The Old Perth Road

The Old Perth Road

The Old Perth Road, which ran north-west from Brockville to Perth, followed a path that is in many ways similar to that of the modern Highway #29. There were, however, some significant differences on its specific path.

Although much of the southern portion of the Perth Trail is lost in the mists of time, having fallen to the development and expansion of Brockville and its environs, it probably started in the west end of town where Perth Street intersects King Street West.

From here, it made its way to what is now the intersection of the Parslow Road and Country Road #27 (Centennial Road). It travelled north along Parslow Road, past Kilkenny Road and onto what is now Rowsome Road. It did not however, immediately curve right at this point, as Rowsome Road does, but continued north to what is now the intersection of Murray Road and Highway #29.

At this point, aside from minor deviations, the course of the Old Perth Road and the modern Highway #29 follow each other, up trough Spring Valley, Glen Buell, Forthton and Addison, finally passing beyond the boundaries of Elizabethtown Township and continuing to Smith’s Falls and then Perth.

The Old Perth Road was an important factor in the development of Elizabethtown, and places further north. Much of the early development in the township focuses on the route surrounding the old road. In addition to making settlement easier, the trail was used by many travellers, thus causing the rise of many fine inns that survive as homes to this day near Spring Valley, as well as those that have not survived in Tincap and Forthton.

The Old Perth Road also served in the defence of Upper Canada, seeing use as a supply route for British soldiers during the War of 1812.

There was at one time between Athens and Brockville as many as 13 inns. Some were large and clean offering good food and sleeping accommodations. The one mentioned by a Rev. Bell in about 1813 was of the other sort. He had been visiting with Rev. Smart in Brockville and had obtained a lift with a member of the congregation to about 11 miles north of Brockville on the Perth Road. He overnighted with a farmer and set out the following morning before dawn for Perth. Shortly, be came upon an Inn, and decided to stop for breakfast. It was a small log building, huddled close to the earth and possessing a dirty interior. The landlady sat with some farmhands at the only table, and at hearing his request, bade him to get outside and wait for her to finish eating. After a delay of some time, some spoiled mutton and fried bread was literally dropped in his lap as he sat at a crude bench in the outdoors. The rest of his trip was through heavy woods, navigating along blazed trails until he arrived at Rideau Ferry and then on to Perth.

(excerpts from “Highway #29- The Old Perth road, A look at the history and homes” by Michael Brown and Heritage Elizabethtown)

Route of the Old Perth Road on a map of 1861-62
Route of the old Perth Road on a map of 1861-62