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Chaffey's Mills


Benjamin Chaffey (1779-1832)  was born in Stoke-sub-Hamden (5 miles west of Yeovil) and it is from Benjamin and his close relatives that the Chaffey surname flourished in Canada, the United States and Australia.  His father Benjamin Chaffey (1749-1806), was in the wool stapler and woollen manufacturing business.  His grandfather was Richard Chaffey (1707/10-1795), and the the line has been charted back to Richard Chaffie of Stoke-sub-Hamden who died in 1631 and then to Richard Chafy (1475-1523).  Those in the family owned a stone quarry on Ham Hill overlooking Stoke-sub-Hamden and Norton, quarried for its golden stone for building since Roman times.  He married Frances (Elswood) Chaffey (1785-1865) in 1804.  Prior to leaving Somerset, Benjamin had been sued by his older brother Richard (1773-1828) for debts owed to Richard.  He emigrated from Somerset to Canada in 1816, with his wife and sons Benjamin Jr. (1806-1867), Mary Randall (1808-1860), William (1810-1890) and Richard (1813-1852).  His brother Samuel also emigrated with them.  In that year Benjamin obtained an Imperial Land grant at Perth, Ontario including an island since called "Haggart's Island" on which they lived for a year in a cabin made of blankets. The grant was cancelled by Canadian officials.  He and his brother moved to Brockville in 1817.  There they entered the mercantile trade as B&S Chaffey, set up a small distillery, and rented nearby farm and mills from Daniel Jones.  Frances (Elswood) Chaffey 1785-1865Haggert's Island, Perth, OntarioBenjamin Chaffey Sr. 1779-1832Based on their success, the Chaffeys were asked by settlers from the township of South Crosby to erect a mill there.  The brothers agreed and Benjamin secured a lease to the land for a suitable mill.  Construction began in the summer of 1820 under Samuel's direction.  In one account Benjamin was reported to being charged by the British government for bringing in goods for sale in Upper Canada without paying import duties.  Sometime near 1818, Benjamin, deeply in debt, moved to Zanesville, Ohio likely to escape his creditors or debts owed to the estate of Daniel Jones.  Here George Sr. (1818-1884) was born.  He and Frances also had other children all born in Brockville; Sarah (1815-1855), John (1820-1878), Susan (1823-1917), Frances (1826-1853), Elswood (1827-1868) and Emily (1829-1859).  There is some conjecture as to how long and for what reason Benjamin remained in the US.  It could have been until 1828, however this would have meant that some of his children were born elsewhere.  After Samuel died in 1827, Benjamin contested the property his brother owned at Chaffey's Mills and Samuel's wife petitioned Colonel By to resolve the issue.  Benjamin claimed ownership by virtue of the lease and his former partnership with Samuel.  Samuel's wife, Mary Anne, contested as she was in possession and that the claim that her husband had made the improvements.  In 1828 Benjamin began a machine shop in Brockville, in which three of his sons, William, John, and George Sr. worked.  Benjamin Chaffey built tugs in his shipyard in Brockville for towing rafts to Montreal and a steam operated floating grain elevator that helped farmers and millers.  However he contracted typhus caring for Irish immigrants, and died in 1832.  Benjamin Sr.'s daughters married two brothers; Susan Chaffey married Stephen Richards who served as the Minister of Agriculture in the first cabinet of the Province of Ontario (his brother William Buell Richards was the first Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court); and Frances Chaffey married A.N. Richards, the future Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

