Preserving and Promoting local history for the former Rideau Township
Log Fence

Roger Stevens: First Settler Within the
Boundaries of Modern Ottawa

Presented by Mark Jodoin

Rideau Branch, Ottawa Archives, North Gower
February 21, 2007

Mark Jodoin is president of the Rideau Township Historical Society. He has taken an interest in the soldiers from Rideau Township who played a part in our military history. This interest has culminated in an excellent  series of articles for Esprit de Corps magazine.

These articles have revealed a side of the development of Canada with which few are familiar. Having read them, one can understand the need for these people and the great service they provided in building the Canada of today. Wars were not simple in those days either.

"Settler, Scout, Soldier, Spy” was the subject of Mark's presentation and the title of an article featuring Roger Stevens which appeared in Esprit de Corps magazine. It tells the story of this Loyalist mill owner from Vermont who fought for the British as a frontier spy during the American Revolutionary War.

At the close of hostilities, he found his way to Canada and settled on the Rideau. Stevens had carried out countless dangerous missions behind enemy lines, was captured on

three occasions, and escaped hanging each time only to die mysteriously on a tributary of the Rideau (now Stevens Creek) in the company of William Merrick, from whom Merrickville draws its name.

This adventurer, woodsman and rowdy-man pioneered the settlement of modern Ottawa. He settled on a property in Marlborough Township before Marlborough was settled. In fact the team that surveyed Marlborough in 1791 used to go to Stevens' house to sharpen their axes, as he had a grindstone.

Mark's presentation covered all the phases of Roger Stevens' life. He was a soldier for the British in the U.S. revolutionary war. He was a spy for them. And he was the first settler in what is now Ottawa. Roger Stevens Drive has been named for him as tribute to his contributions to Canada over the years.

Elizabeth Stuart (Stevens), who celebrated her one 100th birthday in 2007 and who formed the Osgoode Township Historical Society, is a descendant of Roger Stevens. We are closer to our historical roots than many of us think.