Blast from the Past: Pinhey’s Point is the Perfect Spot for a Picnic, an Up-Close-and-Personal History Lesson and Lots of Family Fun
Photo by Paul Couvrette
The Story: A Brit with big plans and a well stocked wallet, Hon. Hamnett Kirkes Pinhey emigrated to the Great White North in 1820. He was 36 years old and he came to claim his land.
He’d been granted a 1,000-acre site on the Ottawa River, in thanks for his work as King’s messenger during the Napoleonic Wars. And a switch in continents did nothing to dampen his drive. A successful merchant in London, Pinhey soon re-established himself as a leader in this part of Upper Canada.
Far from getting swallowed by the bush, he became Reeve of March Township and the first Warden of Carleton County. In the 1840s, he was appointed to the Legislative Council of Upper Canada.
In the meantime, a fine estate grew out of his chunk of lush waterfront wilderness. Today, Pinhey’s Point is an historic landmark owned and operated by the City of Ottawa. An 88-acre site, it’s situated in rural Dunrobin, on the Ottawa River northwest of downtown.
Named Horacevile after Pinhey’s eldest son Horace, the estate originally included a residence, barns, mills and a church named St. Mary’s.
Hamnett Pinhey had a wife, Mary Anne, and a daughter, Constance, but it was Horace who was heir to the property – in keeping with British aristocratic dictates.
The residence itself was constructed and expanded in stages, starting with a two-storey log cottage, built during Pinhey’s first year in Canada. Over the decades it evolved into a handsome and impressive stone structure. Even after Horace Pinhey married at the church on the property, in 1847, the progress continued, with the enlargement of the kitchen and the addition of another wing to accommodate the growing family.
About 165 years later, that same house is one of the oldest and most significant historic structures in this part of the province.
But for generations, in fact until 1971, Horaceville remained in the Pinhey family.
In 1990, it was purchased by the City of Kanata (now part of the City of Ottawa) and a restoration project was undertaken. Even before that, there was plenty of community interest. The Pinhey’s Point Foundation was established in 1980 and over the years it has played a key role in preserving and developing the site as an important historic attraction.
Today the grand house stands as a museum, featuring period room recreations, artefacts, exhibits, special events and theme days through the summer season. Year ‘round, the scenic site is a popular destination, thanks to its walking trails, picnic area, docking facilities, public washrooms and picturesque location. It can also be booked for special events, such as family reunions and special anniversary parties. For booking information, call 613 580-2424 ext. 24311.
For details about Pinhey’s Point, click http://ottawa.ca/en/rec_culture/museum_heritage/museums/pinheys/index.html
Visitors can learn about Horaceville and March Township, domestic life, 19th century medical practices, the arts and the evolution of the house.
The museum is located at 270 Pinhey’s Point Road in Dunrobin, 20 minutes outside of Kanata.
Take March Road off Hwy 417 to Dunrobin Road. Turn right on Riddel Drive.
Follow it left onto Sixth Line Road for about 5km until you reach Pinhey’s Point Road.
Free parking and room for buses to park at the museum.
Public transportation is not available for the museum.
Check out the new Ottawa Museum Network website. It’s live, as of May 1, at www.ottawamuseumnetwork.ca.