Several manufacturers were based in Smiths Falls, perhaps the best-known being the Canadian operation of the Hershey Company (opened 1963, closed in December 2008). Other former large manufacturers include RCA Victor (closed circa 1980), Frost and Wood/Cockshutt and the 'Beach' toolbox factory (acquired by Stanley Tools, ultimately closed in 2008). In 2014, the former Hershey facility was purchased by medical marijuana company Tweed Marijuana Inc.
The town is named after Thomas Smyth, a United Empire Loyalist who in 1786 was granted 400 acres (1.6 km²) in what is present-day Smiths Falls. The Heritage House Museum (c. 1862), also known as the Ward House, was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1977
The disruption of industry caused by the building of the Rideau Canal was only temporary, and Smiths Falls grew rapidly following construction.
In the 1850s the major railway companies were looking to build main trunk lines linking Toronto, Kingston and Montreal. The two major companies at the time, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway, were competing for the easiest routes to lay track. At one point a fledgling third national railway, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR), was also trying to squeeze itself into the busy Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor.
For a number of geographical reasons, and also due to the proximity of the Rideau Canal, the town of Smiths Falls became a major focal point for the CPR and the CNoR. Each used a mix of existing regional rail lines and new construction to build their networks. CP purchased the 1859-era Brockville and Ottawa Railway, a line from Brockville-Smiths Falls-Sand Point/Arnprior with a branch Smiths Falls-Perth (the latter joining CP's Ontario and Quebec Railway line to Toronto). CNoR built a 1914-era main line from Ottawa-Smiths Falls-Sydenham (to join an existing Bay of Quinte Railway line extending westward via Napanee-Deseronto). By 1887, the CPR had extended its Toronto-Smiths Falls mainline to reach Montréal; in 1924, 1600 CPR workers were employed in Smiths Falls.
This gave the town direct rail lines in half a dozen directions (Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Brockville, Napanee and Arnprior) on two different rail companies.
During World War II, Axis prisoners of war (POWs) were transported to Canadian POW camps via the railway. It was near Smiths Falls that German soldier Oberleutnant Franz von Werra jumped from a POW train and escaped to the United States, eventually reaching his homeland. Von Werra was, reputedly, the only escaped Axis POW to successfully return home during the war and his story was told in the book and film entitled The One That Got Away.
Both the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian Northern (later part of Canadian National) had established stations in the town, however, with the creation of Via Rail, the CNoR station was abandoned and all passenger traffic routed though the CPR station until a new Smiths Falls railway station opened in 2010. The CNoR station has been renovated and is now home to the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario; the historic CP station is a live theatre. The railway station, along with the nearby railway bascule bridge, comprise the town's two National Historic Sites of Canada. The Cataraqui Trail now follows the former CNoR railbed southwest from Smiths Falls toward Napanee, starting from a parking lot at the end of Ferrara Drive.
Smiths Falls has long been a divisional point on the Canadian Pacific Railway, which operates a single-track mainline through Perth and Smiths Falls for freight between Canada's two largest cities, Montréal and Toronto. The town was once the crossroads for rails radiating in a half-dozen directions (Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Brockville and formerly Carleton Place and Napanee); local streets bear names of key figures like Sir William Cornelius Van Horne (February 3, 1843 - September 11, 1915), the CP line's president.
The historic 1887 CPR passenger station became the Station Theatre in 2010; The historic east-west CP main line locally only hauls freight. Modern Via Rail passenger service runs from Smiths Falls station, an unmanned station on the rails to Ottawa. Few trains stop in Smiths Falls for passengers today; those that do follow CN's 1856 Grand Trunk line from Toronto to Brockville, then turn north through Smiths Falls to Ottawa.
- 1 Smiths Falls station, 46 Union Street (around 1.6 km north of the town centre), toll-free: . Open 60 minutes prior to train arrival and 30 minutes after train departure. 22 paid parking spaces available (surface lot).
Smiths Falls serves as midpoint and de-facto headquarters of the UNESCO-listed Rideau Canal, which joins Kingston to Ottawa. Built under the direction of Colonel John By after the War of 1812, this waterway allows shipping to bypass the St. Lawrence River between Kingston and Montréal, whose location directly on the US border leaves it perilously vulnerable to attack. From Ottawa, the Ottawa/Outaouais river is navigable to Montréal.
With the exception of one modern "combined lock" which bypasses three of the original 1800s locks in Smiths Falls itself, all of the locks on the system are original. Their historic integrity has been preserved.
From Kemptville and Merrickville, old Highway 43 extends westward through Smiths Falls to Perth. Access to Smiths Falls from the 416 is also possible from North Gower via Ottawa Regional Road 6 (Lanark 4), which meets Highway 15 in the north end of Smiths Falls.
From Perth take CR 43 (old Highway 43) approximately 20km (12mi) eastward.
- 2 Russ Beach Smiths Falls-Montague Airport (YSH IATA), 102 Van Exan Drive (6.5 km east of the town), ☏ . An uncontrolled airstrip east of Smiths Falls with no scheduled flights. It is owned by the town of Smiths Falls and the Township of Montague and operated and maintained by volunteers from the Smiths Falls Flying Club.