Samuel Chaffey (1793-1827) was born at Norton, near Stoke-sub-Hamden.  In 1816 he emigrated with his brother Benjamin Sr. to Perth Ontario and by 1817 had moved to Brockville.  There the two entered the mercantile trade as B&S Chaffey, set up a small distillery, and rented (under his brother's name) a nearby farm and mills.  At Brockville in 1821 he married Mary Anne Poole (1804-1888) from Somerset.  The brothers were asked to establish a mill by residents on the nearby Township of South Crosby, and by 1820 the land was leased under Benjamin's name.  While Benjamin was away in the United States, Samuel established mills on the Rideau River in the  in the area that became known as Chaffey's Mills.  Samuel settled at Chaffey's Mills in 1822, making many improvements to the site.  By 1827 an extensive complex had been established, including a distillery, gristmill, a sawmill, stores, barns, carding machines and fulling mills.  At the time the site was one of the largest milling establishments in Eastern Ontario.  In that year Samuel died of malaria at Edmunds Lock.  The malaria was likely brought over by British soldiers from India.  He was returning from a trip to Bytown (Ottawa) where he was endeavouring to obtain a contract for the proposed Rideau Canal construction linking Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River.  In 1828 Mary Anne's brother-in-law, Benjamin Chaffey, began to threaten her, claiming he had the right to evict her from her home and take the income from  the mills.  Mary Anne was in danger of loosing the homestead.  With the help of family and friends, she petitioned the various authorities to grant her legal control over the mills.  She and Colonel By corresponded on compensation for her lost mills.  Mary Ann's legal right to the business were established but her actual compensation for the destruction of the complex to build the canal took a number of years to resolve.  The mills were flooded during the building the locks on the Rideau Canal (1826-32), but shipping and later tourism, stimulated the continuous growth of the community of Chaffey's Lock (no. 37 on the Rideau Canal).  The one-story limestone Lockmaster's house was built in 1844 as a low cost substitute for a blockhouse to defend the canal against American raids.  A tin roof protected it in case of fire and two stone porches and gun-slits provided extra defence in case of attack.  The existing Chaffey's Mill was built by John Chaffey (a nephew of Samuel Chaffey) in 1872.  Now a private residence, it was a gristmill used to grind wheat into flour.  Samuel and Mary Anne's only child, Samuel Benjamin (1826-1893) carried on with the mill.  Several of Samuel Benjamin's descendants branched into Wisconsin.  The Opinicon Resort Hotel located at Chaffey's Locks started as the Chaffey's family residence in early 19th century.  It became a boarding house in the 1890's, a men's fishing club in the early 1900's and not is a resort hotel.  A Memory Wall and outdoor chapel form the entry to Chaffey's Lock Cemetery, the resting place of Mary Anne Chaffey.

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CHAFFEY'S MILLS - 1823 by Nell A. Patterson

Thomas Burrowes sketched this view of Samuel Chaffey's mills in 1827.  All of the mill buildings were destroyed in 1828In 1981, when I wrote the section on "Industry and Enterprise" in The History of Frontenac County, Land of 1000 Lakes, I looked at how this section of Ontario developed. In the introduction, I stated that, " The settlement of Frontenac County by necessity was achieved for the most part through the development of almost self sufficient small rural communities that had pushed into the hinterland. The land communications, joining the thriving Port of Kingston with the interior, were virtually non-existent, to the degree that imported potatoes were selling for 3 shillings, 6 pence per bushel while Loughborough potatoes at I shilling, 6 pence could not reach the town. The lack of roads, together with the abundance of water power gave rise to a vast number of communal mills." 

Sitting at the head of what was then the Gananaqui River System, the Chaffey milling complex fit into this category. There were few roads and only trails linked area farms to the mills. Prior to the construction of the Canal there were three mills in the area: Haskin's Mill at present-day Morton, Davis' Mill and Chaffey's Mills. The complex at Chaffey's was the largest. Samuel Chaffey' s Milling Complex consisted of a Saw Mill, Grist or Flour Mill, a Carding and Fulling Mill and a Distillery. The only Grist Mill nearby that was larger was Jones Mill at Stone Mills, now Delta.

Rideau historians have speculated about what might have happened had the Rideau Canal not been built. Given the following information, what would Chaffey's Mills have become if there had been no canal? Both saw and grist mills were essential in the early years of settlement, forming the nucleus around which communities developed. They allowed each community to function independently. The growing and grinding of wheat became the basis of mid-nineteenth century Upper Canada's developing economy, not only for home consumption but as a valuable export. The largest Canadian export by mid-century was sawn lumber, followed by wheat and flour.

