure employment or a land grant in Canada.
Recently an important event in Irish-Canadian history in the Ottawa area took place
with the creation of the Irish Canadian Cultural Centre. This group are located in
the 117 year old heritage building formerly known as St. Brigid's Church in Lowertown.
Austin Comerton produces and hosts The Gaelic Hour on CHIN 97.9 FM, Ottawa.
The Vintage Stock Theatre, Cumberland, Russell County, presents heritage conservation
and preservation through community theatre.
Some local, potential heritage buildings are threatened with demolition due to ever-expanding residential development.
Two good local organizations for historical and genealogical research are OBOGS and BIFHSGO.
The aggregation of the histories of the individual pioneer families forms a substantial part of the history of the Ottawa area after 1800.
Thanks to the many contributors to this site!
Thanks to Michael Daley, (who got me interested in this subject), for helping to
fit pieces of this puzzle together. Thanks also to Taylor Kennedy for his major
contribution of information on the Townships of Nepean and Huntley. The best academic sources
for this subject matter can be found in the published works of Carleton University's Professors Bruce Elliott
(pre-1875 migration and settlement), John Taylor (Canadian urban history), Dominique Marshall
(history of the Canadian family), Michel Hogue (Canadian Indigenous history) and Marilyn Barber (post-1875 Canadian Immigration).
The Carleton University Second Shannon Lecture for 2014 takes place on November 14, 2014 at Carleton University.
This is an evolving web site which will be updated on a more or less daily basis.
If you can fill in any of the genealogical blanks, please e-mail me. We're also looking for
researchers to contribute articles on specifically related historical topics. If you have an
interest in the Irish Potato Famine, the assassination of Darcy McGee, feminist or Native history,
railroad history, etc. here's a chance to "get published" and discuss your interests using this web site as a forum.
If you are interested in local archaeology, see our Archaeology in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec web page.
Thanks to Mr. Bruce Hurley for sending in some information regarding the early
official crests of Bytown and the City of Ottawa. These crests are held by the
McCord Museum in Montreal and were designed by Mr. J. H. Walker.
Planning on visiting Ottawa on business or as a tourist? Watch this short video.
The Algonquin Nation in the Ottawa area
The word Ottawa is a derivative of the Algonquin word Adàwe which means
"to trade". The Algonquin Nation inhabited the Ottawa River Valley Watershed long
before the first white settlers arrived. For purposes of this web site,
the relevant geographical area of the Algonquins includes roughly the area from
Oka / Kanesatake in the east (on the Ottawa River near Montreal). It extends along the Ottawa
River to the west about as far as Mattawa. The Algonquins traditionally resided
along both sides of the Ottawa River and along its many tributaries on the Quebec
and Ontario sides. The Algonquin word for the River is Kitchi Sibi (Kitchissippi).
The 1881 Census records many of the prominent persons of Algonquin descent in
the River Desert area of Maniwaki.
Visit the Kitigan Zibi web site. The web site is maintained by the Algonquin
First Nation Band located in Maniwaki, Quebec.
The Surveyor-General of Canada from 1803 to 1814 was Joseph Bouchette. He was responsible for surveying
the townships of Onslow, Eardley, Hull, Templeton, Buckingham and Lochaber on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.
This summer (2010), I'll be exploring some of the historic canoe routes in the Ottawa and Gatineau Valleys.
Mary Cox has written a chronological history of Bytown and early Ottawa.
Our local history is also documented in historical paintings and drawings and in the
development of literature in this area. The Fine Arts Department at Merivale High School
has a terrific program for its students.
Philemon Wright came to the Ottawa area in 1800 from Woburn, Massachusetts. He founded
a Utopian agricultural settlement on the north side of the Grand (later called the Ottawa) River.
This site (later the City of Hull, and now called Gatineau, provided a better site
for settlement than the south side of the river - it had a more accessible shoreline,
caught the sun nicely during the daytime and had a better portage site around the Chaudiere
Falls. The falls provided a handy source of free energy (hydraulic power) to enable
the creation of mills. Philemon Wright was an entrepreneur. He took the first raft of square
timber to Quebec City in 1806, passing north of the island of Montreal and also operated
the first steamboat on the Grand River.
Here is an 1808 militia list for these early folks in Hull, Eardley and Onslow. It includes the name of many
of the pioneer families in our area. There is also a list of the men who served in the 1813 Militia of Hull.
Moses Edey, Samuel Edey
and Jane (Edey) Chamberlain came from Vermont to Hull Township in 1805.
Gideon Olmstead and his wife Esther Andrews arrived in Marlborough Township in 1802.
Marlene is researching this family as well as the Scott and Foster surnames.
Lac Mousseau, now called Harrington Lake in the Gatineau Park, was named for Louis Mousseau
who was the first settler there. Lac Leamy, site of our popular Casino was named for an early
lumber baron, Andrew Leamy.
Aliette Lavoie is searching for information regarding the first cemeteries in
the Bytown / Gatineau area. Apparently there was a cemetery on Barrack's Hill -- now Parliament Hill during the time of the
Rideau Canal construction (1826-1832).
Lieutenant Colonel John By was sent to Ottawa to oversee surveying and construction of
the Rideau Canal between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario. The Colonel By page contains a good map of early Bytown / Ottawa.
Another Royal Engineer was John Burrows, 1789-1848, who was the superintendent for the work on the Canal.
Here are some other founding families of the Hull and Gatineau area. Mr. David Smith has
contributed some important and interesting material regarding his ancestors, John Litle and Frances Childs, early settlers in
the Gatineau Valley. His background research includes material regarding the conditions of his Scots-Irish ancestors in
County Down and County Antrim at the time of their 1830's emigration to the Gatineau Valley.
We are also compiling a list of early Roman Catholic churches in the Gatineau Valley and in Pontiac County.
And here is a new page (March 1, 2012) exploring historical and genealogical connections between the Ottawa area and the Eastern Townships in Quebec.
The Anglo-Celtic Connections web site has a link to Ontario Roman Catholic Parish Records.
Aylmer, Quebec, became an early trans-shipment point for goods and people who were heading west via the Ottawa River.
Ira Honeywell was the first settler in Nepean Township. He and his wife Polly ANDREWS came to live
on the banks of the Ottawa River in 1811. Moses and Noah Holt also came from the United States.
Joan McEvoy Rooney has contributed an interesting paper regarding the Settlement of the Billings
Bridge area and Junction Gore. Bradish Billings, in 1813, was the first settler at Billings Bridge.
In 1815, a drowning accident occurred at Chaudiere Falls. The Chaudiere Falls area later
became the hub of Ottawa's growing industrial development in the nineteenth century.
Also, c. 1815, the Reverend Asa Meech (Meech Lake) settled just north of Wrightville.
