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Merrickville, Ontario Canada: 19th Century English Village Perfection

Updated on June 17, 2014
Gad's Hill, one of the many wonderful English style restaurants you will find in Merrickville.
Gad's Hill, one of the many wonderful English style restaurants you will find in Merrickville. | Source

Merrickville


I just love hopping in my car and exploring somewhere new, especially when it leads me to little, off the beaten path villages like Merrickville, Ontario Canada. Only an hour away from Canada's capital city, words simply can't describe how picturesque Merrickville is. As one of the best preserved 19th century English settlements in Canada, it has become a favored weekend getaway for people from far and wide. (Honestly, if I could ram Merrickville into a snow globe and take it home with me I would.)

Situated along the Rideau Canal, which was declared a world Heritage site in 2007, Merrickville is brimming with quaint shops, historic homes, gorgeous gardens and wonderful restaurants. It certainly lives up to the title Jewel of the Rideau. Oh, and Merrickville may have the best fudge I have ever tasted!

Merrickville, a Village Forgotten

Merrickville got it's humble start in 1760 by it's namesake William Merrick when he received a Crown grant to build a sawmill in the area. In time a community grew around it and it became known as Merrick's Mills.

By the early 1800s the community had grown adding a number of businesses, taverns and hotels. And then experienced yet another serge of growth in 1832 when the Rideau Canal was officially opened. In the early 1860s the town was incorporated and it's name was changed to Merrickville after it's founder.

Sadly, in the 1880's transportation shifted from the waterways to rail and almost all activity and growth stopped in Merrickville. As a result, for the next hundred years Merrickville lay dormant and ignored. This is now considered a blessing to residents and visitors alike as this lull allowed the village to be untouched by industrialization and served to preserve Merrickville's unique character and architecture.

Today the historic buildings and canal in Merrickville provide us with a wonderful glimpse of the past.

Anarchy Gallery
Anarchy Gallery | Source

Where to Shop in Merrickville

Merrickville’s main street is absolutely teaming with lovely, little shops and boutiques that sell everything from hand blown glass ornaments to artwork and pine furniture. Many housed in historic stone buildings. People make the trip to Merrickville from all over for the homemade fudge made at Country Bumpkins. (It’s ridiculously good, like angels crying on your tongue good. Maybe it's because it's made by a one armed man.) And for some reason it really appeals to bikers. I have yet to figure out the connection between bikers and fudge, but when I do I’ll let you know.

Oh and then there’s the mustard. Merrickville makes the most wonderful mustard too. Mrs. McGarrigle’s Fine Foods is the epicenter of all mustard awesomeness and it’s all done by hand. It's actually won awards, (who knew there were mustard awards?) The Oktoberfest mustard is my fav, and my husband enjoys having his socks blown off by the wasabi mustard.

If fudge and mustard aren't quite what you're looking for, why not check out the whimsical Gothic wonderfulness that is Anarchy Gallery? It's run by local artist Angelina Wrona and filled with her delightfully dark artwork. (Think dracula, meets big eyed wood nymphs and killer fuzzy bunnies.) It also has an eclectic mix of unusual jewellery and clothing. If your taste veers towards the unique and ethereal this store is a must see.

Other shops that shouldn't be missed are the Stone House Gallery, Artiques Christmas Shop, My Green Shelf, and Mirick's Landing. I can't seem to get out of any of these stores with out buying something wonderful.

Great English style pub grub at the Goose.
Great English style pub grub at the Goose. | Source

Where to Eat in Merrickville

For a small village, Merrickville certainly has more then it’s share of restaurants…and not a chain restaurant in site. Hooray! Favorites include; The Goose and the Gridiron for traditional English pub style food and Gad’s Hill for a slightly more gourmet approach, their curried potato salad is incredible! If you’re a fresh and organic kind a person The Yellow Canoe’s is super healthy and delicious and then there is my guilty pleasure, Bob’s fries. Not greasy, just yummy. And if you haven’t tried a poutine from this place yet, you need to get on a plane right now and do it!

Breakfast isn't available at all restaurants in Merrickville, but the Village Bean, Mainstreet Family Restaurant and Elements Bistro all have delicious breakfast offerings. Elements has just expanded to include a wonderful bakery. The baker there is renowned for her amazing cupcakes, called "Kim Cakes." They are an absolute must and I have become somewhat obsessed with her vegan chocolate mint cupcakes. I'm not kidding, don't leave town without trying one.

Merrickville Ruins, great for photo ops
Merrickville Ruins, great for photo ops | Source

What to Do in Merrickville

Merrickville is a wonderful place to visit any time of year…okay, maybe not in January, it’s really cold in January, but during the summer this sleepy, little village becomes awesome-tacular. (That’s a word now, I’m making it one.) Everything from motorcycles, to jazz and postcards are celebrated in this historic village. The Merrickville Car Show in mid July and Canalfest during the first weekend of August are both crowd favorites. I love the motorcycle show at the end of June so I can watch the bikers fight over fudge.