Three factors needed for the expansion of mills were water power, an enterprising mill owner and the available raw material. Chaffey's Mill had all of the ingredients needed for this growth. The waters from Indian Lake. fed by Devil Lake and Buck Lake, had the source water to supply a large operation at Chaffey's. Samuel Chaffey had the entrepreneurial spirit and the engineering knowledge to expand the Chaffey milling complex. With assistance from his brother Benjamin who put family money into the business. As for raw material, there was an abundance. After 1850. Benjamin Chaffey's sons were shipping over a million board feet of lumber out of the Bedford Mills and the Mississauga Mill every year for over a decade. There were 4 saw mills at the head of Opinicon Lake producing half a million board feet of lumber annually. As well, D.D. Calvin rafted timber out for mills on Garden Island. Centrally located Samuel's Saw Mill could have been the major mill in the region.

Chaffey's Locks on the Rideau Canal System, Landsat Satellite Image Wheat production increased with the arrival of hundreds of Irish families in the late 1840s who left Ireland due to the potato famine. They grew wheat on the marginal land around Chaffey's. Research recently has shown that the Irish continued to grow wheat as their major agricultural product long after the British and American immigrant descendants had switched o dairy farming. Much of this wheat was distilled into alcohol. An article in the Brockville Recorder and Advertiser in 1851 pointed out that the Temperance Society had complained about the amount of alcohol produced in the Leeds County Mills. It stated that the Bellamy's Mill had produced over 15,000 gallons the previous year. Well into the later part of the century, the grist mill at Sand Lake (Westport) was producing alcohol and shipping it to Prescott to J.P. Wiser's Bottling Plant. Chaffey's Distillery could very well have been a major producer in the area and one might have been able to purchase Opinicon Blended Canadian Whiskey at the local spirits store.

Raw product could come to the mills via the lake system and the finished product shipped out through the Gananaqui River system to the St Lawrence. Don Warren has said that Chaffey's could have been a major milling centre, perhaps larger than Peterborough. The following, indicates how progressive an operation the Chaffey complex was.

The Chaffey Mills were located on the canal bank from the present day Brown's Marina down to Jane Monaghan's boat house. The dam that Samuel constructed was situated at about the North West end of Brown's Marina dock. The remains of the old dam are still there and can be clearly seen marking the parameters. It raised the water level of Indian Lake by 5 feet and began the drowned land areas of Benson, Mosquito and Mud Lakes.

The large open structure was the saw mill situated where the Brown's Marina gas pumps are now located. The bridge across the stream near where the marina shop is situated and the road ran from it along the line of the present road from the marina shop on the lock side. Opposite the saw mill and a few feet from the dam was the grist and flour mill and between it and the bridge was the Carding and Fulling Mill. Next to the bridge on the east side was the mash house and to the south was the distillery itself. Four houses were located on the ridge near the present-day the Crane-Murray residence, the Hall and Brown's parking lot .

When the Canal plan of 1825 was completed, Col. By realized that the Canal would mean the destruction of Samuel Chaffey's mills, with the new dam beside the lock raising the water level an additional six feet which would flood the area. Col. By provided the War Office with details of the operation as it had to buy the buildings, compensating the Chaffey's for the loss. The following descriptions of the mill systems are based on this information.

The Chaffey grist and flour mill was the only building in the complex for which the Engineers gave actual dimensions. It was two and a half stories above the water wheel enclosure and 24 feet by 18 feet in width and breadth. The description states that it was an automated mill. In 1823, an automated mill was a mill with the mechanical movement of the grain and the flour based on principles established by Oliver Evans. These principals and the design were published in a book called, "The Young Millwright". From this, it can be seen that the water wheel was connected to a horizontal shaft with the other end attached to a gear set vertically and turned on the same plain as the water wheel. To this larger drum there was a smaller gear cylinder but set horizontally and this was attached to the upper mill stone. The lower mill stone remained stationary. As can be seen in the Illustration, when the vertical water wheel turned wooden gears transferred the power from vertical to horizontal. A hopper hanging over the centre of the upper mill stone fed the grain into an opening in the centre of the stone and the grinding was produced by the cutting action designed in a specific pattern on the stone. The design of the stone was such that it caused the grain to work its way to the outer edge as it was ground. By the use of gravity, the flour fell into a bin where an elevator took it to the top floor where coolers lowered the temperature before it was put into barrels. After the grain was dumped into the hopper to start the process, it was carried to the separators and cleaners by a mechanical elevator driven by the same mill wheel. All of these mechanical designs meant that one man could handle all of the operations in the milling of the wheat. The man who ran the Chaffey Grist Mill was Obediah (or the signatures could be Jedadiah) Hutchings. It is apparent that Samuel's Mill was designed to operate in winter. The water wheel was located inside the enclosure, under the mill and a stove was used to keep the water wheel from freezing. Heat rose through the mill making it more comfortable as a stove could not be used close to the highly flammable grain dust . A breast wheel, the water wheel in the Grist Mill developed over 22 horsepower.

