Ron Clark Memorial Riverwalk Walking Tour
This is probably the most popular walking area in Caledonia. Equally pleasurable at night, this walk will give you real joy as you meander along the towpath, certainly quite different from its original use. During the Grand River Navigation Company days from the 1830s to the 1860s, donkeys and horses used the towpath to pull barges up and down the Port Maitland to Caledonia transportation route. Time frames for our walking tours are only suggestions, take as long or as little as you'd like! Enjoy!
Starting Location: Entrance to Ron Clark Memorial Riverwalk (at foot of bridge, beside Scotiabank).
Suggested length of tour: 30 Minutes
The park has been a busy place for many summers. During the 1940s and 50s a bandshell stood beneath the hill along Caithness St. W. At that time, crowds sat on benches in front of the bandshell for the annual garden parties.
The Ron and Nancy Clark Foundation contributed to major enhancements at the park in 2013. The Lion's pool, splash pad, and gazebo were erected and are popular for residents and visitors alike. The ball diamond was moved and a new tennis court installed. The towpath was paved.
Ranald McKinnon's mills occupied the park area near the pavilion during the Grand River Navigation Company days. Flooding in the spring was always a threat, but it was fire that destroyed the Mills in the 1860s, 1880s, and for the last time in 1969. The pavilion at the small replica bridge marks the spot where the last of the Mills was located.
The Caledonia Dam was rebuilt in 1980 and what a difference it made to the area! The Park on the west side of small replica bridge was created and the old mill race was made into a pretty stream. You will no doubt see fishermen in the waters at this spot looking for a big catch.
When you reach the end of the path past the Dam, turn back and walk along the towpath to the small parking lot. Cross Caithness St. to the sidewalk and continue your walk back towards the downtown area. As you walk, picture what it might have looked like in days gone by..
The area near the Dam was known as Oneida Village. Caledonia as we know it today was nothing but wilderness when founder Ranald McKinnon arrived in 1835 to work on the construction of the Dam, Canal, and Lock at Oneida Village. He soon built a saw mill, flour mill, and woollen mill near the Dam. At 232 Caithness St. W., he built his home, still standing today. The house remained in his family for almost a century. It was originally larger, with an east and west wing which were eventually dismantled and used to build the house next door on the right.
Ranald McKinnon's pulse is in two early homes at 194 and 192 Caithness St. W. He acquired the property from the Navigation Company for 60 Pounds Sterling. Three years later he sold one lot for 50 Pounds, and one month later it was re-sold for 87 Pounds.
The home at 194 was a tavern built around 1850.
The home at 192 was built by Ranald McKinnon for his son John in 1860, it was built for $1,700.