Historic Masonry Work Completed at Kingston Mills Arch Dam and Upper Brewers Lock 43

Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Smith Falls, Ontario, May 19, 2016 - Parks Canada is pleased to announce the completion of repairs to historic masonry at Kingston Mills Arch Dam and Upper Brewers Lock 43.

Kingston Mills Arch Dam Resurfacing:

At Kingston Mills, contractors resurfaced the arch dam’s concrete cap, preserving an original feature of the site constructed in the late 1820s. The aged concrete cap, that had become severely cracked and worn over time, has now been replaced with coloured and textured concrete to blend with the historic ‘Kingston Blue Limestone’ forming the dams.

Upper Brewers Lock 43 Repairs:

Upper Brewers Lock 43 was originally built in the 1820s and 1830s using sandstone masonry. Major repairs undertaken over a century ago incorporated limestone into several of the walls. After many years, the lock walls demonstrated natural degeneration of the sandstone, limestone and mortar. Stone repair and mortar replacement were undertaken to ensure the continued structural integrity and functionality of the lock. Using carefully selected and historically accurate materials, these repairs will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the historic masonry at this location.

These infrastructure projects are part of Parks Canada’s unprecedented investment of $3 billion dollars over 5 years to support work to heritage, visitor, waterway and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas across Canada.

A Brief History of Kingston Mills:

In 1784, to support new Loyalist settlers, the British Government built a saw mill and grist mill at what is now known as Kingston Mills. In 1824, plans for locks along the Cataraqui River were developed to accommodate steamboat navigation. During the excavation of swamp lands, nearly 100 men were infected and 13 men died of malaria. As such, Colonel By adopted a new plan to raise the arch dam, reducing the need for locks between Kingston Mills and Lower Brewers Mills. Large blocks of stone were laid on end and sealed with a clay, gravel and sand mixture to form the watertight barrier for the 400 foot arch dam. Historically, the dam provided a basin of water required to operate the grist mill located downstream. Presently, it supports a hydro generating facility.

A Brief History of Upper Brewers Locks 43-44:

In the early 1820s, John Brewer developed the area that is today the Upper and Lower Brewers locks. By 1826 the area had a saw mill, grist mill, and operating distillery. In the mid-1820s John Brewer was awarded the contract to build the Locks and came up against similar challenges to those at Kingston Mills. Workers were ravaged by dysentery, malaria, black flies and mosquitoes.

Both Upper Brewers Locks and Kingston Mills Arch Dam are a testament to the efforts of the many labourers who made great sacrifices to build these impressive structures. They are representative of the rich cultural heritage that is woven into Parks Canada’s many historic assets. Investments in the preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of our national historic sites will protect our heritage and strengthen their appeal as destinations to celebrate our nation's achievements.

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