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Walking Tour of Westport

(print this out and take it with you on your next visit to Westport)

Walking Tour of Westport Map

1. RIDEAU DISTRICT MUSEUM (29 Bedford St.) Was built in 1859 and was used by Conley and Truelove who manufactured boats, furniture and coffins. In 1861 owner George Murphy installed two forges and bellows. For many years, the resident blacksmith used the second floor as his family dwelling. The Rideau District Museum opened its doors in the old blacksmith shop in June, 1961.

2. TOWN HALL (30 Bedford St.) This is the original building constructed in 1853 for $300.00 and used as the town hall for North Crosby Township. In 1904, when the Village of Westport was incorporated, both groups used it until overcrowding forced the Township to seek other facilities. In 1979, the Senior Citizens obtained a grant to renovate and extend the ground floor for their club activities. It is also used by other organizations with the Seniors' permission.

3. OLD WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH (28 Bedford St., beside the Town Hall) was built in 1850 at the comer of Bedford St. and County Road 36. It was moved to its present location around 1890 and turned into a private residence. You can still see the outline of one of the church windows on the side of the building.

4. FORMER MASONIC HALL (22 Bedford St.) was built by the Independent Order of Oddfellows. The Masonic Order acquired it in the early 30s and sold it in the late 1990s. The original tin siding is still in evidence.

5. PARKING LOT CREATED IN 1997 Originally, this was the site of a large general store owned by the McNally brothers, which burned along with the Wardrobe Hotel. in 1933, George Scott began operating an open-air dance platform. Then in 1948, George built a quonset building and he and his wife, Florence, continued to hold dances each weekend. In the big band era of the 50s, orchestras from Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, and the States were popular. The building was demolished in 1997 and is now a parking lot.

6. PEST HOUSE was across the pond from the end of Church St. and was painted red. It was used during a smallpox epidemic (late 1880s - 1890s). At that time, families could only afford to have one member vaccinated. It was usually the mother and then the rest of the family was inoculated with a hot needle and the pus from the mother's vaccination. The Pest House was closed in 1902.

7. THE COVE (COUNTRY INN) - The main part of this building was the residence of W.H. Fredenburgh, one of the early merchants and lumbermen. It was built about 1876. Since then, it has been extended and changed hands several times. It was first used as a hotel in 1930. It was owned by Alex and Lena Brown and called the Lexena Hotel.

8. THE ROBERTS' HOUSE (21 Main St.) was built in the foundation of W.C. Fredenburgh's furniture factory. James S. Ryan bought the factory and began renovations for a hotel but due to financial difficulties he abandoned the idea. Later, it burned, leaving only the foundation.

9. THE ORIGINS OF WESTPORT The early mills and businesses were located in this area at the head of the Upper Rideau Lake. There was no pond, but a stream came down from Sand Lake and divided to form an island at this point. At that time the water level in the Upper Rideau Lake was four feet lower than it is today. The very first mill in Westport, owned and operated by the Manhard brothers, was located on the mainland at the foot of the hill. It was built in 1817-1818. The first store was built close by in 1830 by David Sinclair. In 1862, Matthew Walker Scott built a tannery beside the stream running on the north side of the island. That stream ran through a wooden culvert. The stone house was built by this same Mr. Scott in 1870. In 1877, he built the white house, just south of the stone one, for his hired hand. A factory, which once manufactured one-piece harness buckles invented by A.M. Craig, a Westport resident, became a sawmill in the 20s operated by Fred Scott, son of M.W. Scott. Later it was used as a dance hall and then was purchased by the Dept. of Lands and Forests for a fish hatchery with living accommodation and offices for the staff. It was converted to a condominium in 1988.

10. LOCKWOOD'S HOUSE AND BUSINESS (now STEDMANS) Hiram W. Lockwood built a general store on the corner of Bedford and Main Sts. in 1872. In 1898, the Lockwood store became the Union Bank and since than has changed hands several times.

11. CAWLEY'S AND DARBY'S HOUSES (Main St.) These stone houses are two of the oldest residences in Westport. They are both present in photographs taken in 1871.

