The earliest history of the Shawville area remains shrouded in the mists of time. The region as a whole was occupied by Algonquin hunting peoples. For millennia they roamed the vast forests of the region, setting out occasionally on the great river we now call the Ottawa to trade with tribes farther in the interior of the continent or eastward to those on the St. Lawrence. The earliest European presence in the region has a better chronicles.
The Ottawa continued its role as a major transportation route to the heart of the continent. The future site of Shawville, however, lay six miles north of the river. While local legends about nearby clashes between European trappers and natives abound, the documented history of the area is confined to the early nineteenth century.
The earliest settlers in the area were Irish Protestants from county Tipperary, who came to Canada after the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815. Many had settled in the Carp Valley in Carleton County on the Upper Canadian side of the Ottawa River. Local lore tells us that Thomas Hodgins, John Dale and his wife Elizabeth, set out from this colony in the summer of 1821 to search for a new land to settle. It is believed that they paddled up the river landing in a small bay some forty miles up river. The two men then set off northwards in search of a suitable place to settle. Before the decade was out, many other families from Carleton joined them in the new Township of Clarendon.
They fought thick bush, insects and swamp, until on the second day it is said they reached a clearing where a beautiful spring bubbled out of the ground. They decided that this was where they would begin their new farms.
Before long, businesses were set up to serve the farming community that was sprouting around the original settlement. This area became known as ” The Center”. By the 1840’s, Clarendon had become a small, but thriving village. As farms grew and prospered, so did the village.
By the 1870’s the Center had grown enough to be erected as a municipality in its own right. On January 12, 1873 a new municipality was announced by proclamation.
The new town would be called “Shawville” in honour of one of its most influential and prosperous families, the Shaw’s. So began the history of a town that has not forgotten, and is still intimately tied to its agricultural heritage. From its earliest settlement to the present day, farming has been the reason of the town. It is interesting to note that those springs that were discovered so many years ago, today supply the Town of Shawville with its drinking water.
Come and enjoy the ‘Shawville Historical Walking Tour’
The ‘Shawville Historical Walking Tour’ will appeal to all those with a love for things old and it also hopes to entice those with an eye for interesting architecture. The tour offers some wonderful views of the town we call home. Plan to take an afternoon to visit all the sites at your leisure. A picnic lunch at Mill Dam Park is a popular attraction. You can purchase your tour pass and self direct tour map at the Town Hall.
As we have done for over one hundred fifty years, we are proud to welcome visitors to our town. We hope you will stay to sample our Ottawa Valley hospitality and to enjoy the sights and sounds of a uniquely Canadian town.