If you don't mind a little winter chill, why not try to make it for the annual Christmas in the Village event held on the first Saturday of December. The town is bustling with activity including: carol singing, horse drawn carriage rides, marshmallows for roasting in the street in the fire barrels and even a visit from you know who. We never miss it.

Another option would be to grab your camera and a picnic lunch and head to the Merrickville Ruins. It provides endless unique photo opportunities for shutterbugs and gives you a real connection with days gone by. Looking at the Ruins it becomes easy to imagine what life might have been like in this village over a hundred years ago.

This home was originally the Merrick tavern and is one of the many historic stone homes in Merrickville.
This home was originally the Merrick tavern and is one of the many historic stone homes in Merrickville. | Source

Historic Homes in Merrickville

An entire afternoon can happily be spent strolling the lovely streets of Merrickville admiring the historic homes and buildings that make it one of the best preserved Canadian examples of a 19th Century English Village.

Some homes of note would be the Merrick Tavern, Tyndall House, Aaron Merrick House and the Stephen Merrick house. A map for a self guided walking tour of all the historic buildings in Merrickville is available on the town's website or by following the link here.

Millisle B & B
Millisle B & B | Source

Where to Stay in Merrickville

If you’ve decided that one day just isn’t enough to experience all that Merrickville has to offer, and you just need an extra day to OD on fudge and mustard, check in to one of the local B&Bs. I personally love the idea of B & Bs because it feels like home, but not mine and I don’t have to clean any toilets. The Millisle Bed and Breakfast is super fantastic! The food is manufique and the rooms are gorgeous and big. And it’s right in town which is a big ol’ plus. I’ve also heard B&B at 142 Rideau is an absolute gem with five star accommodations and super-licious food.


The United Church is one of many lovely stone buildings you will see in Merrickville.
The United Church is one of many lovely stone buildings you will see in Merrickville. | Source

You’ll Just Keep Coming Back

Merrickville truly is the "Jewel of the Rideau." It's warm, welcoming and beyond picturesque with something for everyone. Whether it's drinking an English ale on a patio, enjoying the gardens and historic buildings or snooping through the wonderful shops, Merrickville does not disappoint. Oh and don't forget to try the fudge!

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    • Beltane73 profile image

      Holly Kline 4 years ago from South Jersey

      That sounds so amazing! I totally want to go.

    • Thundermama profile image
      Author

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      SK thanks so much for reading and commenting. Merrickville is so worth the trip. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What an awesome guide! I've heard of Merrickville, but didn't really know anything about it. Now, after reading this hub, I think I'm going to need to plan a road trip there at some point. It sounds like a wonderful (or should I say awesome-tacular?) place to explore!

    • Thundermama profile image
      Author

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      As far as I know it's still there. It really is quite a haven for all thing old. Glad you made the trip.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I was in Merrickville, about three years ago I think. There was a very old building which seemed to be in the process of being moved or demolished. It was just outside of the town. Maybe it's long gone now. I went in that area under the bridge too for photos of the ruins.

    • Thundermama profile image
      Author

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      Movie Master - thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. It is a wonderful place to visit.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you for this wonderful tour, I would love to visit!

      Voted up, best wishes Lesley

    • American_Choices profile image

      American_Choices 4 years ago from USA

      Delightful! You took us all to a place we may never have the luxury of visiting. The world is filled with wonderful places and people. I am so glad I found you out here on HubPages.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      I feel like hopping on a plane destined to Ontario! Merrickville sounds like a quaint, cozy village. I'd love to try the fudge, mustard, unique restaurants and the cupcakes! I wish I'd known about this town last time we were in Canada, but you never know...maybe we'll have a chance to return some time. I really enjoy your writing style. Thanks!

    • Thundermama profile image
      Author

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      Glimmer, thanks so much for stopping by. My experience is that fudge always helps.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      This looks lovely and it does not hurt that it has really good fudge! Thanks for taking me on this trip.

    • Thundermama profile image
      Author

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      Shinning, carol and alicia, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I have always been a huge fan of English villages and consider this place my little slice of heaven on earth. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This sounds like a wonderful and very picturesque place to visit, Thundermama. Thank you for the tour.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      whenever I see a little village so beautiful I want to transport myself there immediately ...Beautiful photos and lots of enticing information. Thanks for sharing all this.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      It sounds so quaint. Something right out of a Charles Dickens novel.

      Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful part of the globe.

    • Thundermama profile image
      Author

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      Thanks bb, it is a wonderful place to go. It sounds like you deserve a vacation, you should make the trip. As always thank you for reading, much appreciated!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I would love to visit that village! What beautiful architecture, and you have done well serving as our tour guide. Great hub and quite interesting.