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History of Richmond

Richmond (in the southeast corner of Goulbourn) was selected by the British Army in 1818 as the site for the area’s first military settlement. Named after the Duke of Richmond, who was the newly appointed Governor General of Upper Canada, the village of Richmond was laid out in a grid on the north bank of the Jock River (which for a while was renamed the Goodwood after the Duke’s English estate). Richmond was the centre for the administration of lands in the area. Military supervisor, Major Burke, placed mainly Irish soldiers of his 99th Regiment in Goulbourn. Scottish settlers from Perthshire were placed in the adjoining area of northeast Beckwith, while Irish civilians were settled in southeast Beckwith, Goulbourn, and parts of neighbouring townships.

The Richmond Hotel – Then and Now

hotel1  hotel2
(Photos courtesy of the Goulbourn Township Historical Society)

The town of Richmond was an autonomous municipality from 1850 until 1974. At that time, a provincial reorganization amalgamated Stittsville and rural Goulbourn with Richmond to form a new Goulbourn Township. In 2001, Goulbourn Township was incorporated into the City of Ottawa. Early homes in Richmond are built of local stone and many later (19th Century) houses and buildings are of red brick. The site of the only remaining Fall Fair in Goulbourn, Richmond continues to be a service and social centre with several churches, service clubs, and a retail shopping area.

For more information on Goulbourn history please check out the Goulbourn Museum or call 831-2393.

The Duke and the Fox

Richmond Road was built in 1818 by soldiers who had arrived from Quebec. They were given land by the Jock River for their service to English in the War of 1812.

They named their new community Richmond, in honour of the fourth Duke of Richmond, Charles Lennox, the governor-in-chief of Canada (governor-general) and a Freemason.

He served in the British army and reached the rank of general in 1814. He served as a soldier on Wellington’s staff at Waterloo.

Lennox represented Sussex in the British House of Commons from 1790. He entered the House of Lords in 1806 when he succeeded to his uncle’s title of Duke of Richmond. He was also Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1807-13, during which time he worked closely with Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington.

He was garrisoned in Brussels on Wellington’s staff in 1815, where his wife Charlotte, the duchess, held a ball for the officers leading the army that would soon face Napoleon. That evening, the Duke of Wellington discussed the plans with him for the battle at Waterloo that followed, where they routed Napoleon’s army. The two Dukes rode over the battlefield and on to Paris.

In 1818, the Duke of Richmond came to take up his new post as Governor-general of Canada. On August 26, 1819, the Duke visited the new community named in his honour. Two months earlier in Sorel, Quebec, he had been bitten by a pet fox trying to rescue his dog, Blucher, and was suffering from a rabies infection. He died in agony two days later on August 28, 1819.

His body was ceremoniously transported along Richmond Road, then by canoe to Montreal, where it was taken by steamer to Quebec City. There he was laid to rest before the altar in the Holy Trinity Anglican church.

Special thanks to Don Davidson for his research. For more information on the history of Richmond and Goulbourn Township, please contact the Goulbourn Township Historical Society and Museum at 831-2393.