Arnprior, Ontario.

Origin of the name: Priory on the Arn (river). Priory is a monastic house that is looked after by a ‘prior’ or ‘prioress’… Arn is a small stream in Sterlingshire, Scotland.

Population? 8,795 (2016).

This town is full of trails, like the Arnprior Millennium Trails, where you could find Ontario’s Tallest Tree. It’s also full of history, which when you see Arnprior, and hear about it’s roots, it makes sense.


You could say Arnprior started with an Archibald.

Archibald McNab, the “Last Laird of the Clan McNab” (Laird= person who owns a large estate).

He kind of ended up fleeing creditors back in Scotland and was granted 81,000 acres of land from the government to bring settlers from Scotland and named the township after himself (McNab Township).


In 1825, McNab brought over almost 100 families from Scotland…Out of those families was a Andrew & George Buchanan who built a small sawmill and timber bridge on the Madawaska River. They, along with McNab, named the settlement ‘Arnprior’ after the small village in Scotland.

McNab must have had a hard time making friends with the settlers, because by 1843 the settlers rebelled against his feudal leadership, petitioning and taking legal action to force him to leave the area.


When one ‘Mc’ leaves, another arrives. 1851, Daniel McLachlin came to town and recognized the potential of Arnprior for a logging operation. He purchased 400 acres of land at the mouth of the Madawaska River and water power rights. This was the start of Arnprior.

Photo from Wikipedia of Daniel McLachlin

The McNab Township became a part of Renfrew county, which separated from Lanark County in 1861. A year later, Arnprior was incorporated as a village. By 1901, it was incorporated as a town with mills, telegraph offices, 32 stores, 9 churches, 6 hotels, factories, 2 banks, and a large lumber trade. Unfortunately for the McLachlin family, the Great Depression hit at the same time as the lumber market went downhill, and they claimed bankruptcy… ending operations in 1929.

Quick Facts:

  •  Home of Gillies Grove, a rare remnant of the magnificent forest that once covered the region and is recognized as one of the last old-growth forests in the province. It was originally used by the Gillies and the McLachlins as a picnic ground before McLachlin’s bankruptcy.
  • Gillies Grove also contains Ontario’s Tallest Tree which was identified in 2015. It is a 47-metre tall eastern white pine tree… Over 13 stories tall and more than 200 years old.
Ontario’s Largest Tree-Photo by NCC


  •  The Bell Tower located in Daniel McLachlin Park came from the original town hall that was constructed in 1888. The stone came from the grist mill that once stood on that site. The mill was actually constructed by Daniel McLachlin in the 1850s, and the mill was lost to the fire in the early 1970s.

It appears the McLachlin family did a lot for the town of Arnprior, from building mills and mansions, to lumber, helping lay the roots of the beautiful town Arnprior is today.

Filed under: #ThisIsMyTown, This Is My Town