|Town of Smiths Falls|
Rise at the Falls
|Incorporated||1854 (as village)|
|• Mayor||Shawn Pankow|
|• Federal riding||Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston|
|• Prov. riding||Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston|
|• Land||9.66 km2 (3.73 sq mi)|
|• Density||909.1/km2 (2,355/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Postal code FSA|
Smiths Falls is a town in Eastern Ontario, Canada, with a population of 8,780 according to the 2016 census. It is in the Census division for Lanark County, but is separated from the county. The Rideau Canal waterway passes through the town, with four separate locks in three locations and a combined lift of over 15 metres (50 ft).
The town's name was sometimes alternatively spelled "Smith's Falls" or "Smith Falls", but "Smiths Falls" is now considered correct.
The town is named after Thomas Smyth, a United Empire Loyalist who in 1786 was granted 400 acres (1.6 km2) in what is present-day Smiths Falls. The Heritage House Museum (c. 1862), also known as the Ward House, was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1977.
Building of the Rideau Canal
At the time of construction of the Rideau Canal a small settlement had been established around a mill operated by Abel Russell Ward, who had bought Smyth's land. Colonel By ordered the removal of Ward's mill to make way for the canal. He settled with Ward for £1,500, one of the largest claims made by mill owners on the canal.
The disruption of industry caused by the building of the canal was only temporary, and Smiths Falls grew rapidly following construction. An article in Smith's Gazetteer in 1846 described the town as a "flourishing little village pleasantly situated on the Rideau River and on the Canal, fourteen miles (23 km) from Perth. It contains about 700 inhabitants. There are fifty dwellings, two grist mills (one with four run of stones), two sawmills, one carding and fulling mill, seven stores, six groceries, one axe factory, six blacksmiths, two wheelwrights, one cabinet maker, one chair-maker, three carpenters, one gunsmith, eleven shoemakers, seven tailors, one tinsmith and two taverns."
A 36-foot (11 m) drop in less than a quarter of a mile posed an obstacle to navigation at Smiths Falls. A natural depression to the south of the river was used to create a flight of three locks, known as Combined Lockstation today. The natural course of the river was dammed to create a basin upstream of the locks. At the upper end of the basin a fourth (detached) lock was constructed.
A mile below the Combined Lockstation is a flight of two locks called the Old Slys Lockstation. This station is named for the original settler at this location, William Sly. A dam and waste weir control water levels upstream of the locks.
Defensible lockmasters' houses were built at all three stations in Smiths Falls. The house at Old Slys was built in 1838 and the houses at Combined and Detached around 1842. Only the house at Combined has a second storey, which was added late in the 19th century. The defensible lockmaster's house at Detached Lockstation was torn down in 1894.
Entry of the railways
In the 1850s the major railway companies were looking to build main trunk lines linking Toronto, Kingston and Montreal. The two major companies at the time, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway, were competing for the easiest routes to lay track. At one point a fledgling third national railway, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR), was also trying to squeeze itself into the busy Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor.
For a number of geographical reasons, and also due to the proximity of the Rideau Canal, the town of Smiths Falls became a major focal point for both the CPR and the CNoR. Each used a mix of existing regional rail lines and new construction to build their networks. CP purchased the 1859-era Brockville and Ottawa Railway, a line from Brockville-Smiths Falls-Sand Point/Arnprior with a branch Smiths Falls-Perth (the latter joining CP's Ontario and Quebec Railway line to Toronto). CNoR built a 1914-era main line from Ottawa-Smiths Falls-Sydenham (to join an existing Bay of Quinte Railway line extending westward via Napanee-Deseronto). By 1887, the CPR had extended its Toronto-Smiths Falls mainline to reach Montréal; in 1924, 1600 CPR workers were employed in Smiths Falls.
This gave the town direct rail lines in half a dozen directions (towards Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Brockville, Napanee and Arnprior) on two different rail companies.
During World War II, Axis prisoners of war (POWs) were transported to Canadian POW camps via the railway. It was near Smiths Falls that German soldier Oberleutnant Franz von Werra jumped from a POW train and escaped to the United States, eventually reaching his homeland. Von Werra was, reputedly, the only escaped Axis POW to successfully return home during the war and his story was told in the book and film entitled The One That Got Away. The North American première of the film occurred on Thursday, 6 March 1958 at the Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls.
