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For the village in Scotland, see Arnprior, Stirling.
Town (lower-tier)
Town of Arnprior
John Street, Arnprior
John Street, Arnprior
Nickname(s): "The 'Prior'"
Arnprior is located in Ontario
Coordinates: 45°26′N 76°21′W / 45.433°N 76.350°W / 45.433; -76.350Coordinates: 45°26′N 76°21′W / 45.433°N 76.350°W / 45.433; -76.350
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
County Renfrew
Established (timber industry) 1851
Incorporated (Village) 1862 (1862)
Incorporated (Town) 1892
 • Type Town
 • Mayor David Reid
 • Town (lower-tier) 13.04 km2 (5.03 sq mi)
 • Urban 18.07 km2 (6.98 sq mi)
Elevation 74.2 m (243.4 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Town (lower-tier) 8,114
 • Density 622.2/km2 (1,611/sq mi)
  Population Growth between 2001 to 2006 is -0.5%
Demonym Arnpriorite
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal Code FSA K7S
Area code(s) 613, 343

Arnprior is a town in Renfrew County, in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario, Canada. It is located in the Ottawa Valley at the mouth of the Madawaska River with the Ottawa River. 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.


In May 1613 European explorers, led by Samuel de Champlain, first visited the Ottawa River valley, home of the Algonquin tribe of native North Americans.

In 1823, a 1,200-acre (490 ha) 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.[2] 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.[3] The lumber industry maintained a significant position until the closing of the Gillies Mill.[4] 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.[5]

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 175 feet (53 m), these are the tallest white pines in Ontario.[6]

John Street as seen in 1906.

Arnprior was incorporated as a village in 1862. Thirty years later (in 1892), it was incorporated as a town.

On 8 June 1944 a Castle class corvette, HMS Rising Castle (K494), was re-commissioned as "HMCS Arnprior" until 1946.[7] 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[8] (located in the former post office building and library) and the Arnprior and District Archives,[9] 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 lumber trade continued in the form of the Gillies sawmill in nearby McNab Township until its closing in 1993. Pictures of the early days of the lumbering industry are seen at the online Charles MacNamara Retrospective.[10]

Kenwood Mills, initially a blanket manufacturer who developed woven fabrics for the pulp and paper industry, was a significant employer in Arnprior and was bought in 1918 by Huyck Corporation. They were a strong contributor to Arnprior remaining viable during the Depression.[11]

Sullivan and Sons[12] and Smith Construction companies, were significant economic drivers and employers based in Arnprior.

The airport at Arnprior was built for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and hosted No. 3 Flying Instructor School for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Post War, the facility was used by the Canadian military and a training base known as the Civil Defense College,[13] later known as the Emergency Measures Training Centre.[14]

After the Second World War, companies such as Playtex, Pfizer and Boeing came to Arnprior. Boeing Aircraft Company began manufacturing in 1955 and maintained an operation until selling to Arnprior Aerospace in October 2005.

The Madawaska River at McEwen's Creek was dammed to create a peaking hydro station[15] with approval given in 1972. The dam, which became operational in 1976, has created a new body of water known as Lake Madawaska. This was the fifth and last dam to be built on the Madawaska River and they have a total generating capacity of 614 MW.

Notable residents[edit]


Agriculture has been a fixture surrounding Arnprior since the arrival of McNab's Scottish immigrants. The farming tradition has been celebrated by the Arnprior Fair since 1854.[19]

Health care[edit]

Arnprior has been served since 1945 by the Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital.[20]


David Reid, the town's current mayor, was elected in 2010. The municipal council consists of a mayor, a reeve and five councillors. The current Reeve is Walter Stack. Current councillors are Ted Strike, Daniel Lynch, Lynn Grinstead, Frank Dugal and Tom Burnette. The Chief Administrative Officer is Michael Wildman, the Town Clerk is Maureen Spratt and the Director of Corporate Services/Treasurer is Jennifer Moraweic. There are 4 administrative directors including Director of Public Works, Director of Corporate Services/Treasurer, Fire Chief and Director of Recreation.[21]


Arnprior is served by five schools: three are administered by the Renfrew County District School Board (two elementary schools — Walter Zadow Public School and A. J. Charbonneau Public School — and one regional secondary school, Arnprior District High School[22]). The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board administers two elementary schools: St Joseph's and John XXIII.[23]


Hockey is the only municipally sponsored sport in Arnprior. The Arnprior Packers represent the town in Eastern Ontario Junior B Hockey League, which is the town's highest level of competition in this sport. The games are played at the Nick Smith Centre[24] which features two year round ice rinks, a 25 metre indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a community hall with kitchen. The two ice rinks each have ice surface measuring 200' X 85'. Arena 'A' seating capacity of over 2,000; standing and seated 4,000 capacity. The Nick Smith Centre also plays host to the Chris Finnerty Hockey School.