Opinicon Resort HotelThe miller was paid for grinding, the grain at the rate of one pound of flour for every 16 pounds ground. The miller also got the sweepings and spillage, which went into the mash tank. Many millers also had distilleries and produced alcohol on which they paid tax to the Government Department of Inland Revenue. A tax of one shilling three pence (about 25 cents) was paid annually for each gallon of still capacity. Through the tax records we can see that the Chaffey's paid tax on a 45 gallon capacity still.

When alcohol is made. tile first step is the malting. The operator steeps the grain in water until it becomes soft. It is then spread on a platform in thin layers and after a day or two little sprouts begin to appear. While this is taking place. the starch and albuminoids become modified. As they become more soluble some of the starch is converted to sugar. The grain is moved to the distillery, heated and dried rapidly. The mash is crushed in the grist mill to a fine consistency and returned to the distillery where it is mixed with water. The mixture is heated to between 150 degrees and 170 degrees F. which releases the starch that is insoluble in cold water. This produces a maltose or sugar that begins to ferment. This sugary liquid, called the wort, is stained off, cooled and brewers yeast is added. When the fermentation is complete the solution is placed in the copper still and heated to 173 degrees F. The alcohol turns to steam at this temperature, rises in the kettle and passes out through a cooling coil where it drips into awaiting jugs. One bushel of grain yields roughly 3 gallons of whiskey that is 20% alcohol. Most millers put the distilled alcohol through the system a second time bringing it closer to 100 proof. Farmers who walked from Halladay's Corners with bags of grain on their backs had a treat when they arrived at Samuel's mill.

Lock and Waste Weir at Chaffey's Mills 1833The agricultural census of 1851 indicated that area farms raised sheep, providing wool for home spun clothing. Possibly the same was true 25 years earlier . Samuel Chaffey had constructed a carding and fulling mill to provide the mechanical process for dealing with this wool. The entire process of making clothing was uncomplicated. After shearing, the wool was sorted and picked over to remove the worst of the dirty and matted wool then greased or oiled to make carding easier. The water powered carding machine with wire teeth fastened to the cylinders combed and untangled the wool until all of the mats and most of the dirt was removed. The carded wool was then rolled and twisted off into short rovings. The Chaffey mill did not provide the spinning process as this was done by farm women. When the wool was spun into thread and the dying was completed, it was woven into cloth and brought back to the mill for fulling. This process entailed soaking the cloth in warm soapy water, wringing it out and putting it on a machine that applied an even pressured stretching. The mill could full the cloth more quickly and at less risk to the product than a home craft process.

The carding machine, invented in 1775 remained the same for the next 75 years. Inside the wooden housing were cylinders that rotated in opposite directions. The cylinders were covered with a card cloth (leathery felt) with wire teeth protruding at an angle. The teeth combed the wool out and produced the long strands that would then go through the spinning process. The Chaffey's carding mill rose two stories and was about two thirds the size of the Grist Mill, about 18 feet by 18 feet with the water wheel on the east wall. It would have had an undershot water wheel as no flume ran to that building and an undershot wheel could produce power for a carding machine.

