Ontario’s rich forests provided the raw materials for Deseronto’s nineteenth century timber industries. The Rathbun family built a sawmill here in 1848 to export lumber to the United States.
The Rathbun Company’s businesses expanded rapidly. The firm bought timber rights across the watersheds of local rivers and in the course of 50 years it filled the Deseronto waterfront with industries based around wood – a shipyard, cedar mill, sash and door factory, car works, chemical plant, gas works and a brick and terra cotta factory. Railways extended the company’s interests across Eastern Ontario.
In 1901 Deseronto’s population peaked at 3,500, the majority employed by the Rathbun Company. But as the supply of trees for the sawmills declined, so did the town’s industries and population. By 1921 the Rathbun factories had closed and the population had dropped to 1,800.
More recently, Deseronto industries have included optical, frozen and canned food, furniture and rope manufacturing.
GPS co-ordinates: 44° 11’ 29.34 N -77° 03’ 24.09” W (44.19138889, 77.05666667)
Street address: The plaque is located in Centennial Park in the west end of Deseronto on Main Street along the waterfront.
Postcard photo courtesy Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County.