In today's fast food wireless connected society, who has time, or the inclination, to go digging through dusty bins of old newspapers and musty old postcards? We're all busy. If you are a parent with more than one child, your second (or third) job is probably driving a family taxi. A history book may be your lowest priority reading category. And if you are on Facebook, you are inundated with the latest thoughts, photos and videos from your multitude of "friends." And you also have to devote some time to championing global warming and alternative energy options while you sort your garbage into a least three categories of recyclable waste as your contribution to saving the world in the next 30 days.
On the other hand, if you live in a small caring community like Portland, Ontario, with beautiful Big Rideau Lake in your front yard, just maybe you have a different world view and a different set of priorities and values. I believe that what Portland offers is a sense of belonging, being connected to something that is really good and is bigger than me. That sense of belonging is derived from the connections to the past, the stories from our ancestors that explain why it is so important to care for each other and help each other.
In the last decade we have learned much about DNA. Our DNA connects us to all of humanity. But DNA does not tell us much about those people. DNA is an abstract connection. It does not tell us their stories that become our stories as we are inspired by them and make them our own inspiring stories for the next generation. I am convinced it "takes a village to raise a child." As I learn more about my ancestors I become more confident, more positive and less anxious about the future, and more willing to contribute to my community.
Click on the tabs below to explore the history, the beauty and diversity and inspiration that abounds in and around Portland:
Portland was first settled in the early 1800s as one of the first settlements along the Rideau Waterway. The original seven houses in Portland, informally known as "The Landing" were a transfer point for passengers traveling from Brockville and continuing by barge to Perth.
With the completion of the Rideau Canal Waterway in 1832, steamboats and barges carrying raw materials such as cordwood from the clearing of forests, maple syrup, potash, cheese, tanned hides and salt beef were a common sight. Portland became a thriving village of trade with Kingston, Montreal and Ottawa.
The village of Portland took its name in 1843 from William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland. By the 1860's, the settlement had expanded considerably to require five hotels and, by the early 1900's, cottages were springing up around the lake and the tourist trade had begun. Advances in rail and road travel and increasing tourism offset a decline in the role of agriculture in the economy of Portland. Tourism then began to lead the economy of Portland, and still does to this day.
There is more to come...
Big Rideau Lake, Portland's Front yard. This lake has to be one of the world's most impressive water features! Take this on the water tour to visit some of the most interesting islands and discover their stories:
The big ditch..
From Canoes to Riverboats:
People are still dying to get into these places!
Sawmills, cheese factories, Boat Building, Potash, Retail:
Fishing boating skiing in the summer and cool things to do in the fall and winter.
- Boat tour of the islands: boat-tour-of-big-rideau