Photo of the dam
Remains of the dam
©Jeri Danyleyko

In 1843, Rufus and Silas Andrews built a shingle mill on the Rideau River, named the settlement after themselves, and gradually began to establish a small industrial village.

In 1861 the brothers added a grist mill, with the capability of grinding 500 bushels of wheat per diem. The mill produced exceptionally high quality flour and was an instant success. Over a period of several years, flour from the Andrewsville mill regularly won top prizes at local fairs and competitions.

In 1869 the Andrews brothers sold the entire milling operation, lock stock and barrel, to Benjamin and Thomas Cook, two Ontario-born millers from nearby Kemptville. Since Andrewsville was located close to the Nicholson Locks where there an abundant source of waterpower, its industries grew rapidly.

By the 1870s, Andrewsville was really humming. Stagecoaches rattled in and out daily to the little hamlet which by now boasted a population of about 100. In addition to the Cook mills, Andrewsville also boasted a carding mill and a second sawmill, run by Henry Watts. Michael Kelly ran the general store, John and Thomas Newman manned the locks and Allan and Rueben Davis ran the blacksmith shop. The Cook brothers were active in township affairs. Benjamin Cook served as a deputy-reeve of Montague Township in 1878 and Thomas Cook served as a representative in the Counties Council.

By the 1890s, Artemus Berry and Charles Henry Tate were running the mills. Berry, who by then also owned the general store, established a post office in 1890. By that time the little community had acquired a public school. Other small businesses included a carriage factory, run by blacksmith William Quinn and an apiary owned by Alonzo Whoople. Telephones had arrived by 1895.

Unfortunately by the 1890s, Andrewsville was clearly on the decline. By then, Its population had dropped to around 75. Andrewsville was similar to many other small mid-19th century mill towns that relied on waterways for transportation. By the early 20th century, railways had taken over from waterways. Lack of railway access doomed Andrewsville’s industries. Consequently the mills gradually shut down and it was all over for Andrewsville. The post office l only lasted until 1912.

To look at Andrewsville now, you would never guess it had once been a sizable village. A few of Andrewsville’s original houses are still occupied. The remains of the Andrewsville dam still lie close by the Nicholson’s locks. The surrounding area contains a few newer homes but for now it remains just a quiet rural spot, where people go for horseback or bicycle rides or to fish in the Rideau River, close to the new dam.

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