Place:Kemptville, Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, Canada

Coordinates45.017°N 75.65°W
Located inLeeds and Grenville, Ontario, Canada
Also located inGrenville, Ontario, Canada    
See alsoNorth Grenville, Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, Canadamunicipality into which Kemptville merged in 1998
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

The following is from an article in Wikipedia.

Kemptville is a community located in the Municipality of North Grenville in Southern (Eastern) Ontario, Canada in the northernmost part of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. It is located approximately 55 km south of Ottawa and 2.5 to 3 km south of the Rideau River. It has a population of about 3500 people.


1791 - Oxford-On-Rideau surveyed
1804-05 - Lyman Clothier moves into Oxford-on-Rideau
1814 - Lyman Clothier buys 100 acres (0.40 km2) in Kemptville
1815 - Clothier family open sawmill, blacksmiths shop, and carding machine for weaving
1819 - First hotel opened
1821 - First mill is opened. First store and "post office" follow shortly thereafter
1826 - St. James Anglican church parish is formed
1829 - "Kemptville" is formally acknowledged as the town's name; Holy Cross Parish is established
1832 - Methodist Church is erected, another hotel opens
1838 - Another carding machine and saw mill opened
1843 - First steamboat is built in Kemptville by Lyman Clothier Jr., named the Amanda
1844 - The first grammar school is built on Clothier Street
1847 - Baptist Church is built on the North Main Street
1848 - Another mill is built (acted as a distillery for a time)
1851-52 - Population of Upper Canada: 952,004
1851 - The first Presbyterian Church is built; First stamp the "3-penny Beaver" is released in Canada
1854 - The Railroad comes to Kemptville allowing for easier access to goods and trade
1855 - Kemptville Fire Department is formed; Kemptville's first paper The Progressionist hits the streets
1857 - Kemptville becomes incorporated
1861 - Population of Kemptville is 1059
1865 - Clothier Mills is built
1869 - Sellecks Mill is built as an egg factory; the New Methodist Church is built
1870 - First library is formed
1872 - The first Great Fire which destroys most of downtown Kemptville
1874 - The Kemptville Academy is built as the central school; the town hall is built; a hose tower is built to help combat fire in town
1879 - Memorial Church of Kemptville is built
1881 - First Steam Engine is purchased for the Fire Department
1888 - Holy Cross Church designed by Joseph Connolly is built; the district High School is built; the Salvation Army comes to Kemptville; electricity comes to Kemptville via a mill which lights the Oddfellows hall for a fair
1895 - Bank of Ottawa opens (later becoming the Bank of Nova Scotia)
1899 - The Horticultural Society is formed in Kemptville
1845-1900 - The rise of the Service clubs
1910 - The worst fire of the century occurred, wiping out many of the buildings along Prescott Street


The small town of Kemptville began to emerge from the forest in the township of Oxford when Lyman Clothier, a resident of New England, bought 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land from a John Byce, for the price of a yoke of oxen, and a fusee (i.e. here, a flintlock rifle). Mr. Clothier had lived in the general area since 1804 or 1805, and in 1812 he made the afore-mentioned transaction with Mr. Byce, to establish a lumber mill. Mr. Clothier began construction of a saw mill with the assistance of his 4 sons, and they built two dwellings in what is now present-day Kemptville. This mill was extremely important for the settling of the community, as in order to construct a crude dwelling, lumber was required - and so, the mill began to facilitate the construction of dwellings for settlers all over Oxford Township.

The village location chosen by Mr. Clothier was a location that became a point on the Ottawa - Prescott road. As a result, and as a direct consequence of the many travellers passing through the settlement, one of Mr. Clothier's sons, Asa, made a habit of opening his home to these travellers as a resting place and as a meeting place. Thus, the "Clothier's Hotel" was born. The next major industry to be established was that of a grist mill in 1821, when the Clothiers placed some grinding stones in the lower part of their saw mill. As a result of this, rather than taking their grain to a site on the St. Lawrence River, which would be a daunting hike in the best of conditions, or grinding the grain in an extremely ineffective and crude fashion, the settlers could now take it to this grist mill. After this was established, a blacksmith's shop was established, run also by the Clothiers. A schoolhouse was established in 1823, which served the surrounding communities for many years. The first physician arrived in the community the year after the school was established.

The small village was fast expanding - and the residents of the region were beginning to think about officially giving a dignified name to the location in which they lived. Initially, the community was known as "The Branch", and later, for obvious reasons, "Clothier's Mill". So, during a public meeting at this time, the name "Kemptville" was suggested, to honour Sir James Kempt, the Governor General of Upper Canada in 1828 who was said to have camped on the banks of the Rideau River near the settlement. The name was adopted in the late 1820s and the first map with the name "Kemptville" was produced in 1830.

