Moss Kent Dickinson was born in Denmark, Lewis Co., New York on the 1st of June 1822. By 1827 the Dickinson family had moved to Cornwall, Ontario where Dickinson’s father founded a successful stagecoach service carrying mail and passengers between Montreal and Kingston.
For his tenth birthday Dickinson’s father took him to see the opening of the Rideau Canal in Kingston. This trip would inspire his future career. By 1847 Moss had purchased a number of ships and barges to transport livestock, grain, logs, and passengers between Ottawa and Kingston. By 1850 his fleet included 16 steamers and 60 barges, earning him the name “The King of the Rideau.”
Dickinson and his business partner, Joseph Currier, built the Long Island Flouring Mills in 1860, which was quickly joined by a woollen mill, carding factory, sawmill and a bung plug and spile factory. The house built by Dickinson in 1867 across from his milling complex served as the general store and post office for the new village of Manotick. Eventually it became the Dickinson family home when Dickinson’s wife and children joined him in Manotick.
The Dickinson House also served as the campaign headquarters for John A. McDonald during the 1882 and 1887 elections. Moss Kent Dickinson had previously served as the mayor of Ottawa from 1864 to 1866 and went on to represent the riding of Russel as a result of the 1882 election.
In 1897, Dickinson passed away, but his sons continued to own and operate the milling complex. In 1923, Alexander (Aleck) Spratt began to lease the Mill and its business from the Dickinson men. Six years later, Aleck purchased the Mill and Dickinson House, moving his family into the King of the Rideau’s “castle”.