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Renfrew, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker is a town on the Bonnechere River in Renfrew Countymarker, located in Southern Ontario, and more specifically Eastern Ontario.


Named after the town of Renfrewmarker in Scotlandmarker. Renfrew was settled largely in part to logging in the area in the early 1800s, and used the river in order to drive the lumber to locations such as Ottawa. This heritage was once celebrated every July with the Lumber Baron Festival until recent years.


Renfrew and the surrounding Township of Hortonmarker is at the intersection of the Bonnechere River and the Ottawa River in the Ottawa Valley. Renfrew is at the intersection of provincial Highway 17, Highway 60, and Highway 132. Renfrew is also a stop on the Greyhound Bus route between Ottawa and North Bay.


  • Population in 2006: 7846 (2001 to 2006 population change: -1.2 %)
  • Population in 2001: 7942
  • Population in 1996: 8125
  • Population in 1991: 8134

Private dwellings, excluding seasonal cottages: 3549 (total: 3686)

Mother tongue:
  • English as first language: 91.8 %
  • French as first language: 4.0 %
  • English and French as first language: 0.5 %
  • Other as first language: 3.7 %


Historic Customs Building, now Renfrew's Post Office
Much of Renfrew's current prosperity comes from being the commercial centre for over 30,000 residents of the surrounding small towns and rural region, with over 450 small service or commercial businesses in the 2001 municipal census. In addition, Renfrew is an easy rest or activity stop for Ottawa-based cottagers and outdoor enthusiasts passing by on their way to nearby whitewater rafting, boating, camping, hunting, golfing, fishing, snowmobiling, down-hill skiing, and cross-country skiing. However, the area's largest single employers are the Renfrew Victoria Hospital and the Bonnechere Manor, and additional retirement facilities have opened since the census. In addition to numerous small employers, there are also several moderate sized manufacturing facilities employing several hundred people; Scapa Tapes Renfrew, formerly Renfrew Tape makes products such as hockey tape that is used across North America and the duct tape brand featured on the discontinued Red Green Show. In addition, Times Fibre Canada and Madawaska Hardwood Flooring have manufacturing facilities in town. Renfrew is also home to many successful small businesses. Between 2000 and 2005, a major portion of Refrew's retail business, and the associated customer services jobs, shifted from the west-end Renfrew mall(now demolished) to the east-end formally-industrial park due to the opening of several major big-box and smaller retail stores just off Highway 17.

Despite the apparent prosperity, Statistics Canada reported the average earnings of Renfrew residents in 2000 as $35,811, or roughly 31% lower than the provincial average and 5% lower than the county average. Further, the town reports, relative to the population size and compared to the province as a whole, fewer positions in management, business, finance, administration and natural or applied sciences, while there was greater than the provincial rates of occupation in sales and service, trades, transport and equipment operators, processing, manufacturing and utilities .



The O'Brien Theatre was a balconied and elegantly decorated town landmark that was converted from a live theatre to a movie theatre, then upgraded in the 1990s to accommodate two screens, but maintains much of the original appeal.


  • Renfrew was the bi-annual host and sponsor of the Ottawa Valley Lumber Baron Festival, a celebration of the towns roots in the logging industry. The Lumber Baron Festival is now known as Valleyfest, dropping its historical roots.
  • The Renfrew Fair has been drawing mixed crowds for decades with its rides, competitions, demolition derby, musical acts and livestock showcase. The fair takes place one the second weekend of every September and lasts from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday afternoon.
  • In recent years local farm-owner Andy Taylor has hosted FarmJam, a twelve-hour festival featuring varying musical acts.
  • In 2008 Renfrew was 150 years old.They celebrated with a year-long celebration.Began on January 1, 2008.Ended on December 31, 2008.
  • In 2009 Renfrew will host the 18th annual Ontario Swingers Festival.
  • Usually the first of second week in September there is the RENFREW FAIR, which has midway rides for kids and young adults, and large agriculture show and sale

Famous people from Renfrew

Renfrew's museum, the McDougall Mill Museum

The McDougall Mill Museum on the Bonnechere River
John Lorn McDougall, politician and fur trader, built the mill in 1855 by the Bonnechere River near the town landmark Swinging Bridge and overlooking natural rapids below the Ontario Hydro generating station. It has been converted into a museum, sometimes referred to as 'Renfrew Museum', not to be confused with museums of that name in Pennsylvania and Scotland. The McDougall Mill Museum houses pioneer tools and machinery, a military section, a doll exhibit, as well as toys, Victorian clothing and household items.

See also


  1. Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census
  2. Renfrew County Fact Sheet – Renfrew
  3. Statistics Canada Community Profile - Renfrew - 2001
  4. Ottawa Valley Guide: McDougall Mill. Retrieved 21 August 2007.

Further reading

  • The Story of Renfrew. From the Coming of the First Settlers about 1820 to 1928. By W. E. Smallfield, Rev. Robert Campbell, D.Sc., William Smallfield, ISBN 1-894378-42-3

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