Six kilometres up a trail off of Opeongo Road, across from Davidson’s Corners, are the skeletal remains of Newfoundout, Ontario. Victims of the government’s infamous “Public Land Act” of 1853, 13 families wound their way up the mountainside and for 30 years attempted to eke a living out of the mostly barren, rocky soil. Never able to attract more settlement or institutions, such as schools, the town died, becoming completely abandoned by 1948.
This uneasy relationship with the Ontario government has become a legacy in the Valley. Movements such as the “Rural Revolution” – an association of landowners that claim “the governments and bureaucrats are killing rural Canada with excessive regulations and intrusive legislation” – were born in the Valley’s Lanark County and have since spread across Ontario. Their message is stated clearly across the Valley with signs stuck on rusting tractors, backs of billboards and abandoned farms such as this one: “This land is our land. Back off government.”