Valley History

One of the earliest tug boats to float and be photographed on the Ottawa River

Early Logging

Logging was the first industry in the townships as noted by lumber Baron John Egan in a speech to the Lumbermen’s Association in 1851; “…Works such as “Dams'”and “Slides” were built on the Chalk River as early as 1838″. To accommodate the lumbermen in moving their logs down the Ottawa River, lumber companies used tug boats to tow the booms of logs. From there stemmed the need for stopping places to supply the tugs with fuel or “wood” as was more commonly used. Many stopping places were in operation in the townships of Rolph & Buchanan in the late 1800’s. This method of transportation continued well into the 1930’s, long after the Pembroke/Mattawa Road was built, with construction of the road beginning after the 1854 survey was completed.

Railroad station at Chalk River in the lat 1800s

Canadian Pacific Railway

In the early 1880s, with the building of the CP Railway through the townships of Rolph, Buchanan & Wylie, the population of the townships once again began to grow at rapid rates. Rail stations were built primarily in and around the areas of Moore Lake, Bass Lake, Wylie township and Chalk River.

Petawawa Research Forest

In 1918, with the approval from the Dominion Forestry Branch, construction on a forestry research centre began in the township of Buchanan. The centre still exists but now identifies as the Petawawa Research Forest and is located just outside of Chalk River, land which was formerly part of the Buchanan township. The forest is now government owned and houses numerous ongoing studies conducted by the Canadian Forest Service, academia, various provinces and industry.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

In 1945, construction of a research centre in Buchanan township began and caused a great population “boom’ in the townships. This centre later came to be known as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology research facility. In autumn of 2015, ownership of the facility transferred to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, which is the name the facility has been working under since.

One of the first photos of the Rolphton power station, taken around 1950

Ontario Hydro

Construction by Ontario Hydro on a power dam in the small village of Rolphton in 1945 also helped swell population in the area. Using the well known “Swisha” rapids for its site, the 429 megawatt hydroelectric station began providing power for the people in 1950. The dam in questioned stretched 120 ft high and spanned the entire width of the Ottawa River.

Nuclear Power Demonstration

In the fall of 1956, a joint venture between Ontario Hydro, Canadian General Electric, what was then AECL, and the provincial government saw construction of a nuclear power demonstration plant get under way, near the Rolphton.

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