Smiths Falls is a town in Eastern Ontario, Canada, with a population of 8,780 according to the 2016 census. It is in the Census division for Lanark County but is separated from the county. The Rideau Canal waterway passes through the town, with four separate locks in three locations and a combined lift of over 15 metres. The town is named after Thomas Smyth, a United Empire Loyalist who in 1786 was granted 400 acres in what is present-day Smiths Falls. The Heritage House Museum is also known as the Ward House, was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1977.
During the time of construction of the Rideau Canal, a small settlement had been established around a mill operated by Abel Russell Ward, who had bought Smyth's land. Colonel By ordered the removal of Ward's mill to make way for the canal. He settled with Ward for £1,500, one of the largest claims made by mill owners on the canal. The disruption of industry caused by the building of the canal was only temporary, and Smiths Falls grew rapidly following construction. Defensible lockmasters' houses were built at all three stations in Smiths Falls. The house at Old Slys was built in 1838 and the houses at Combined and Detached around 1842. Only the house at Combined has a second storey, which was added late in the 19th century. The defensible lockmaster's house at Detached Lock station was torn down in 1894.
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 several geographical reasons, and due to the proximity of the Rideau Canal, the town of Smiths Falls became a major focal point for both the CPR and the CNoR. Each used a mix of existing regional rail lines and new construction to build their networks. 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 CN station was abandoned, and all passenger traffic routed through the CPR station until a new Smiths Falls railway station opened in 2010. The CN station has been renovated and is now home to the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario. The railway station, along with the nearby railway bascule bridge, comprise the town's two National Historic Sites of Canada
Several manufacturers were based in Smiths Falls, perhaps the best-known being the Canadian operation of The Hershey Company (opened in 1963) which closed in December 2008. Hershey announced they would instead open a factory in Mexico, where they could obtain cheaper labour. In late 2006, the plant was temporarily closed due to a case of possible salmonella contamination. Other former large manufacturers include RCA Victor (closed circa 1980), Frost and Wood / Cockshutt and Stanley Tools (2008). The closure of the Rideau Regional hospital site in March 2009 resulted in a further loss of jobs from the community. However, the 350-acre site was purchased by a local developer (who made an unsuccessful bid for mayor in the 2018 election) and renamed the Gallipeau Centre. It is a mixed-use property with residential and recreational uses including condominiums, a recreational facility, a swimming pool and a theatre. In 2014, the former Hershey facility was purchased by medical marijuana company Tweed Marijuana Inc, now known as publicly-traded company Canopy Growth Corporation (TSE:WEED). The town has been cited as the "Pot Capital of Canada".Over 750 jobs have been created by Canopy Growth which has revitalized the town's economy after the departure of the Hershey factory and the closure of Rideau Regional Centre. Investment by Constellation Brands of $5B in Canopy Growth Corporation has helped further secure the positive economic potential for Smiths Falls. The company is continuing to grow and expand, creating new local jobs. Canopy has purchased the site of the closed Shorewood Packaging building to construct a facility for bottling cannabis-infused beverages. As well, chocolate has begun to flow again at the site of the former Hershey plant as Canopy Growth has commenced the production of cannabis-infused chocolate edibles. Public tours of Tweed production are available to the public, as the Hershey factory tours.
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