Fergus (2011 population 19,126) is the largest community in Centre Wellington, a township within Wellington County in Ontario, Canada. It lies on the Grand River about 25 km north of Guelph.
The first settlers to this area were freed slaves who formed what was known as the Pierpoint Settlement, named after their leader, Richard Pierpoint. Along with a half dozen other men, Pierpoint was granted land in Garafraxa Township somewhere around what is now Scotland Street in Fergus.
In 1833, just a quarter mile from the Pierpoint settlement, Little Falls was established by Adam Fergusson. Along with fellow Scot James Webster, he purchased 7,000 acres (2,832.80 ha) (28 km-¦) of uncleared land in Nichol Township and laid out the town of Fergus. Webster took up residence here and supervised the settlement's early development.
The first house of this predominantly Scottish community was erected in 1833. A hotel was built in 1834 and a sawmill, grist mill, church and school followed in 1835.
They soon established a vibrant economy, using the waterfalls on the Grand River as power for local industry. The Scots built solid stone houses, factories and other buildings which have characterized Fergus to this day. Many of the houses and factories built by these early settlers are still in use today'occasionally occupied by descendents of the original owners.
Originally Fergus was known as Little Falls, because of the scenic (water) falls downtown, between the Public Library and the Fergus Market. Other names that (parts of) Fergus have been known as include Nichol Township, Aboyne, Garafraxa Township and Pierpoint Settlement.
Fergus is located north of Guelph and sits on the Grand River. It is near many natural settings such as the Elora Gorge and Conservation Area, and Belwood Lake. Fergus and Centre Wellington in general are home to many industries, manufacturers, retailers and trades people. The local economy also benefits greatly from tourism.
Fergus is best known for the annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games, held in August. The games represent the largest gathering of clans in the world outside of Scotland and Cape Breton Island. Competitions are held for music, dancing and 'heavy' events such as the caber toss. A 10 km (6.21 mi) run is also contested.It also is home to North America's largest truck-show that is held every July, and the Fergus fall fair in September.
Fergus is also home to the Fergus Highland Rugby Football Club. The club plays in the Ontario Rugby Union, and has two Men's teams, two Women's teams and a strong and growing junior program. St Andrew Street runs parallel to the Grand River on the north side and is the heart of downtown. On the south side of the river is Queen Street where the newly renovated Fergus Market can be found.
The Wellington County Museum and Archives and the Wellington County library are in nearby Aboyne, halfway between Fergus and Elora. The County Museum and Archives are located in a two-storey Italianate-style stone building on a former working farm. The building is the oldest known state-supported poorhouse or almshouse in Canada, and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995.
A community complex was completed in fall 2006. It includes a 25 metre indoor swimming pool and a second ice rink to complement the previously existing ice facilities.
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