Located in south-central Ontario, within the Wellington County, you can find the township of Centre Wellington. If you can’t tell by now where it’s name came from…. well this blog is either not for you or it is, because you’re interested in historical yet modernized, scenic adventures.
Centre Wellington was established in 1999 being made up of historic Fergus(1833) & Elora(1832), small towns & communities. You can find the these beautiful little towns just 15 minutes down highway 6 out of Guelph. Each town is a quick drive to each other with their own unique historic tales to tell & picturesque views just waiting to be discovered.
Fergus, Ontario | The Most Haunted Town in Canada
The largest community within the Wellington County, a town nestled into the Grand River. From Guelph, 10 minute drive and a quick 5 minute drive to the well known Belwood Lake and Elora Quarry. From 1833 until 1999, Fergus was is own independent town before the the Wellington County was formed.
History of Fergus
The first people to settle here were freed slaves forming what was known as Pierpoint Settlement on granted land around what is now known as Scotland Street. The second people to settle into Fergus were Lawyers Adam Fergusson and James Webster who bought approximately 7000 acres of land and named is Little Falls. They chose this name due to the scenic water falls, ‘Little Falls’ located near what’s now the public library. Fergusson actually built the original bridge over the river in 1834 & founded the first ever curling club in Ontario back in 1834 which is still open to this day.
In 1855, James Wilson arrived, opening up many different kind of mills. Using the waterfall on the Grand River, the settlers mad a huge economy. Building solid stone houses, many factories, churches and other buildings which are still in use to this day.
Scottish settlers eventually purchased the land that the original settlers claimed. Around 1850 Fergus became only for the Scottish, during this time, another town was founded by Webster named Arthur. By 1858, the little village had a populations of 1,000 & was named Fergus in honour Adam Fergusson, one of the originals founders.
Elora | Ontario’s Most Beautiful Village
From 80 foot limestone cliffs, to historic buildings dating back to the 1800’s, making up the most beautiful village in Ontario.
History of Elora
This small town used to be called Irvine Settlement before it was renamed and ‘founded’ in 1832. In the mid/early 1600s, Roman Catholics missionaries visited the area the ‘christianize’ the indigenous people. In 1832, Captain William Gilkison purchased 14,000 acres of land on the east side of the Grand River to carry out his proposed settlement and renamed the town Elora after his his brother’s ship. He later passed away in April of 1833 but not without starting his proposed settlement. Gilkison established a sawmill on the Grand River as well as a general store in town.
On the west side of the the Grand River, Charles Allan and Andrew Geddes created their own site in town. By 1848, lots were being sold, the settlement plans were on a roll and Elora was a village by 1858. They eventually grew up the hill, making the two sides connect, creating what is known as Elora, today.
A ‘government-supported poorhouse’ that was ‘the shelter of last resort for the homeless and destitute, who traded spartan accommodations for domestic and agricultural labour.’
Opening in 1877 named the ‘House of Industry and Refuge’ with a hospital added on in 1892. The poorhouse housed around 1,500 ‘poor’ were housed in the 60 bed house over the years. The house was surrounded by a 30 acre farm with a barn for livestock that provided food to the ‘inmates’ and staff at the poorhouse. In 1947 the poorhouse was changed to the Wellington County Home for the Aged where they cared for the elderly and chronically ill. It ran as the WC Home for the Aged until 1971. It remained closed until 1975 when it was reopened as the Wellington County Museum and Archives. In 1995 it was changed to a designated National Historic Site of Canada.
More then 600 people died over the years. There is a cemetery on the property as well with plots for everyone who died there. If families or friends didn’t claim a body, then the remains are also held in the cemetery. It’s believed that the unclaimed poorhouse inmates now haunt the museum.
In 1982, Carole Davis, Psychic, was enlisted to investigate the museum. Her investigation concluded that they either tried to cleanse the building or preform some kind of ceremony there & that the grounds were definitely haunted.
With limestone cliffs descending down 80 feet into the Grand River with small caves, rapids and falls. The Elora Gorge is considered one of the most scenic areas within Souther Ontario. The Gorge is just 25km North from Guelph and a beautiful 10 minute drive from Fergus.
If you want to visit the Gorge, there is a conservation area there, part of the Grand River Conservation Authority GRCA, although they are not open during the winter season. They are open daily from May 1st through till October 15. The park has many activities to offers like fishing, tubing (with the purchase of a wristband), 3km of trails to hike, camping and a 2,174 square foot splash pad for the little ones to enjoy.
The park also offers group reservations at one of their two pavilions. The Kay Marston Pavilion can hold up too 200 people and a washroom on site & The Pines Pavilions that can only accommodate about 50 people and has no washroom on site.
A 2 acre swimming area with cliffs surrounding reaching up to 40 feet high. A man made, sandy beach makes perfect for the sun bathers while the strong swimmers can explore the entirety of the waters. Although swimmers are known to jump from the surrounding cliffs, it is strictly forbidden.
The Quarry is also part of the Grand River Conservation Authority GRCA, operating from the first Saturday in June until Labour Day. An added bonus, when you camp at the Elora Gorge, you receive free access to the Quarry with proof of admission to the Gorge.
If you’re not in the mood for a swim or basking in the sun, the Quarry also offers a picnic area as well as a 1km trail, looping at the top of the Quarry. They do however have a max capacity that’s enforced with a wrist band system. So get there before there all gone!
That’s all for today guys! I hope anyone who’s in Ontario, has a chance to check out these little hidden gems. Feel free to check me out on social media; Twitter |Instagram |Facebook |& Facebook Group – Malcolm’s Mommy