Click here for directions to the PORTLAND HERITAGE WALKING TOUR
The original land grant for the site of Portland is dated 1801. However, a community was not born until the early 1820's when "the Landing" as it was then known, became the major stepping-off point for those intending to homestead in the Perth area. Settlers, the eager, the anxious, arrived from Brockville by trail to the Landing, and then traveled by barge to Oliver's Ferry (Rideau Ferry) and thence to Perth.
The completion of the Rideau Canal in 1832 opened the Rideau countryside and "the Landing" to the world and with the establishment of a post office in 1842, Portland received its official name. Commercial traffic on the Rideau and the growth of agriculture across the hinterland nurtured numerous businesses catering to the needs of farm families and the export of raw materials. Steamers and barges departed from Portland laden with barrels of potash and cords of wood from the clearing of forest, bales of tanned hides and casks of salt beef from the bounty of field. Hence, Portland became a thriving village of trade and transshipment. However, by 1900, the nature of commercial activity was changing. Advances in rail and road travel and the advent of tourism offset a gradual decline in the role of agriculture. Portland remains today with much of its economic and cultural life focused on the Big Rideau Lake.