A Brief History of Merrickville-Wolford
The area now known as Merrickville was once a site along the Indigenous portage route which is now known as the Rideau River. In 1793, two United Empire Loyalists who had been given land grants by the British government arrived in the area of Merrickville – Roger Stevens and William Merrick. Both were entrepreneurs, focused on setting up mills powered by the rapids which they found in this area. Roger Stevens’ untimely death left William Merrick as the prime settler of the area. He completed Steven’s mill and developed his own, encouraging other entrepreneurs and settlers to move into the region.
Merrickville grew as an industrial town from 1793 to the 1830s, shipping materials and goods to Ottawa, Brockville, and the United States by road. When the Rideau Canal was completed in 1832, Merrickville’s economy boomed; goods and materials could be shipped by boat along the Rideau Canal, cutting the travel time in half. Merrickville became a bustling centre of commerce and continued to grow until the first railroads arrived in the area in the 1870s. While Merrickville remained important, the main railway station in the area was Smith’s Falls, and as the number of merchants using the Rideau Canal decreased so did Merrickville’s profits. Development in the area slowed until the 1960s, when Ottawa citizens began to see Merrickville and the surrounding area as a desirable retirement community. As Merrickville’s population began to grow again, the Village rebranded itself as the Jewel on the Rideau, an idyllic tourist destination.
The current municipality was established on 1 January 1998 with the amalgamation of the Village of Merrickville and the township of Wolford into the Village of Merrickville-Wolford.