Enjoy the Maple Byway Tours of Lanark County…
Mississippi Mills, approx. 80 miles (130 km)
Quiet villages, rugged farmland and acres upon acres of sugar bush draw strength from the Mississippi River which, for nearly 200 years, has fuelled the growth of this corner of Lanark County. Mills, timber, agriculture and now recreation have tapped into the Mississippi as it gathers steam travelling across the breadth of Lanark County before emptying into the Ottawa River.
The tour starts and finishes in Almonte, approximately 130 km.
150 years ago, Almonte was named “Little Manchester” after the milling activity – especially textiles. Visitors can tour the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum to learn about the textile history. Once known as Shipman’s Mills, Shepherd’s Falls and Waterford, the town became known as Almonte, once and for all, in the 1850s, after a Mexican general of the time who gained renown for defending his country from encroachment by the United States.
Exit Almonte via Martin Street North (County Road 17) to Blakeney. Once a bustling milling community comprising woolen mills, brewery, flour mill, sawmills and tannery, Blakeney is now a suburb of Almonte. Continue north on County Road 17 into Pakenham.
Pakenham features a five-span, century-old, stone-arch bridge across the Mississippi River. Once known for lumber mills, today it’s famous for skiing, shopping and site-seeing. The village was once called Harvey’s Mills at a site known as Little Falls, but was renamed for General Edward Michael Pakenham, who was killed at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
As you leave Pakenham on Waba Road (County Road 20), the RCMP breeding farm can be seen, where horses for the Musical Ride are raised (visits may be arranged by appointment, 613-623-3081/613-623-8831). Continue as this becomes Campbell Side Road (County Road 24).
Turn right on Bellamy Road and follow it south past Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush.
Bellamy Road then becomes 6th Concession Pakenham just before its name changes to Sugar Bush Road. Turn right to head south on Ramsay Concession 7D, and right again to head west on Bellamy Mills Road.
Originally known as Bellamy’s Mills, by 1890, Clayton had become a flourishing commercial centre with a tannery, cooperage, wagon maker, shoemaker, blacksmith, hotels, several mills and more than a dozen merchants.
Before crossing the bridge, turn left onto Bellamy Mills Road. At Concession 7, take a quick left and right onto Bennies Corners Road.
In the 1830s, Bennie’s Corners, with several mills, threatened to rival nearby Shipman’s Mills (later Almonte); however, when the railway bypassed the village in the 1850s, it soon fell into a decline, eventually becoming a ghost town. Yet, it remains the birthplace of Dr. James Naismith, physician, minister and inventor of basketball. It was also honoured in 1863 by a visit from the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII.
Turn right onto Concession 8 to visit the Mill of Kintail. In 1930, sculptor, surgeon, and physical education instructor R. Tait Mackenzie transformed this former flour mill, built a century before, into a studio. Today, it is an art gallery and museum, with walking trails and picnic areas throughout the 63-hectare property on the Indian River.
Continue south on Concession 8 to Leckies Corners, another early village, then turn left onto County Road 16, past the Auld Kirk Cemetery (est. 1836) and into Almonte and the conclusion of your tour.
The Heart of Lanark, approx. 78 miles (125 km)
Smooth roads that often cross paths with the Clyde River and Mississippi River and Lake provide a relaxing drive through bustling towns and quiet villages in the Heart of Lanark. The tour starts and finishes in Carleton Place, approximately 125 km.
Today, Carleton Place, with a direct highway link to Ottawa, is the fastest-growing community in Lanark County. Settlement began here on the Mississippi River in the early 1820s at what was then known as Morphy’s Falls. The early settlers were primarily a mix of Irish and Scottish, Catholic and Protestant, which sometimes led to clashes. The most notable conflict occurred in 1824 during the annual spring militia muster, when an abundance of drink, bad weather, and inactivity erupted into what became known as the Ballygiblin Riots – two weeks of fighting and friction before order was finally restored. Afterwards, most people settled down to build homes and mills and, by mid-century, a prosperous community had emerged. Many of these 19th-century industrial and residential buildings in the centre of Carleton Place have been preserved and renovated to meet the community’s 21st-century needs. Perhaps the most impressive is the historic town hall, complete with concert hall, and the homes along High Street, overlooking the river. Also along the Mississippi River is the Carleton Place Canoe Club, the oldest in Canada (1893).
Leave Carleton Place by Hwy. 29 north, turning right onto Wilson Street to go to Appleton, a very pretty village that once centred around the woolen mill, the ruins of which can still be seen. It was originally named Apple Tree Falls and later Teskeyville, after Joseph Teskey, one of the first settlers and mill owners, who came from Ireland in 1823. Cross the Mississippi River and turn left onto the Appleton Side Road (County Road 17). At Old Almonte Road, turn left to go into Almonte. Turn left onto Ottawa Street to reach the business section.
A drive around Almonte provides a startling contrast between the power of the Mississippi as it hurtles itself downstream and the serenity of fine old homes of stone, brick and clapboard, many dating from the Victorian era.