Lower Entrance to Chaffey's LockThe Chaffey saw mill was a single frame saw driven directly off the water wheel. The description states that the frame saw was capable of cutting boards from a tree 36 inches in diameter. This would mean that the saw would be about 6 feet in length as a frame saw required twice the height of the log it was sawing. Samuel's Mill was powered by a flutter wheel, which is like an under shoot wheel with some of the principles of a breast wheel. The speed and power of the wheel was controlled by the amount of water brought in from the forebay. The Grist Mill and Carding Mill water powered wheels were connected to crank shafts and gears to control the amount of energy applied to the process. The Saw Mill water wheel was connected directly to the saw frame by a pitman arm. The complete saw frame was pulled down and pushed up with each rotation of the mill wheel. The size of the mill wheel was the length of stroke of the saw. The log carriage was located inside the saw frame. The fame remained in the same location and the log, pinned down on its carriage, was pulled into it. During that period, there were several methods of pulling the log against the saw, but unfortunately we do not have any description of how the Chaffey Mill performed this task. Two things give us a clue to a possible process. The saw carriage platform is about 6 feet above the water in the forebay and the logs needed to be pulled up onto that platform. Secondly, the small structure at the south end of the building likely contained the gearing mechanism for both the carriage and a log elevator. Thus there had to be a shaft from the centre of the mill wheel to a crank driving gears on the saw carriage level. Putting a 30 inch diameter log 16 feet long on the carriage and starting the sawing action, the sawer could go for lunch and the first board would almost have been cut by the time he got back. This log, giving 10 two inch thick by sixteen feet long boards would take much of a day to cut. This seems slow, but it was faster than cutting by hand. With the frame saw there was a chance that the wooden frame sliding up and down in the stationary portion of the frame would set fire to the mill. Pig fat and soap were used to lessen the friction, sending a burnt smell through the area. This smell combined with the brewing smell of the mash house and the alcohol smell from the distillery to make Chaffey's Mills a very pungent place.

Mary Anne Chaffey (born Poole) 1804-1888From an 1823 drawing we are able to gather information about the buildings. Horizontal and vertical clapboard on the mills and horizontal clapboard on the houses is evident. The Grist Mill, Carding Mill and all four of the houses had wood shingles while the other buildings had plank roofs. The British War Office records do not indicate that Chaffey had a Shingle Mill operation, the shingles therefore must all have been cut by hand. A device for doing this used a draw knife in an apparatus that sliced off each shingle from a pre-cut block of cedar. These buildings would have needed over 7000 shingles which would have taken one man 182 hours to cut from the cedar blocks. The Chaffey's Mills operation would have needed more manpower than Samuel and his miller, Mr. Hutchings, thus we guess the other two houses housed other employees.

During Canal construction two oxen belonging to Samuel Chaffey were used, suggesting that they may have been there in 1823. The map locations of building show two small structures on the east side of the road, possibly housing a cow and chickens.

Our knowledge of Chaffey's Mills in 1823 is based on information the British Government used to establish the 2000 pounds paid to Mary Ann Chaffey for the loss of Samuel's Mills and a drawing and maps from 1823, now at the National Archives. In 1823 Chaffey's existed at a period when Westport, Newboro, Portland, Phillipsville and Elgin did not exist. In fact in 1823, Chaffey's was larger than Ottawa.

Chaffey's Rapids were 333 yards (304 m) in length, descending 12 feet, 11 inches (4.0 m) over that distance. Samuel Clowes’ plan in 1824 was to stay in the channel at Chaffey’s Mills and raise the water level though the use of two detached locks. Clowes’ planned route from Chaffeys to Newboro was through the west end of Indian Lake, through Mosquito Lake and then around the west end of Scott Island to Newboro Lake. 

By decided to take the shorter route from Newboro to Chaffeys and cut a 110 yard (101 m) channel between Clear Lake and Indian Lake to allow navigation to proceed on a more direct course between Chaffeys and Newboro.

The Chaffey's Mills area itself proved more of a problem. MacTaggart in his 1827 survey sums it up quite well: 

