The village of Beachburg is named after its founder, David Beach. Originally part of the Township of Westmeath, the village of Beachburg was incorporated in 1959. In its early years, industry in the village included a flax mill, a cheese and butter factory and flour mills. In 1853 a fire swept through the village destroying all but two houses. Later in 1931 fire destroyed many buildings including several of the large buildings in the Exhibition Park such as the Main Hall and Dining Hall. At one time Beachburg was a stopping place along the railway line with a station and grain elevators until these buildings were also destroyed in the fire of 1931.
Today Beachburg is a bustling rural village offering a variety of stores and restaurants, an arena, several halls, a public elementary school and a public library. The Beachburg Fair, which is held in late July, is a popular attraction that has been drawing visitors from far and near since it was founded in 1857. It offers livestock shows, a midway, various displays and exhibits, live entertainment and plenty of excellent country home cooking and baking. The Beachburg Lions Club is a very active service group which has been part of the community since it was chartered on May 8, 1953. One of its many projects has been the establishment and dedication of the War Memorial located at the east entrance to the village which lists the names of local individuals killed in the two World Wars.
As Pembroke and Ottawa flourished, the need to travel between the two communities increased. Due to the rapids on the Ottawa River above Portage du Fort, the steamer from Ottawa could not travel the whole distance by river. A land route was required and as a result, around 1849 Jason Gould established a winter road between Portage du Fort and the head of the Muskrat Lake at the location now known as the Village of Cobden. A steamer was used to travel the Muskrat Lake and then one continued the journey by road to Pembroke. In 1850 Mr. Gould received permission to open a post office and due to his valuable transportation business, he received the privilege of naming the settlement on the Muskrat Lake. He named it Cobden after Richard Cobden, a British descendent and member of parliament. With the expansion of the railway line through Cobden in 1876, the village grew and prospered offering a bank, hotels, flour mill, churches and various other stores. In October 1900 Cobden was granted permission to become an incorporated village and allowed to separate from the Township of Ross. Today, Cobdenís location on the busy Trans-Canada Highway, known as Highway 17, makes it a convenient stopping place for the many travellers passing through the area. One of the many highlights of Cobden is its annual fair which was established in 1854 and is held in late August each year.
The Cobden Fair offers several days of activities that include exhibits, cattle and horse shows, midway rides and a demolition derby. From May until October, the Farmerís Market is located at the Cobden fairgrounds offering fresh local grown produce, homemade baking and a wide assortment of crafts. www.cobdenfarmersmarket.ca
Last but not least, one canít forget to try and catch a glimpse of Mussie, the legendary monster that inhabits Muskrat Lake.
The hamlet of Haley Station was established sometime between 1845 and 1850 when two men by the names of George Haley and John Ross purchased Crown land located on the present day site of Haley Station. In the hamletís early years, it served as a postal hamlet and railway station. The Canadian Central Railway constructed a railway line through the hamlet in 1876 and the first post office was inaugurated on May 3rd, 1878.
It is reported that in 1908 the hamlet offered two churches, a general store, a cheese factory, a blacksmith shop and grain elevators. Later in 1922, the Trans-Canada Highway was built alongside the hamlet. Nowadays, Haley Station offers residents a country atmosphere yet it is located in close proximity to the Town of Renfrew which provides all the amenities of a larger populated area.
The hamlet of Foresterís Falls dates back to the early 1800's when a dam and road were built over the waterfall on McNaughtonís Creek. It is named after Oliver Forester, the hamletís first post master and one of the communityís first school trustees. The first settlers of Foresterís Falls were mainly English, Irish and Scottish.
The hamlet included a sawmill, a gristmill and three general stores among other buildings when a fire destroyed most of the community in 1870 leaving only the dam and bridge standing. As the hamlet rebuilt and flourished, one could encounter a blacksmith, a wagon maker, a shoemaker, a hotel and livery stable, a cheese factory, a metal shop, a dress & suit maker, a brick & tile business and several general stores. Today, Foresterís Falls attracts history enthusiasts and people researching their family tree who tour the Ross Museum and browse through its archives. It also attracts the outdoor adventurer en-route to white water rafting, kayaking and canoeing activities on the Ottawa River.
The name LaPasse originates from ďLapasse des outardesĒ in reference to the passing of geese in their flights to and from the Northern and Southern areas. LaPasse was first known though as Gower Point since it was located on the eastern extremity of Gower Line (known now as the Gore Line) leading directly to the hamlet of Westmeath. It was during the 1830's that settlers journeyed up the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers from Quebec City and Montreal inhabiting this area. The majority of settlers were French Canadians, but there were also some pioneers of Scottish and Irish descent. To nurture their strong Catholic faith, the first chapel to be built was a log building erected on the site of the present presbytery but fire later destroyed it. In 1886, a stone building was constructed which today still serves as Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.
The hamlet of Westmeath overlooks the Lower Allumette Lake and its name comes from a county in Ireland. The first settler in Westmeath was George Washington Tucker who owned a large section of the hamlet as shown on a survey plan dated 1875.
In the early days, Westmeath was situated on the busy portage route to the lumber camps and the hamlet grew as settlers moved into the surrounding area. It had several blacksmith shops, a carriage shop where wagons and buggies were built, a harness shop, a tailorís shop, a shoemakers shop and a barber shop. The Acheson House was the first hotel. There also were several general stores in which the farmers could sell or trade their produce locally.
In later years, Westmeath boasted one of the first covered arenas in this rural area. Today, the hamlet of Westmeath provides residents with a rural lifestyle yet it offers the convenience of two small elementary schools, several churches and an arena/community hall all within its boundaries.