Indiana began as a small industrial hamlet, strategically located on the newly built Grand River Canal near Cayuga. It was first settled in the 1830s, following completion of the canal.
By the early 1840s, the settlement contained a sawmill and a grist mill, built by David Thompson. Thompson, a wealthy landowner, was also a politician, first elected to parliament in 1841. To that end, he constructed a large mansion nearby the mills which he named Ruthven. The mill owners purchased water power from the navigation company which originated from the dam at Mount Healy.
Indiana grew rapidly and by 1846 the population stood at around 120. At it height it contained the mills, a distillery, a pail factory, two inns, and a Catholic church.
Indiana, like many similar industrial communities, was an unfortunate victim of the arrival of the railways. Once the railway arrived in 1854, canal shipping took a steep drop. Consequently, without railway access Indiana’s industries gradually fell silent. The mills and hotel lasted throughout the 1880s, however by the end of the century it was all over.
The Thompson family remained active in politics for many years. Thompson’s son David, and also his grandson Andrew, served as members of parliament at the federal level. As a result of the Thompson’s many political connections, the government purchased Ruthven in the early 1990s. In time, they declared the Ruthven mansion a National Historic Site in 1998 and subsequently opened it to the public in 1998.
Today little remains of the old village except for two buildings. Explorers can still find remains of the locks and cemetery on the grounds. The Ruthven mansion is open for tours during scheduled hours and for special events. A full list of opening dates is available on their website.