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Ottawa at Home
December 4, 2017


Moss Kent Dickinson is one of the most significant forces in the founding of the village of Manotick, as we know it.

Prior to his arrival, the area consisted of a small settlement around the newly constructed Long Island Locks on the Rideau River. There was a post office, but not much else. In 1859, Dickinson set about constructing the town’s industrial infrastructure, harnessing the power of the Rideau, and naming the village Manotick – meaning “island in the river” in Ojibwa. The population of the village hit 100 by the mid-1860s.
Watson’s Mill, currently regarded as the most prominent and noteworthy feature of the Manotick area, was not built by Harry Watson but also by Dickinson. Watson purchased the mill in the 1940s and renamed it after himself. Another significant piece of Manotick’s heritage is Dickinson House, built in 1867. The building housed Dickinson’s family, while also serving as the village’s general store and post office. Dickinson became mayor of Ottawa from 1864 to 1866, and a member of the Canadian Parliament from 1882 to 1887, during which time Sir John A McDonald used his house as a campaign headquarters for two elections.

Dickinson, who is buried in Ottawa’s Beechwood Cemetery, passed down the milling operations to his son George before his death in 1897. To honour Manotick’s founding family, the village celebrates Dickinson Days on the first weekend of June with events held in the area known as Dickinson Square.

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