The original survey of the Township of North Gower was
done in 1793, well before the founding of the village of
The first settler in both what is now Rideau Township,
and in Carleton County was Roger Stevens. The first
permanent settlers of North Gower township were Stephen
Blanchard, Richard Garlick and Ezra Beaman. They arrived
in 1820 and settled on the banks of Stevens Creek between
Rideau River and the present village.
The town of North Gower was first settled in 1846 by
David Barrows, Silas Andrews, William Craig and Russell
Andrews. It is located on Stevens Creek, in the centre of
what is now Rideau Township.
The first settlers were United Empire Loyalists. They
were followed by waves of settlers were from Ulster,
Scotland and England. Their descendants form the bulk of
the population of North Gower today.
The earliest settlers in the area cut timber for the
British trade. The timber was floated down Stevens Creek
to the Rideau River and thence to Montreal or Quebec. The
last log drive on Stevens Creek was in 1876.
The first industry in the village was a saw mill operated
by water power with the dam and mill pond between the
bridges on Church Street and the highway. Others involved
in light industries from 1840 onwards, besides those
mentioned: coopers, blacksmiths, pumpmakers,
wheelwrights, harness makers, shoemakers, tailors,
dressmakers and milliners. Most of these had shops with
journeymen and apprentices. In the 1870s the journeymen
and apprentices circulated a petition for a 12 hour day;
it attracted 59 signatures.
An account from 1865 describes the town as having 4
general stores, 2 wagon shops, 5 boot and shoe shops, and
other trades. There were 3 churches: the Church of
England, erected in 1856 at a cost of $700; the Wesleyan
Methodist church, 1843, $500; and the Canadian
Presbyterian Church, built of stone in 1854 at a cost of
$1000. The village post office was established in 1846.
Blacksmiths made practically all the farm machinery:
hoes, rakes, spades, forks etc. and ploy and drag harrow.
Haying tools were the scythe and wooden hand rake, and
harvest tools were the sickle and flail. The first
horse-drawn haying and harvesting machine, known as the
combined mower and reaper, was demonstrated and sold on
lot 20, 3rd. concession in 1867.
Between 1850 and 1900, however, with improved
transportation, the tenor of the village changed, and
village craftsmen were forced out of business by
competition with mass-production.
In this century, the focus of North Gower has been
primarily agricultural. North Gower is in the centre of a
rich and well-cultivated agricultural area.
On January 1, 1954, the village had a population of 400.
It had 3 protestant churches, the Royal Bank, a post
office, 3 rural mail routes, 4 garages, a grist mill,
seed cleaning plant, sawmill, Farmers' Cooperative store
and egg grading plant, 1 hotel (dry), 1 clothing store, a
hardware store and farm implement agency, barber shop,
beauty parlor, community centre with hall and 4 bowling
alleys, 2 trucking businesses, planing mill and lumber
yard, 4-room public school, township hall, township
garage and fire hall. It was a purely agricultural and
residential community, with many commuting daily to work
Life in the Village
Until about 1920, most people in the village kept a horse
and cow, a pig or two and some hens. At the back of most
houses were stables and carriage sheds, where livestock
were kept and buggies and cutters were stored. The
streets were narrow and muddy or dusty depending on the
season, with deep open ditches and wooden sidewalks.
Stores, churches and hotels had great open sheds for the
horses of their visitors.
The earliest settlers "bushed out" a road to
Burritts Rapids, following roughly the course of Stevens
Once the village was established, the main road serving
the area in the last century was the Long Island Road
running from Manotick to Burritts Rapids via Pierce's
Corners and Seven-Mile Bush.
A 1926 map of the village shows the following roads: Main
Street, Military Road (now Roger Stevens Drive leading
west toward Smiths Falls), Wellington Street (now Roger
Stevens Drive heading east toward Kars), Church Street,
and across Main Street directly opposite Church Street
there was Broadway Street. In the NE quadrant were
Andrews Street and Craig Street. Craig Street ran
straight then from its start near the centre of town at
Wellington Street, and ran straight out of town on the
route of present regional road 73 (old highway 16).
In 1954, highway 16, the Ottawa Suburban Road, County
Road 11 and a township road all met in the village.
[source: the foregoing owes a great deal to the excellent
North Gower Tweedsmuir Book prepared by members of the
North Gower W.I. Some is direct quote, anything that is
not is better in the original.]
"The original survey of North Gower Township was
made in 1791 and lots and concessions were located in
1793. As in other parts of Ontario, the early settlers
were attracted first by timber. Lumberers prepared
squared timber for market and floated it loose or in
small 'nets' down Stevens' Creek to the Rideau. As the
land was cleared the production of potash was profitable
and even after land was cleared and agriculture well
established, many if not most of the young men went 'to
the shanty' in the winter months....
"An inspection of registry office records shows that
the first land grants in the area we are considering were
made in 1812, and it appears that no serious agricultural
activity was undertaken until about 1840 since the two
hundred acre lots were changing hands for taxes with some
frequency. ... The land was obviously not opened up nor
very highly regarded
in the 1820's and 1830's.
"By 1840... there were 5 houses squared or hewed
on two sides (one story) and 1 house framed. Also 66
horses, 83 oxen, 178 milk cows, 50 horned cattle from 2
to 4 years old. The human population was as follows:
97 males under 16
138 males over 16
151 females under 16
110 females over 16