Aultsville Side Road, Aultsville, Ontario, Canada
Aultsville Side Road, Aultsville, Ontario, Canada

Aultsville Side Road | N 44.57.27 W 75.01.49 | Aultsville, Ontario, Canada




In the shallows, where tree stumps breach the water’s surface, a flock of Canada Geese stand and swim over the old road that once connected Aultsville, Ontario with its hinterland of farms, forests and other Eastern Ontario communities north of the river valley. Originally called Charlesville in the 1700s, Aultsville has a history that well pre-dates its destruction in the 1950s. It was re-named in honour of Samuel Ault who sat in Canada’s first parliament in 1867. The community was also home to Sir James Pliney Whitney, Ontario’s sixth Premier (1904-1914).

Local residents sometimes wade through these shallows stumbling over and picking up the minutia of lives once lived – bricks, toys, tools, nails, buckets, plates, pots, horseshoes, fencing wire, keys, and thousands of other bits – an everyman’s archeology of the Sunken Villages. Any official, scientific archeology is likely long in the future. The actions of the agencies and authorities created to manage the aftermath of the Seaway evidence a long-standing mandate to officially forget and ignore the lost villages. This is how government has historically stepped around the uncomfortable truth that many of the thousands affected by the Seaway were deeply traumatized by their dislocation. Even today officials with Upper Canada Village, the St Lawrence Parks Commission, the Seaway Authority and Ontario Hydro have difficulty acknowledging the villages and their fate. A ‘bad conscience’ seems to linger with bureaucrats who, despite having little or no personal relationship with decisions made 65 years ago, cannot help but still act according to the imperatives baked into their institutions. History clears does matter, in many different ways. 


Twenty years after the Inundation a local effort, with little official support, established the Lost Villages Historical Society. This community museum is the keeper of record – of the memory of the villages, of the realities of their fate – that in lieu of any conventional geography, is the only place where those affected and those new to this story can attempt to make sense of how so many communities could just be disappeared.


Aultsville Side Road, Aultsville, Ontario, Canada
Aultsville Side Road, Aultsville, Ontario, Canada

Aultsville Side Road | N 44.57.27 W 75.01.49 | Aultsville, Ontario, Canada




In the shallows, where tree stumps breach the water’s surface, a flock of Canada Geese stand and swim over the old road that once connected Aultsville, Ontario with its hinterland of farms, forests and other Eastern Ontario communities north of the river valley. Originally called Charlesville in the 1700s, Aultsville has a history that well pre-dates its destruction in the 1950s. It was re-named in honour of Samuel Ault who sat in Canada’s first parliament in 1867. The community was also home to Sir James Pliney Whitney, Ontario’s sixth Premier (1904-1914).

Local residents sometimes wade through these shallows stumbling over and picking up the minutia of lives once lived – bricks, toys, tools, nails, buckets, plates, pots, horseshoes, fencing wire, keys, and thousands of other bits – an everyman’s archeology of the Sunken Villages. Any official, scientific archeology is likely long in the future. The actions of the agencies and authorities created to manage the aftermath of the Seaway evidence a long-standing mandate to officially forget and ignore the lost villages. This is how government has historically stepped around the uncomfortable truth that many of the thousands affected by the Seaway were deeply traumatized by their dislocation. Even today officials with Upper Canada Village, the St Lawrence Parks Commission, the Seaway Authority and Ontario Hydro have difficulty acknowledging the villages and their fate. A ‘bad conscience’ seems to linger with bureaucrats who, despite having little or no personal relationship with decisions made 65 years ago, cannot help but still act according to the imperatives baked into their institutions. History clears does matter, in many different ways.


Twenty years after the Inundation a local effort, with little official support, established the Lost Villages Historical Society. This community museum is the keeper of record – of the memory of the villages, of the realities of their fate – that in lieu of any conventional geography, is the only place where those affected and those new to this story can attempt to make sense of how so many communities could just be disappeared.