"Having passed Rideau Lake, Mud, Clear and Indian Lakes, we come to Chaffey's Mills, a very extensive establishment, consisting of saw, grist, and fulling-mills, carding-machines, stores, barns, distillery, &c. filling up the whole river, and not to be estimated at a less expense than 5000l. On first examining this place, I thought to have found no difficulty in passing the mills with the Canal, as a valley on the east side of the river seemed to set the matter at rest. But, in exploring this valley, nothing was found but deep rocky excavation, and it appeared that, after all, it would lead the Canal through woods and swamps two miles about; these were sufficient causes for a relinquishment of that route. The river was most carefully examined on its western side, with even worse success. A place was discovered below the mills, where a dam could easily be put, and two locks, sufficient for overcoming the whole rapids, of 13 feet, deepening the river above, raising the level of the lakes, &c.; but by this course the great mill establishment became drowned. Under these circumstances, I am not ashamed to own that I was more puzzled to know how to act, than on any other part of the route. High banks on either side of a river, and mills choking up that river, seemed to defy the science of engineering to pass them with the Canal, unless by running matters to a great expense. But, after taking the following measurements, levels, &c. and pondering on the subject, I came at last to a conclusion. Nine and a quarter feet was found to be the fall of Chaffey's Mill-dam, and the remainder of Rapid 3 feet 9 3/4 inches, beneath the mill-dam - where this Rapid began below it, was 1136 feet from the mill- bridge; length of the bridge 91 feet. On going to the bottom of the rapids, it was found that a break took place in the rocky bank, in which a lock might be advantageously built; and this lock might be 6-feet lift, without injuring the mills in any respect, farther than obliging the millers to lift their small horizontal wheels about 14 inches - a thing of no great trouble. By placing a lock here, it was found that the mills might be passed, by a trifling cutting of 10 feet. The dam for this lock requires to be 60 feet wide. Beneath the lock, the river will have to be deepened 2 feet for 150 feet; the bottom is rocky. Where the Canal takes the river again, above the mills, a lock of 11 feet 2 inches is required, and a dam 65 feet long across the river, so as to raise it 5 feet, on a level with the Rideau Lake, and to deepen the fords between. The stone abounding at Chaffey's Mills is of a singular nature, resembling white granite, but it is a species of limestone."

By's original plan was essentially as MacTaggart describes above, to construct a stone arch overflow dam above the mills and run a canal cut around the mills to avoid disturbing them. Two locks would be placed in the cut. The concept of adding a second dam to flood the foot of the rapids as suggested by Mactaggart was abandoned when it was determined that the lock and dam at Davis' Mills would raise the water to a sufficient navigation depth. 

The tender for work released in early 1827 read; "To construct a Dam and two Locks at Chaffey's Mills. The Dam to be 20 feet high and 80 feet wide, the locks 9 feet lift each." 

In 1827, Samuel Chaffey died of malaria, and his widow decided to sell the mill works and 200 acres of land to By for £2000. This allowed By to move his canal works into the main channel, eliminating the need for the dam, although it added a waste weir. By also found that he could reduce the number of locks down to one. In his 1830 report By stated: "Prior to commencing the Works I directed further Levels to be taken when it was ascertained that by Deepening the Bed of the River, and cutting off some Rocky points, the Rise to be surmounted might be reduced to 12 feet 6 inches, I therefore considered, that by constructing a Waste Weir in such a manner as would enable the Water in the Lakes to be duly regulated, two Locks would not be required but that one of 12 ½ feet Lift might be placed in the Channel of the River with perfect security …." 

The contract was awarded to John Sheriff & Co. Sheriff's partner was John Haggart, a stonemason and miller from Perth. During construction, Chaffeys was better known as Haggart's Job, "as under the management of a jolly bachelor of that name, well known for convivial hospitality to all travellers by this route." 

Stone for the building of the lock and weir could not be found locally and it had to be brought in from Halladay's quarry, near Elgin, 8 miles (13 km) away. The biggest problem here wasn't the construction of the lock and weir, it was malaria, which first struck with a vengeance in the hot summer of 1828, laying most of the crew low. John Sheriff and several labourers died as result of this round of malaria. With the addition of the lock at the Isthmus (Newboro), By found he could lower the lift of the lock at Chaffey's to 10 feet 2 inches (3.1 m). The lock was positioned in the main channel, just a little bit downstream from the original mills, which were torn down to make way for construction. A 6 foot 6 inch (2.0 m) guard was placed on the lock to prevent it from being overflowed in spring flood. The floor of the lock was left as bare bedrock. The weir was positioned in a rocky snie (dry flood channel) passing to the west of the main channel. It was built of masonry, in line with the lower lock gate, and incorporated bays (slots) into which stop logs could be dropped to regulate the flow of water through the weir. 

