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MERRICKVILLE.CA

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Our History

William Merrick founded the village of Merrickville in 1794. Attracted to the site by waterpower, he constructed a dam across the river and then built grist, saw and carding mills. It was not long before a community sprang up around the milling activity. In 1821, Merrick built a stone house overlooking his mills.

When the construction crews arrived in 1827 to build the Rideau Canal, the village of Merrick's Mills, as it was then known, was a thriving community of about 300. A plaque was erected by the Merrickville and District Historical Society in remembrance of an unknown number of persons who were buried in the McGuigan Cemetery between the years 1800 and 1900; Many died of pestilence, principally malaria, during the construction of the Rideau Canal.

Unlike most of the pre-canal sites, Merrick's Mills was not destroyed by canal construction. After the canal was completed, the excess water once again turned the wheels of the mills and the improved transportation system caused a surge in commercial activity in the village. By 1851, Merrick's Mills was an impressive industrial centre.

Merrick's Mills continued to thrive into the mid-1860s. The end of the community's industrial growth is closely related to the decline of the commercial phase of the Rideau canal. The rise of the nearby town of Smiths Falls as a major railway hub displaced Merrick's Mills as an industrial leader in the region. Despite the decline, some industry continued in the community. In 1915 a power company was formed at Merrickville to provide electricity for the mills and a foundry, and the woolen mill continued to function until 1954.