12. BENNETT'S STORE AND ADJOINING BUILDINGS The original stone building which had no windows or front door housed a tombstone-cutting business. Later, R.H. Whaley made it into a drug store. The frame buildings beside it along Main Street were a post office (Westport's original - built in 1845), a poolroom, a law office and a barbershop. In 1924 Mike Bennett bought it and established an ice cream parlour. His son, Bruce, operated a magazine shop and confectionery until his death in 1996.

13. MCEWEN BUILDING - BANK OF MONTREAL (41 Main St.) Originally it was the Cameron Hotel with its stables out behind. It became the Merchants' Bank and then The Bank of Montreal. The drug store was not part of the original wood frame building.

14. WESTPORT SPRING - Indian artifacts found on this site indicate that it was used as a campsite. From pioneer days, it has been a focal point of the village.

15. POST OFFICE was built by Thos. Roberts from location stone in 1935 along the lines of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Note the stone carvings of animals on the tower and around the door. The building was purchased by the Village of Westport in August, 1994. This enabled the building of the Visitor Welcome Centre behind it.

16. FOLEY HOUSE (45 Main St.,) Declan Foley, a prominent businessman, bought the land in 1864 and built a store and residence there. The Rideau Queen and Rideau King ships that used the canal anchored at this wharf.

17. BOWES AND COCKS REALTOR / SALON 93 (40 Main St.,) This beautiful stone building (circa 1850) is one of the oldest in Westport. It was originally a general store and then became a hotel called The American House. Between it and the Post Office, set back from the street, was the Bowes Tavern (1853-1870). It was here that D'Arcy McGee came in 1866 to try to sell Confederation to the villagers.

18. VISITOR WELCOME CENTRE Built in 1995, the Welcome Centre provides visitors to Westport with public washroom facilities, showers and a tourist information centre operated by the Chamber of Commerce. The building was realized in part through a grant from the Province of Ontario, and the cooperative efforts and fundraising activities of the Village, the Harbour Committee, the Westport & District Chamber of Commerce as well as many community groups and volunteers.

19. PUBLIC LIBRARY was built in 1987 but a library has existed in the village since the late 1800s.

20. UNITED CHURCH was built as a Methodist Church in 1889, by Alba Taggart. It is remarkable for its three doorways and two spires. The foundation is local stone. Interesting interior features are the pull-out seats at the ends of each pew and the floor which slopes towards the pulpit. It became the United Church of Westport in 1925 at the time of Church Union.

21. TURNBULL'S FIND (18 Church St.) Was built in the late 1800s as the home and shop of A.M. Craig, inventor of the one-piece harness buckle. Between 1903 and 1920, it was used at different times as a drug store, doctors' and dentists' offices, and a pool hall. The Catholic Women's League owned it from 1921 until 1988. It was used for many purposes including temporary accommodation after a major fire in 1923 gutted many of the village hotels. It was renovated in 1988 to house offices and a third floor apartment.

22. A VICTORIAN REFLECTION (Bed & Breakfast) (16 Church St). Built in late 1800s, was the home of Dr. M.D. Berry; at his death Dr. C.W. Stevens, Dentist, bought it; for many years he cared for the teeth of the community. It then became the Fielding House Bed & Breakfast. Now owned by Denise Doucet and Barry Shostak, it is operated as A Victorian Reflection Bed & Breakfast.

23. CONLEY HOUSE (1879) (14 Church St.) Was the home of an early Westport boat builder and furniture maker. The owner's carpentry skills are evident in the elaborate gingerbread trim. Mr. Conley built the original shop that houses the Museum.

24. OLIVET BAPTIST CHURCH (30 Church St.) The first church in the Village of Westport was built in the early 1830s on Concession St where the Baptist Cemetery is located. The frame building was used both as a church and a schoolhouse. When this frame structure was no longer usable, the Baptists built the present church in 1885.

25. HAMILTON HOUSE (17 Spring St.) This old home believed to have been built in 1850, was located near Bedford Mills and owned by a logging camp operator, John Chaffey. in 1876 the current owner, W.J. Webster, decided to move the house to Westport. The house was cut in half and floated on two huge rafts across two lakes to Newboro, through the locks, and up the Upper Rideau to Westport. Here the two sections were drawn up the street by horses and re-assembled where it now stands.

26. FORMER FREE METHODIST CHURCH This building was formerly the Free Methodist church, until a new one was built on Bedford Street West in 1990. (See # 34). In the 1990s it was the Rideau Lakes School of Dance and today it is a private residence.