Both the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian Northern (later part of Canadian National) had established stations in the town, however, with the creation of Via Rail, the CN station was abandoned and all passenger traffic routed through the CPR station until a new Smiths Falls railway station opened in 2010. The CN station has been renovated and is now home to the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario. The railway station, along with the nearby railway bascule bridge, comprise the town's two National Historic Sites of Canada. The Cataraqui Trail now follows the former CN railbed southwest from Smiths Falls, starting from a parking lot at the end of Ferrara Drive.
The town's council includes a mayor and six councillors elected on the basis of one per ward. The members of council elected as of the 2018 municipal election are:
Mayor: Shawn Pankow
- Peter Mckenna
- Christopher McGuire
- Niki Dwyer
- Lorraine Allen
- Wendy Alford
- Jay Brennan
Language data (2016 Census)
|Language||Mother tongue||Most spoken language at home||Knowledge of official languages|
|English||8,035 (94.03%)||8,390 (98.01%)||7,830 (90.94%)|
|French||260 (3.04%)||55 (0.64%)||5 (0.06%)|
|Non-official language||250 (2.93%)||120 (1.40%)||760 (8.82%)|
|Neither English nor French||0 (0.00%)||0 (0.00%)||5 (0.17%)|
The town is on the Rideau Canal system for recreational boating, and is served by the Smiths Falls-Montague Airport (Russ Beach) for general aviation. It is also a major railway junction point, and its station receives regular passenger service to Ottawa and Toronto from Via Rail.
Several manufacturers were based in Smiths Falls, perhaps the best-known being the Canadian operation of The Hershey Company (opened in 1963) which closed in December 2008. Hershey announced they would instead open a factory in Mexico where they could obtain cheaper labour. In late 2006, the plant was temporarily closed due to a case of possible salmonella contamination. Other former large manufacturers include RCA Victor (closed circa 1980), Frost and Wood / Cockshutt and Stanley Tools (2008). The closure of the Rideau Regional hospital site in March 2009 resulted in a further loss of jobs from the community. However, the 350 acre site was purchased by a local developer (who made an unsuccessful bid for mayor in the 2018 election) and re-named the Gallipeau Centre. It is a mixed use property with residential and recreational uses including condominiums, a recreational facility, swimming pool and theatre. In 2014, the former Hershey facility was purchased by medical marijuana company Tweed Marijuana Inc, now known as publicly traded company Canopy Growth Corporation (TSE:WEED). The town has been cited as the "Pot Capital of Canada". Over 750 jobs have been created by Canopy Growth which has revitalized the town's economy after the departure of the Hershey factory and the closure of Rideau Regional Centre. Investment by Constellation Brands of $5B in Canopy Growth Corporation has helped further secure the positive economic potential for Smiths Falls. The company is continuing to grow and expand, creating new local jobs. Canopy has purchased the site of the closed Shorewood Packaging building to construct a facility for bottling cannabis infused beverages. As well, chocolate has begun to flow again at the site of the former Hershey plant as Canopy Growth has commenced the production of cannabis infused chocolate edibles. Public tours of Tweed production are available to the public, similar to the Hershey factory tours. There has been significant growth in construction in the community.
The Ontario Provincial Police Eastern Region Communications Center is located outside Smiths Falls. Its communications operators answer emergency 9-1-1 and administrative phone lines, dispatching Smiths Falls Police Service note: The town is not policed by the OPP.
Sports and recreation
In 1906, a hockey team from Smiths Falls launched an unsuccessful challenge to win the Stanley Cup. Smiths Falls was home to a professional baseball team, the Smiths Falls Beavers, for one season in 1937. The team was a part of the Canadian–American League.
The town is currently home to the Junior A hockey team Smiths Falls Bears, who play in the Central Canada Hockey League. Smiths Falls is also home to the Settlers organization which is a member of the Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League (CPJHL), which operates throughout Ontario and Western Quebec.
There are many opportunities for minor and adult league sports including baseball, volleyball, basketball, soccer, ball hockey and hockey (for men and women). Lower Reach, located next to Rideau River, is home to baseball diamonds, soccer fields, play structures and a splash pad.
