Arnprior is a town in Renfrew County, in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario, Canada. It is located at the mouth of the Madawaska River, as it enters the Ottawa River in the Ottawa Valley. The town is a namesake of Arnprior, Scotland, and is known for lumber, hydro power generation, aerospace, farming and its proximity to the national capital region.
The map of Renfrew County circa 1951 from Ontario Archives locates the individual municipalities, townships, city, towns and villages of the county.
In 1823, a surveyed block was ceded to Archibald McNab and given the eponymous name, McNab Township. McNab had approval from the Family Compact to treat the settlers on his land in the feudal manner practiced in Scotland. In 1831 the town was named by the Buchanan Brothers after McNab's ancestral home of Arnprior, Scotland.
Tired of the harsh treatment, the settlers revolted and, after a government investigation, McNab was forced to vacate the area in 1841. Arnprior, Braeside and NcNab township grew as separate communities and boomed when they became incorporated into eastern Ontario's massive timber industry.
One of the most successful businessmen of the upper Ottawa was Daniel McLachlin, who built a massive sawmill at the confluence of the Madawaska and Ottawa Rivers, and expanded the community of Arnprior. The lumber industry maintained a significant position until the closing of the Gillies Mill. One of the most enduring structures of the day was a grist mill built by the Buchanans on the west bank of the Madawaska River.
By 1869, Arnprior was an Incorporated Village with a population of 2000 in the Township of McNab County. It was on the Brockville and Ottawa Railway at the junction of the Madawaska and Ottawa Rivers. The average price of land $20 to $40.
The grey stone building served many purposes after it stopped being used as a grist mill, finally being operated as a restaurant and a gas station, first by the Beattie and then the Baird families, ending in 1974. The facility has been bought by Ontario Hydro prior to the restructuring on the bridge and the creation of a new weir to control the river. The building was consumed by fire in 1976. The forests of the period are represented in the Grove which is an excellent example of indigenous forest, grown after a fire in the 18th century. With individual specimens reaching , these are the tallest white pines in Ontario.
On 8 June 1944 a Castle class corvette, HMS Rising Castle (K494), was re-commissioned as "HMCS Arnprior" until 1946. Arnprior became a recognized name in the numismatic trade. This has a special link to a local employer. In 1955 Playtex ordered some silver dollars for their employees. These coins are later found to show only two and one-half water lines instead of four to the right of the canoe. This variety becomes known as the Arnprior dollar.
The history of Arnprior is preserved and documented at the Arnprior and District Museum (located in the former post office building and library) and the Arnprior and District Archives, located next door in the basement of the public library. The sandstone building is the defining element in local architecture
The history of Arnprior was documented in popular form by Leo Lavoie, long-time Arnprior resident, in his book, "The Arnprior Story: 1823-1984.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1914 are now available [October 2012]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Renfrew County