The Moore family operated a sawmill in Hull in the 1820's. The Moore
family (some of whom pioneered at Rapides des Joachims in the 1840's) were related to the
Meech family. Two Moore brothers married daughters of Richard Prentice, UEL. This was the
first marriage performed in Nepean Township. Philip Chugg was an early settler on the
Deschenes (Aylmer) Road, arriving there about 1835. Vivien Chartier is researching her
Chartier and Lebel ancestors who came from St. Roch de L'Achigan to Aylmer, Quebec.
Many folks came early and stayed late: Here's a list of people who were born in the 1700's
(not in Canada) and were still around to be enumerated in the 1881 Census of Carleton County,
including Ottawa. And some of their elderly neighbours on the Lower Canada (Quebec) side.
Incidentally, the city of Ottawa, for most of it's history was part of Carleton County.
In 1819 Isaac Firth established an Inn at Chaudiere Falls. The inn was located at Richmond
Landing (on the Upper Canada side of the Ottawa River). The same year, four Chamberlin brothers came to work for Philemon Wright.
And, in 1822, Robert Mosgrove came from County Leitrim in Ireland and settled in Bytown.
Hon. Hamnett Kirkes Pinhey (1784-1857), a young London importer and ship insurance
broker, emigrated to Canada in 1820 with a small fortune, to develop an estate in the
Canadian wilderness. He soon established himself as a leader of society in eastern
Upper Canada (Ontario) and became a member of the Legislative Assembly, Reeve of
March Township, Warden of Carleton County, and a member of the Legislative Council
of Upper Canada. He developed HORACEVILLE, on the Ottawa Riverfront of March Township
(now within the City of Ottawa), as his residential estate, operating grist and sawmills and
building St. Mary's Church, which opened in 1827.(1)
(1) Source: History of Pinhey's Point
The Pinhey's Point Foundation has prepared an index to the accounts of Hamnett Pinhey
covering the period 1821-1857. The accounts contain the names of many folks from the Bytown
area who did work for Mr. Pinhey.
Another early settler in March Township was Benjamin Street.
James Coates Browne came from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, to South March in the 1830's
and his family were involved as lumber merchants in the White Lake area, hoteliers in Bell's Corners and merchants on Sparks Street.
December 10, 2014:
The Lyon family (Lyon Street) were early settlers in Bytown. See Taylor's .pdf file at http://www.bytown.net/lyonandsparks.pdf.
In 1828, William Hunton and his two sons, Thomas and William Hunton arrived in Bytown.
They came from Leeds in England. Their home was located on Metcalfe Street where the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library is today.
The period 1784-1815 saw the emigration of Scottish Highlanders to Glengarry County and
Scottish Lowlanders (mainly artisans and weavers) came to Lanark and Renfrew Counties during
the depression following the Napoleonic Wars. The Lowlanders came with the assistance of
Emigrant Societies in the Glasgow area. Here is a paper which compares the settlement of
Glengarry County (east of Ottawa) and Lanark County (to the west of Ottawa).
Many of the early French families who settled in the Gatineau / Bytown area beginning
about 1830 came from the seigniories in the Montreal, Quebec, area.
The seigniory of Longueil / Longueiul was transferred to the province of Ontario and became
a Township near the eastern Ontario / Quebec border.
French, Irish, and Scots had been also been involved in the fur trade in Canada in the 1700's.
By 1820 the large-scale fur-trading empire centered in Montreal had, for the most part,
become headquartered in the Hudson Bay region. Entrepreneurs, with capital, from Montreal
looked for commercial ventures and the developing Bytown area proved attractive to men
such as John Redpath and Agar Yeilding. Our web page regarding the
Thunder Bay, Ontario area also contains some material on the fur trade.
A publican (ran an inn and tavern) named Robert Atkinson
was in Bytown before 1830. He may have been associated with the famous Mother McGinty's
Tavern on Rideau Street. Captain Samuel Kipp, a United Empire Loyalist, who was a Captain in
Delancey's Rangers arrived in Canada at Ramsheg / Fanningburg, New Brunswick he and his new wife
quickly fled to Quebec (Montreal area it appears). The family eventually made it's way
to the Ottawa area in the 1820's. John Goth from Yorkshire, England, was an 1818 military
settler in Beckwith County.
From the beginning, lumber was an important staple product exported to the European
markets by Philemon Wright and later by the Gilmour and McLaren Companies. By the 1850's, square timber was replaced by sawn
lumber exports to the United States. In 1860, the Prince of Wales visited Canada. The lumber industry arranged
for a large arch to be constructed to commemorate his stayover in Ottawa.
In the early 1800's, prisoners were transported to New South Wales (Australia) from
Ireland and England. Many of those transported were sent away because of political
reasons, not criminal transgressions. Timothy Tierney was transported to Australia
in 1835 for stealing firearms in County Tipperary. His wife, Ellen Waters / Watters
and children emigrated shortly after to Nepean Township. Timothy was pardoned in 1853.
His legal pardon is an example of this type of 19th century legal document.
Michel Forand is researching the lighthouses which were built along the Ottawa River
starting in the 1860's. Also, regarding the Ottawa River, a request was made to Parliament in
1849 for a list of surveys which had been done, and by whom, during the past five years.
Allan Gilmour was the organizer of the Ottawa Curling Club in 1851. David Smith has
chronicled it's history for the years 1851 to 1933. Allan Gilmour was the owner of
the Gilmour Lumber Company. In 1924, the Ottawa Ski Club newsletter reported on
shenanigans at Murphy's Hill in the Gatineau. On the way up to Maniwaki, you will
pass Brennan's Hill.
In 1827, Joseph Coombs, who was an engineer with the Royal Sappers and Miners,
arrived in Bytown to work on the canal. Joseph Coombs lived in Concession 2, Ottawa Front,
Gloucester Township. Allen Craig has done some interesting work on the building of roads
and the topography this area of early Gloucester.
Hélène Wyskup is researching the Francophone construction workers on the Rideau Canal.
Abraham Boland from County Armagh arrived c. 1828. He and his wife Mary McBride
were married in Bytown and later went to the Eganville area.
Charles James Rowan (father Patrick) was born 1809 in Sligo, Ireland, and died on March 5,
1883 at the age of 74. He married Mary Ann Farrell in 1833. Her birthdate was about 1817
in King's County, Ireland and she died March 26, 1887.
Charles James Rowan came to Bytown in 1833. He kept a hotel at 56 Rideau Street
for many years and later opened a grocery store on Clarence St. He was a member
of City Council in 1855. His residence was 201 Clarence St.
Michael McDermott was a land surveyor in Bytown and area between 1842 and 1849.
His memoirs have been transcribed by his grandson. There are some interesting stories
about his years in Bytown.
Each year, the municipality issued licences to individuals to carry on commercial
activities in the town. In 1839 and 1842, licences were issued to these individuals.
