Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.
Adam Ferrie

Adam Ferrie[1, 2]

Male 1813 - 1848  (34 years)

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  • Name Adam Ferrie 
    Born 11 Dec 1813  Glasgow, , Lanark, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Occupation 1837  Preston (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    House constructed 1840  39 Doon Valley Dr., Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • 39 Doon Valley Drive is associated with three prominent citizens of Waterloo County. The first owner, the Honourable Adam Ferrie, was the founder of Doon Village. Samuel Snider, who purchased the property from Ferrie, owned the Blair Mill, as well as other mills that he and a partner operated in Bridgeport and Baden. Thomas Slee, one of the first trustees of the area, and the Doon Postmaster from 1867 to 1893, was the last significant owner of the property, purchasing it from Snider in 1878. In addition to its association with persons of historic significance, Doon Valley Drive (formerly Doon Village Road), was once an important linkage between the Village of Doon to Tow Town and Oregon (today Upper Doon).
      39 Doon Valley Drive is unique in its use of building materials and the methods of construction. This one-and-a-half-storey house combined granite, limestone, fieldstone and lime mortar in its construction. It retains many original, intact features, such as the stone chimney with cove moulding, and the single door with a transom, on the north façade.

      City of Kitchener Heritage Property Report, November 1990, Jean Haalboom; City of Kitchener By-law 91-142
    Died 5 Feb 1848  Preston (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Hall of Fame - Waterloo Region Bef 2012  , Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    House 1834 *built by Adam Ferrie  1754 Old Mill Rd., Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • The Homer Watson House is associated with both Doon Village's founding resident, Adam Ferrie and Homer Watson, a local artist of national and international acclaim. The Homer Watson House was first built and owned by Adam Ferrie who established the community's mill and gave the village the name 'Doon'. Ownership passed to Homer Watson in 1883. Watson's artistic ability is reflected in the studio he built in 1893, using stone from a local building. He also constructed a gallery in 1906. He left evidence of his skill on interior pieces such as the frieze, which covers the walls of the studio and anteroom.
    The house was constructed in 1835 by industrialist Adam Ferrie who designed a Scottish Gothic Style. Homer took possession of the house in 1884 a few years after renting it with his new bride Roxa. Homer so loved his home in Doon that he only left to travel, but always returned and stayed until his death in 1936. This rare painting by Homer’s sister Phoebe shows Homer’s wife, Roxa, and his mother in the kitchen. The kitchen was located in the basement of the house so that the heat would rise from the ovens and keep the room warm. The kitchen is one of the largest rooms in the house and is now used as a studio. Image: Phoebe Watson, untitled (In the Kitchen), c1890’s, oil on canvas, Homer Watson House Gallery
    Eby ID Number Waterloo-113715 
    Person ID I113715  Generations
    Last Modified 4 Nov 2019 

    Father Honourable Adam Ferrie,   b. 15 Apr 1777, Irvine, , Ayr, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Dec 1863, Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years) 
    Mother Rachel Campbell,   b. 1787, , Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Dec 1868, Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Family ID F32444  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Jane Slipper,   b. 1817, , Surrey, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 Sep 1891, Galt (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years) 
     1. James Ferrie,   b. CALC 13 Jan 1843, Preston (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Aug 1852, , Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 9 years)
     2. William Ferrie,   b. 9 Jul 1844,   d. 22 Aug 1845  (Age 1 years)
     3. Rachel Ferrie,   b. 2 Jun 1848, Preston (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Mar 1881, Montreal, Ile De Montreal, Quebec Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 32 years)
    Last Modified 5 Nov 2019 
    Family ID F33325  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos

  • Notes 
    • Adam Ferrie, Jr., the founder of Doon, was the first officially appointed postmaster in Preston, receiving the appointment on February 6, 1837. The post office was situated at the corner of King and Lowther Streets, where the Henning store was located. Emphasizing changing conditions through the years is the fact that when Ferrie was postmaster the office was open until 11: 00 p.m. and no holidays were permitted to the staff.

      Ferrie had ambitions to build mills and become an industrialist. In 1834, unable to obtain a site on the Grand River in Preston, he purchased 300 acres on which he erected a grist mill, sawmill and distillery. This developed into the community of Doon.

      The 1839 Doon Mills operated under the name of Adam Ferrie and Company until taken over by his brother Robert. Adam Ferrie, Jr., died in the prime of life at the age of thirty-six.

