Cardinal and Iroquois
By Madeline Kallio | June 2019
The magnificent St. Lawrence River and Seaway are a sight to behold. Scenic County Road 2 winds its way along the river, showcasing the flora, fauna, homes and remnants of the past. Home to native tribes for aeons and then a popular settlement area for those loyal to the British flag who were fleeing the altercations below the border by crossing the river.
Today, enormous tankers and ships pass through the famed Iroquois Lock and offer incredible views from the shore. The Iroquois Golf Course along the river offers magnificent views of the Iroquois Control Dam and massive ocean liners passing through the Lock. The sandy beaches along the river are magnets for swimmers and sand-castle builders.
In 1784, United Empire Loyalists settled the area and named it Munro’s Point after Captain High Munro who had brought the settlers there. Munro had been saddled with debt after the American Revolutionary War and it is believed that the government compensated him with this land. Munro saw that the Galops Rapids had potential for water power; and by 1794, he had established a saw- and grist-mill on his property. The community was later known as Point Cardinal, Port Elgin and Edwardsburgh. In 1880, it was named Cardinal in honour of Cardinal Richelieu, a French cardinal who worked to restrict the powers of the nobility and transformed France into a strong, centralized state.
Stretching for twelve kilometres from Iroquois to Cardinal, the Galop Canal was opened in 1846 to bypass the rapids around Point Iroquois, Cardinal and Galop Island. Two shipwrecks that are popular with divers, the Conestoga and the Wee Hawk lie in the canal in shallow waters. The opening of the Seaway in the 1950s permitted larger ships to pass along the St. Lawrence River, bypassing the canal. Today, the canal is also a popular swimming spot.
In 1858, William Benson and Thomas Aspden established the Canada Starch Company. Situated beside the Galop Shipping Canal with County Road 2 and the Grand Trunk Railway running through the village, it became a lucrative business. Along with the McLatchie Foundry, the village prospered. The starch company continued to be operated by Benson’s son and grandson until 1961 and is still operational as Ingredion (613 657-3131) producing various grades of starch.
Mainly a bedroom community, Cardinal has a few restaurants and businesses. The Big Slice Pizzeria and Restaurant (613 657-1818), 173 Shanly Road, serves pizza and more and is open for breakfast. The Scorpion Restaurant (613 657-3161), 623 County Road 2, is a family restaurant. The Boar’s Nest (613 657-8815), 229 Lewis Street, is a bar and grill and also serves late-night food. Cardinal Deli (613 657-4546), 623 County Road 2, offers sandwiches, subs and scrumptious baked goods. Burchell’s Home Hardware (613 657-4580), 623 Village Square, sells an eclectic variety of home improvement and gift items. MadMacs Furniture and Appliance Store (613 657-3037), 2069 Dundas Street, carries new and used appliances, antiques, collectibles, old pictures and books. The Galop Gallery (613 349-5322), 614 County Road 2, is a workshop, studio, artisan and craft market. The Déjà Vu Thrift Store (343 264-1635), 2099 Dundas Street, is a volunteer run “new to you” store that supports local needs.
Canada Day and Labour Day festivities include all sorts of family fun activities and culminate with fireworks.
Settled in 1789 by United Empire Loyalists, the community was known for some time as Cathcart, presumably after one of the settlers. A first fort was partially built in 1812 and a second one was built in 1814; but, since they were not attacked by U. S. troops, the second fort was nicknamed “Fort Needless.” In 1856, the name was changed to Iroquois to honour the First Peoples who had camped in the areas for hundreds of years. The Iroquois Canal, part of the Williamsburg Canal System, was built with its locks to overcome the Galop Rapids. When the St. Lawrence Seaway was built, a new lock system was installed, but part of the old one can still be seen.
Iroquois was entirely relocated north when the St. Lawrence Seaway was built in the 1950s. Nine communities were moved to new, planned settlements and the former sites were totally submerged to allow for the building of the Moses-Saunders Power Dam. The Lost Villages Museum contains an accounting of all of the events and is located in Long Sault, west along County Road 2.
Exquisitely displayed in a restored 1880s home overlooking the St Lawrence River’s Seaway Lock at the Doran Bay Resort, the Model Ship Museum (613 652-6277), 11128 County Road 2, has one of the finest private collections of model ships in the world. Built according to the original ship plans using only the finest of exotic woods, each model has been painstakingly carved and assembled. More than half of the collection of 125 ships is on display at any one time.
The Carman House at 5895 Carman Road South is a 200-plus-year-old Georgian limestone cottage, which was built shortly after the War of 1812 by Michael Carman III, son of a Palatine Loyalist, who was bequeathed the property in 1806 from his uncle. It was opened as a museum, until the fall of 2018 when it was decommissioned.
Along the shores of the St. Lawrence River are many campgrounds and cabins; but, in addition, the Iroquois Motel (613 652-4176), 10819 Highway 2, offers economical accommodation and well-maintained gardens available for picnicking.
An interesting mix of restaurants and shops inhabit Iroquois. Yefsi Restaurant (613 652-2888), Plaza Drive, is a Canadian restaurant which serves a varied menu, including awesome Italian and Greek food. Iroquois Pizza and Wings (613 669-1800), 4 Miller Street, specializes in pizza, wings and fast food, as does Mr Mozzarella Pizza and Wings (613 652-4666), 25 Plaza Drive. Julie’s Pub (613 652-6208), 11 Plaza Drive, offers a variety of fast-food items, including pizza. Foodland Iroquois (613 652-4814), 37 Plaza Drive, offers a full grocery shopping experience.
Mustard’s Variety (613 652-2240), 9 Plaza Drive, tempts the palate with ice cream while browsing the great variety of items in the store. Beaupre Jewellers (613 652-4340), 49 Plaza Drive, carries jewellery and watches. Gilmer Pharmacy (613 652-4379), 41 Plaza Drive, as well as being a full-service pharmacy, stocks cosmetics, giftware and jewellery.
Because of its location along the St. Lawrence River, Iroquois is popular for many fishing events during the year. Other events are also held in the community, including in mid-June the Galop Canal Bluegrass Festival.
A drive along the St. Lawrence River is a delight at any time and, with the opportunity to experience the charm and hospitality of the people of the small towns in the area, the experience will be most exhilarating. However, this article cannot possibly fully describe the wonders that can be discovered by modern-day explorers who can travel along the highways and bi-ways. To learn more about Iroquois, contact the Municipality of South Dundas (613 543-2673), 34 Ottawa Street, Morrisburg. For information on Cardinal, visit the Township of Edwardsburg/Cardinal (613 658-3055), 18 Centre Street, Spencerville.