A weekly newspaper is published in Kemptville, called The Kemptville Advance, and has been published since 1855. The Kemptville Advance celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2005.

Lyman Clothier

The following is a section of the Kemptville Weekender, printed for the 150th anniversary of Kemptville. Written by Drew Headrick.

Oxford-On-Rideau was first surveyed in 1791, incorporated in 1850. It includes the following communities: Acton's Corners, Bedell (Kempton), Bishop's Mills, Beckett's Landing, Burritt's Rapids, Christies Corners, East Oxford, Kemptville (incorporated 1857), Millar's Corners, Newmanville, Oxford Mills, Oxford Station, Patterson's Corners, Swan Station. This is the first known complete survey of this and the surrounding area by the government of England.
The original owner of the land encompassing Kemptville was John Byce. Lyman Clothier was the man who purchased 100 acres (0.40 km2) from Mr. Byce for "a yoke of oxen and a fusee" which in today's terms would mean a pair of oxen and a flintlock rifle (approximate cost at that time was $14.00). Mr. Clothier would make the greatest impact for growth in the area by setting up a saw mill and later a grist mill.
Lyman Clothier was born in 1762 in Connecticut and moved to Canada around 1804-05 even though his family was still living in upstate New York. Around 1814 the purchase of the land around Kemptville went through and the chore of building a dam to harness the power of the Kemptville Creek (actual name was changed to the South Branch of the Rideau River) began so that a saw mill could be built. The saw mill was opened around 1815 and followed by a grist mill in 1817; these two factors allowed the area to expand and grow as people didn't have to travel out of the area to get lumber and have their grain milled.
In 1819, Asa Clothier (Lyman's son) opened the first hotel in the area which soon became a welcome stop on the highway between Ottawa and Prescott. The first schoolhouse was built in 1820 and would serve for 23 years until Anthony House was built and opened in 1843-4.
The name Kemptville was adopted in 1829 as a tribute to Sir James Kempt who was the Governor of British North America and was appointed to review changes to the Rideau Canal and toured this area in 1828. It is rumoured that he did spend and overnight in this area. Before the name change this area was known as The Branch and Clothier Mills after the mill that was located in the little town. Population of Kemptville around 1829 was 125 people and was substantial considering that the population 14 years earlier was just one family: the Clothiers.
By 1830 Kemptville had all the amenities that a rural farming community needed in Ontario and was soon a centre for the whole area to shop and trade goods. There was a school, a doctor, two blacksmiths, a general store, a wagon shop, and a hotel.
Lyman Clothier Sr. died in 1839 at the age of 77. He fathered 15 children and founded this great "little" town. He was buried at St. James Anglican Church on Clothier Street almost opposite the house that his son, Lyman Jr. built in 1842.

Sir James Kempt

The following is a section of the Kemptville Weekender, printed for the 150th anniversary of Kemptville. Written by Drew Headrick.

Born in Scotland 1765 and died in London 1854.
Kempt was a career soldier who was chosen to head up a committee of military engineers appointed in 1827 to look into proposed changes for the Rideau Canal. Kempt toured the Rideau in the spring of 1828, and quite possibly did camp near the town of Kemptville, making recommendations in June, 1828 that the lock side be increased from 108ft x 20ft to 130ft x 33ft.
He was appointed Governor of British North America in 1828 and held the post for only two years. He was well liked and respected throughout Canada.


The following is a section of the Kemptville Weekender, printed for the 150th anniversary of Kemptville. Written by Drew Headrick.

From 1830 to 1857 Kemptville would see expansion in its business base that would be rivaled by any growing small community in Canada. Already established were the basics required to draw people to the area to trade and barter, but it was the potential for success in this area that would lure new businesses to set up shop and move here with their families.
This is a listing of the businesses that we know existed in Kemptville at this time though there are doubtless more that were within the vicinity. The list is only as accurate as records can establish. It is interesting to note most establishments were located north of the Kemptville Creek and that the southern half was referred to as "across the river" or "that hole in the woods." In fact, Asa Street was the last real street in Kemptville, as beyond that was pure pasture and farmland.
As you can well imagine, with the arrival of steamships at Beckett's Landing and Kemptville itself, trade routes allowed the town to flourish and prosper. It would do so even more when in 1854 the first train would arrive linking Kemptville with Ottawa, Prescott, and the world.
Between 1830 and 1857 the following businesses were established in Kemptville: 4 tailors, 5 carpenters/builders, 2 shoemakers, 2 saw mills, 3 grain mills, 4 carriage makers, 4 blacksmiths, 2 brewers/distillers (at least), 4 hotels, 1 painter, 3 carding mills, 1 private banker, 2 tinsmiths/coppersmiths, 2 furniture makers, 2 saddle/harness makers, 3 cabinet makers and furniture dealers, 3 doctors (1 specialized in natural remedies), 3 tanners/harness makers/shoemakers, 3 barrel makers, and 7 dry goods merchants


The following is a section of the Kemptville Weekender, printed for the 150th anniversary of Kemptville. Written by Drew Headrick.

