This week we’re making a return to our continuing series of profiles on the smaller towns and communities dotted throughout Chestnut Park West’s predominant market area. We’re also making a return to Wellington County, and to the township of Centre Wellington – Fergus, to be exact. An independent town until 1999 when it merged with the Village of Elora and a handful of other surrounding small communities to create today’s political body of ‘Centre Wellington’, Fergus is well known for its Scottish heritage and contemporary Highland Games. But the origins of the community are less widely known and may come as a surprise even to those born and raised nearby!
The first recorded outside settlers in the immediate vicinity of what is now Fergus were in fact a group of United Empire Loyalists – and freed slaves. Richard Pierpoint, a man of Senegalese descent and the leader of the group of settlers, had earned his freedom fighting alongside the British against their rebellious colonists during the American Revolutionary War. ‘Pierpoint Settlement’ was established in the early 1820’s by a small group of these freedmen, and it remained the only outside presence until the founding of another settlement a short distance away by Scottish immigrants Adam Ferguson and James Webster in 1833.
Pierpoint Settlement was eventually swallowed by what the Scottish inhabitants now called ‘Little Falls’ after 1838, and the community continued to grow to a population of 1,000 by 1858 when it was renamed Fergus in honour of Adam Ferguson, its founder. Similar to Guelph, many of Fergus’ mid-19th Century buildings were characterized by the extensive use of locally quarried limestone – an aesthetic which is still predominant when touring through its downtown areas today. Fergus also became a local centre for the manufacturing industry, initially in agricultural equipment and, later, household appliances too. The village continued growing into the size of a town by the 1950’s, and today boasts a population of over 20,000 residents.
Scottish Festival and Highland Games
The town’s current claim to fame is its annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games, held in August and featuring a range of traditional Scottish cultural activities, sports, foods and drink. Given the community’s central southern Ontario location and easy access from the GTA (one hour away), Kitchener-Waterloo (40 minutes) and Guelph (only 20 minutes driving time away), Fergus has been growing in popularity as a bedroom community for commuters for years now.
As we’ve covered before in looking at other small communities in our area, prices in Fergus haven’t exactly remained cheap – especially in recent months. But as an alternative to eye-watering prices in surrounding larger markets, Fergus does stand as an attractive option for those who work within a reasonable range and don’t mind a little commuting. The surrounding countryside is beautiful, and the journey to and from Fergus is a far cry from sitting in traffic on the 401 every day!
As always, if you’re interested in learning more about Fergus, or in seeing what might be on the market out in that direction today, I’d encourage you to reach out to us here at CPW! Our agents are happy to share their insights about the town and everything it offers to residents year-round.
Debbie Tsintaris is a LOCAL REALTOR® in the Waterloo Region offering expert real estate services in Waterloo and surrounding areas in Southwestern Ontario.