In 1825, Duncan McNab, known as the Laird of McNab, brought 84 settlers to his property
near Arnprior. The early Scots who had settled in Glengarry County (east of Ottawa), the
Scottish pioneers at the Tay River near Perth (1815), and the McNab settlers formed
the basis for the Scottish community in the Ottawa area. In 1821, a group of settlers
from Scotland were brought to Ramsay Township.
John Brown, from the Inner Hebrides was a bagpiper of renown in the Ottawa area.
John Wallace (spouse Isabella McCallum) came to Bytown to work on the canal and then
moved to McNab Township. An 1879 map of Ramsay Township, reproduced
by the McGill University Digital Atlas Project, gives the names and locations of many of
the pioneer families in the Carleton Place / Almonte / Clayton area. Drummond Township
includes the Town of Perth, Ontario, as well Ferguson's Falls, Balderson and Innisville.
Early Scottish Emigration to the Ottawa area
to Glengarry County
to Lanark County
Characteristics of Emigrants
2,500 subsistence farmers from the Scottish
Highlands to Glengarry County before 1815
4,000 weavers and artisans from the
Scottish Lowlands to Lanark County after
No financial assistance, organized by
families, led by Highland patriarchs.
Catholic and Presbyterian
Financially assisted, organized by emigrant
Presbyterian and Anglican
Reasons for Emigration
Defend traditional culture and lifestyle
Economic opportunity for politicized
Here's an interesting bit of local Scottish folklore. In order to differentiate the great
number of settlers in Glengarry County, nicknames were created for most individuals.
Alexa Pritchard has sent us a list of a great many nicknames used in Glengarry Township.
Work Horses were an important component of early farming practises. At the beginning of the twentieth century
tractors began to replace horses -- the early tractors were powered by steam engines.
Visit Keith Thompson's web site of history and genealogy in Lanark County.
Data Source (Population): Ottawa: An Illustrated History, by John Taylor, page 210
Data Source: (Ethnic Origins): 1881 Census of Canada
Since 1971 the population of the City of Ottawa has trebled - due to both steady immigration and
the amalgamation of surrounding townships on January 1, 2000.
Before settlement occurred in the wilderness, the province of Ontario was surveyed to
create townships and 200 acre farm lots to receive the pioneer families.
Gaelynn Wall has sent in the links to some early land grants.
Records of land registrations are useful documents for local historical research.
Al Crosby has sent in an example of the history of the ownership of some property
in Gloucester Township. Here is the entry for Lot 24, Concession I, Gloucester.
Christ Church Anglican was established in 1833 on property donated by Nicholas Sparks.
Sue has compiled a listing of
churches and their Ministers/Priests in Ottawa in 1867 - the year of Canadian Confederation.
Earliest Emigration from Ireland to Bytown/Ottawa
Beginning in the 1810's, Irish families began to arrive in the Bytown (Ottawa)
area of Ontario. In 1817, a petition was circulated in County Wexford and County
Carlow. The petition was signed by hundreds of families, both Protestant and Catholic,
who wished to leave behind "The Troubles" of Ireland and start a new life in the
wilderness of Upper Canada.
Contrary to popular belief the typical Irish pioneer in the 1800's was not a Catholic
who was fleeing the potato famine and settled in Ontario's urban areas. Both the 1842
and 1871 Census show that the Protestant Irish outnumbered the Catholics by two to one.
Both denominations were rural - not predominately urban. Source: Donald Harman Akenson in
The Irish in Ontario.
Here is a list of emigrants hoping to leave Wexford and Carlow in 1817 to
settle in Upper Canada. Many of these families came to Canada over the next twenty
years or so by chain migration. Chain migration (emigration to the location where
you already know someone) accounted for much of the population increase in the
nineteenth century in Upper Canada. Some of these early settlers landed on the New York
State side of the St. Lawrence River. On the Canadian side, immigrants travelled by boat
from Montreal and disembarked at Cornwall, Prescott, Brockville and Kingston. Important ports
on the American side were Ogdensburgh and Oswego in Upper New York State. See map of the
St. Lawrence River Basin between 1825 and 1867.
By 1829, there was a strong representation of persons who emigrated from the Castlecomer area of County Kilkenny, Ireland.
Anne McEligot has sent in some links for researchers
interested emigration from County Derry, Ireland.
Emigration from County Wicklow, Ireland to Canada in the 19th Century
Anne Burgess is researching emigration from southwest County
Wicklow to EASTERN Ontario, including to the Bytown / Ottawa area. She is matching names
from County Wicklow from the Lord Fitzwilliam Estate, which covered one fifth of County
Wicklow. Her research is based on the book Surplus People by Jim Rees which
documents the assisted emigration of about 1,000 families from Wicklow to Canada.
Anne has extended her research to cover Fiztwilliam Estate assisted emigration to Southern Ontario.
And, Annette Code is researching emigration from the same area (the Coolattin Estate)
but during an earlier time frame -- from after the 1798 rebellion up to the time of the famine. She has just had
an article published, (November 2009), by the Genealogical Society of Ireland.
Mr. Kenny's research is in the area of Kilcavan, County Wicklow, in the nineteenth century.
The parishes of Ballynultagh and Ballyrahine in County Wicklow were a source of
emigration to eastern Ontario between 1847 and 1856.
Anne Burgess has sent in some links and sources from Borris, County Carlow, 1782-1853.
Quite a few pioneer families in the Ottawa area came from here.
Today, May 5, 2011, I've started a web page for pioneer families who came to Canada from County Armagh between 1815 and 1855.
In 1818 the Talbot Party came from County Cork, Ireland to Goulbourn
Township and London, Ontario. Hey! I used to play old-timers' hockey in Stittsville with
many descendants of these pioneers.
Many of the emigrants from Ireland from the 1830's onwards came here to join friends or
relatives who had already arrived here. Also, word-of-mouth news spread quickly throughout
Britain about the opportunities for settlers in a new land. In some cases, people decided to
come to Canada after reading material regarding conditions in Canada.
Settlers from Ireland going to Upper Canada or Lower Canada landed at Quebec City which was
the furthest inland deep-water port on the St. Lawrence River. They were then transported by
steamboat to Montreal where many spent time in Griffintown, in Montreal, an early Irish neighbourhood adjacent to
the Lachine Canal.
Early framework for land transactions in Upper Canada.
Ray Burke has transcribed an example of an early (1828) Land Grant document for
property in Upper Canada. The exact surveyor's co-ordinates are spelled out, as is
the 1/7 part of the land set aside for the Clergy Reserves. It is signed by Sir
Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada at York (now Toronto).
John Beverly Robinson (brother of Peter Robinson) is also mentioned - he was the
Attorney General at the time. Free grants of land were available until 1826. After
1826, crown land was sold.
For many of us, our goal is to visit Ireland, walk the hills and glens, visit a pub or two,
and do historical and genealogical research in Ireland.