Curling was established, as an open-air sport in the Arnprior area, around 1865. The Arnprior Curling Club now occupies a 4-sheet building on Galvin Street (est. 1970).[25] The highest level of competition hosted by the club are the Valley League and the Low Cup.


The only print media dedicated to Arnprior is the Arnprior Chronicle-Guide. The EMC Newspaper was bought by "Arnprior Chronicle-Guide" in 2011. There is no independent, non-syndicated media coverage of Arnprior available in print form. myFM 107.7 radio broadcasts from Arnprior to Renfrew, Ontario and is the only Arnprior local radio station.


Arnprior is located on the Trans-Canada Highway system, where Highway 417 to the east becomes the two-lane Highway 17 to the west. The town is served by the Arnprior Airport, elevation 109 metres (358 ft) and a nearby floatplane base for general aviation; although there is no longer commercial aviation at the airport.

Arnprior has a long history with railroads. The Canada Central Railway first reached Arnprior on December 6, 1864.[26] On Easter Sunday, March 23, 1880, a change to Standard Gauge brought the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) main line. Later the Canadian National Railway (CNR) came and, through the majority of the 20th century, Arnprior was served by both major Canadian railways . The CNR tracks were pulled up and the right-of-way is used as a hiking trail, while the CPR continues to operate through the town. In June 2012 CPR has pulled its tracks throughout the township.

The town is located at the confluence of the Ottawa and Madawaska rivers. It is cut off from the lower Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence Seaway by the Chats rapids, and now the Chats Falls Generating Station. Following exploration, travel and transportation was by canoe: the Ottawa River by Arnprior was a main route for the fur trade.


Arnprior, aka "the Prior", is the gateway to tourism in the Upper Ottawa Valley.[27] and the western gateway to Ottawa and Canada's National Capital Region.

Anrprior is the start of the River Road that runs in close proximity along the Ottawa River through Braeside, Sand Point to join with Storyland Road.

Arnprior also holds an abundance of wildlife in the town's local forest, the Grove.

Of note are the many walking and biking trails in Arnprior. The Millennium and Macnamara Trails[28] provide scenic views of the waterfront, downtown heritage homes, and two nature trails including a walk-through of the Gillies Grove,[29] a 45-acre (180,000 m2) tract of old growth forest, preserving the white pine which was the foundation of the local lumber industry. Additionally the rivers and local lakes encourage boating, fishing and canoeing.[30]

Galilee Centre, which is the former McLachlin Estate along the Ottawa River, is a holistic spiritual life centre that hosts programs, groups and individuals. On site is a Royal Oak planted in 1860 by His Royal Highness, Edward Prince of Wales.[31]

Wes' Chips is another attraction in town. This chip stand was originally started and run in a 1956 Ford truck by Wes Dodds from 1960 until 1992 before being taken over by André Post and Karen Bretzlaff.[32] For over 50 years they have sold only fries but are known as being the best fries in the Ottawa Valley. Through word of mouth, the chip truck has become known across the country and into the United States as well.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Canada 2006 Census, Community Profiles: Community highlights for Arnprior. Retrieved on March 13, 2007.
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Library and Archives Canada, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, "McLACHLIN, Daniel (Donhuil)". Retrieved on March 6, 2007.
  4. ^ [2][dead link]
  5. ^ The province of Ontario gazetteer and directory. H. McEvoy Editor and Compiler, Toronto : Robertson & Cook, Publishers, 1869
  6. ^ [3][dead link]
  7. ^ HMCS Arnprior at
  8. ^ Virtual Museum of Canada, "Arnprior and District Museum". Last updated July 5, 2004. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
  9. ^ Ottawa Valley Guide, "Arnprior & District Archives". Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  10. ^ Charles Macnamara Retrospective
  11. ^ Arnprior and District Archives, The Town and the Mill (Motion Picture Film), description of archival holdings. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  12. ^ M J Sullivan and Sons
  13. ^ Civil Defense College
  14. ^ Emergency Measures Training Centre
  15. ^ Ontario Power Generation
  16. ^ Former 67′s Captain Will Colbert Signs in the Netherlands
  17. ^ John Leslie
  18. ^ Nick Iwanyshyn
  19. ^ Arnprior Fair (WP:PRIMARY)
  20. ^ Arnprior & District Memorial Hospital (WP:PRIMARY)
  21. ^ [4][dead link]
  22. ^ (WP:PRIMARY)
  23. ^ Renfrew County Catholic District School Board at ontario school board profiles (WP:PRIMARY)
  24. ^ Nick Smith Centre
  25. ^ [5] Arnprior Curling Club history site at the OVCA
  26. ^ Constituents of Canadian Pacific Railway in Southern Ontario.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Millennium Trails Page. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  29. ^ The Gillies Grove. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  30. ^ canoeing
  31. ^ History of Galilee
  32. ^ [6]

External links[edit]