Historical Walking Tours


On October 17, 1803 Samuel Wilson and his son James received a land grant for 200 acres from the Crown and built a large stone house on Lot 6 Concession 2. The Wilson’s then began operating a nearby inn which became a key stop on the popular Prescott to Bytown (Ottawa) stagecoach route.

Before the railway began operating in 1854, stagecoaches were the only viable form of over-land travel for going any great distance, but were described as “one of the roughest conveyances on either side of the Atlantic!”

The many small communities which arose in the area were linked by a central road, called the ‘Nine Mile’ now known as South Gower Drive (County Rd. 22). To continue along to Cardinal, one had to travel over a ‘corduroy road’, which was built by placing split logs flat-side down and filling the gaps with dirt and gravel. This practice prevented the road from sinking into the swampy ground - but made for rough travel indeed!

The community which formed around the Wilson home and inn first became known as Archibald Corners after John Archibald opened his store there in the 1840s. When John Heck later opened another store, it became known as Heck’s Corners. John Heck was the grandson of Paul and Barbara Heck, who were among the earliest founders of Methodism in North America. Due to the influence of the name in Methodist circles at the time, the name Heckston was adopted in the year 1857.

Heckston Historical Walking Tour

1. Wilson's Inn - 251 South Gower Dr.
1 heckston

Wilson’s Inn was a large 2 1⁄2-storey building built in the early 1800s. Constructed of locally quarried limestone, it had 18" stone walls and a 3" pine floor. A stable for stagecoach horses originally stood behind the building.

Since the stagecoach days, the building had served as a store, apartments, and a community centre. At times up to four families at once lived in the building. A series of folding doors allowed the 2nd floor to become one large room so dances and community events were often held there.

In 1950 Angus Gilmer purchased the building and operated it as a general store and gas station. Most general stores at the time had a few chairs around the stove where locals could catch up, and this one was no exception.

A fire in the 1980s destroyed what was then still the Heckston General Store, run by the Christie family, and it was rebuilt as the one-storey building you see today.