      Waterloo Region Hall of Fame


      The Village of Preston was named, however, not by the Pennsylvania Germans, nor by the European Germans, but by an Englishman, William Scollick, the first surveyor, who named it after his native place. Among the earliest storekeepers were Adam Ferrie, Jr., son of the Hon. Adam Ferrie, of Montreal

      First Annual Report of the Waterloo Historical Society pg. 11


      Ferrie, ADAM, businessman; b. 11 Dec. 1813 in Glasgow, fifth child of Adam Ferrie* and Rachel Campbell; m. Jane Kinsey, and they had two sons and a daughter; d. 5 Feb. 1849 in Preston (Cambridge), Upper Canada.

      Adam Ferrie was born into a family long engaged in commerce. In 1824 his father, a successful Glasgow merchant, established an importing and general merchandising business in Montreal as a branch of his Scottish enterprise and in an attempt to stake out a future for his sons. Five years later Ferrie Sr moved to Montreal with his family to take control of the business. The following year, as part of a major expansion, two sons, Colin Campbell* and Adam, both of whom had worked in other branches of their father's business, established a wholesale and retail store in Hamilton, Upper Canada. Branch stores, superintended by resident partners, were soon set up in five promising locations in Hamilton's hinterland: Brantford, Dundas, Nelson (Burlington), Preston, and Waterloo.

      In partnership with Thomas H. Mackenzie, Adam had opened the Preston branch in 1832 under the name Adam Ferrie Jr and Company. In addition to running a general merchandising and forwarding business, the firm owned a tavern, barn, and blacksmith shop. The Ferries had also intended to build a grist-mill at Preston, but were unable to obtain the necessary water-rights. Instead, in 1834 Adam purchased for the family business a 300-acre farm and sawmill about four miles from Preston on the Grand River; an adjoining 280 acres were subsequently obtained. On this property he constructed an integrated milling complex, which he named Doon Mills (Kitchener), comprising a grist-mill, sawmill, distillery, tavern, granary, cooperage, and workmen's dwellings.

      Doon Mills was an impressive and expensive operation. Ferrie, who from his youth had an interest in mechanics, designed the grist-mill on a grand scale. Its masonry construction and huge stone dam contrasted with the modest wooden mills typical of rural Upper Canadian villages. Despite the proportions of the dam, it proved unsound and burst in 1840, carrying away the distillery and other buildings. Additional expenses were incurred in reconstruction. Moreover, the new distillery proved a problem since, for some reason, it did not operate efficiently. Doon Mills was substantial, but it was a poor investment. When Robert Ferrie took over management in 1847 from his brother Adam, then ailing, he explained to their father that "too much money has been laid out up here, so as to make a profitable investment," and the complex did represent a considerable cost. The buildings were insured for £6,250, an under-valuation in Robert's opinion.

      The investment at Doon was jeopardized by problems in other branches of the family business. During the early 1840s in Hamilton, Colin Ferrie and Company had encountered severe financial difficulties. In the settlement of its affairs, operating capital was diverted from Doon Mills and Adam complained to Robert that for lack of cash he feared being "forced out of the market." As well, over the next few years Colin borrowed money from Adam. These loans remained unpaid in 1847, making it difficult for Robert to balance accounts.

      Adam was himself partly responsible for the problems at Doon Mills. He was not an "office man." He preferred superintending the daily operations of the complex and enjoyed dealing with customers personally, partaking of the social intercourse at the general store and post office which had been added to the complex. In consequence, according to Robert in 1847, the Doon accounts were poorly kept. Consisting mainly of single-entry bookkeeping and memoranda, they defied easy scrutiny.

      Personal conflict and tension between Adam and his father put severe strain on the family business. The elder Ferrie had not approved of his son's choice of a wife and had opposed their wedding. Matters were brought to a head in 1847 by Adam Jr's deteriorating health. Suffering from tuberculosis, he feared death and the consequences of his hostile family's refusal to acknowledge or support his wife and two surviving children. To protect them, he changed his will in 1847, bequeathing to them Doon Mills and the Preston property, all of which, although in his name, was legally held for the family. He also gave his son, James, his interest in the family business. The family was furious, especially Robert, who, though managing Doon Mills, was not himself a partner in the family business. For more than a year, as Adam's health worsened, his father and brothers demanded that he relinquish title to his branch. In July 1848 his mother arrived in Preston to negotiate a settlement. Adam agreed to change his will and sign over the property; in return his father granted him and his family an annuity and altered his own will to provide for Adam's children. In his remaining months, Adam was forced to borrow money from friends and to beg his family for funds to pay his bills. He died in Preston on 5 Feb. 1849 and was buried in the Galt cemetery. Operations at Doon Mills were continued by Robert.

