Almonte's first European- settler was David Shepherd, who in 1818 was given 200 acres (0.81 km2) by the Crown to build and operate a mill. The site became known as Shepherd's Falls. Shepherd sold his patent after his mill burned down. The buyer of the patent, Daniel Shipman, rebuilt the mill and the settlement became known as Shipman's Mills by about 1821.
The majority of the early settlers were Scottish and later Irish. A textile town almost from the start, by 1850 it was the home of seven busy woolen mills of Messrs B & W Rosamond. It was one of the leading centres in Ontario for the manufacture of woollen cloth. The construction of a railway line to Brockville stimulated the economic growth of Almonte.
In 1869, Almonte was a village with a population of 2000. It was a station of the Brockville and Ottawa Railway. By the 1870 the town had 30 stores and 40 other businesses. During this time of rapid expansion the town changed its name from Shipman's Mills to Ramsayville, and then to Waterford. When in 1855 the newly created Canadian post office pointed out there was already a Waterford in Ontario, the town needed yet another name change.
Relations between the United States and Great Britain had been antagonistic since the Revolutionary War and later the War of 1812. Border wars between Mexico and the United States in the 1830s increased this antagonism. Mexican general Juan Almonte had fought honourably in these latter wars, and by 1853 had become Mexico's ambassador to the United States. It appears likely that Waterford saw the General as a "principled David fighting a Goliath interested in swallowing up all North America."
After the last textile mill closed in the early 1980s, Almonte no longer had a dominant industry. It has since turned its attention towards tourism. It offers museums and several historical spots, such as the home of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, and the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.
Almonte retains much of its 19th-century architecture. The former Almonte post office, designed in 1889 by Thomas Fuller (the architect of the Parliament Buildings), and the Rosamond Woollen Mill, the largest 19th-century textile mill in Canada, are designated as National Historic Sites of Canada.
- From Ottawa: Almonte is 52 km (by road) from Centretown. Go west on the Trans-Canada Highway 417 and turn southwest onto March Road.
- From Carleton Place: Almonte is on old Highway 29, which leads from Carleton Place through Almonte and Pakenham to Arnprior.
- OC Transpo Route 61 (54 min, every 30 min, $4) from Albert/Bank in Ottawa to Hazeldean Rd/Carp Rd in Stittsville, then by taxi (27 km, $50-65) to Almonte.
There is no public transit in Almonte.
- Naismith Museum, 2854 Ramsay Concession 8 (Mill of Kintail Conservation Area), ☏ . Mid-May to Oct: M-F 9AM-3:30PM, Sa Su 10:30AM-4:30PM. Dr James Naismith who invented basketball grew up in the Almonte area.  $6/vehicle entry to the conservation area. .
- Paddles and Puppets, Almonte Fairgrounds and beach. 9AM-5PM. Second Saturday in August. A 5-km community paddle up the Mississippi River towards Appleton. Teams build, decorate and race their own rafts across the river. Three puppet shows, music, vendors.
- North Lanark Highland Games, 195 Water St, ✉ email@example.com. Held annually in Almonte since 1982, the Games feature traditional Highland sports and entertainment, and bring in about 6,000 visitors each summer. Fourth Saturday in August. 20 pipe bands, 100 dancers and champion heavyweight athletes. Adult $17, children under 12 free.
- Almonte Celtfest, Brae St. Held annually in Almonte's Gemmill Park since 1997. The festival's goal is to "celebrate and promote the Celtic heritage of the Ottawa Valley through music and dance." A three-day event held the second weekend in July. Camping for some trailers and tents ($20 donation) with basic toilets available. Showers are available in the arena Saturday and Sunday morning. There is no electricity available, no hook-ups and no fires permitted.
- Almonte Riverwalk (from the Old Town Hall). Walk along the river, see the falls, have an ice cream.
- Almonte Antique Market, 26 Mill Street, ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM. Over 100 vendors.
- Baker Bob's, 75 Little Bridge Street, ☏ . M-F 6AM-6PM, Sa 7AM-5PM. Bakery, coffee.
- Heirloom Cafe Bistro, 7 Mill Street, ☏ . Tu-Th 11AM–2:30PM, 5PM-8PM; F-Sa 11AM–2:30PM, 5PM-9PM; Su 11AM–2:30PM. On the ground floor of a restored heritage building at the bottom of historic Mill St. Dinner mains $18-32.
- Canadian Café, 11 Bridge St. M-Th 3PM- midnight, F Sa 3PM-1:30AM, Su 3PM-11:30PM. It doesn't serve traditional Canadian food, and it doesn't serve coffee, the only words on the sign that are correct are "The" and "Fully Licensed". But the service and the Chinese food are both quite good.
- The Cuban Mix, 27 Robert Hill St, ☏ . Daily 11AM-7PM. A dressed-up food truck with a great view of the falls.
- Nan's Fries, a fry truck which operates seasonally on Martin Street North outside of the Bell Telephone building sells a variety of locally enjoyed foods. The most celebrated of which being poutine.
- Rocks and Trees Ice Cream, a kiosk on lower Mill Street beside the Victoria Woollen Mill is a popular hang out on hot summer days. Almonte's famous Number 2 Falls provides plenty of scenery while finishing your ice cream. The best viewing locations are behind the Victoria Mill and behind the Post Office.
- Naismith Sports Pub, 411 Ottawa St, ☏ . Local craft beer, pizza, pub food.
- The Almonte Suites, 139 Reserve St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Two fully furnished suites, each equipped with a full kitchen. $139-185.
- Almonte Riverside Inn & Kitchen, 81 Queen Street, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. $139-269.