Leave Almonte via Main West and Almonte streets (County Road 16), which becomes Wolf Grove Road after crossing Christian Street (Hwy. 29). The Auld Kirk Cemetery (est. 1836) was part of the lands of several of the settlement’s original Protestant churches; St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland is still maintained in its original exterior structural condition.
At Union Hall, turn right onto Tatlock Road (County Road 9) to Clayton, on Clayton Lake, which offers water access.
Turn left onto Galbraith Road and travel until you come to Middleville, which is located at the centre of the County of Lanark and the former Township of Lanark, now part of Lanark Highlands.
Turn left onto Herron Mills Road (County Road 8). Today, only ruins remain at the mill site on the Clyde River, a pastoral reminder of 19th-century industry.
Turn left onto Hwy 511, passing through Clydesville, another settlement on the Clyde River, before entering the village of Lanark.
Lanark Village was established in 1820 as one of three military settlements following the War of 1812. In the 19th century, when millions of rafts shot down the Clyde River each spring during the heyday of the timber trade, Lanark was a gathering place for farmers and loggers, who came to town to purchase goods, sell to mills, meet friends and do business.
Continue south on Hwy. 511, turning left onto Ferguson Falls Road (County Road 15).
At Ferguson Falls, we return to the Mississippi River, crossing over it on the way to Boyds Settlement, which is home to an early cemetery. Ferguson Falls was named after Captain George Ferguson, first landholder, who settled here in 1820.
At the intersection with Hwy. 7, which is dominated by St. John’s Anglican Church, turn right.
Turn left at Drummond Centre onto Drummond Concession 7; turn left onto Tennyson Road. Turn right onto 9th Line to Blacks Corners.
Named for an early blacksmith, Blacks Corners features a distinctive war memorial in front of the administrative offices for the Township of Beckwith. Turn left on Hwy. 15 to return to Carleton Place and the conclusion of the tour.
The Highlands, approx. 40 miles (65 km)
Follow quiet roads to clean lakes and unspoiled rivers – this is true cottage country – and take the time to play a round of golf, satisfy your sweet tooth at a sugar bush or tackle one of the many well-groomed ATV/snowmobile trails, including the former line of the legendary “Kick & Push” Railway. Or just relax and enjoy the view.
Tour starts and finishes in Lanark Village, approximately 65 km.
To begin your tour, take Hwy. 511 north, driving through Clydesville to Hopetown.
Continue north on Hwy. 511 to Brightside; turn left onto the French Line. Take a moment to stop in Green Mountain and take in a spectacular vista of rolling hills and rugged farms. The cemetery at St. Declan’s Roman Catholic Church was opened in 1898, when marked and unmarked graves from along the Clyde River were re-interred here.
Turn left onto Campbell’s Road; go past Joe’s Lake to Flower Station Road. A short detour will bring you to Clyde Forks. Clyde Forks provides one of several access points for the K&P, a former rail line from Kingston to Renfrew, now an all-season trail maintained by Mississippi Valley Conservation (MVC). Continuing along Flower Station Road will bring you to the hamlet of Flower Station, a former stop on the K&P, and Flower Lake, a popular place for swimming and picnicking. Both were named after the family who owned much of the K&P stock.
Retrace your route to Joe’s Lake; turn right onto Black Creek Road. Watch out for pioneer barns and a 1970s “dome” home. Turn right onto South Lavant Road (County Road 16), and drive to the hamlet of Lavant on Robertson Lake, which has a beach, picnic area and boat launch. Lavant and the historic township of Lavant were named in honour of the county seat in Sussex of the Duke of Richmond, who visited the area in 1819 as governor-in-chief of the Canadas.
Turn right onto Lavant Mill Road, which is reminiscent of what the country looked like during the 19th-century timber trade; however, please be advised that it is not maintained during the winter. (In that case, retrace your route on South Lavant Road [County Road 16] to Poland and pick up the tour there.)
At County Road 12, turn left toward McDonald’s Corners. This hilltop village features several churches, including picturesque St. Columbkill’s, and a willow labyrinth at the old schoolhouse.
Turn left onto Concession 9, to Dalhousie Lake. A detour up Sugar Bush Lane presents a good view of the lake, around which are places for swimming, boating, picnicking and golfing.
Turn right onto County Road 8, then left onto Concession 8.
Purdon Conservation Area Orchid Trail and Visitors’ Centre, Patterson Lake, is in full bloom in late June/early July, but its boardwalk and lookout, all wheelchair accessible, make it an attractive stop other times of the year, too. This rare fen is inhabited by more than 16,000 wild Showy Lady’s Slipper orchids, as well as pitcher plants, propagated by the late Joe and Norah Purdon in the mid-20th century.
Continue on Concession 8 to Poland.
Drive past old farmsteads, lined with split-rail fences, and dense forest before turning right onto Dalhousie Concession 3 and through the crossroad of Hood, which is distinguished by a cluster of houses and St. James United Church (1859).
