Take a Walk Through History in Napanee

Worth the Drive

By Madeline Kallio

County Museum and Archives. Photo: Chamber of Commerce

In the heart of Eastern Ontario, right off Highway 401 between Kingston and Belleville, you’ll discover the charming town of Greater Napanee. The town’s heritage is connected to the Loyalist migration that followed the American Revolution, so history and architecture enthusiasts will delight in a visit to see this community’s lovely old buildings.
Restored to its former elegance, the Georgian Allan Macpherson House, 180 Elizabeth Street, was built on the Napanee River in 1826 by Allan Macpherson, a local entrepreneur affectionately known as the “Laird of Napanee.” A frequent visitor was Macpherson’s cousin, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. Restored to its original splendour both inside and out, it is open throughout July and August for tours and special programs.

Built with native limestone in 1864, the County Gaol (Jail) served as a jail until 1971 and now it’s the Lennox and Addington County Museum, 97 Thomas Street East. It houses over 12,000 artifacts and showcases the history and genealogy of one of the oldest settled counties in Eastern Ontario. The collection provides insight into everyday life from the late 18th century to the present day and tells the story of Lennox and Addington County. The museum is tucked behind the majestic Lennox and Addington County Courthouse, built at the same time as the gaol.

Napanee River. Photo: Chamber of Commerce
County Museum and Archives. Photo: Chamber of Commerce

In the downtown Market Square, the brick Town Hall at 99-A Advance Avenue is an example of Classic Revival architecture. Built in 1856, it’s still in use. A short walk north of the Town Hall, you can see the Romanesque-style Old Post Office. Built in 1888 of red sandstone from the Rideau River, it was designed by Thomas Fuller, the co-designer of Canada’s Parliament Buildings. No longer in use as a post office, it now houses commercial enterprises.

The self-guided Greater Napanee Historic Walking Tour invites to explore the full history of the community. It includes 48 sites in all, from Gibbard Furniture Company—circa 1835—to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall.

Singing sensation Avril Lavigne spent most of her youth in Napanee. She appeared with Shania Twain when she was 15 and signed a recording contract in New York the following year. Her first guitar was bought at Marie’s Place Music Emporium, 62 Dundas Street West. Now an international star, Avril has also created a fashion line. A downtown pizza shop, La Pizzeria, 17 Dundas Street West, continues to serve Avril’s favourite pizza, a best seller with visiting fans. Napanee has an appealing mix of restaurants, shops and places to stay, so you’ll have plenty of reasons to linger. For details, check and