jones falls ontario

Historic site in Ontario has a 'whispering' dam that's almost 200 years old

In the early 1830s, two ambitious minds, Thomas McKay and John Redpath, yes - the same Redpath as Redpath Sugar, Canada's oldest food company founded in 1854, took on the challenge of taming the wild rapids of Jones Falls in Eastern Ontario.

Together, they constructed an architectural marvel built from interlocking vertical stones built to withstand the test of time.

Spanning more than 100 metres across and 20 metres high, the Stones Arch Dam at Jones Falls has been standing strong for nearly two centuries.

Also called the "whispering dam," visitors can stand at one end and catch whispers drifting across from the other side. Don't worry; it's not haunted – just a quirky little quirk of its unique design.

Locals love playing tricks on visitors by whispering messages across the dam – so it's spooky but fun!

Beneath the dam lies a fish sanctuary brimming with life. The old riverbed supports a vibrant ecosystem, from delicate mosses to colourful wildflowers

Just three hours from Toronto, Jones Falls along the Rideau Canal (not the Jones Falls in Owen Sound) is a great destination for strolling along scenic trails, soaking in majestic views, and exploring some of Canada's history.

In addition to Stone Arch Dam and its whispers, Jones Falls has a great collection of other attractions, including:

Redpath Trail 

Starting from the main parking lot, this one-kilometre loop trail brings you across the Long Bridge and wanders through the Jones Falls site, passing by the flight lock, visitor center, Sweeney House, and the iconic stone arch dam.

Basin (Smithy) Trail

This rugged trail travels through majestic Eastern Ontario landscape adorned with white pine, red and white oak. 

The trail offers visitors a glimpse into the challenges faced by the builders of the canal and dam builders two centuries ago.

Flight Lock and Swing Bridge

Drawing inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci's ingenious designs, three interconnected locks adorned with conventional mitred lock gates.

These locks, the Long Island Locks of the Rideau Canal, surpass any previously constructed by British Engineers and boast significant water pressure due to their 15-foot depth.

Long Bridge 

The historic Long Bridge serves as the main gateway to the Jones Falls Lockstation. Stretching 246 feet from historic Hotel Kenney to the base of the flight lock, this timber frame structure that dates back to 1883, once facilitated road traffic through the village of Jones Falls.

Historical Buildings

You can explore the meticulously preserved historic buildings that dot the landscape, like the Blacksmith Shop, which was a bustling hub until 1933 and serves as a tourist attraction today, complete with historical blacksmithing presentations.

And, the Sweeney House, which offeres insight into the area's defensive strategies following the 1837 Rebellion.

Lead photo by

Shutterstock


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