Elgin is situated just off Highway 15 and offers many services for both the visitor and local resident. The main street features a post office, pharmacy, video store, grocery store, bank, florist shop, electronics store, hardware store, antique store, restaurant, and more. There is a liquor store, furniture store, laundromat and a car wash. There are four churches in town, a library, a public school and a regional high school. Although there is no doctor in town, an ambulance is stationed less than a kilometre from town. The local population is about 300 but in the summer Elgin serves as the hub for several thousand cottage residents.
There are no accommodations right in Elgin, but there are several campgrounds, cottages and Inns located nearby.
Points of interest located nearby include the Rideau Canal locks at Jones Falls, Davis and Chaffeys, all within easy driving distance. Visitors to the area will also want to check out the cheese factory at Forfar, located just a few kilometres north of Elgin. In August, be sure to pick up some delicious fresh corn from local farmers. Elgin is located in the heart of corn country. A golf course is located just a few kilometres south of town.
Elgin Days, an annual festival with a parade, flea market, barbecue and more, is usually held on the second weekend of July.
In 1801, the land on which the village of Elgin now sits was granted to Susannah Wiltse and Rebecca Wing, daughters of United Empire Loyalists. However, it was the Halladay family, who moved into the area in 1802, and acquired the lands granted to Wiltse and Wing, that were to be come the founders of Elgin. Ebenezer Halladay, who was just seven when the family moved into the area, would become the driving force behind the founding of Elgin. It was Ebenezer, who, in the 1820s, began clearing the land occupied by present-day Elgin. The building of the Rideau Canal greatly improved commerce in the area, and by the 1830s a village known as Halladay's Corners had built up. It was linked by road with Jones Falls. One of the most momentous events in Elgin's history was when Mormon missionaries arrived in the region in the 1830s and recruited many families. In 1834, one hundred and thirty five covered wagons left Halladay's Corners for Mormon settlements in the United States. It must have been quite a sight. For a brief time Elgin took on the Mormon name Nauvoo, meaning "beautiful". The present name of Elgin (pronounced Elg in, NOT El gin) was given to the community in 1850 in honour of James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, one time Governor-General of Canada.
There are many historic buildings in Elgin. The oldest structure is the Ebenezer Halladay House, located on Kingston Street, built in 1844. A stone house, it has stucco/plaster covering the stonework (as is common with many stone houses in the region). Just down the road, the Elgin Hotel (originally the Empire Hotel), now closed, was built in 1855 and expanded in 1905. The private residence beside the post office was formerly the Alman S. Newman Store, built in 1867. The veranda, added later, covers the original store windows.
Guthrie House, across from the Anglican Church, was originally the Henry Laishley House, built in 1886. St. Paul's Anglican Church was built in 1905. The antique store on Main Street used to be the Dargavel General Store, built in 1893. The United Church was built in 1894, replacing an earlier, structually unsound church, built in 1857. The Halladay Cemetery, located just east of the church, predates both churches. The St. Columbanus Roman Catholic Church was built in 1898. The old brick Public School on Halladay Street was built in 1867 and served Elgin children until 1964.
For detailed information about the history of Elgin, including the full history of all the above noted buildings and several others, read "Hub of the Rideau - A History of South Crosby Township" by Susan Warren, published in 1997.