View of Westport from Foley Mountain
|County||Leeds and Grenville|
|• Mayor||Dan Grunig |
|• Federal riding||Leeds–Grenville|
|• Prov. riding||Leeds–Grenville|
|• Land||1.71 km2 (0.66 sq mi)|
|• Density||376.4/km2 (975/sq mi)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
The village of Westport was incorporated as an independent municipality in 1904. Surrounded by the Township of Rideau Lakes, within Leeds County, Westport is one of Ontario's smallest municipalities. Westport is a notable destination for residents of nearby cottages and travellers in the summer time due to specialty shops and being the sole sizable town in the area.
The first settlers to the Westport area arrived in the period between 1810 and 1820. The land on which Westport now sits was originally granted by the Crown to a Mr. Hunter, but he never settled in the area and was eventually purchased by Reuben Sherwood in 1817. Some of this land was later purchased by the Stoddard and Manhard families. The small community was known as Head of the Lake. In 1828, Stoddard built a saw mill and in 1829 the Manhards built a saw mill and grist mill. It became known at that time as Manhard's Mills. Two local merchants, Aaron Chambers and Lewis Cameron, named the village Westport in 1841, the name reflecting its location at the west end of Upper Rideau Lake. The village of Westport was incorporated in 1904 when it separated from North Crosby Township.
Like much of the surrounding area, Westport received a large number of Irish immigrants in the 1840s through the 1860s, following the Great Famine. St. Edward's Catholic Church at the corner of Concession and Bedford, built in 1859, was an early cultural centre for the largely Catholic Irish immigrants.
Westport remained a thriving commercial centre through the 19th century and into the 20th century. The building of the Rideau Canal allowed goods to be shipped north to Ottawa and south to Kingston. In 1882, an entrepreneur named R.G. Harvey proposed an ambitious project to build a railway from Brockville to Sault Ste. Marie. The project ran out of money after the section from Brockville to Westport had been completed in 1888. The Brockville-Westport line moved goods, mail and people to and from the St. Lawrence River and Westport. Many cheese factories were located between Brockville and Westport. The train was therefore known as the "cheese run." The rail line also brought tourists north to Westport starting a tradition of Westport as a tourist destination. The last train travelled the Brockville, Westport and North-Western Railway line in 1952.
In 2007, residents of Westport have been growing more disgruntled about the alleged poaching of fish resources at The Westport Pond. This anger has led to incidents of verbal and physical assault and intimidation of anglers visiting Westport. The incident involved fishing for commercial purposes by out-of-town anglers at night in a prohibited area. The area in question is a provincial fish sanctuary, and well posted as such. Though there was no evidence of 'assault' by local residents, the incident became a cause célèbre in the Toronto news media - presumably as a result of allegations of racism, never substantiated.
In June 2013, longtime Mayor Bill Thake died of a stroke at age 77; the village council appointed councillor Dan Grunig to take his place in July and called an election for September 30 to fill the vacant councillor's seat.
Westport has its own volunteer fire department. The Review Mirror, the community newspaper, is published on Thursdays. With a subscription base of only 700, it is one of Ontario's smallest weekly newspapers.
The Village of Westport also boasts a number of shops, pubs and eateries. As Westport is the largest community between Kingston and Perth, many people from the surrounding region come to Westport to do business. Westport is also a centre of tourist activity in the area, with a large number of small lakes attracting tourists during the summer.
- Population in 2006: 645 (2001 to 2006 population change: -0.3 %)
- Population in 2001: 647
- Population in 1996: 683
- Population in 1991: 664
Private dwellings occupied by usual residents: 320 (total dwellings: 363)
- English as first language: 96.9%
- French as first language: 3.1%
- English and French as first language: 0%
- Other as first language: 0%
Tourism and attractions
A public wharf on a man-made island has dock space for up to 30 vessels. The harbour also has a picnic area, barbecues, and sewage pumpout facilities.
Foley Mountain Conservation Area, the highest conservation area in the Rideau Valley, is a picturesque park overlooking Westport. It features a variety of wildlife in 308 hectares (2.4 km²) of woods and fields. The area also has a sandy beach with changing facilities. The 300 km Rideau Trail, linking Kingston and Ottawa, passes through the conservation area.
Events in Westport include:
- the Annual Dandelions Studio Tour, held on the long weekend in May
- the Annual Westport Antique Show and Sale, held on the first weekend in June
- the Annual MUSICwestport Festival, in the middle of August
- the Fall Colours Studio Tour, held annually on Thanksgiving weekend in October.
- the Santa Claus Parade, held at the end of November.
- Statistics Canada 2006 Census - Westport community profile
- Upper Rideau Lake Association
- "Our Heritage". Village of Westport. Retrieved 2010-01-08.[dead link]
- Toronto Sun report "A fine Kettle of fish"
- The Review-Mirror
- Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census
- Rideau Valley Conservation Authority - Foley Mountain