Emigration from south-west Ireland to the Ottawa Valley in the 1820's
To get a feel for how this web site works, take a look at the McGee / Magee web page.
It is a combination of history and genealogy of some early settlers in the Perth area
and it illustrates how various spellings, religions, and adjacent geographical areas can
make things interesting for us!
In 1816, a settlement was established at Perth.
These pioneers in Perth were a mixture of disbanded soldiers and Scottish emigrants.
In 1820 another military settlement was established at the village of Lanark.
The 1818 Richmond Military Settlement
Richmond (1818) was the first town established in Carleton County - earlier than Bytown.
Sergeant William John Vaughan was one of the disbanded soldiers
who settled in Richmond. Wes Cross (researching Jonas Barry)and Ron Dale have researched
the structure and history of the 99th and 100th Regiments of Foot which were disbanded
after the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. These two regiments formed the
nucleus of the first permanent Ottawa area settlers after Philemon Wright's group.
Alexa Pritchard has sent the following discharge documents of Sergeant William Shea.
An transcribed example of the discharge papers from the 99th Regiment has been sent
by Paula Gibson. See the John GIBSON web page.
John Steel came as a non-military settler in 1818 from Dumphriesshire, Scotland. From 1818 to
1824 he ran a tavern at Fallowfield on the Richmond Road. Near this intersection is
Piety Hill, the location of two pioneer churches.
Richmond was surveyed in the form of the Georgian Town Plan. A rectangular grid system
of streets was superimposed on the topography. Colonel George Thew Burke,
from County Tipperary, was the commanding officer and Joseph Fortune
was in charge of surveying. The town was built on the Goodwood River (now called
the Jock River). Hydraulic power was required to power the early grist and textile mills
and the sawmills. The disbanded soldiers were allocated farmland near the town. Lots
were assigned according to each officer's rank. Privates in the army, the lowest rank,
received 100 acres. Some Early Settlers in Goulbourn Township
contains a list of privates and sergeants who were granted land in Richmond village and
surrounding areas and also some early residents of Stittsville. Families also settled
in the Carp valley and Carp village in the 1820's.
Don Lowe is descended from the pioneer Hodgins and Wilson families. His other surnames
of interest are Graham, Cavanaugh, and Mooney.
William Fitzpatrick was one of the original settlers in the Richmond/Goulbourn area.
His farm was located not far from what is now Munster Hamlet. He settled there in the
1819 time frame, but was actually in Canada in 1805 with the 100th Regiment of Foot,
mainly in the Quebec City and Montreal area prior to 1812. You will notice his name
on the information that Alexa submitted regarding the original military settlers in
the Richmond/Goulbourn area. (Source for this paragraph and the information on the
William Fitzpatrick page: Ken Armstrong). William Sample, from County Antrim, and his
wife Matilda McCullough were also in Goulbourn Township by the 1840's.
In pioneer times, there were connections between the Goulbourn Township folks
and the settlers in Rideau Township, including the North Gower area.
All men aged 19 to 45 were required to serve in the local militia. The Carleton County
Militia muster rolls for the year 1828 (here is one for Nepean Township, headquartered
at Richmond) are valuable genealogy and history resources. Transportation was either
by foot - people often walked between Bytown and Richmond - until stage coach lines
were established in the 1830s. George Edge, 1760-1840, was born in England and served
for 59 years in the active military (99th Regiment) and the local militia. He was disbanded
at Richmond in 1818.
Census data for 1820-22 for March, Goulbourn, Huntley, Marlborough and Nepean
Townships can be found here.
Debbie Coxon Prince has contributed her research regarding
early schools in Huntley Township.
Map of the village of Richmond in 1879
Map Source: Belden's 1879 Atlas of Carleton County
The Richmond Road in the 1860's
Saw and grist mills were established along many of the rivers in the Ottawa
area. Moss Kent Dickinson, who was mayor of Ottawa from 1864 to 1866 opened
a mill at Manotick in 1860. The building, called Watson's Mill, is still open today.
The general contractor for the mill was Thomas Langrell who later became Chief of Police for
the City of Ottawa.
Another Lumber Baron who became mayor of the city of Ottawa in 1897 was Samuel Bingham,
also known as the "King of the Cascades" for his logging work on the Gatineau River. Richard Scott, who was born in Prescott, Ontario,
became Mayor of Ottawa c . 1855 and was well-known for initiating the Scott Act -- the Canada Temperance Act. In 1863
he introduced the Separate Schools Act for Ontario.
The Military Settlement at Richmond established 1818
St. Phillip's RC Church Marriages, Richmond 1836-?, by Marilyn Cottrell
St. Clare's RC Church Registers, (1891-1910) at Dwyer Hill in Marlborough Township
St. Phillip's RC Church Births, Richmond 1836-1845, also by Marilyn Cottrell
St. Phillip's RC Church Deaths, Richmond 1853-1881, by Sue
The Ontario Vital Statistics Project is computerizing Ontario civil registrations
for Births, Marriages and Deaths.
John Bower Lewis (no relation) was a mayor of Ottawa and member of
Parliament. The preceding link will take you to a petition signed by many prominent
Ottawa citizens in 1872 in support of his candidacy in the 1872 federal elections.
A link to a brief biography and photograph of John Bower Lewis is also on that page.
Speaking of local mayors, Eugene Martineau was Ottawa's first Francophone mayor.
Joseph Turgeon was the first Francophone mayor of Bytown.
Thomas Birkett (1844-1920) was a prominent merchant and mayor of Ottawa.
Our bibliography page contains several books regarding local mayors from 1848 up to the Charlotte Whitton era.
Another LEWIS family, prominent in the Ottawa area, was that of the
Anglican Archbishop John Travers LEWIS and his wife Rebecca Olivia LAWLESS.
The 1823 Peter Robinson Settlers
In 1823, Peter Robinson brought almost 500 settlers to the Ottawa area on
two ships, the Hebe and the Stakesby. They sailed from County
Cork. There are many thousands of their descendants in the Ottawa area today.
These early settlers were mostly from the poorest part of Ireland - the southwest -
mainly from County Cork and County Tipperary. They were brought to Upper Canada, in part,
to help reduce the numbers of poor Irish Catholic tenants on several large Irish
estates - Lord Doneraile's property for example. Sending these people to Canada was
expected to reduce the average level of poverty in Ireland and at the same time give a
"leg-up" to selected emigrants, all of whom had good character references and were
expected to become self-sufficient, quickly, in Canada. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815)
the British government was amenable to government assisted emigration.
Peter Robinson Settlers in 1823... Surnames A to G
Peter Robinson Settlers in 1823... Surnames H to N
Peter Robinson Settlers in 1823... Surnames O to Z
Roberta O'Brien's Family Page... which includes the names of the settlers and also Peter Robinson's Report Miscellaneous Peter Robinson Settlers ... A few genealogical enquiries.