Three churches with actual buildings were located within Kemptville before 1850. Some have been remodeled and some completely rebuilt and a few have even moved from their original location. Churches were perhaps as important in rural Canada in those days as having a general store and a hotel in the community since most people of the day did attend the church of their faith. Today most of the churches are still around with many more choices than back in the early 1800s yet they are still important when reviewing the history of the area and even the architecture.
The Anglican church on Clothier Street West and Harriet Street is the earliest in the area opened in 1829 and updated in the late 1870s. The Methodist church, was located at Clothier and Lydia street (the cemetery is one of the few reminders of the old church and can still be seen at the entrance to Curry Park). Holy Cross Catholic church was first erected in mid 1833 consisting of a small stone structure, enough to allow for services until the new church would be built some 56 years later. It too is located on Clothier Street West with quarters built next door to house the priests and visiting guests.
In 1847 the Baptist church was built uniting two congregations: Kemptville and Pelton's Corners. In 1851 the Presbyterian church was built on Prescott Street after being housed in many different locations in and outside of Kemptville. Many churches are within the area yet at the same time they were all considered part of the Kemptville area drawing from the townspeople and the surrounding countryside.
The Holiness Movement - Free Methodist Church The Holiness Movement Church (now Free Methodist) in Kemptville was officially formed in 1902 and soon afterward opened a white frame church on Thomas Street near the corner of Asa.

The railroad

The following is a section of the Kemptville Weekender, printed for the 150th anniversary of Kemptville.

The first railroad in the history of Ottawa was started in 1850 with the forming of the Bytown and Prescott Railway Corporation which would build and run the rail line between the two towns. It would take over four years to reach Kemptville but would play an important role in unifying the soon to be Nation's Capital with the rest of Upper Canada and the United States. By August 9, 1854, the track has reached Kemptville from Prescott and the first regular service started in the week of Christmas that same year. Return trip to and from Ottawa (or Prescott) was $2.00. The opening of this line was one reason as to the formation of the Village of Kemptville as the township of Oxford-On-Rideau had given money for the building of this line and the people of the village thought they might escape their portion of the financial commitment. They also wanted more control over political and social matters believing that their population was enough to warrant the granting of the title "Village." Three years after the arrival of the railroad, they would get the distinction "village" but would retain their financial obligation - the days of moving freight and people by ship were numbered.

Research Tips

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.

Early Records

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 1915 are now available [October 2014]; 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.
Images and indexes of civil registrations for the "viewable" years can be found on paid websites, and indexes only on FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Wiki on Ontario Vital Records explains how these records are organized and their availability.
In September 2014 announced that its paid website has been subjected to a "houseclean" of its Ontario BMD database, adding data that had been omitted and making many corrections. Its provision now includes

  • Births, with 2,172,124 records covering 1869-1913.
  • Marriages, with 3,393,369 records for 1801-1928 including Ontario county, district and Roman Catholic origins as well as province-wide civil registration.
  • Deaths, with 2,190,030 records comprising Ontario civil registrations of deaths, 1869-1938 and registrations of Ontario overseas deaths for 1939-1947.

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, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through, but it is free-to-view.
Other websites, some paid and some free, also provide Canadian census originals and/or indexes online. One can also view censuses on microfilm at the LAC, at the Archives of Ontario (see address above), or at large libraries throughout Canada.

Hard-to-Find Places

E-books, Books and Newspapers

  • The Internet Archive, particularly texts from Canadian universities, can contain interesting material
  • Our Roots is a Canadian website similar to The Internet Archive
  • Global Genealogy is an online bookshop specializing in Ontario material who will ship anywhere in the world.
  • The Ancestor Hunt is a blog listing old Ontario newspapers that are available online, both free and pay websites. This is a very extensive list.

Some websites with more local information on Leeds and Grenville Counties

  • The Leeds and Grenville Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society has a list of publications available.
  • A large number of historic Voters' Lists from Ontario communities for the latter part of the 19th century can be found on Internet Archive. Amongst these is what appears to be a complete set for Leeds and Grenville. Add "voters" and the township or town to the search box to find what is available.
  • The Internet Archive has a very large collection of Ontario references.
source: Family History Library Catalog
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Kemptville, Ontario. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.