Westport, Ontario

From Academic Kids

The Village of Westport is located at the west end of Upper Rideau Lake, at the head of the navigable Rideau Canal system. A quiet little village with a population of about 700 (2001), it is a very popular destination spot for tourists due to the number of interesting shops in the town. A public wharf on a man-made island has dock space for up to 30 vessels. The harbour also has a picnic area, barbecues, and sewage pumpout facilities.

Fishing in the area is particularly good because of the fish-rearing ponds set up by the Ontario provincial government in 1957. Perch, smallmouth bass, pickerel and pike populate the waters.

Foley Mountain Park, the highest conservation area in the Rideau Valley, features a variety of wildlife in 600 acres (2.4 km²) of woods and fields, and a sandy beach. The 300 km Rideau Trail, linking Kingston to Ottawa passes through the conservation area.

Events in Westport include the annual Antique Show and Sale, held on the first weekend in June, the annual Rideau Valley Art Festival, held at the end of August, and the very popular Fall Colours Studio Tour, held annually on Thanksgiving weekend in October.

History

The first settlers to the Westport area arrived in the period between 1810 and 1820. The land on which Westport now sits was originally granted by the Crown to a Mr. Hunter, but he never settled in the area and was eventually purchased by Reuben Sherwood in 1817. Some of this land was later purchased by the Stoddard and Manhard families. The small community was known as Head of the Lake. In 1828, Stoddard built a saw mill and in 1829 the Manhards built a saw mill and grist mill. It became known at that time as Manhard's Mills. It was two local merchants, Aaron Chambers and Lewis Cameron, who in 1841, named the village Westport, the name reflecting its location at the west end of Upper Rideau Lake. The village of Westport was incorporated in 1904.

Westport remained a thriving commercial centre through the 19th century and into the 20th century. The building of the Rideau Canal allowed goods to be shipped north to Ottawa and south to Kingston. In 1882, an entrepreneur named R.G. Harvey proposed an ambitious project to build a railway from Brockville to Sault Ste. Marie. The project ran out of money after the section from Brockville to Westport had been completed in 1888. The Brockville-Westport line moved goods, mail and people to and from the St. Lawrence and Westport. The rail line also brought tourists north to Westport starting a tradition of Westport as a tourist destination. The last train travelled the B&W line in 1952.

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