27. ST. PAUL'S ANGLICAN CHURCH (Cor. of George & Spring Sts.) Was built in 1890 with a grant from St. Mary's Anglican Church in Newboro. Mr. Carbonneau, owner of the Westport Marble Works and personal friend of Canada's first Prime Minister, erected the marble reredos behind the altar including a marble stone at the base of the Cross. The stone's inscription was "TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN LOVING MEMORY OF SIR JOHN A. MacDONALD, DIED JUNE 6, 1891." The Bishop of Niagara, who officially opened the church, did not approve of the stone's prominent place, and ordered it moved to a comer of the sanctuary, where it remains.

28. LOCKWOOD MEMORIAL FIELD AND COMMUNITY CENTRE The land was purchased from W.H. Fredenburgh by a citizens' group for community use. In 1929 it was sold to the village council who received a grant of $1,100.00 in 1930 to help pay for it. Booths along Concession St. were for the sale of refreshments during events or as dressing rooms for local actors. They were also used to store portable flooring which was laid out on the field and used as a dance floor or stage. The citizens' group imported shows such as the Swiss Bell Ringers to raise money to build the gates located at the George St. entrance which are in memory of fallen and veterans of World War I. "Buster" Lockwood, grandson of a former merchant in Westport, donated money in the mid-1980s to improve the area to its present state. He officiated at the field's dedication in July of 1989. The new Community Centre was erected in 1978, aided by a Wintario grant.

29. KNOX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (Cor. Concession and George Sts.) The first church was built on this site in 1859. It was destroyed by fire in February, 1896. Ten months later, the congregation erected the present building. The pews and pulpit were made locally in W. C. Fredenburgh's furniture factory. Originally, a cone-shaped tower stood on top of the entrance. Because of its open design, it did not withstand Canadian winters and had to be removed.

30. RAILWAY STATION (Concession St.) This was the northern terminus of what was to be the Brockville, Westport, Sault Ste. Marie Rail Road. It was built to carry passengers, trade and agricultural products, and the mail to and from the St. Lawrence River area. It was in operation from 1888 to 1952. The building is now part of the Westport Station Motel, and for a time served as the Chamber of Commerce Tourist Information service and public washrooms.

31. WESTPORT PUBLIC AND CONTINUATION SCHOOL (Cor. Concession and Rideau Sts.) Was built in 1899. The style of the two-storey structure was popular throughout Canada. In 1908 the Westport School Board received a grant to develop a continuation school upstairs. This was one of the few such schools approved by the Province at the time. This part of the school was closed in 1960 when the Rideau District High School was built in Elgin. The elementary grades moved into Rideau Vista Public School in 1968.

32. ST. EDWARD'S SCHOOL AND CONVENT (Cor. Concession and Bedford Sts.) The original school building and the Convent were built in 1886. The sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame were invited to take charge of the school. According to the custom of the time, only girls were taught here until 1903, at which time the Department of Education stated that boys would be allowed to attend. It was one of the two Separate Schools in Ontario in 1896 allowed to offer two years of continuation school, in compliance with the Ontario School Act. In 1916, it offered four years of high school and in 1940, permission was granted to include Grade 13. In 1970, the old two-storey school was torn down and the modem one built. The Convent closed in 1987 and the building is now used by the Catholic Women's League for church and community functions.

33. ST. EDWARD'S CATHOLIC CHURCH (Concession St. and Bedford St.) The cornerstone of this church was laid on August 31,1859. The spire, 150 feet high, topped by the cross, 15 feet high by 11 feet across, was added in 1882. The church building is of Gothic Revival style. It has a high vaulted ceiling, large pillars, and a beautiful choir loft. The church's location on the sloping hill with its corridor of maple trees adds a great deal to the beauty of the setting.

34. FREE METHODIST CHURCH (Bedford St. West.) was built in 1990. Stained glass windows from the old church at Spring and George Sts. were moved to the inside of the vestibule of the new church. The electric carillon was also moved.

This brochure was first designed and produced in 1989 by the Rideau District Museum with the assistance of a grant from the Ministry of Culture & Communications, Province of Ontario.

It was redesigned and reprinted in 1997 with special thanks for various private donations.

Digital versions created in 2003 by Ken W. Watson.

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©1996- Ken W. Watson