Fergus, Ont, urban area, population 19 126 (2011c), 18 349 (2006c). Fergus is a community located on the Grand River 22 km north of GUELPH. First incorporated as a village in 1858 and later as a town in 1952, it is now part of the township of Centre Wellington (inc 1999).
In 1831 Scottish lawyer Adam Fergusson came to Canada to explore colonization opportunities. He was impressed with the Fergus area and returned the next year with James Webster. Also accompanying them were 6 of Fergusson's 7 sons. They purchased 2956 ha of land and laid out the townsite. The community was originally called Little Falls, but the name was changed to Fergus in honour of Fergusson when the post office was opened in 1836.
Fergus has always served as a small industrial town. Its first industry was a grist mill which was built in 1835. The area was given an economic boost in 1870 when the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway was built, and in 1880 when the Credit Valley Railway passed through the town. The hospital was built in 1902, and Dr Abraham Graves, its founder, was the first man in North America to perform an appendectomy. Fergus was also the home of Patrick Bell, the inventor of the reaping machine.
Today, Fergus still has over 200 19th-century buildings. It is host to the annual Fergus Highland Games, begun in 1946. Held on the second Saturday in August, these are the largest HIGHLAND GAMES in North America. The Wellington County Museum is located between Fergus and ELORA in a building that was once the county's poorhouse. The building was designated as a national HISTORIC SITE in 1995. Templin Gardens, a public garden and rockery on the Grand River, is also a local attraction.