The first settlers on the site of North Gower were David Barrows, Silas Andrews, William Craig and Russell Andrews. North Gower is located on Stevens Creek, in the centre of the former Rideau Township. The village was formally founded in 1820 by Stephen Blanchard who named it Stephensville.
The earliest settlers in the area were once again United Empire Loyalists. Later settlers were from Ulster, Scotland and England. The early settlers in the area made at least part of their living cutting timber for the British trade. The timber was floated down Stevens Creek to the Rideau River and on to Montreal or Quebec. The last log drive down Stevens Creek took place in 1876.
The first industry in the village was a saw mill operated by water power. The dam and mill pond were between the bridge on Church Street and Fourth Line Road. Light industry included the usual trades for the area and time. There were coopers, blacksmiths, pumpmakers, wheelwrights, harness makers, shoemakers, tailors, dressmakers and milliners.
In this century, North Gower has focussed on agriculture. The surrounding area has a rich soil and is well-cultivated.
Villages of Rideau
Overview of the political history of the 4 larger villages in the former Rideau Township.
The date for the founding of Kars is not reliably known. However there is some indication that settlement had began on the river at Stevens creek about 1820. In 1829 James Lindsay arrived and built a wharf. The building of the Rideau Canal (opened in 1832) gave a boost to commerce in the area as it did for Burritt’s Rapids.
Industry in the area consisted of lumbering, mixed farming, and cheese making. The wharf, the Rideau Canal, and the steamboats provided the transportation link needed for these industries to prosper. The wharf was used regularly by people from an area of 15 to 20 km in all directions to west of the river.
The village was first called Wellington but this conflicted with another town in Ontario. The village was therefore renamed Kars after Kars, Turkey, where the British prevailed against the Russians in the Crimean war in1855.
Today Kars is a pleasant place to live and subdivisions are developing outside the original village. It has a fair in the summer which includes a major dog show. This show is an all breed championship dog show sanctioned by the Canadian Kennel Club. It draws exhibitors from as far away as Florida and Alaska to compete for championship points.
Manotick was founded in 1859. It was centred at the source of water power where Watson’s Mill is now located. Besides Watson’s Mill there was a first & second lumber mill, a bung mill, and a carding mill for wool. There was also a factory that spun and weaved the wool into cloth. At one point there was a large grain elevator that stored local grains and from which steamboats could load their cargo. This was located nest to what is now Mahogany Harbour. The Steamboats docked there to load cargoes of grain.
Manotick is now much more a residential community. However it still has a core of beautiful old homes and the mill square. It also has a number of quite good restaurants and is a good day destination for visitors from Ottawa and the area. It has a number of events in the summer including a classic boat show drawing visitors from Ontario and the north-eastern US.
The Rideau River and Stevens Creek were the main transportation links in the early days of North Gower and Marlborough Townships. Thus it is not a surprise that the four main villages in the former Rideau Township, which were first settled in the late 1700s to the middle 1800s, were located on the water and that they remain the major villages to this day.
Each of these villages thus has a long and rich history in supporting the development of the the area that we refer to as the former Rideau Township over the past 200 years.