Before Manotick

Prehistory and Precontact

The land on which Manotick sits was underwater from the last ice age until around 3000 BC, due to glaciers and glacial lakes. The climate was different then and the summer could have lasted up to a month longer than it does today. There were thick forests that played host to moose, elk and deer.

Map of the furthest extent of the Champlain Sea.

Proof of early settlements in Ontario is always hard to find on the Canadian Shield because of high soil acidity, but two stone tools were found on Long Island that dates 4000-2000 BC. At this point, large family groups would spend time together in the warmer months and in small family units in the cold winter. The local wildlife population in the forests and water provided a robust source of food for the first people of Manotick.

By 1000 BC-500 AD, the environment and weather were similar to today and people began settling in locations more permanently. The bow and arrow became a new tool for hunting and the Ottawa area had at least 3 archaeological sites where developing pottery industries were located.

From 1450-1850, North America experienced the “Little Ice Age”, which made the climate cooler. From 1635-1650, there was a break in the cold just in time for the arrival of the Europeans.

The Arrival of the Europeans

Though it cannot be determined which First Nations groups came to the area first, when Europeans began to appear, the Algonquin people called this place home. The Algonquin had allies in the French, trading goods with them often. However, they were in conflict with the Iroquois and by 1650, the Iroquois had taken control of Manotick and much of Eastern Ontario.

Thanks to the lush forests that appeared after the Ice Age, timber became a major natural resource for those who lived on the land. While conducting land surveys in the area in 1794, John Stegman identified a specific lot near the water that he determined would be a great place for a mill. That lot is now the location of Watson’s Mill!

Lot assignments for Gloucester and Nepean, 1829.

But why did it take over 50 years for a mill to be built? Manotick’s land was owned by the Crown until 1840, and during the War of 1812 many people were not keen to buy new land. From 1826-1856, the Rideau Canal was planned for, built and operated by the British Army. It would have been expensive to invest in a property on the canal that was still controlled by the military. In 1841, the land became available for lease, but it was stated that any leases could be terminated at a month’s notice.

Finally in 1856, the control of the Rideau Canal was given to the Ontario government and Richard Tighe received a Crown Patent for the “mill place”. Three years later, Moss Kent Dickinson and Joseph Currier purchased the land and the rest is history!

Image: Crow, Heather & Pyne, M & Hunter, J. & Pullan, S & Motazedian, Dariush & Pugin, A. (2020). Shear Wave Measurements for Earthquake Response Evaluation in Orleans, Ontario.

Booth, Brian.
Manotick in the Algonquin Age
Manotick in the Early British Age
Manotick in the Geological Age
Manotick in the Archaeological Age.