Lansdowne Iron Works National Historic Site of Canada
In Lyndhurst, Ontario
Illustration of an early iron furnace - by Edwin Tunis, from his book Colonial Craftsmen, 1957.
It was known by 1784 that an iron deposit was situated about 2 miles from a 16’ waterfall on the Gananoque River. After prolonged competition for the privilege of opening an iron smelter, in 1800 the Executive Council of Upper Canada gave their blessing to the proposal by Wallis Sunderlin of Tinmouth Vermont. By 1802 a water powered blast furnace was in operation on the east bank of the river, and 1200 acres of land were granted to Sunderlin to supply charcoal for the furnace. At the same time a bridge was built across the river, a saw mill erected, and a forge with trip hammer was built on the west bank to manufacture wrought iron for the Royal Navy dockyards at Kingston, as well as local blacksmiths. At its height, it was said to produce a ton of cast iron per day and 400 lbs of wrought iron. The location became known as Furnace Falls, and boasted a hotel with a 10 gallon still, and several houses. A grist mill had been added before the whole industrial complex was destroyed by fire in 1811. Wallis Sunderlin died the same year. The iron works was never rebuilt. This was the first iron smelter in Upper Canada.In 1828 new saw and grist mills were built on the east bank. In 1846, Furnace Falls was renamed Lyndhurst. In 1857 a beautiful stone 3-arch bridge was built over the river very close by, which is now the oldest bridge in Ontario. By 1870 there were sawmills and grist mills on both sides of the river, and in 1912 a hydro generator was installed in the mill on the west bank. The last remnants of the furnace stack were demolished in 1881 to build a new grist mill on the east bank, which was demolished in 1967. The mills on the west bank burned down in 1953.In 1932 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board designated it a National Historic Site and erected a stone cairn in 1935. In 2008 a Stage 1 Archaeological report was written and the site registered on the Ontario registry as BdGa-37. In late 2016, the Township of Leeds & 1000 Islands purchased the west bank for parkland and possible archaeological exploration.
Sesquicentennial Archaeological project
In the Spirit of Canada’s Sesquicentennial, The Municipal Heritage Committee for Leeds & 1000 Islands, in conjunction with the Lyndhurst Rejuvenation Committee, proposes to conduct Archaeological Research on the properties described in the Stage 1 Report of 2008. An application is being prepared to Parks Canada for a Cost Sharing Program which will pay 50% of the cost up to $25,000. We have to raise an equal amount to match the grant.
Archeology Update Jan 30
Pledges have been coming in steadily since the forms were posted on line. We have passed the threshold where we can launch a project for 2017, assuming Parks Canada support, but it would be small, and would leave more to be accomplished in future stages. Our goal is to have a two-week dig. ...
This is the kind of project that builds communities. It builds on previous accomplishments in the community, beginning in 1932 with the granting of National Historic Site status to the Lansdowne Iron Works, saving the Lyndhurst Bridge in 1985/86, commissioning the book “Rear of Leeds & Lansdowne 1796-1996” by Glenn Lockwood, and writing the Stage 1 Archeological Report in 2008, not to mention the designated blacksmith shop, four historic plaques and one interpretive sign in the same area. Some of these events contribute greater significance to the location, while others were prerequisites to the archeology now proposed and the funding we are now eligible to apply for.As we said in our presentation to Council last Nov. 7, the long-term vision is to have an interpretive center incorporated into the newly purchased township park land on the west side of the river below the bridge; here to tell the story and show the artifacts, and create a small attraction to the village and area. In getting to that goal, the process itself will be an exercise in community building, by raising the funds for the archeology in the community, and by getting local people involved in the actual archeology. We have built into the project the opportunity for volunteers to participate with trowels and whisks, under the direction of the archeologist, digging up their own history.
-->Our goal for this year (it will continue for a couple of years) is $22,000, of which we now have pledges for 40%. Please help us out and show your pride in the community and our history and our Sesquicentennial.
"Last Monday night, Leeds & 1000 Islands Township Council voted unanimously to support the project and be the applicant for the Parks Canada Cost Share Program."
The next step is for Art and the Township Treasurer to complete and submit the formal proposal to Parks Canada.