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Town of Smiths Falls
—  City  —
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
County Lanark County
Incorporated (village) 1854
 - Mayor Dennis W. Staples
 - Total 8.21 km2 (3.2 sq mi)
Population (2006)[1]
 - Total 8,777
 Density 1,070.7/km2 (2,773.1/sq mi)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC−5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern Daylight (EDT) (UTC−4)
Postal code span K7A
Area code(s) 613

Smiths Falls (2006 population 8,777) is a town in Southern Ontario, Canada. It is in the census division for Lanark County, but is considered a separated town and does not participate in county government. The Rideau Canal waterway locks in three locations in the town with four separate locks and a combined lift of over fifty feet.

The town's name was sometimes alternately spelled "Smith's Falls" or "Smith Falls", but "Smiths Falls" is now considered correct.



Early history

The city is named for 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, is on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. [2]

Building of the Rideau Canal

Rideau River in Smiths Falls, Ontario.

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 (21 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 Combined Lockstation is a flight of two locks called 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 Brockville & Ottawa and the Grand Trunk, were competing for the easiest routes to lay track. 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 railways. Both the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian Northern (later Canadian National) established stations in the town, however, with the creation of VIA Rail, the CN station was abandoned and all passenger traffic routed though the CPR station. The CN station has been renovated and is now home to the Smiths Falls Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario.

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. [3] 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.[4] The North American premiere of the film occurred on Thursday, 6 March 1958 at the Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls.[5]

Business and manufacturing

The town is on the Rideau Canal system for recreational boating, and is served by the Smiths Falls-Montague Airport 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 are based in Smiths Falls, perhaps the most well-known being the Canadian operation of The Hershey Company which closed in December 2008. [6] Hershey announced they will instead open a factory in Mexico where they can have cheaper labour. In late 2006, the plant was temporarily closed due to a case of possible salmonella contamination.[7][8] The Hershey Plant was later bought by Aquablue International, a Canadian water bottling company. [9]

The Ontario Provincial Police Eastern Region Communications Centre is also located in Smiths Falls. Its communications operators answer emergency 9-1-1 and administrative phone lines, dispatching OPP officers as required.

The Rideau Regional Centre, located in Smiths Falls, has for many years provided institutional care for more than 3000 mentally disabled people. The province is currently in the process of closing this institution; this will mean the loss of the area's largest employer, with over 800 people facing unemployment.

The downtown core is growing steadily with new businesses, such as Davidson's Courtyard, Coffee Culture [4], Spotlight on the Rideau [5]and many more.

Sports and recreation

In 1906, a hockey team from Smiths Falls launched an unsuccessful challenge to win the Stanley Cup.[10] 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 minor-league Smiths Falls Bears ice hockey team. It also has an active minor hockey program for children, youths and adults. The Smiths Falls and District Soccer Club offers recreational soccer for ages 5 to adult.

Smiths Falls hosts Canada's oldest triathlon, which began in 1979. June 21, 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of the triathlon which also coincides with various other events such as a duathalon, a 5 km Figure 8 and a kids run.


  • St. James The Greater Catholic Elementary School
  • St. Francis de Sales Catholic Elementary School
  • Duncan J. Schoular Public School
  • Chimo Elementary School
  • St. Luke's Catholic High School
  • Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute

Notable people


  • Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital
  • Rideau Regional Centre (Now Closed)

Local media

  • The Record-News EMC - weekly newspaper
  • Smiths Falls This Week - weekly newspaper
  • CJET-FM - Jack FM, adult hits radio station
  • CKBY-FM - Y101, country music radio station

Nearest cities

  • Ottawa - about 75 kilometers (47 mi) north-east
  • Brockville - about 50 kilometers (31 mi) south-east
  • Kingston - about 100 kilometers (62 mi) south
  • Perth - about 18 kilometers (11 mi) west
  • Kemptville - about 35 kilometers (22 mi) east
Neighbouring municipalities

External links


Coordinates: 44°54′N 76°01′W / 44.9°N 76.017°W / 44.9; -76.017

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