In 1844, a one storey masonry, defensible lockmaster's house was built. In 1894-95 the house was completely renovated and a wood frame back kitchen and second storey were added. The lockmaster's house is now a museum run by the Chaffey's Lock and Area Heritage Society. 

This lock required very little maintenance in its first 70 years. The only major construction was the rebuilding in 1902-03 of the upper wing wall with stone from the quarry in Elgin. The old gristmill, located beside the waste weir at Chaffeys Lock, was built in 1872 by John Chaffey (a nephew of Samuel Chaffey). It was originally built entirely of stone, but a spring flood in about 1904 damaged the outer corner of the building and it was repaired with wood. In 1941 it was purchased by Arthur Phelps who had the building renovated as a private residence and put on a new roof.

The grand looking Opinicon Hotel was built in 1899. It was originally a tenant house for workers at the Chaffey's Mill. By the turn of the century it had been turned into a tourist home, and by about 1905 had become a private fishing club known as the "Opinacon Club". In 1921 it was purchased by Mae and William Phillips of Pittsburgh who were the first to operate it as a tourist resort.

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John Chaffey and his wife Mary Ann Tett Chaffey are buried in Newboro . St. Mary's Anglican Church has a stained glass window dedicated to John and Mary Ann.

At the Lock, the old mill house across the canal from the lockhouse is a gift shop now but used to be John Chaffey's mill.  John built the mill house and later his son Benjamin Elswood Chaffey lived in it and ran it for a bit. There is a monument to Mary Ann Poole Chaffey Scott in the Pioneer cemetery there and recently it is thought that Samuel is also be buried there. 

(Location: Chaffey's Lock, Co. Rd. 9)
Prominent early millers in Eastern Ontario, Benjamin and Samuel Chaffey were born in Somerset, England and came to Upper Canada in 1816. After settling briefly in Perth they moved to Elizabethtown (Brockville) where they operated mercantile and milling ventures. Encouraged by local residents to establish mills along the Rideau River, they chose this location in 1820. Samuel settled here soon after, effecting many improvements to the site. By 1827 an extensive complex including a distillery and grist, saw, carding and fulling mills had been established. A small settlement known as Chaffey's Mills gradually developed. The mills were flooded during the building of the Rideau Canal (1826-32), but shipping and, later, tourism stimulated the continuous growth of the community of Chaffey's Lock

(Location: north end of Court House Ave., directly in front of Courthouse Square, Brockville)
In 1808 the provincial government authorized the erection of a court house and gaol at Elizabethtown (Brockville) to serve the District of Johnstown created ten years earlier. By 1811 a brick structure had been built here on land donated by William Buell, the founder of Brockville. In was replaced in 1824 by a larger building which remained the judicial and administrative centre of the region until the present court house was completed in 1843. Prominently situated at the head of a public green, this imposing Neo-classical structure was designed by the noted Toronto architect John George Howard and constructed by Benjamin Chaffey, a local contractor. Subsequently enlarged and renovated, it retains the arrangement of prison and court facilities so effectively integrated in the original plan.

Dec. 25, 1821, Samuel CHAFFEY, of Crosby, bachelor, and Marianne POOLE, of Augusta, spinster, banns. Samuel Chaffey, an immigrant from Norton, Somersetshire, settled on the Rideau, where he founded Chaffey's Mills (now Chaffey's Lock) in 1822 and where he was joined by his brother, Benjamin. He died there, July 26, 1827. His wife, a daughter of John Poole, of Hinton St. George, Somersetshire, was married, secondly, to John Scott, merchant, who was drowned near Newboro, Ont., in 1834. She was a sister-inlaw of Benjamin Tett, M.P.P., Newboro, and died at Chaffey's Lock, October 17, 1888, aged 83, leaving one son, Samuel Benjamin Chaffey.

December 21, 1823. Ann Maria, daughter of Xstopher and Ann LEGGO, born November 27, 1823. Sponsors, Parents and Mary REID. Ann Maria Leggo was married, August 12, 1845, to George Chaffey, manufacturer, lumberman and forwarder, Brockville. She died at Mildura, Australia, in April, 1903. She was the mother of George Chaffey and William Benjamin Chaffey, C.M.G., celebrated irrigationists in California and Australia.

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February 20, 2020