- Access Taxi, 5 Chambers St, ☏ .
- 1 Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario, 90 William St, ☏ . 10AM-5PM, 7 days a week from Mid-May to Thanksgiving weekend.. One of multiple railways which once served Smiths Falls, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) was a third Canadian trans-continental railway completed in 1915 and bankrupted by 1918; its 1913-era station and a line through Smiths Falls and Sydenham, which became part of CN in 1923, were abandoned by the end of the 1970s. Backers of the Smiths Falls Railway Museum Association were unable to stop CN from removing the rails to Sydenham and Napanee (which were sold for scrap or redeployed on western rail lines by 1986) but did rebuild the long-neglected station to display a collection of rolling stock, equipment and rail memorabilia. $5.
- 2 Rideau Canal Museum, 34 Beckwith St. S, ☏ . History of the Rideau Canal, constructed for strategic military reasons after the War of 1812 and now the preserve of recreational boaters between Kingston and Ottawa, a distance (by water) of more than 200km.
- 3 Heritage House, 11 Old Slys Road, ☏ . Local history museum.
- Cataraqui Trail. Abandoned CNoR/Bay of Quinte Railway right-of-way from Smiths Falls through Sydenham to Strathcona, near Napanee. Originally the CNoR track that served the local railway museum and crossed the Rideau Canal bascule bridge, this is now a 104-km (64-mile) Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority multi-use trail. Cycling, hiking, horseback riding, snowmobile and cross-country ski.
- 1 Lower Reach Park, Jasper Ave & Old Slys Rd. Rideau waterfront park with sunny picnic area, off-leash dog walk, sports fields.
- 2 Smiths Falls Golf & Country Club, 125 Golf Club Rd.. Eighteen-hole course with pro shop and restaurant.
- 3 Station Theatre, 53 Victoria Ave., ☏ . 140-seat live theatre and cinema in restaurant area of restored former 1887 CPR station.
- Voyageur Canoe Tours. Rideau Roundtable society hosts interpretive tours with costumed guides along the Rideau Waterway in a 34-foot replica voyageur canoe.
- There are several craft shops downtown near the river, including one with quite nice silver work.
- 1 Alexio’s, 16 Russell St. E, ☏ .
- 2 Chuckles Jack, 33 Centre St., ☏ . Italian, Indian and Thai food.
- 3 Country Diner Restaurant, 23 Union St, K7A 2S3, ☏ .
- 4 Ger-Bo's Steakhouse, 15 Beckwith St. S, ☏ . Greek and Canadian food - souvlaki, burgers and (of course) steak are all available. Try the pizza.
- 5 My Place Restaurant, 2 Main St. W, ☏ .
- 6 Nick’s Fish & Chips, 6 Russell St. E., ☏ .
- 7 Norm's Restaurant, 27 Beckwith St. N, ☏ . open 11AM. Licensed, wi-fi, family meal deal. Dining in, fast food, take-out/delivery, pizza.
- 8 Roosteraunt, 60 Lombard St., ☏ . On Hwy 15. Breakfast/brunch, busy on weekends.
- 9 Two Guys For Lunch, 91 Cornelia St. W, ☏ .
- Café Whim, 7 Russell St W, ☏ . M-F 11AM-9PM. Sandwiches and craft beer.
- 10 Lotus House, 12 Main St. W, K7A 1M5, ☏ .
- 11 Man Ling Restaurant, 28 Main St. W., ☏ . 11:30AM-8:30PM, closed Tu. Take-out menu on website.
- 12 Wong's Chinese Buffet, 60 Lombard St, K7A5K2, ☏ .
- 1 Best Western Smiths Falls Hotel, 88 Lombard Street (Hwy 15 South), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel with restaurant, wi-fi, breakfast, outdoor pool, refrigerators, free local calls. Business meeting space for 25 people. Some rooms have balcony, DVD player, sofabed, jacuzzi tub. Extra charge for pets, cots or rollaway beds.
- 2 Econo Lodge, 33 Centre Street, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. 64 room hotel on Rideau Canal, restaurant, wi-fi, some rooms have refrigerators or whirlpool baths. $87+.
- 3 Victoria Park, on Rideau Canal, ☏ . Campground and marina, 50 campsites, water/power for RVs, 30 docks, tourist info, laundry, hot showers, playground, wading pool. Wi-fi.
- 1 Smiths Falls Public Library, 81 Beckwith St. N., ☏ , fax: . M-Th 1-5:30PM and 7-9PM, F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-4:30PM. Local library with wi-fi.
Wi-fi is also available at McDonald's (81 Lombard St) and at both Tim Horton's locations (76 Beckwith St. and 111 Lombard St.)
|Routes through Smiths Falls|
|Kingston ← Brockville ←||W E||→ Ottawa|
|Arnprior ← CR 29 ← Carleton Place ←||N S||→ Kingston → END|
|Perth ← CR 43 ←||W E||→ CR 43 → Merrickville → Alexandria|