      The career of Adam Ferrie illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of the family as a form of business organization. Family ties permitted both the extension of mercantile enterprise over long distances and the diversion of family finances to branches most in need. However, successful operation depended upon amicable relations, which could be disrupted by matters not directly pertaining to business.
      David G. Burley

      GRO (Edinburgh), Glasgow, reg. of births and baptisms, December 1813. HPL, Arch. file, Ferrie family papers. Adam Ferrie, Autobiography, late Hon. Adam Ferrie (n.p., n.d.; copy at MTRL). British Colonist, 20 Feb. 1849. C. S. Bean, "History of Doon," Waterloo Hist. Soc., Annual report (Kitchener, Ont.), 1941: 164-72. J. F. Cowan, "Extending commercial interests and public services (a brief study of the Adam Ferrie & Co. in Waterloo County, 1832-60)," Waterloo Hist. Soc., Annual report, 1953: 19-28.

      Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online 2000 University of Toronto/Université Laval


      Among the most prominent settlers who came here about 1832 were Adam Ferrie, Jr., and Samuel Liebschuetz; the former a Scotchman and youngest son of the Hon. Adam Ferrie, of Montreal, then head of a large wholesale house; the latter was a shrewd German Jew. Both started a store here and both did a thriving business. Mr. Adam Ferrie, Junior, commenced in the dwelling house of Jacob Roos, cooper, but soon built a new store and a large warehouse, at present owned by our worthy ex-Reeve Mr. William Schlueter, who converted the warehouse into that well known establishment called "Business Corner," Mr. Liebschuetz erected the store now owned and occupied by Mr. Uttick the tobacconist. Mr. Liebschuetz's business increasing rapidly, he built another store combined with a tavern; but not finding sufficient room in Preston for his energies and ambition, he traded his property in Preston against a mill property, now known as German Mills, but for many years known as Jewsburg, so named after its founder who was a Jew. This was the first grist-mill that was bought and enlarged with money earned in Preston. Liebschuetz by reason of some criminal act, as was supposed, fled the country and never returned.

      Adam Ferrie, junior, who had taken in Thomas H. McKenzie as a partner, did a very thriving business. Possessed of a liberal education, he was one of the most honorable and straightforward of business men, always ready to aid in improvements. He desired to enlarge his business by the erection of a grist-mill and for that purpose endeavored to procure the water privilege and lands near the Grand River, them owned by Mr. John Erb, junior; but all at tempts to procure this land, though it was lying waste and remains a waste to the present day, proved futile. The means at the disposal of Mr. Adam Ferrie were considerable, while his father, who at that time was wealthy, encouraged the plans of his son, who upon seeing that he could neither with money nor persuasion procure lands in Preston, looked elsewhere for the investment of the funds at his disposal. He selected an old saw-mill with a good water power about four miles from Preston; purchased the same, sold out his Preston store to Thomas H. McKenzie and left Preston, to the great regret of all reflecting men. The place he selected for his investments he named Doon. Here he built a substantial dam, a large grist-mill, saw-mill, distillery, store, dwelling house, tavern and a number of small dwellings for the men in his employ. Thus out of a wilderness he made a thriving village. This was the second grist-mill built with money at least partly earned in Preston. But unfortunately family difficulties obliged Adam Ferrie to leave Doon and to let his elder brother manage its affairs. The old stern father had decided upon the change and poor Adam, the younger, had to obey. He left Doon broken hearted, and among his last words were heard the expression: "My brother will not be able to manage that business, it will go to ruin. My father has greatly wronged me, but I have obeyed him to the last." He soon died of a broken heart, a premature death; the Doon property became involved, and the Ferrie Estate lost it. Young Adam's prophecy became fulfilled.

      Fifth Annual Report Of The Waterloo Historical Society, 1917 pg 26


      FERRIE - Died at Preston, on the 5th instant, after a lingering illness, which he bore with exemplary patience, Adam Ferrie, jun., Esq., second son of the Hon. Adam Ferrie.

      Hamilton Spectator 17 Feb 1849

  • Sources 
    1. [S270] Census - ON, Waterloo, Preston - 1852, Pg 5.

    2. [S1338] News - ON, Waterloo, Cambridge - Galt Reporter (1846-1973), Obituary of Rachel Ferrie - Patterson - Apr 1 1881 pg 8.

    3. [S570] Census - ON, Waterloo, Galt - 1871, Div. 3, Pg. 3.

    4. [S220] Waterloo Region Hall of Fame Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 11 Dec 1813 - Glasgow, , Lanark, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - Postmaster - 1837 - Preston (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsHouse - constructed 1840 - 39 Doon Valley Dr., Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 5 Feb 1848 - Preston (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsHall of Fame - Waterloo Region - Bef 2012 - , Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsHouse - 1834 *built by Adam Ferrie - 1754 Old Mill Rd., Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth