About Carleton Riding

Carleton Electoral District is a largely rural electoral district lying wholely within the borders of the City of Ottawa. It corresponds roughly to the old Carleton County, which became part of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton in 1969, and which was then amalgamated into the present City of Ottawa in 2001.

Carleton County, and hence Carleton Electoral District, was named after Sir Guy Carleton, who was Governor General of British North America in the late eighteenth century. Canada, of course, did not exist as a single nation at this time.

Carleton Riding is the largest riding in Ottawa, occupying nearly half the 3000 sq. km of the city, and encompassing the entire southern boundary of the city and the lower parts of its eastern and western boundaries. When it was created as an electoral district in 2013 it had a population of 89,522. Most of these live in communities such as Stittsville, Richmond, Manotick, North Gower, Riverside South, Greely, Osgoode and Metcalfe, although there is a significant rural population scattered in houses and farms across the riding.

The Rideau River flows north-south through the riding, splitting it into eastern and western halves, and then turns south-west to form part of the southern boundary of the riding. The Rideau Canal runs alongside the river. The river and canal are one and the same except where there are rapids or other non-navigable stretches of the river, when a separate canal, with locks as necessary, was built to bypass those stretches. The name Rideau comes from the French word for curtain, and refers to the curtain-like falls where the river debouches into the Ottawa River, about a mile to the east of Parliament Hill.

While much of the Electoral District is farmed, large areas of it are forested. In particular, the Marlborough Forest occupies much of the south-western part of the riding. The forest was named after Marlborough Township, which consisted largely of forest and ceased to exist as an administrative unit many years ago because its population was too small to support a viable tax base. The City of Ottawa maintains walking trails through the forest.

Two of the earliest settlers in the Electoral District were the Burritt brothers from Arlington, Vermont, who settled in what is now Burritts Rapids in the south-west corner of the riding in 1793. Other early settlers were labourers who worked on the construction of the Rideau Canal in the 1820’s. Many of them built themselves stone houses which are still in use to this day. Yet other settlers were retired British soldiers, who were given the option of a land grant (usually 200 acres) instead of being shipped home to Britain. Several place names reflect this. Malakoff Road and the village of Kars in the southern part of the riding were named after Crimean War battles.

Today, a large number of the working-age population of Carleton Electoral District commute into the urban areas of Ottawa every day, typically to public sector or high-tech industry jobs