Watsons Corners is home to the oldest rural library in Canada, courtesy of the ninth Earl of Dalhousie, governor-in-chief of the Canadas (1820-28)
Before turning left at Fiddler’s Hill, you’ll see an old schoolhouse where the descendants of early settlers learned their three Rs, just before a rocky ridge where, on the right, is a geological formation known as an Indian Grindstone.
Keep right at the next intersection to return to Lanark and the conclusion of your tour.
Tay Valley, approx. 75 miles (120 km)
Following the War of 1812, a group of Scottish emigrants took advantage of government incentives to leave the impoverished lowlands and start a new life in the British military settlements of Upper Canada. However, they maintained links to the old by naming communities and landmarks after familiar places back home, and by using their skills to build substantial mills, fine homes and tidy farms. Tay Valley became the cradle for much of this Scottish – and Irish – industriousness, much of it lovingly preserved under the careful stewardship of subsequent generations.
Tour starts and finishes in Perth; approximately 120 km.
Perth was established in 1816 as the social, administrative and judicial centre for emerging settlements back of the Front. The strict social code of the British military guided the settlement for many years, the most illustrious example being duelling, including the fatal duel of 1833 between rival law students over the affections of a local governess. The many elegant Georgian homes stand testament to the town’s early prominence, while its museums, shops, restaurants, parks and festivals contribute to the town’s continuing popularity.
After exploring Perth, take Hwy. 7 west, then turn right onto Hwy. 511 to Balderson.
Now a bustling crossroads of shops and cafés, this was once home of the Balderson Cheese Factory, one of 12 local cheese factories involved in creating the Mammoth Cheese. The 22,000-pound cheddar (a replica of which is on display in Perth) was exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair on behalf of the Canadian dairy industry, The hamlet was named for John Balderson, a solider in the Duke of Wellington’s army, who settled here in 1816.
Turn left onto Fallbrook Road, turning right at the stop sign toward the former milling community of Fallbrook on the Fall River. Continue through the picturesque hamlet to Playfairville, once the site of several mills on the Mississippi River and now marked only by a former Methodist/United Church chapel.
Turn left onto County Road 12 toward McDonald’s Corners.
If you have a sweet tooth, watch for any one of the many maple syrup producers who tap the lush maple forests each spring and sell their products at the farm gate. Or stop for a round of golf. The rugged terrain provides both challenge and beauty.
Turn left onto Dalhousie Concession 9, right onto Highland Line, right onto Concession 2 and left onto County Road 12, which takes you to Elphin. Although tiny and remote, it has become a vibrant community of artists, artisans and other independent spirits who maintain the self-reliant spirit of the early settlers.
Turn right on County Road 36 toward Snow Road Station. While winters are beautiful in this area, the former station for the Kingston & Pembroke Railway was in fact named for the surveyor of Palmerston Township. Note the unusual rock formations.
Turn left onto Hwy. 509, which runs parallel in places to the old K&P line, now a recreational trail maintained by Mississippi Valley Conservation .
Turn right onto Robertsville Road.
Turn right onto Elphin-Maberly Road (County Road 36), toward the charming village of Maberly on the Fall River. Cross Hwy. 7 and continue south on County Road 36 to Bolingbroke on the Tay River. The road then crosses a narrow strip of land separating Bob’s Lake, headwaters of the Tay River, and Farren Lake, also part of the Tay Watershed.
Turn left onto Althorpe Road (County Road 6) and past Althorpe United Church, which is the only remaining vestige of that village. While not visible, the road runs parallel to Christie Lake, which empties into the Tay at the crossing where County Road 6 becomes the Christie Lake Road.
Turn right at the crossroads of Dewitt Corners onto Menzies Munroe Side Road for a scenic drive along the Tay and past abandoned mill sites. This section of the tour follows narrow, twisty roads, so please drive with care.
Turn left onto Noonan Side Road, which runs parallel to the Tay and past the ruins of Adam’s Mills. Heron, otter and other water life are frequently spotted, not to mention canoeists and kayakers coasting down the swift-flowing river. Turn left onto the Upper Scotch Line, past the Scotch Line cemetery and an old stone schoolhouse. Turn left onto Bowes’ Side Road, another road from a bygone era, crossing the Tay again at a former mill site that once generated hydro-electricity for the adjoining farm. Turn right onto the Christie Lake Road (County Road 6). Turn right onto Glen Tay Road.
Glen Tay was once known as Adamsville after its founder, Captain Joshua Adams. This veteran of the War of 1812 was among the first to draw a lot in the Perth Military Settlement and establish a business, a tavern later known as The Red House, when the visiting Duke of Richmond recommended that the structure be painted red. He later gave up the tavern to erect one of the first saw and grist mills at what is now Glen Tay. By the end of the century, a substantial milling complex had been built, along with a village around it. Unlike other mills on the Tay, the Glen Tay mill has been preserved, albeit as a private residence.
Turn left onto the Scotch Line (County Road 10), which was named in honour of the original Scottish settlers. The names on many of the mailboxes still reflect this heritage, as do the fine stone farmhouses that line the road into Perth and the conclusion of your tour.