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Keene, Ontario

Keene is a pretty small village (population 547) situated in Otonabee.

The first settlers were Thomas and Andrew Carr who arrived in 1820, but Keene's founder was the energetic John Gilchrist. In 1819 he became the first doctor in Ontario to be issued a licence to practice 'physic surgery and midwifery.'

In 1825 Gilchrist built a grist mill on the Indian R., followed by a distillery and homes for his workers. In 1829 he opened the settlement's first store.

The community was originally known as Gilchrist's Mills, and then Otanabee, later corrected to Otonabee. But when the post office was established, Gilchrist renamed the place Keene after his hometown in New Hampshire.

The Keene Curling Club, organized in 1861 by Thomas Miller, is one of Ontario's oldest. One of Keene's tourist attractions is the nearby Serpent Mounds Provincial Park.

There are nine prominent burial mounds here where the First Nations Peoples buried their generations of dead. Excavations have revealed that the earth mounds were built by the Hopewellians, a tribe of First Nations Peoples who lived in the area about 2,000 years ago. The mounds are in the shape of a 200-foot-Iong (60.9 m) serpent and eggs. This serpent-shaped mound is unique in Canada.

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