Donna McGinty has sent in some information regarding her ancestors who settled in
the "Peter Robinson Territory". Her ancestors married into many of the families of
1823 settlers and illustrate the migration pattern of many early Irish families
to Carleton County, then on to Renfrew County and later to the American frontier
in North Dakota.
A lot of the Peter Robinson settlers in 1823 homesteaded along what is now Highway 44 in Ramsay Township. Here is a photograph of
one of the stone homes built in that area. This house was not built by a Robinson settler.
April 17, 2019: (post retirement)
Source for the following text block and picture of the house belonging to Robert Struthers is National Capital Heritage, page 20.
Carol McCuaig has written many books about settlement in the Ottawa Valley. She is currently researching immigrants from County Clare to
Lanark and Renfrew Counties.
The Building of the Rideau Canal, 1826-1832
Planning and surveying for the construction of the Rideau Canal began in 1826. The
following graph illustrates the upward spike in population in 1828 which represents
the arrival of contractors and labourers.
Tony Atherton from the Ottawa Citizen plans to write an article on a canal
worker who died while working on the canal.
A memorial monument is being established in Ottawa to commemorate the
men who worked on building the Rideau Canal.
Many Irish and French labourers worked at building the Rideau Canal between 1826 and 1832.
The Rideau Canal runs from present-day Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario and is one of the oldest
functioning canal / lock systems in Canada. When the canal was finished
in 1832, some of the workers stayed in Bytown, while many others cleared land in the area and
began farms in Gloucester, Nepean , Osgoode, and other neighbouring townships. A great source
of genealogical information regarding the Catholic Canal workers is the records of Notre Dame
Cathedral in the By Ward Market of downtown Ottawa. Here are just a few.
Sue is transcribing the Notre Dame marriages, beginning in 1829, from the Drouin Collection.
Sue has also transcribed many of the baptisms which took place at Notre Dame from 1829-1839.
Notre Dame Cathedral is now the main Francophone Catholic church in Ottawa. In its early years, it served both English speakers and
Francophones. St. Patrick's Basilica on Kent Street, started in 1858, became the major English speaking (mostly Irish) Catholic church.
See The Welfare of Irish Catholics in Ottawa, 1820- 1900 for a description of the early Irish Catholics in Ottawa and area.
The major contractors for the canal works were John McTaggart, John Redpath (sugar industry
in Montreal), Thomas McKay and Philemon Wright from Hull. The contractor for excavating
the first six head-locks in Bytown was John Pennyfather. The labourers were paid by the day. Many, such as
William English, lost their lives working in dangerous conditions. A very good account of the
working conditions can be found in an article by William Wylie. See also our page on Labour History in the Ottawa area.
Richard Bishop was Paymaster for the Rideau Canal.
Some of the labourers came directly from Ireland. Others had previously worked on the Lachine
Canal in Montreal or on the Erie Canal in New York State. When the canal was completed, some
of the workers, such as Daniel Burns from Belfast, moved to the United States.
After the war of 1812, there was interest in constructing a canal from Bytown to Lake Huron.
This canal would have allowed Canadian people and goods to avoid Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
Immigration from the Atlantic Provinces to the Ottawa area, prior to 1881
By sorting through the 1881 census of Canada, we find that there were 218 persons
who came to the Ottawa area from Nova Scotia.
Others migrated to our area from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
A commercial center was established in the By Ward Market area. While most of the early
canal labourers were Irish, many men of French origin came from Montreal or other parts
of Lower Canada to settle in Bytown. See our list of about 125 francophone families who arrived in Bytown
between 1826 and 1855. Many of these families form the basis of the strong francophone community the Ottawa / Gatineau area.
In the 1840's, the Roman Catholic Church established St. Joseph's College, later
known as the University of Ottawa, on Sussex Street in the Byward market. It was later
moved to its present location in Sandy Hill. In 1856, St. Joseph's Church was built to serve
English speaking parishioners. Sacre Coeur, across the street, served French speaking parishioners.
Anne Burgess has sent in some interesting letters illustrating the recruitment of
Catholic priests to work in the developing wilderness areas in Renfrew County beginning
in the 1850's.
The Holiness Movement became rooted in some areas of Eastern Ontario and Western
Quebec c. 1900.
Early Area Newspapers and Directories
Here is a new feature from Google -- the ability to search the digital archives of the Ottawa Citizen Newspaper.
October 16, 2016:
Thanks to Carmen Rochon who has sent in about 400 obituaries for the Ottawa area, starting in the 1890's.
One of the earliest newspapers in Bytown was the Bytown Gazette. Sue Barr
has transcribed some early birth, marriage and death records covering the period
1836-1843. Mostly dealing with Hull and Bytown, some of the names listed are from as
far east as Glengarry, and west to Perth and Pembroke. Sue has also marriages and deaths
recorded in the Ottawa Times of the 1860's. These
newspapers can be viewed on microfilm in the National Library (Wellington Street,
second floor) and in the Ottawa Room of the Ottawa Public Library. Some birth
notices were also published. The Canadian News was published in London, England in the mid-19th century.
Sue has also transcribed Births, Deaths, and Marriages which occurred in the Ottawa area and which
were reported in England. Also, some records of BMD's for Bytown were published in the
Perth Courier, between 1834 and 1849. See also Bits of Bytown from early American and British newspapers,
transcribed by Sue. Taylor Kennedy
has contributed obituaries of military officers as recorded in the Bytown Gazette
beginning in 1836.And thanks to Sue Barr for some 1828 records from the Brockville Gazette
pertaining to some Ottawa and Hull area pioneers. Bob Mackett has also sent records
of births, marriages and deaths from the Bytown Gazette and the Ottawa Advertizer for
the years 1836 to 1845.
Thanks again to Sue who has transcribed the obituaries from the Ottawa Journal from 1886 to 1899.
Sue has also transcribed Marriages in Bytown or Concerning Residents of Bytown,
Nepean and Richmond for the years 1829 to 1856 and some Death Records covering
the years 1828-1849. She has also sent in a link to Northern New York State newspapers in the 1800's.
Sue is still at it. She has now transcribed the births, marriages and deaths for the Ottawa Citizen from 1853-1859.
And today, Sue has sent along records of Births, Marriages and Deaths of early Bytown and Ottawa Residents, Recorded in International Newspapers
Al Craig has sent in a list of Ottawa and Carleton Directories online from 1863-1899.
Small communities developed at each lock station. After the canal was completed,
some workers and their families settled on crown land along the canal.
At Long Island, for example, there was a grid on the Gloucester side
of the canal consisting of about fifteen "city" blocks until about 1880. The land around
the lock-station and dam is a park today and only the lockmasters house remains.
