Smith Township is a peninsula lying north-east from Monaghan and Emily Townships, surrounded by Chemong, Buckhorn, Deer, Stoney, Clear and Katchewanooka Lakes and the fast-flowning Otonabee with its many rapids and waterfalls. Once cleared, the green fertile hills and valleys produced abundant crops. Swamplands were not excessive but provided sufficient reservoirs to feed many small streams winding through the township, two of which were the sites of very early mills.
The first settlers reached Peterborough County shortly after the initial survey of Smith Township, completed in June 1818. In that year, intrepid hardy pioneer settlers made their way up Otonabee River, having first drawn their Smith Township lots at the Crown Land office in Smith's Creek (now Port Hope), from whence they journeyed by ox-cart over the Indian Trail to Rice Lake. Having ascended the Otonabee to where further progress was barred by many rapids and falls, they disembarked at Portage Place now in the heart of the City of Peterborough.