Fergus sits on the Grand River. It is near many natural settings such as the Elora Gorge and Conservation Area, and Belwood Lake. Fergus is a mostly residential community filled with streets lined with trees, many stone buildings, modern schools, and attractive parklands. It is laid out on a rectangular grid, with the Grand River flowing through the downtown heritage centre, its limestone riverbanks surrounding it.
The first non-Aboriginal settlers to this area were freed slaves who formed what was known as the Pierpoint Settlement, named after their leader, Richard Pierpoint, a United Empire Loyalist who had been taken from Bondou in what is now Senegal. Along with a half dozen other men who had also fought with the British during the American Revolutionary War, Pierpoint was granted land in Garafraxa Township somewhere around what is now Scotland Street in Fergus.
Another settlement was founded nearby in 1833 and was first called Little Falls because of the scenic (water) falls, now between the Public Library and the Fergus Market. The primary developers were Adam Fergusson and James Webster who had bought 28 km² (7000 acres) of land. After 1938, Scottish settlers purchased the land in what was previously Pierpoint Settlement. Because Fergusson, Webster and some other Scottish emigrants owned the land, only Scots could purchase village lots. However, in order to accommodate Irish settlers, Webster founded the town of Arthur (just north of Fergus) in 1840. By 1846 the settlement had 21 businesses. The population was 184 mostly of Scots. The community had a church and a post office and several tradesmen.
James Wilson arrived in 1855 and opened an oatmeal mill, then a flour mill, then a saw mill and then a woolen mill and a factory, Monkland Mills, that supplied oatmeal for export. They and other Scots living in the settlement established a booming economy using the waterfalls on the Grand River to power local industry. They built solid stone houses, factories and other buildings which still characterize Fergus. Many of the buildings from the 1800s are still in use today. In addition to Scots, the other settlers in this area were Irish or freed slaves from the U.S.
In 1858, the settlement, with a population of 1,000, was incorporated as a village called Fergus in honour one of its founders, Adam Fergusson.
- By car: From Guelph, Hwy 6 north to Fergus; from Hwy 6 north, Wellington Rd 7 to Elora; alternatively, Wellington Rd 18 Fergus-Elora.
- By taxi: $45-55 from Fergus (July 2018).
- Wellington County Museum & Archives, 536 Wellington Road 18 (between Fergus and Elora), ☏ . M-F 9:30AM-4:30PM, Sa Su 1-5PM. 12 galleries that tell the history of Wellington County, including a large textile collection. The museum building used to be the oldest House of Industry in Canada and is a National Historic Site. By donation.
- Fergus Grand Theatre, 244 St Andrew St W, ☏ . Hosts a wide variety of artistic, cultural, corporate, and charitable events.
- Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Held in August, the Highland Games features Scottish-themed competitions such as the caber toss.
- Belwood Lake Conservation Area, 8282 Wellington Rd 18, ☏ . A 12-kilometre-long reservoir created by the construction of Shand Dam in 1942. It offers excellent boating, fishing and water-skiing. A spring-fed quarry with a sandy beach for swimming. Open year round, with full service from May 1 to October 15. Open from dawn to dusk. Preschool (5 and under) free, child (6-14) $3, adult (15-64) $7, seniors (65+) and people with disabilities $5.50.
- The Bicycle Tailor, 170 Saint Andrew St E., ☏ . Tu-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM. Bicycle rentals, sales, service. Bicycle rental $50/day, $30/half-day (3 hours).
- Bentley House Fine Teas & Tea Room, 240 St Andrew St W, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-5PM. Over 200 varieties of tea, scones, cakes. Reservations are required for afternoon and high tea. Daily lunches $9.25, afternoon tea $28, high tea $24.
- My Kitchen by Gancena, 216 St Andrew St W, ☏ . W-Sa noon-3PM, W Th 5PM-9PM, F Sa 5PM-11PM. Fine dining with international influences.
- Underground Kitchen, 152 St Andrew St W, Unit 1, Menzies Lane, ☏ . M-F 11AM-7PM. Caribbean rotis, patties, jerk chicken.
- Brewhouse on the Grand, 170 St David St S, ☏ . Su–M 11:30AM–11PM, Tu–Sa 11:30AM–11AM. Local pub on the banks of the Grand River. Eighteen beers on tap. Traditional pub fare. Daily specials. Great wings. Bed and breakfast available.
- The Goofie Newfie, 105 Queen St W, ☏ . Daily from 11:30AM. Newfoundland-inspired pub with live entertainment every Friday and Saturday. 12 tap selections, frozen cocktails, martinis, burgers, wraps, Newfoundland specialties.
- Best Western Plus Fergus Hotel, 830 St David St N, ☏ , toll-free: . 100% smoke-free hotel, free hot breakfast, spa connected to hotel, gym, guest laundry, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, 4 rooms for the physically challenged. From $165.
- Maplecrest Farm, 6827 2nd Line, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Century-old stone house in the rolling hills of the Wellington Countyside on a 100-acre farm. 2 acres of gardens including a unique walled garden in the foundation of the old barn. Great room with a wood burning fireplace, vaulted ceilings, countryside views and television. $65-90.
- Riverwood, 6885 5th Line, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Air-conditioned country manor home on 12 acres of woods and surrounded by beautiful perennial gardens. All rooms have en suite baths and are on the main floor. Guests have a separate wing of the house. Single $125, double $135.