Ferguson’s Falls Never Had Any Falls

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Perth Courier, August 10, 1934

 

Ferguson’s Falls in Drummond Township is a beautiful little hamlet which has seen better days.  At the present time the village is trying to achieve a reputation as a summer resort and a fishing center and is succeeding well.

But there was a time back in the ‘1860’s when the Fall boasted a saw mill, grist mill, tannery and other enterprises and looked forward to finding a place on the map.  Two mills were operated by water power which was provided by a dam across the Mississippi.  By the way, we omitted to mention that Ferguson’s Falls is located on the Mississippi.

Just how the place got its name of “Falls” is hard to understand as there never was a natural waterfall there.  There was always a rapids but the drop in the river was never according to old inhabitants, sufficient to be honored by the name of “Falls”.

About 1850 Robert Blair built a dam across the river and thus created the artificial “Falls” on the north bank of the stream and he built a saw mill and on the south bank a grist mill.

Blair’s dam in high water flooded the low lands up the river and the farmers naturally objected.

 

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1106 Ferguson Falls Road, Ferguson Falls– Photo from One Room Schoolhouses

 

In the 70’s fire visited one mill after another.  Then the farmers above the dam got busy and induced the government to prevent Mr. Blair from rebuilding.  Soon afterwards the government removed the dam and now the waters of the river have free flow.

The site of Ferguson’s Falls appears to have originally been owned by one Captain Ferguson a disbanded military officer who received his grant in the 20’s of last century from the Perth Military Government Office.

Ferguson’s Falls is on the highway between Perth and Renfrew and other points.  The road between the Falls and Perth is a distance of 13 miles and was originally a “forced” road.

Local tradition has a story of seven Irishmen, all young men, who in the early part of the last century came from the St. Lawrence to Perth by the existing road and then hewed the trail through the unbroken forest to the district just northwest of what is now Ferguson’s Falls.  These seven young Irishmen are said to have been the first settlers between Perth and McNab’s settlement around White Lake.

Thomas Hollinger, who tells about these seven pioneer Irishmen, recalls the names of four of them as Quinn, Carberry, Hartney and Neville.  Descendents of these men are still in this locality.

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Ferguson Falls Rd, Lanark, Ontario

 

At one time, Ferguson’s Falls boasted three hotels and a post office which was kept by Robert Hicks.  Today there is no post office at the Falls.  To reach a resident of the Falls by mail, one addresses him or her at RR#1, Lanark.

The Falls today has a small saw mill but it is not operated by water power.  It is run by Louis Bedard.

Among the present residents of Ferguson’s Falls are Mrs. Gray, a widow; William McCaffery a retired harness maker; Alexander Sheppard who runs a general store and blacksmith shop; William Dickinson who runs a hotel; Charles Hollinger, auctioneer and drover; Tom Command, trapper; Thomas Hollinger, farmer and owner of a number of summer cottages; Louis Bedard who has a saw mill.

The Falls boasts a fine cement county bridge. The marshy portion of the river just above the Falls has always produced a large crop of muskrats.  They are still plentiful.

 

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Back in the ‘60’s, the Mississippi River was the scene of a sad drowning.  Miss Kitty Filleter or Filieter, was drowned just east of the village.  The boat upset while she was fishing.  She and her brother, a bachelor, had lived together not far from the village.

In the ‘60’s a lot of pork was packed at Ferguson’s Falls for use in the shanties.  Charles Hollinger, grandfather of Thomas and Charles Hollinger, had an inspection office at the Falls and the pork had to be passed by him for quality before it could be sent into the surrounding shanties.  Mr. Hollinger also kept a hotel.

In the ‘60’s and ‘70’s the road between Perth and Ferguson’s Falls and Renfrew was still little more than a trail.  Today it is a road to travel by car.

Ferguson’s Falls is one of the most picturesque little spots in eastern Ontario.

 

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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