Today’s Killaloe is actually located about a kilometer from the former townsite now known as “Old Killaloe”. The name, borrowed from a town in Ireland, pays homage to the first settlers to the area who immigrated in the early 1800s. Originally the land was occupied by the Algonquin aboriginals, who maintain a land claim over most of the region.
Many of the early settlers were involved in the lumber trade, they built a mill to harness waterpower to grind grain for the residents in 1849 at a site known as Fort McDonnell- it became known as Killaloe Station around 1868 when the Ottawa, Arnprior, Parry Sound Railway expanded into the rugged Madawaska Valley. The town was booming after the 1854 construction of the Opeongo Line and with it came more settlers, predominantly French Canadian and Irish Catholic immigrants and some Germans, Poles and Kashubians. The mill was rebuilt after a fire destroyed it in 1870 but the population declined as forestry operations ceased, leaving farming as the primary industry in an area where the soil was rocky and the growing seasons short.
Killaloe was known, for years, across the country for its radio and weather station which operated from 1938 to 1972 as part of cross-Canada chain of aircraft communications. Today the major industry remains centered upon logging and sawmills. The last train came through sometime in 1962 and the train station was dismantled in 1968.
The village still has a nice turn-of-the-century flavour as many of the buildings are well over a hundred years old.