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Port Elmsley

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The village of Port Elmsley has a long and intriguing history. Originally, it was part of the 13,000 acre land grant awarded in 1803 to General Benedict Arnold by the British Government, in recognition for his defection to the British Army during the American Revolution.

A Village By Many Names

Originally, the village was called Barbadoes, in honour of the birthplace of Samuel Weatherhead, founder of the village. Mr. Weatherhead was connected to General Benedict Arnold through marriage, and business dealings. They received the land in payment for services rendered.
Later, it became known as Pike's Falls, and was considered a large village for the area. It even had a railway station at one point.
Today, it is known as Port Elmsley, a small village on the road between Perth and Smiths Falls.

First Tay Canal

Samuel Weatherhead built a dam on the Tay River at Fishing Falls in 1829, resulting in the formation of the Tay Navigation Company to ensure the town of Perth could maintain access to the Rideau Canal system, which was under construction. Construction of the First Tay Canal began in 1831, but was soon embroiled in accusations of corruption and cronyism. Traffic on the Tay Canal system did not generate enough income to ensure its survival, and by 1866 the locks were in ruin.

Second Tay Canal

In the 1880s, the Member of Parliament for Perth; Mr. John Haggart, secured public funding for the re-construction of the Tay Canal. The project was scorned by House of Commons, but the deal went through and the canal was built in three stages between 1882 and 1891. The second canal bypassed Port Elmsley completely and resulted in the end of the village's growth.

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