Stone and legend at the entrance to the Old Presbyterian Cemetery on County Road 42 just west of Newboro; the Ontario plaque is situated almost across the road at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Legend at the Presbyterian Cemetery: “Buried in this cemetery are the bodies of sappers and miners who took part in the construction of the ‘Rideau Canal’ at this isthmus during the years 1826-1832. These men laboured under appalling conditions and died of malaria. Their graves lie unmarked.”

This area was originally known as “The Isthmus” and marks the watershed between waters flowing north to Ottawa and those flowing south to Kingston. It was necessary to blast a canal cut through hard rock to join Newboro and Rideau Lakes. This was a major battle as the hard rock underlying the area came as a surprise. The work was put under the command of the 7th Company of Royal Sappers and Miners. This was the only section of the canal, outside of Bytown, that was built under direct military supervision. Malaria, then called “Lake Fever”, attacked most of the men during the first week in August in 1830. The work camp and settlement at “The Isthmus” expanded and became known as New Borough, then shortened to Newboro.

Photo Credit: Sheila Cornett