| ABOUT CHAFFEY'S LOCK* |
* Chaffeys Locks, Chaffeys Lock or Chaffey's Lock? The official name of the community is Chaffeys Locks but locals prefer the use of Chaffey's Lock. The lockstation at this location is known as Chaffeys Lock.
Chaffey's Lock is located on the Rideau Canal between Opinicion and Indian lakes. It is accessible from Highway 15 via Chaffeys Lock Road, CR.9. It is a small community that grew up around the Rideau lockstation at this location. Today you'll find two marinas, one with a liquor store, a restaurant, pub, ice cream shop, and a museum.
The restaurant, pub and ice cream shop are all part of the Opinicon, formerly a hotel and resort. Adjacent to the lock you'll find the Lockmaster's House Museum operated by the Chaffey's Lock and Area Heritage Society. The Cataraqui Trail, part of the Trans-Canada trail system, crosses over the Rideau Canal, on the old iron railway bridge at this location. There is also the short Marion Dunn Trail that leads from the community hall to the Chaffey's Lock Cemetery.
In 1820, brothers Samuel and Benjamin Chaffey erected a sawmill here. In 1822 Samuel started building other mills and by 1826 had a
sawmill, grist mill, carding mill and a distillery in operation. The original plan for the Rideau Canal in this area called for 2 detached locks with one of those in a bypass channel that would allow the mills to continue operating. This proved impossible and in the end, Colonel By bought out the mills. Samuel Chaffey had died in 1827 and there was some delay as his widow, Mary Ann, and his brother Benjamin, disputed the ownership of the mills. That was settled in October 1829 and the mills were removed in 1830 and a single lock was built in the middle of the channel. The contractor for the site was John Sheriff & Co. Sheriff died and his partner John Haggart completed the job. One traveller commented that this spot was known as Haggart's Job, "as under the management of a jolly bachelor of that name, well known for convivial hospitality to all travellers by this route."
There was no community at this site after the completion of the canal, just the lockstaff resided here. In 1844, a single storey defensible locksmaster's house was built (the second storey was added in 1894/95). In 1872, John Chaffey, a nephew of Samuel Chaffey, built a grist mill, the same one that can still be seen today (although now with a wooden rather than stone front due to flood damage early in the 20th century). This was the start of the community. In 1884, a Kingpost Truss wooden bridge was built across the lock.
In about 1899, Lockmaster William Fleming acquired the property the Opinicon sits on today. He built a tourist lodge in this location. In about 1902, William Laishley bought the property, added a wing to the building and called it Idylwild. He operated it as a tourist resort until 1904 when he sold it a fishing club from Youngstown, Ohio, who operated it as a private club known as the “Opinicon Club”. In 1921 it was purchased by Mae and William Phillips of Pittsburgh who turned it back into a public tourist resort. The Opinicon had many years of glory as a resort. Today it is operated as a restaurant and pub.
In 1912, the Canadian Northern Railway came to Chaffeys and built the iron railway bridge, part of their Montreal
to Ottawa to Toronto line. The tracks were lifted in the early 1990s and, in 2000, it became a crossing for
the Cataraqui Trail, part of the Trans-Canada Trail system.
During WWI, a convalescent hospital was built on Fettercairn Island (today's Richardson Island) in Indian Lake. Injured and shell shocked troops arrived by train to Chaffeys and were boated to the island to enjoy the recuperative relaxation powers of the Rideau.
The early development of tourism was due to the tremendous fishing in the surrounding lakes, particularly for largemouth bass. In the 20th century, Chaffey's became a central hub for the Rideau fishing guiding industry.