The hamlet of Berwick was first settled by four brothers from Scotland: Adam, Peter, James and Isaac Cockburn, in the early 1800s. They built homes, a store, school, and a blacksmith shop on the bank of the Payne River (named after the settlers’ recognized leader, Allan Glen-Payne MacMillan) and established Cockburn Corners, which was later renamed Berwick, after their home village in Scotland.
Adam built a water-powered sawmill on the Payne which produced sawed lumber and squared timber from March to July, and shingles the rest of the year. In the spring, lumber was placed on the ice and rafted down the Payne into the Nation, to the Ottawa River, to Montreal and the St. Lawrence, for ship-building or export.
In later years a hotel, a cheese factory, a tannery, a butcher shop and other businesses were established in the village. The cheese factory was purchased by Kraft Ltd. in 1929 and operated for half a century until it was closed. The first church was built in 1883.
The Ottawa-New York Railway, later renamed the New York Central, was built in 1897. Four passenger trains per day came through Berwick, as well as four to five freight trains. This made great changes in the life of the village, as cheese, grain, wheat, hay, cattle and milk were hauled away and building materials were brought into the district. The railway was later closed and sold to Bell Canada as a right of way for a fibre optic line.
Berwick became the administrative home of municipal government in the former Finch Township, which gained legal existence and corporate status as a township municipality as of the 1st day of January, 1850. The municipal office remained in Berwick after January 1st, 1998 when the former Finch Township, Roxborough Township and Finch Village amalgamated to form the Township of North Stormont.
Taken from “Pioneer History of Finch Township”
compiled by the Teachers of Finch Township