The Rideau Canal may be one of the main draws to the village of Merrickville, but back in the 1830s it was the community's namesake that ruled over the canal's construction.

William Merrick built the first saw mill there in the 1790s.

"Merrick came as a United Empire Loyalist," said local historian Wayne Poapst. "He was a millwright, was looking for a place to have mills. . . this is where he found the best waterfall and where he put up a dam."

Merrick had built it into a bustling community named Merrick's Mills when Colonel John By started building the canal.

He had such influence that he was able to delay the canal's opening by a year to 1832.

"William Merrick was having trouble with his dam and he had to lower the water to work on it," said Poapst. "So he told Colonel By, 'You just wait till next spring and you can expect your canal.'"

It was Merrick's enterprise that saw the community expand in the early 1800s.

"A lot of Irish guys who worked on the canal stayed here and this is why you see all these stone buildings," Poapst said.

Today, the village counts on tourism as a main draw, known to many simply as Lock 21 as they float down that signature canal.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Carol Anne Meehan