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Cardinal Creek Village - historical context

The following post is an excerpt from Tamarack Homes' Cardinal Creek Village Homeowners' Awareness Package.


The area that is today Cardinal Creek Village has been occupied for millennia. From the first Native explorers to enter this area sometime after the retreat of the Champlain Sea through to early 19th century homesteaders and millers, to more recent agricultural pursuits, the rich history of the area has been embedded in its fertile soils.

​​By the time of European contact and initial settlement, Ontario was populated with somewhat distinct regional populations that broadly shared many qualities. Early explorers, including Samuel de Champlain in A.D. 1613, account of the Ottawa Valley being inhabited by Algonquian peoples, today known collectively as Anishinaabe. With the arrival of European settlers, much changed on the landscape and the Native peoples entered treaties with the colonial governments, paving the way for European homesteaders and land clearing.

​​During the archaeological survey of Cardinal Creek Village a few vestiges of the preceding millennia of human history on this land were uncovered. These separate find spots were closely examined during the archaeological assessment process, but none contained sufficient evidence that further investigation should be undertaken.However, they are tangible evidence of the pre-European history and use of the property, possibly as a short-term camping location for gathering and hunting. One find spot was a single small portion of an arrowhead, made of Onondagachert. Another isolated find was a scraper, a tool used for scraping hides or shaping items, made of Kitchisippi chert from the Ottawa area.

Cumberland Township was first surveyed in 1791, but it wasn’t until 1799 that it was named to honour Prince Ernest Augustus I, one of the numerous children of George III, who became Duke of Cumberland on 24 April 1799. The first settlements occurred along the Ottawa River. The Village of Cumberland was established on the south shore of the Ottawa River in 1801. Its strategic location at the confluence of the Lievre and Ottawa Rivers made it a popular early fur trading post.

​​The archaeological assessment encountered a large scatter of historic Euro-Canadian artifacts in one of the fields in Cardinal Creek Village.The combination of household artifacts, building materials, and scatter size suggested that the site comprised the remains of a circa 1836 to 1860s Euro-Canadian framed house that represents the early occupation of the area. ​​Ultimately, a massive fire completely destroyed the house.

It is unclear when and who constructed the Cardinal Creek grist and saw mills. It first appeared on a historic map dated 1862. The 1871 Census of Canada lists William Lough Junior as the owner of the mills. Lough was a successful local farmer and merchant with shares in various steam vessels and barges. The location of the mills was chosen very carefully, as the Cardinal Creek is directed through steep banks at this point. The mill pond that was created by the dam could have filled the entire gully back to Queen Street in the spring (present day Old Montreal Road).

In 1885 Isidore Cardinal, a French Canadian farmer, purchased the land. With his three grown sons Joseph, Alderic, and Herménégilde, Isidore continued to operate the mills and farm the remaining acres. A fourteen-room farmhouse stood on the east side of the creek, at some distance from Queen Street. The house burned down and was rebuilt in 1920, but the original barns still stood prior to the recent development of the area. Cardinal Creek was named for this family.

In 1902, Herménégilde took over operation of the dam and mills and built a house on the west side of the creek overlooking the dam. Alderic inherited the property in 1907 after his father’s death and continued to farm the land. The dam and mills were sold to Albert Roy in 1933, and again in 1944 to Omre and Corinne Dugré. The gristmill was three storeys high and ground grain into flour and feed for cattle. Logs were skidded to the sawmill during the winter and cut into planks in the spring. The mills were operated until 1957 and would have been a focus for the rural community. Farmers came to the mill from as far away as the village of Navan.

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