| ABOUT NEWBORO
Newboro, a small community located on County Road 42, is a popular destination spot for anglers wishing to land one of the big Largemouth Bass that populate Newboro Lake. It is also a popular stop for boaters since Newboro is located adjacent to the Newboro lockstation of the Rideau Canal. It's a good spot to go shopping or have a quiet lunch or dinner at the restaurant or inn. |
Newboro hosts one of the four blockhouses built by Colonel John By to protect the Rideau. Whether you come by boat or by car, the lockstation is a nice place to stop, get out, and stretch your legs. Also, check out the Newboro Loon, located in "downtown" Newboro.
Newboro is one of the few communities that arose as a direct result of the building of the Rideau Canal. Originally known as "The Isthmus", it marks the watershed divide between waters flowing north to Ottawa and those flowing south to Kingston. Colonel By faced a significant challenge here, he needed to blast a canal cut through hard rock, in order to join Mud Lake (now Newboro Lake) with Rideau Lake. The original plan did not call for a lock at Newboro. There were going to be two locks at Chaffey's Mills, sufficient to raise the water level to that of Rideau Lake. However, more detailed surveys of Mud Lake showed that this could not be done, the only solution was to put in a lock at The Isthmus.
The building of the canal at The Isthmus was a major battle with nature. During the original survey of the area, no borings had been done, so the hard rock, hidden under surface soil and gravel, came as a surprise. The two contractors, Hartwell and Stevenson, were forced to abandon their contracts. By, in late 1829, put the work directly under the command of the 7th Company of Royal Miners and Sappers. In 1830, there were 62 military personnel and 270 labourers stationed at The Isthmus. Malaria, then called "Lake Fever", attacked many of the men during the first week of August. The "sickly season" as it was known, was usually over by early September. In 1830, some 250 of the 330 men at the site were sick with fever and 14 died. An equal number of women and children on the site were also affected by malaria.
In addition to the building of the lock at The Isthmus, an additional alteration was made to the original plan, that of adding a lock and a dam at a narrowing of Rideau Lake. Surveys showed that the west end of Rideau Lake could be raised by 5 feet. So Narrows Lock was built, raising the water level of Upper Rideau Lake, and reducing the depth of the required rock excavation in the Newboro canal cut.
During the construction of the canal, some 60 log buildings sprang up. Many were built to house the workers, but some were built by merchants near the bridge over the canal cut, taking advantage of the captive market. This was the start of the village of Newboro.
After the construction of the canal, the community at The Isthmus was called New Borough and in 1836 the post office built there shortened it to Newboro'. It was incorporated as a village in 1876.
Newboro served as a service centre for commercial boat traffic plying goods up and down the Rideau. By 1850 it had a population of 300. The stone bridge abutments that boat travellers see in the canal cut were built in the late 1800s. The southern stone abutments were built in 1897 for a new bridge, replacing the original 1832 bridge (rebuilt in 1860). That bridge was removed in 1952 when the current concrete highway bridge was built. The second set of abutments was for the B&W railway, built from Brockville to Westport, and completed in 1888. The railway bridge was removed in 1953 after the closing of the B&W railway.
For more heritage information about Newbor, view the Newboro Walking Tour on the Township of Rideau Lakes website, www.rideaulakes.ca.