Across the river, on the Nepean side was Chapman's Mills and the Samuel Collins house.
George Newsome was the lockmaster at Kilmarnock (south of Merrickville) from 1841
to 1871. His son William succeeded him as lockmaster.
Here is a map showing the Gloucester side of the Rideau Canal, from New Edinburgh to
Long Island village and locks. Incidentally, the first public meeting for the Township
of Gloucester was held at Cunningham's Inn in 1832. John Cunningham ran a popular "stopping
place" for many years. The floor plan of his inn is representative of many of the
businesses of the day - family living quarters were usually combined with a commercial
In 1832 a double calamity struck the labourers in Bytown:
(1) the Rideau Canal construction ended leaving most of them unemployed.
(2) a major cholera epidemic spread from Quebec City to Upper Canada causing
hundreds of deaths and tragedies to individual families. This double tragedy,
in the same year, set the stage for a "reign of terror", known as the Shiners' War
in Bytown. Many unemployed men moved back to the land in the 1830's, in an attempt to
become self-sufficient and also to escape the violence and social disorder in our town.
Mary Cox has sent in the following map of Bytown in 1842.
"The map is based on a Plan of Bytown by Lieutenant White, R.E. Feb. 24, 1842.
Cemeteries are shown including one on Barracks Hill. Also I remember someone looking
for an early map that showed Isaac Firth’s Tavern – it is also included on the map".
Map Source: Looking Back, Pioneers of Bytown and March, by Naomi Slater Heydon.
The following maps from the year 1879 show the location of farms and property owners
in the Townships surrounding Ottawa. As of the amalgamation effective January 1, 2000
the new City of Ottawa now includes all of these townships, plus Torbolton, March and
Marlborough. There was always a close relationship between the municipality of Bytown/Ottawa
and the local townships. Much of the food for the growing urban area was produced in the
townships and the local farmers visited the city to buy and sell merchandise.Local politics
and economics were based primarily on race and religion during
the 1800's and parts of each township identified closely with certain neighbourhoods in Ottawa.
For example the English, Scottish and Irish Protestant community of Uppertown had strong
ties to the English and Irish Protestant Orange groups in Goulbourn and Nepean. The
Catholic settlements in South Gloucester, Jockvale and Corkery had business and family ties
to the Lowertown market neighbourhood. The French market gardeners from the rural area to
the east of Ottawa (Gloucester, Cumberland and Clarence Townships) primarily identified also
with the Catholic-dominated Lowertown area. Cummings Island is in the Rideau River, at Montreal Road.
The above maps, digitized by McGill University, are large files. You can extract
smaller portions of the maps by using the methodology described here.
Also, the Wallings Company created maps showing the locations of the settlers on their
land in 1862. These maps have been digitized by Library and Archives Canada.
Mary Cox has sent in a link to the Fire Insurance maps from the 1870's. These maps show urban locations.
Part of the Township of Gloucester is called Junction Gore. This resulted from
the original survey of the township. Some of the lots are "Ottawa Front" and
some are Rideau Front". The remainder (the northwest corner of the township) are in
an area called Junction Gore.
A useful resource for genealogists can be found in the transcriptions of the names
of persons buried in local cemeteries. All of the local historical societies have
published lists of persons buried in area cemeteries. However, in most cases, these
lists include only the legible names of persons who are included on gravemarkers.
Some of the early tombstones (if there were any) have by now become illegible or
may have been removed from the cemetery for safety reasons.
Scott Naylor has a very good, searchable, web site which includes digital photographs of
grave markers in the Ottawa area. The site is now run by Murray Pletsch.
The Ontario Cemetery Database is a searchable database, by cemetery in Ontario. This database
lists over 1,000,000 "interments" (buried people), in various cemeteries
in Ontario. In addition, another site is very useful for research in the
Northeastern Ontario region: the Northeastern Ontario Graveyard Gallery
is maintained by Murray Pletsch. Kimberly Fraser has a web site of
photographs and transcriptions of St. Paul the Hermit Cemetery in Sheenboro, Quebec.
Sean McConnery has transcribed many of the cemeteries in Western Quebec and the Upper
Gatineau area. He has entered them online at his web site.
Musical Heritage in Ottawa and the Valley
The Ottawa Valley has a rich heritage when it comes to music. Original songs by the
log-drivers were among the earliest in this area. See our Ottawa Valley Music page for some
songs by Charlie Gardner.
A new field in the study of history is research into old letters and personal
correspondence from days of old. Mary Quinn, has an old trunk, handed down from
her ancestors. She has sent along this letter, covering the time when two
fifteen year old Irish migrants married in Quebec City, settled in Goulbourn
Township, and lived strong and happy lives in the Ottawa area. She also has many
old letters written by the Foran and Quinn families of South Gloucester.
Bytown was incorporated as the City of Ottawa in 1855. Here are the members of
the first City Council, as well as some other people of interest influence in Bytown.
Henry J. Friel was mayor of both the town of Bytown and the City of Ottawa in the early 1850's.
Thanks to Barb Hadden for this fascinating original document which
is in the Kanata Town Hall. John Ray (spelled Rea) is named in the document
which list the names of folks in 1843 in March Township who were required
to do statutory labour to maintain township roads. Many other March Township names
are listed: Younghusband, Armstrong, Wilson, etc.
Minutes of the Council of the County of Carleton, January 1854
There were no clothing stores in the early 19th century. Most of the families made
their own clothes and important occupations were tailors and seamstresses. Many women
made quilts, often personalized as in the case of the Smyth family in 1841.
The 1879 municipal budget reflected the priorities of the day:
there were no expenditures for French language schools or for social welfare. However,
the city had been able to run up a considerable debt for which it paid interest of
$73,000 - the largest budgetary expenditure category. Cities were able to borrow money
based on the assessed value of their overall property assets. As long as the city was
growing and the property base was expanding each year, its' revenues continued to increase
without a need to increase the mill rate.
This was the beginning of rapid industrialization and urbanization for Canadian cities.
The relatively large "Grants to Corporations" category probably reflects the desire to
attract manufacturing operations to the city, especially at the Chaudiere Falls location.
The art of photography began in the 1850's. Three of the earliest
photographic studios in the city were Pittaway, Jarvis and Topley.
Later, Yoseph Karsh was a world famous photographer. He died in the year 2002.
By the way, most of us have old family photographs which contain unidentified people and places. We have
a web page to help identify these photographs. E-mail me to submit your old photographs. Hopefully other researchers will
have the same photo in their own collections.
Taylor Kennedy has located the Abstract from the Shipping Book of James Allison, Immigration Agent at Montreal, Canada, in 1846 -
Passengers Going Westward by Steam Boat to areas such as Kingston, Hamilton, Toronto, Carleton County, Ontario, and Masson, Quebec.
These records are held by Library and Archives, Canada.
