History & Historical Attractions

South Glengarry was officially founded by the United Empire Loyalists. Later, waves of immigration brought a mix of Highland Scots, Lowland Scots, French Canadians and, more recently, Montralers. The area had long been known as "the Lake" or "Sunken Townships", because the officialdom considered the land too swampy to be habitable. image of old map of South Glengarry However, land Surveyor Lieutenant Walter Sutherland and his men found the St. Lawrence waterfront to their liking and settled here anyway. In fact, the "Front" proved to be very habitable, and this region - starting at the Quebec border on the east and running to Grey's Creek on the west, with the exception of Cornwall - is today all that remains of the historic Loyalist waterfront!

Martintown Grist Mill

The Martintown Mill was built in 1846 by Alexander McMartin. It is located in the centre of the village of Martintown in historic Glengarry county, Ontario. The mill is a charming, rustic building in a picturesque setting on the north bank of the Raisin River. It is a popular destination for tourists.

Built with local fieldstone the 4-storey Martintown Mill measures 30 x 55 feet. It served the village and region as a custom flour milling operation. The mill operated by water power that was eventually supplemented with a gas engine. Commercial use of the mill ended in 1947.

image of millBy 1986 the historic stone mill was near collapse. After several major stabilization projects the mill opened for public access for the first time in 2004.

Since 1997 the mill has been owned and maintained by The Martintown Mill Preservation Society, a non-profit organization. It is open for public visits on occasional weekends during the summer.

Visit the website at


The Nor'westers and Loyalist Museum

image of Nor'Westers and Loyalist MuseumThe Nor'Westers and Loyalist Museum is a Georgian style structure, tucked among the trees in Williamstown, ON. Some of the principal partners of the Nor'westerns Company, an active competitor of the Hudson's Bay Company, lived in this area, and the museum contains related memorabilia.

HOURS: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm or by appointment. 

19651 John St, Williamstown, ON
Tel: 613-347-3547

Want to know what's happening at the museum? Check out our monthly newsletter!

December 9, 2015 - Museum Newsletter

Sir John Johnson House

Sir John Johnson House is located in Williamstown. Built sometime between 1784 and 1792 as part of a mill site, this National Historical Site is operated by Parks Canada. Sir John Johnson House is significant for its architectural design and for being one of the oldest surviving buildings in Ontario. Also important is its historical connection to Sir John Johnson, who encouraged United Empire Loyalists to settle in the St. Lawrence River Valley after the American Revolution. The "Manor House" hosts the Glengarry Archives and is open to the public during the summer months and every Monday throughout the year from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

image of Sir John Johnson Manor HouseThe Sir John Johnson Manor House Committee is a registered, not-for-profit group which manages the Glengarry Archives. Over the past ten years, the Committee has created a popular genealogical centre for the land records and church records it has acquired.

The Sir John Johnson Manor House Committee hosts several events on the front lawn during the summer. Some of these events are; The Old Time Social, Elementary School Project, Family Picnics, United Empire Loyalist Meetings and picnic, House and Garden Tour and the "Doors Opened Program".

Tel: 613-347-2356

St. Raphael's Ruins

Located in St. Raphael's, Ontario, the ruins were once one of the earliest Roman Catholic churches in English Canada until a fire consumed the church in 1970.

Image of St. Raphael's Ruins          map to St. Raphaels's Ruins

Efforts continue today to raise funds to stabilize the impressive masonry work found in the outer walls, which continues to attract tourists.

Williamstown Fair

200th Anniversary Celebrations
images of Williamstown Fair
It is a legacy that only improves as the years pass. The Williamstown Fair began as a street gathering for barter and banter amongst the locals. It continued to grow into an event where over the three days thousands of people from both town and country would gather to exhibit their wares, compete in the many fun events and take part in the more serious judging from which the winners go on to Provincial and sometimes International competitions.

A great many people view the Williamstown Fair grounds as an integral part of the charm of the village of Williamstown, after all, Williamstown Fair is Canada's oldest annual agricultural fair.

Bishop's House 1808

Bishop's House was the headquarters of Rev. Alexander Macdonell, a heralded military chaplain, who came to St. Raphael's in 1804 and became Bishop of Upper Canada (Ontario's first bishop). A major figure in early Ontario history, the bishop was declared a National Historic Person of Canada in 1924. This house functioned as the organizational centre for Roman Catholics in Ontario until the eighteen-thirties. It housed the College of Iona - Ontario's first college which was moved to Kingston in 1836. The college was the province's first seminary where young men studied for the priesthood and later led parishes throughout the province. This institution was also a college for young gentleman, including non-Catholics, who received classical instruction.  

Across the road was the celebrated St. Raphael's Church, built by Rev. Macdonell, which he envisioned to one day be a centerpiece of the coming metropolis. Today, as a result of Queen Victoria's choice for Canada's capital, St. Raphael's is very near to the geographic centre of the combined Montreal and Ottawa  agglomerations. 

image of Bishop's HouseThe St. Raphael's National Historic Site, created by Parks Canada in 1996, encompasses the Bishop's House and garden. The great church was destroyed by fire in 1970 but has be conserved as a magnificent ruin. 

In 2016 Bishop's House was acquired by the not-for-profit citizens group, Glengarry Fencibles Trust, a registered charity. The Fencibles Trust is undertaking the careful, respectful and loving rehabilitation the building and landscape deserves. Bishop's House will become a centre for the arts offering educational and cultural activities and will remain an important landmark recognizing the lives and public service of Canadian pioneers. Its heritage garden (1826) is now being revitalized for community and national use.