Wright wasn’t Wrong

Portrait of Philemon Wright, a farmer and entr...
Portrait of Philemon , a farmer and entrepreneur who founded Wrightville, the first settlement in the National Capital Region of Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hon. Clifford Sifton (Minister of the Interior...
Hon. Clifford Sifton (Minister of the Interior) b. Mar. 10, 1861 – d. Apr. 17, 1929 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the years, there have been periods when Americans came to live in Canada than Canadians went to the United States. The first heavy influx of settlers from the United States was that of the United Empire Loyalists, who came to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Upper Canada after the American Revolutionary War.

Sir Clifford Sifton organized one of the most successful population drives in Canadian history when he was Minister of Immigration from 1896-1905. Although he persuaded people in many parts of the world to come to Canada, most of his settlers were from the United States and Britain.

One of the most successful settlers was Philemon Wright, one of the founders of Ottawa-Hull. Although he was a successful farmer in Massachusetts, he was attracted by offers of free land in Upper and Lower Canada, and spent several years exploring the possibilities. Finally, he decided that the area near Chaudiere Falls on the Ottawa River offered the best opportunities. Huge pine trees grew there and by climbing them Wright could see the country for miles around.

On February 2, 1800, Wright left Woburn with twenty-five men to help him. They brought their wives and fifteen children and traveled in sleighs drawn by fourteen horses and eight oxen. The women and children slept in the sleighs while the men, after clearing the snow, wrapped themselves in blankets and lay on the ground.

The most difficult part of the journey along the frozen rivers was at the Long Sault rapids where Dollard Des Ormeaux and his colleagues had made their gallant stand against the Iroquois years before. A road had to be cut through the woods to get around the rapids.

The party arrived at Chaudiere Falls on March 17, and began clearing land right away. The first summer they reaped 1,000 bushels of potatoes and 40 bushels of wheat. In 1808, Wright was ready to ship his first boom of logs down the Ottawa River to the St. Lawrence. An industry that was to become the commercial backbone of Ottawa had started.

To learn more about Wright, a good place to start is Bytown.net .The site also includes an extensive list of books about the people and the area’s history. The site will keep you engaged!


  1. I was reminded of an area here I live very near which is where we snow shoe. It is Hwy 2. It takes you from Seattle area to Leavenworth, WA. There is a particular rest stop that describes the roads and how the trees were cut down to pave the wave over the cascade mountains. It is hard for us to even imagine today, but because of their hard work so long ago, we have easy travel to and fro in our vehicles.


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