The South Branch of the Rideau River has played a vital part in the history of Kemptville. The small settlement, first known as "The Branch" when it was established in the early 1800s, then became known as Clothier's Mill before it was renamed Kemptville in honour of Sir James Kempt, Governor General of The Canadas from 1828-1830.
In 1819 Lyman Clothier purchased 100 acres of land from John Boyce for £75, part of Lot 27 in the 3rd Concession of Oxford, and proceeded to build a dam and then a sawmill. In 1821 Clothier added a gristmill, enabling settlers in the area to have their wheat ground without having to travel to Brockville or Prescott.
The main settlement of Kemptville was on the north side of the South Branch, but settlers and travellers still had to get across the, sometimes raging, river. During the spring, when the water in the river was running fast, enterprising citizens charged one penny to ferry people across. At other times of the year squared off logs, lashed together, sufficed as a reasonably safe method of passage for people and animals, and might have been an extension of a "Corduroy Road" running south from the river.
A squared timber structure, wide enough for a team of horses or a yoke of oxen, replaced the logs, and this structure, much repaired, survived until 1885 when an iron bridge, complete
with plank walks was erected. This bridge survived until 1928 when the first concrete bridge was erected and that bridge was replaced in 1961 with the bridge you see today.
[Photo captions, from top left]
New Bridge, Prince of Wales Highway
Circa 1930. Photo Credit: North Grenville Historical Society
[Iceflow] 1907. Photo Credit: North Grenville Historical Society
[Map] Registered plan 11, surveyed by John Burchill in 1862
Prescott St. looking South, Kemptville, Can.
Circa 1900. Photo Credit: North Grenville Historical Society
Kemptville Bridge Looking South West
Photo Credit: North Grenville Historical Society