Two Merrickville locals are offering walking tours of the village this summer. Jane Graham and Anney de Gobeo started offering Experience Our Merrickville tours last year. With a background in archeology and a keen interest in history, Jane says she has wanted to offer walking tours of the village for many years. She has lived in Merrickville for 40 years, and knows a lot about the history of the village and the stories of the people that live there, both past and present. Anney has been living in Merrickville for over 20 years and, as the former director of marketing for Sam Jake’s Inn, she has many connections in the village’s artist and business community. “I spent a lot of time getting to know the artists and restaurant owners,” she says. “Part of my job was to promote the village.”

Jane and Anney usually offer two distinct tours as part of their program: one that focuses on the history of the village, with another featuring all the local artists, food and shops. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, they are unable to offer their local artists, food and shops tour, because many artists are not letting people into their homes right now, and food tasting is off the table. That being said, their historical tour will still offer an opportunity for people to explore the shops in the village, and they will still be offering information about local artists, so visitors can check them out at a later date. “We will still talk about the artists, restaurants and shops,” Anney says.

The historical part of the tour goes all the way back to 1793, when William Merrick came to the area and founded the town. As they wander through the village, Jane and Anney paint a historical picture of the town through the stories of the local people. “The history is the stories of the people who lived here,” Jane says. For example, they will, of course, be talking about Merrickville’s famous millionaire, Harry McLean, who lived in the village from 1922 until he died in 1961.

“There are still people in the village who remember Harry,” Jane says. “He was an eccentric millionaire with a huge heart and capacity for supporting the community.”

Jane and Anney relied heavily on information from the Merrickville and District Historical Society to inform their historical tour, as well as information they have learned through many years of living in the village.

The tour is roughly 1.5 hours long and covers about a kilometre through the village. Due to COVID-19, they are asking that people book in their family or “bubble” groups and encourage them to bring masks so that they can go in all the local shops. Jane and Anney will not be wearing masks, but will be ensuring that they maintain a proper physical distance from their groups.

Jane says this tour is a great way for newcomers to the area to learn more about the village. Many people are not going to be travelling far this summer, so the tours offer an interesting and engaging activity close to home. While their main focus is the historical tour of the village, they also offer custom tours, tailored to the interest of the group. “We would do a custom tour if there is a specific interest, like a tour of our historic cemeteries,” Jane says.

To learn more about Experience Our Merrickville or book a tour, you can go to their website at www.experienceourmerrickville.ca. You can also call Jane at 613-290- 7577, or email local@experienceourmerrickville.ca.

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