The Rideau Trail passes through Smiths Falls.
Public education in the town is managed by the Upper Canada District School Board, while Catholic education is under the care of the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario. Each operates several elementary schools and one secondary school as listed below. Students who reside in the Smiths Falls area and wish to attend Catholic high school are bussed to Perth to St. John’s Catholic High School.
- St. Francis de Sales Catholic Elementary School (French Immersion offered)
- St. Luke's Catholic High School (alternative school)
- Duncan J. Schoular Public School
- Chimo Elementary School
- Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute
- Oliver R. Avison, doctor, pharmacist and missionary
- Terry Carkner, former NHL player
- Francis Theodore Frost, businessman and politician
- E. A. Gilroy, Canadian Amateur Hockey Association president
- Brooke Henderson, professional female golfer
- Todd Lynn, fashion designer
- Gary McAdam, former NHL player
- Don McKenney, former NHL player
- Margaret O'Hara, Indian missionary 
General hospital facilities and services are provided by the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital, with a site on Cornelia Street. Also located in Smiths Falls was the Rideau Regional Centre, which provided a residential program for mentally challenged and disabled persons from 1951 until its closure in March 2009.
- The Record-News – weekly newspaper
Digital local news:
- Record News – insideottawavalley.com
- Hometown News – hometownnews.ca
- Ottawa – about 75 kilometres (47 mi) north-east
- Brockville – about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south-east
- Kingston – about 95 kilometres (59 mi) south-west
- Neighbouring municipalities
- "Town of Smith Falls Official Election Results 2018" (PDF). Town of Smith Falls. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
- "Census Profile, 2016 Census: Smiths Falls, Town". Statistics Canada. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Heritage House Museum. Canadian Register of Historic Places.
- "Smiths Falls comes of age - Smiths Falls Railway History Project". 30 January 2013. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- "The Railway Metropolis of the Ottawa Valley - Smiths Falls Railway History Project". 30 January 2013. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- "Barron Von Werra Begins Tour of "Sights" After Arrival in New York City -- January 27, 1941". Animatedsoftware.com. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- Phillips, Douglas G. "Franz von Werra - The One That Got Away". Archived from the original on 26 May 2003. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
- "The One That Got Away". Plane-crazy.net. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- Smiths Falls Railway Station (Canadian Northern). Canadian Register of Historic Places.
- Smiths Falls Bascule Bridge. Canadian Register of Historic Places.
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-  Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- "Gallipeau Centre". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
- "When Cannabis Goes Corporate". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- Alexander, Doug (December 29, 2017). "This Little Canadian Town Has Become the Nation's Pot Capital". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
- Bagnall, James (September 21, 2018). "The day Smiths Falls' luck finally turned: The story of a marijuana boom town". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
- "Constellation Brands invests $5B in Canopy Growth". CBC News. August 15, 2018. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Harford, Evelyn (March 27, 2019). "What's going on here? Tweed constructs bottling plant in Smiths Falls to manufacture cannabis-infused beverages". InsideOttawaValley.com. Smiths Falls Record News. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
- Lord, Craig (June 25, 2019). "Canopy Growth to produce cannabis-infused chocolates in Smiths Falls". Ottawa Business Journal. Great River Media. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
- Harford, Evelyn (March 19, 2019). "'A busy year': Construction value in Smiths Falls up 442%". InsideOttawaValley.com. Smiths Falls Record News. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- "NHL.com – The Stanley Cup". Nhl.com. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- Douglas G. Phillips. "Avison of Korea". Archived from the original on 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
- "Gilroy, Ed". Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- "Brooke Henderson wins women's PGA Championship in a playoff : 1st Canadian woman to win a major since 1968". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- "Brooke Henderson becomes winningest pro golfer in Canadian history". CBC News. June 16, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- "Todd Lynn: Tailor-made rock'n'roll". Independent.co.uk. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- "Todd Lynn's collection rocks the high street". Scotsman.com. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- Dagg, Anne Innis. (2001). The feminine gaze : a Canadian compendium of non-fiction women authors and their books, 1836-1945. Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 0889203555. OCLC 46769681.
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