Founded in 1816, Perth was one of three military settlements established after the War of 1812 in the Rideau Corridor. The British government wanted a trained, fighting force close at hand should the Americans attack Upper Canada again. Disbanded soldiers and half-pay officers from several regiments, including two from Switzerland, were given land grants commensurate in size with their rank. Britain also provided financial assistance for civilians in Scotland to emigrate to the Perth Military Settlement and development of the region began in earnest.

In 1823, Perth became the capital of the new District of Bathurst and the administrative, judicial and social centre for those communities back from the St Lawrence. This attracted a large number of monied and educated settlers- younger sons of good families- to live here and build many of the fine homes that still stand today.

The most famous is Inge-Va (66 Craig St.). Built in 1824, this classic Colonial Georgian cottage was the home of lawyer Thomas Radenhurst and his student Robert Lyon, victim of Canada's Last Fatal Duel which was fought on the banks of the Tay in 1833. It was named Inge-Va (Tamil for "come here") by the third owners, the Inderwicks, who had previously lived in Ceylon.

Lyon's opponent, fellow law student John Wilson, lived in the Summit House (corner of Drummond and Harvey). Built in 1823 by James Boulton in the Adamesque style, the Summit House was modelled after The Grange, home of the influential Boulton family in York (Toronto). Perth's third lawyer, Daniel McMartin, a United Empire Loyalist, stayed true to his American roots when he built his home. The McMartin House (corner of Harvey and Gore) was built in 1830 in the Federalist style more commonly seen along the Eastern Seaboard. It even has a widow's walk from which they could watch heavily laden scows come barging up the Tay Canal from the Rideau.


by Susan Code


A Matter of Honour by Susan Code is a collection of a dozen true stories about some of the more fascinating events of Perth's early days. Duels, hangings and everyday shenanigans punctuate the pages of this entertaining history.

The Merchants, Professionals and Tradespeople of Perth by Gus Quattrocchi. The town of Perth has a very unique history from its founding in 1816 to the present day. In the author's quest to record 180 years of history of the merchants of Perth, it has enabled him to share the progress that has evolvedover the years of this fair town. (Now designated the best place to retire to in Canada!) Quattrocchi shows how Perth has, street by street and building by building, progressed to the present day and how enterprising some ancestors were to achieve the legacy left for others to carry on. This book is available at the Museum and other merchants in downtown Perth. All proceeds from the sale of this book are directed to the continued good works of the Perth Museum.

Perth: Tradition and Style in Eastern Ontario by Larry Turner. En route to Ottawa via the Trans Canada highway lies the nearly 200-year-old town of Perth. In only a few decades, this small stretch of highway has grown from a military depot to a significant town with refurbished historic buildings and suburban homes. Learn more about a piece of Ontario's history in Larry Turner's Perth.

Read More about Perth

  1. Perth on the Tay - A Tale of the Transplanted Highlanders - Josephine Smith (1901)

Many industrialists took advantage of the good supply of water power and ready transportation routes to build successful businesses and grand homes. The Haggart House (Mill St) once presided over an extensive milling complex on the Tay. Home of John Haggart, a minister in Sir John A. Macdonald's cabinet, it was built in 1837 by his father, a stone mason who helped build the Rideau Canal.

Perth's rich architectural history can also be found in its many fine churches, public and commercial buildings. The Old Fire Hall, Court House and Box Factory are just some of the many nineteenth century gems that the explorer can find on every street in Perth.

Take the time. You'll be glad you did.


Perth is pretty town of gracious stone homes, leafy streets and towering steeples that just begs to be explored on foot. The Tay River casually flows through the downtown to form the boundaries of Stewart Park, a restful green behind the neo-classic town hall, and visitors come from all over to shop, dine and take part in our many cultural and sporting activities. Exuding peaceful, old world charm - where haste is made slowly- it's hard to imagine that Perth is a result of war.