Anne-Marie Ibell has sent a photograph, dated c. 1890, of the Governor General's
Foot Guards. Her grandfather, Alphonse Heyendal, came to Canada from Belgium and
played the base fiddle for the Foot Guard's Band. He also knew Jean Dallaire who
was a well-known artist in the Ottawa area.
In 1845, Sister Elizabeth Bruyere and the Grey Nuns came to
Bytown from Montreal. They immediately began to improve health, welfare and education
facilities for the Catholic community in Lowertown. By the end of the 19th century,
in response to the Social Gospel and Progressive movements in North America, many
private charities, including the Union Mission on Waller Street, were established.
By 1871, the sawn wood industries and the federal government were the two largest
employers in Ottawa. The industrial profile of businesses shows the beginnings of
evolution from an artisinal and commercial city to a manufacturing and government
city. Industrialization and urbanization went hand-in-hand. Many people began to move
from the surrounding townships into the city from farms which were becoming overcrowded
after the second generation following the pioneers. By 1879, a modern industrial and commercial
city had evolved. See a list of major occupations and their incumbents in 1879..
A large influx of civil servants from the provinces occurred at Confederation in 1867.
The Public Service is now the major employer in Ottawa and Gatineau.
Track and Field events were the earliest sports to take place in Ottawa and
area. These games often took place in conjunction with local fairs and market
days. Organized team sports such as hockey and baseball began in the late 1800's
and evolved to the National Hockey League Ottawa Senators, the "Triple A" baseball
Ottawa Lynx and the Canadian Football League Ottawa Rough Riders and the Ottawa
Renegades. We are trying to identify some of the early athletes and sports events.
See our Ottawa Sports History web page.
Fishing in the Ottawa area began with the first settlers. Birchbark canoes, built
by the Algonquin canoe builders were in demand for transportation on the waterways.
Streetcars began running in 1891 and the final car was retired in 1959.
Warren SOPER and Thomas AHEARN, who had been innovators in hydro electricity in Ottawa
were pioneers in the streetcar business in Ottawa. You'll find links to their biographies
by clicking on "streetcars" above. My grandfather's brother, Terry Burns, drove the last streetcar
in Ottawa off the streets in 1959.
Mr. William Washington Wylie owned and operated the Ottawa Carriage Company.
The Big Fight of 1895 at O'Leary's Field, Manotick followed
the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury.
Belden's 1879 Map of Osgoode Township...A list of almost 1000 names of pioneers
and their Concession numbers for Osgoode Township in 1879. An extract of names
from the 1874-75 Osgoode Township Directory shows many of the persons living in
the north west part of Osgoode Township.
Snake Island in Osgoode Township
Sean and Sharalyn Daley have just opened the Daley Family Funeral Home (September, 2006).
Senior Citizens in Osgoode Township in 1881. See also the state of Elder Care in 2011 in Ottawa and area.
A letter from a mother in Ireland to her son in Carleton County.Ottawa Valley and Our Soldiers in World War 1, 1914-1918
Remembrance Day is November 11, A Tribute to one of our Veterans, Robert Metcalfe
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), history and genealogy in the Ottawa / Gatineau area.
Irish and Canadian Money and Coins.
Moses Bilsky was the first member of Ottawa's Jewish community. He arrived in 1857.
A list of pioneers who were in Gloucester Township before 1834.
More early settlers in Gloucester Township.
The History of the Byward Market (Lowertown).
The French Line in Lavant (or Darling) Township.
Early Post Offices and Postmasters in Carleton CountyOttawa Dances with the Spanish Lady .. Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, by Marc St. Pierre
Ottawa: Railway History ... by Colin Churcher
The The Railway comes to Nepean, bisecting the Kennedy Farm on Jockvale Road.
The Great Depression in Ottawa, 1930-1939.
Charlotte Whitton was the first female Mayor of a Canadian city.
My main area of interest is in the north-west corner of Osgoode Township - now within
the limits of the city of Ottawa. A strong and close-knit community, mainly Irish and
Catholic, began to settle there beginning about 1830. Unlike the Peter Robinson settlers of 1823
who mainly came from County Cork and settled close together in the Huntley Township area, or,
the Fallowfield and Jockvale settlement in Nepean Township, which was made up chiefly of Tipperary folks, the pioneers
in Osgoode Township, south-east of Manotick, came from many different counties in Ireland.
Most of them had previously worked in Bytown and along the Rideau Canal construction as far south as
Kemptville. A lot of them had occupied ordnance land around the major lock stations - Hog's Back,
Black Rapids and Long Island, before obtaining land in Osgoode Township.
Also, in the early 1800's, people came to the townships just north of the St.
Lawrence River. The town of Brockville was settled before 1800. Ogle Gowan arrived
in Brockville in 1829 and was the main character in the Orange Order in Canada.
Oxford Township, for example had many connections to the area
covered by our web site. The town of Smiths Falls, located on the Rideau Canal
became an early settlement of American businessmen. It was an important manufacturing
center and later a hub for the railways in Eastern Ontario. It is situated in Montague Township.
Mountain Township was named after the Anglican Archbishop Jacob Mountain.
Prescott and Russell County, including Cambridge Township and the village of Casselman is an example of the
agricultural nature of the area to the east of the City of Ottawa.
Hastings County, including the city of Belleville on the Bay of Quinte, was settled in the 1780`s.
The city of Cornwall became an important port city and shipping center for people and
products destined west via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The same can be said for the town of Prescott in Augusta Townhip.
The Brock, Ralph and Beggs families also settled in Prescott and Russell County.
My Burns, Sullivan, Christopher, Doyle and McGee ancestors were among the pioneers. Within a
generation, the farm lots filled up with settlers; they had large families and we're all related
to each other, and to a great many other families in the Ottawa area.
Here's a map showing the area in which I'm most interested. The date of the map is 1879.
This map, along with the 1881 census forms the basis of my study of the area. My grandfather
was born here in 1880.
Below the map is a table (yellow background) which contains clickable links to pioneers in
the neighbourhood. Today, this area is bordered by the Mitch Owens Road on the north,
the Snake Island Road to the south, on the west by the River Road and to the east by Bank Street
/ Highway 31.
Source: Belden's 1879 Maps of Carleton County.
There are many more names of pioneers, other than those from Osgoode, further down on this page.
To Osgoode and Gloucester Townships
1. Michael DALEY of the Osgoode Township Historical Society has done a lot of work in this area.
2.Our Lady of the Visitation Parish, 140th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet, 1845-1985.
3. Various tombstone inscriptions in Gloucester and Osgoode Townships.
4. The March 1999 issue of the Osgoode Township Historical Society Newsletter has more details
(specifically, an article written by Michael DALEY. The Historical Society also has published a series of family histories.
Visit the Web Site of the Osgoode Township Historical Society and Museum
The following Counties in Ireland today make up what is called Northern Ireland:
Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone. The remaining Counties form the
Republic of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is independent.
