A storied past and charming present.
Moss Kent Dickinson is one of the most significant forces in the founding of the village of Manotick, as we know it.
Prior to his arrival, the area consisted of a small settlement around the newly constructed Long Island Locks on the Rideau River. There was a post office, but not much else. In 1859, Dickinson set about constructing the town’s industrial infrastructure, harnessing the power of the Rideau, and naming the village Manotick – meaning “island in the river” in Ojibwa. The population of the village hit 100 by the mid-1860s.
Watson’s Mill, currently regarded as the most prominent and noteworthy feature of the Manotick area, was not built by Harry Watson but also by Dickinson. Watson purchased the mill in the 1940s and renamed it after himself. Another significant piece of Manotick’s heritage is Dickinson House, built in 1867. The building housed Dickinson’s family, while also serving as the village’s general store and post office. Dickinson became mayor of Ottawa from 1864 to 1866, and a member of the Canadian Parliament from 1882 to 1887, during which time Sir John A McDonald used his house as a campaign headquarters for two elections.
Dickinson, who is buried in Ottawa’s Beechwood Cemetery, passed down the milling operations to his son George before his death in 1897. To honour Manotick’s founding family, the village celebrates Dickinson Days on the first weekend of June with events held in the area known as Dickinson Square.
Through the years, Manotick, with a small-town population of about 4,500, has managed to maintain its quaint village status. Nestled along the banks of the Rideau River as it snakes around Long Island, it is only a five-minute drive from the bustling suburb of Barrhaven.
Much of the original architecture from the 1800s still remains in the village, including Watson’s Mill, Dickinson House and the St. James Anglican church. The old mill is still in operation, and it offers stone-ground, whole-wheat flour for sale after milling season ends every autumn.
Manotick is also home to the Black Dog Bistro, known for its high-end food and a seriously tasty burger, served in a neighbourhood pub atmosphere with an abundance of dog-themed artwork hanging on the walls.
CHRISTMAS IN MANOTICK
The village enjoys one of the more unique Christmas traditions within the City of Ottawa. An Olde Fashioned Christmas celebration presented by Manotick BIA is held every year on the first weekend of December, when the village is transformed into a Dickensian vision of Christmas past. Wreaths hang from lamp posts and trees are lit up, with sunset caroling, horse-drawn wagon rides, craft markets t and live music filling the streets.
In addition to the annual Christmas Parade and celebrations, Manotick hosts over 20 unique retail shops along the walkable and easy-going main street of Rideau Valley Drive, far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Ottawa. If you’re looking for a special Christmas gift, this could certainly be the place to find it.
Most people living in Manotick are families and retirees, typically falling into the higher income brackets, mainly in single-detached housing built mostly between 1960 and 1990. There are very few rental properties available, as the town has no large apartment towers and the majority of homes are owner households.
One large and new housing development of note is the Mahogany subdivision by Minto Homes. Located at the south end of town, it’s a modern housing development that holds true to the classic spirit of Manotick.
Sarah Marsh, Mahogany’s senior landscaping architect, replicated the stone laying patterns of Watson’s Mill to build many of the stone gateways, pillars and bridges around the community’s central park area. Minto worked with the subdivision’s natural topography to preserve as many natural features of the land as possible, including large, historic maple and oak trees and endangered species of butternut tree. The development is also home to a natural creek and pond.