Nestled in Southwestern Ontario, Doon Village is a community with great history. Dating all the way back to the year 1800, when the land was originally purchased from John Biehn Sr. He bought 3,600 acres from Richard Beasley where he later set up a sawmill. Doon continued to steadily grow until the 1830s when, thanks to the Ferrie family, the small community began to thrive.
They established many important businesses of the time, which back then consisted of services such as a distillery, a saw mill, a barrel maker, a tavern, a general store, a blacksmith and a kiln. This list also includes the focal point of my story; Doon Mills. The mill produced flour, barley and oatmeal for the community. It was also during the 1830s when Adam Ferrie Jr. named the community, which at the time was known only as Doon.
Doon was the birthplace of many notable figures, so memorable that we recognise them even today in various landmarks around the region. Including Homer Watson, the “Canadian Constable;” a self-taught painter that devoted his life to creating beautiful landscapes around Doon in a variety of realistic and romantic styles. Queen Victoria bought one of his works; The Pioneer Mill in 1880, which can still be viewed in private quarters at Windsor Castle.
A photo of the painting by The Record
Likely the second most memorable, Moses Springer was an Ontario businessman and political figure. He represented Waterloo North in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1867-1881. He was also the first Mayor of Waterloo.
With its rich history, it is not surprising that Doon still lives on today under the name of Doon Village. But just as it was back in the day, despite being a popular destination, Doon was never recognized as an official village. Today, it has been nearly erased by the quickly growing communities of Kitchener and Waterloo.
We as the community today continue to keep the village alive by partaking in various events at the landmarks created in its honour. The Homer Watson House and Gallery is a popular art museum that offers classes, the Moses Springer Community Centre that houses the region’s largest outdoor swimming pool, and the many streets named after the founding fathers around the city. If you want to catch a glimpse of what life was like in those times, a visit to Doon Heritage Village is in order. The Village is a living museum that replicates exactly what Doon was like in 1914.
Engine 894, part of the Heritage Village, which primarily saw service in Northern Ontario hauling freight. It was built for Canadian Pacific Railway at their train works in Winnipeg in 1911
The remains of the mill that was once the heart of this remarkable community has ironically become an escape from the hectic city life. In addition to being a popular destination for wedding photographers, many local residents make use of its scenic trail along the Grand River to destress from daily life.
“You forget you’re in the city limits here,” said Sara Hernandez, a Proctor at Conestoga College Doon Campus.
The couple was visiting the trail to go fishing together. They said the Old Mill trail is their favourite one in the area, although they usually fish on the other side of the river. They haven’t been able to lately because of all the construction in the city. Lee Sanderson also said that he hopes nothing changes about the trail with so much construction happening. “Don’t modernise it,” he said.
This picturesque community has come full circle. From the beginning of a new community to bringing the community together. What was once a place to build and grow your business has now become a place to unwind and relax.
Another photo by me, just highlighting the beauty of the Grand River Trail. A family of ducks is relaxing in the water.