History of Upper Brewers lockstation

Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Specifications of the lockstation

Two flight locks with a combined lift of 5.9 m (19.4 feet)

The Construction of the lockstation

The contractor was John Brewer, the miller at this site. He ran into financial difficulties and fled the country in 1831. Robert Drummond, the contractor at Kingston Mills, took over the job.

John Brewer set up mills here in the early 1820s. By the time of canal construction he had built a sawmill, a grist mill and a distillery at the site. Due to changes in construction plans, the government purchased the mills from Brewer and they were allowed to deteriorate.

Cranberry Bog, located just north of the site, was the major problem. This marshy area was a source for malaria which was so serious that, in the summer of 1828, work was halted at Upper Brewers. The solution was to flood the area using two dams, one here at Upper Brewers and a second near today’s Morton. The water impounded by those dams formed today’s Cranberry, Little Cranberry and Whitefish lakes.

Structures of the lockstation

Lockmaster's House: This house is one of 11 defensible lockmasters' houses built at various lockstations to protect them from American attack. Located at the top of the hill overlooking the lockstation, it is a one storey stone structure, built in about 1842.

Engineering Structures: An artificial channel was excavated at Upper Brewers and is the location for the two locks. A 5.5 m (18 foot) high arched dam of earth and stone and a waste weir were built at the northern end of the channel and a second dam was located near today’s village of Morton.

Former Swing Bridge: A timber swing bridge was installed over the lower lock in 1850. It was maintained/replaced over the years, but was removed in 1967 when a new high level fixed bridge was built downstream of Lower Brewers.

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