Here are a few names of pioneers in the military settlement at Richmond
(from 1818) and in Nepean Township (mostly Jockvale and
The tombstone on the left, below, is from Glendalough Cemetery in County
Wicklow, Ireland, where many of our Byrne / Burns ancestors are buried. This "Celtic
Cross" type of headstone was used on the tombstones of the first couple of
generations of Irish Catholics after they settled in Canada. There are many
Celtic Crosses in the older parts of Our Lady of Visitation Cemetery (South
Gloucester), in St. Johns Cemetery in Enniskerry, Ontario, and in St. Michael's
Cemetery in Corkery. Other very old cemeteries in the area are at Kemptville
Quyon (St. Bridget's) in the Pontiac) and Mount St. Patrick in Renfrew County.
The tombstone on the right, below, is that of my Great-Grandparents, James
Burns and Annie Robb (b. Scotland).
Upon a grey old battered tombstone
In Glendalough beside the stream
Where the O'BYRNES and BYRNES are buried
He stretched his bones and fell in a dream
Of sun and moon that a good hour
Bellowed and pranced in the round tower.
Excerpt from "Under the Round Tower" by William Butler Yeats Maps... Fawne Stratford-Devai's links to Historical Maps of Ontario
Counties and Districts. A really useful compilation!
The McCabe List, 1829 - and the Construction of the Rideau Canal
The McCabe List ... Here are the references to the
name "Burns" from the McCabe List ( a list of early Irish (1829) in and near
Bytown (Ottawa)). This is a very valuable resource containing almost 700
individuals. It is the first documentation of many individuals in Canada
and gives their county and parish of origin in Ireland.
Bruce Elliott has written a book called The McCabe List. It's available
from Global Genealogy Supply. There's a link to their website a little further
on in this page. The ISBN is 1-55075-048-8 .
The Rideau Canal ... The History of the Rideau Canal
The Steam Boat "Rideau" ... and it's first trip from Kingston to Bytown in 1832
The Illinois and Michigan Canal ...
was built beginning in 1836. Many of the workers from the Rideau Canal went
to Illinois. Here's an excerpt from the Illinois Web Page:
"The Irish began arriving in northern Illinois in large numbers in 1836,
to work on the I and M Canal. They continued to pour into the area during
the Great Potato Famine of 1845-7, during which time the population of Ireland
decreased by over two million people through death and emigration. After
1848 many Irish moved to the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, where they
worked in meat-packing plants and brickyards. Other Irish spread throughout
northern Illinois, often becoming farmers in canal towns."
Some Irish fraternal and benevolent societies.
The Great Irish Famine, 1845-1849
Here is the definitive work on the Famine: The Great Hunger - Ireland,
1845-1849, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, Penguin Books (Paperback, about
$20.00 Cdn. at Chapters)
An example of sailing ships used to transport emigrants from the British Isles to
North America in the 1800s was the Perseverance.
Assisted Emigration from the Shirley Estate in County Monaghan, 1846-1853
An excellent description of Workhouses in Ireland. (by Peter Higginbotham)
It was no leisurely cruise on the Elizabeth and Sarah , a coffin ship which came from County Mayo to Quebec in 1846.
A description of Children's Burial Sites in County Mayo.
Grosse Isle Web Site ... Information on the Famine from a Canadian Immigration Perspective
Beginning in the 1850's, as a large second generation faced a shortage of available
land in the area close to Ottawa, some members of many of the families listed on
this page left for the U.S. - mainly to Iowa,Illinois,Michigan,Wisconsin,North Dakota, MinnesotaNew York and, Manitoba.
Iowa's farmland was advertized in the Ottawa newspapers beginning about 1852. Many
farm families emigrated to Clinton County, Iowa. The lumbering industry of northern
Michigan and Wisconsin drew many folks from the Ottawa Valley. Farmers were also attracted
to North Dakota. Iowa was also a gateway to subsequent migration to Kansas and Nebraska.
In the 1870's, people often went to Montana.
Migration was a two-way road -- according to the 1881 Census of Carleton County, there were
648 persons who were born in the United States of America but now were living in the Ottawa
There is a re-union of the Costello and many other families who went to Petersville, Iowa.
The re-union is being held in Iowa on June 3, 2003.
In some cases, families (usually brothers) split up and some emigrated to Canada while other
family members went to Australia. Roderick Hawley, born in 1796, came to Nepean Township
in 1834 while some of his relatives went to Australia.
Members of the Fuller and Taylor families from County Clare, Ireland, came to
Torbolton Township for a while then left for Australia and New Zealand.
Some other families were enticed to the Maniwaki / Gracefield / Kazabazua area of Quebec.
The townships of North and South Plantagenet are to the east of the City of Ottawa. The
village of Riceville, on the Scotch River is located here.
Just to the east of the Plantagenet Townships are the Townships of West Hawkesbury and Caledonia.
Mayo, Quebec is a small village northeast of Buckingham. Many of its pioneers came
from County Mayo in Ireland.
Lochaber Township, Quebec, is on the north shore of the Ottawa River, east of Masson.
It includes the town of Thurso. Around the year 1850, there are about a dozen families
from Lochaber recorded in the records of Notre Dame Cathedral in Bytown. Most
of the surnames are of French origin but Michael McCormick from County Tipperary
settled in Lochaber Township. In 1802, Scots came from Lochaber, Scotland to Glengarry
Township in Upper Canada and some of them may have settled on the Quebec side.
Cemetery Listings for Bois-Franc and the Old Gracefield Cemeteries
Cemetery Listing for St. James' Anglican Church in Gracefield.
St. Jacques Le Majeur church records at Portage du Fort
Some names from St. John's in the Wilderness Cemetery, (Church of England) in Aylwin, Quebec
and some from St. Andrew's Presbyterian Cemetery, also in Aylwin, Quebec.
James Cleland has transcribed the names from the Northfield Cemetery, south of Bouchette, Quebec.
Edie Lacharity Sage has recorded Holy Trinity Anglican Cemetery at Danford, Quebec.
Garry McFadden has transcribed the index for Births, Marriages and Deaths at
St. Martin's RC Church in Martindale, Quebec. He also
has transcribed, alphabetically, the names on the Martindale Pioneer Memorial which
commemorates most of the original settlers who came to that area during the Great Irish
Catherine SULLIVAN, 1851 - 1927, my Great-Grandmother, daughter of
Nicholas O'SULLIVAN (1806-1862) from County Meath
and Mary McGEE (1823 - 1861), from County Armagh
(Catherine SULLIVAN married Thomas CHRISTOPHER Sr. of the Stage Coach
Road - Lot 4, Concession 4)
All family members of this generation are buried at Our Lady of Visitation,
South Gloucester (Formerly called St. Mary's)