Russell is a town in Ontario in Canada. It has a population of about 5,000 or so. While Russell is not part of the officially designated National Capital Region, it is usually considered to be part of same because of its proximity to the city. It is a part of Eastern Ontario.
Russell is just to the west of Embrun, which is considered by some people to be Embrun's "sister town" since the two share a municipality and are quite close together (about 3 km/1.5 miles) by Eastern Ontario standards, although there are significant differences: Embrun has 8,000 people compared to Russell at 5,000 and Embrun is mainly French and Russell is mainly English (although that distinction has been blurred as Embrun becomes more English and the francophone minority in Russell starts to expand).
The Township of Russell was named in honour of Peter Russell who came to Canada with John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Russell was a general accountant of the public funds of the new province. He was elected a member of the executive and legislative council in 1792 and when Simcoe returned to England in 1796, he appointed Russell as administrator of the existing government, a position he held until Simcoe's successor arrived in Canada in 1799. At one time the township was named Elmsley, it was officially named Russell in 1797.
The New York Central Railway was an essential part of Russell's development. In 1884, the Township's council knew that they needed transportation if they wanted the community to grow. There were a few train stations in the surrounding towns, but to get there they needed to pay extra fare to take a stage. In June 1897, the council raised $10,000 to aid the Ontario Pacific Railway Company to build the railway. In exchange, the railway company had to have at least two passenger trains that would stop for all the passengers each way at all the stations including Russell. The company changed its name to the Ottawa and New York Railway Company in 1898 then the line was leased to the New York Central Railway Company. With the building of the station, Russell Village became the commercial centre for the township and for the eastern part of Osgoode and the northern part of Winchester. The hotels were filled with travellers and settlers, new shops were opening and loads of farm animals passed through the stockyards. It became a livestock sales centre. Around 1940 the passenger traffic began diminishing, as people had their own cars. In 1954 the passenger train service to Russell was abandoned, and in 1957, the last train ran on the New York Central System.
Like most towns and villages in Eastern Ontario, Russell is most accessible by car. There are private bus companies that service the area but only during the commute hours. The village is a ten-minute drive south of Highway 417 at the Boundary Rd. exit. It is also easily reached from the west, south and east by major regional roads.
OC Transpo route 222 has three buses each weekday afternoon from Slater St. in Ottawa ($4, 55 min) to the car pool lot in Vars. From there, it's an 11-minute taxi trip ($25-30) to Russell.
Russell is a very square-shaped village with equal growth on all sides. Most major facilities are a few minutes walk away from the centre business core.
There are many eco-tourist facilities throughout the village, mostly centred around the Castor Riverfront area. There are two major parks in the core plus two more on the western edge of town. Two of these are designated conservation areas that have no commercial facilities on them. There is also a quaint core of artisan and craft-oriented stores in the village as well the basic service required by any community.
- Keith M. Boyd Museum, 1150 Concession Street (corner of Church St.), ☏ . most Sundays 1PM-4PM. Photographs and artifacts dating back to the early 1800s. The museum occupies two buildings, a former church built in 1856 and the former fire hall constructed around 1971.
There are a lot of tournaments and festivals held every year. Naturally hockey and soccer lead the way in sports but there is also an annual fishing derby held in the spring (as a fund-raiser for cancer research), softball tournaments and weekly bingo and card tournaments held throughout the village.
- J. Henry Tweed Conservation Area, Forced Road, toll-free: . 16 acres of green space and trails, nestled in a subdivision. The park links with the Russell Township New York Central Fitness Trail, a converted railway perfect for cycling and rollerblading.
Heading west out of town, there is a Home Hardware store (120 Craig St.) and a Foodland grocery store store (120 Craig St.)
- Russell Restaurant and Pub, 182 Castor Street, ☏ . M-F 6:30AM-10PM, Sa 7:30AM-10PM, Su 8AM-3PM. Breakfast, wraps, pizzas, burgers, steaks, Italian dishes.
- Milano Pizzeria, 83 Mill St, ☏ .
- KC's Country Inn, 984 Burton Rd. Vars (14 min N of Russell on Road 28.), toll-free: . Restaurant, bar/lounge, free wireless Internet access. From $95.
See Embrun (Ontario) for other accommodations.