For many people, the idea of heritage is something that seems confined to books, special occasions, even just for Heritage Week. But, in fact, we are surrounded by our heritage every day, in the names of the places we live and the streets we walk on. The article on Sir James Kempt illustrates where the town of Kemptville got its name. Merrickville is named after William Mirick and his family, who, it is believed, founded the Village around 1794. Burritt’s Rapids and Bishop’s Mills, likewise, were named for the families who first settled in those locations. The same can be said for places like Millar’s Corners, Christie Corners, and so on. In the names of other areas, the origins of our predecessors is marked: Irishtown, French Settlement Road, Scotchline Road, and so on. Street names also are remembrances of individuals and families of our shared past.
Kemptville has a number of streets named after members of the Clothier family, which is not surprising, since Lyman Clothier was the official founder of the town back in 1819. Lydia, Asa, Henry, Reuben and others were all children and grandchildren of Lyman. Some of their stories are sad: Lydia died aged just 31. Asa died of consumption aged 47.
Thomas and Maley Streets
Thomas Maley has two streets named after him, Thomas and Maley. He was a major figure in the business life of Kemptville and Oxford-on-Rideau. His home, on Thomas Street, still stands. At one time, Thomas owned the entire block bounded by Thomas, Asa, Joseph and Mary Streets, and his house stood alone in splendid isolation. It was only after his death that his family began selling off lots and the block developed into the residential area it is today.
Sanders Street used to be called West Street, after the surveyor, James West, who laid out the first map of the village. It was also, perhaps coincidentally, the west end of the village for a number of years. It was changed to Sanders, in memory of John Sanders, an important producer in the eggs and poultry business, with connections in Chesterville and as far as England.
Almost every settlement had a Main Street, though they did not always live up to their name. Main Street in Oxford Mills is not the main street. That would be Water Street. Main Street in Merrickville was taken over as the main street by St. Lawrence Street. Main Street in Kemptville, officially North Main Street, is now Clothier Street West. Main Street in Bishop’s Mills is the least developed one in the village.
Like Main Street, most settlements had a Water Street, usually running near or parallel to a river. Kemptville’s Water Street runs from Prescott to Thomas Street, and used to have wharves and warehouses along the riverfront. There used to be a North Water Street also, now renamed Curry Street, which is much shorter than the original line.
General and governors
The names found in some villages and towns can reveal something of their origins. Merrickville, for example, has a number of streets named after Governors and Generals. Brock, after Sir Isaac Brock of the War of 1812; Wellington, after the Iron Duke who defeated Napoleon. Drummond, after Sir Gordon Drummond, the first Canadian to command the military and the civil government of Canada. Colborne and Elgin after two Governors of Canada.