Homer Watson History & Archives

Local History: Notable Neighbours

Pennsylvanian Mennonites and Scottish settlers came to the area of Doon in the early 19th century, named after the Scottish Loch Doon by the Ferrie family. By Homer Watson’s time, the small village had established itself with mills, distilleries, and various other artisan industries. Besides the Watsons, many other interesting individuals called Doon their home and contributed to the rich local history of the area.

Frederick Beck

Frederick “Fred” Beck immigrated from Germany to Doon with his parents in 1820. The family lived in a small frame house near the Red Lion Inn, a building which still stands at 37 Pinnacle Drive in Kitchener, Ontario. Called at one time “the father of Doon”, Beck established one of the earliest sawmills in the village as well as working in several other industries. Over the course of his life he was an oatmeal vendor, goat farmer, dog breeder, and watch dealer. [1]

Daniel Bechtel Detweiler

Daniel Bechtel Detweiler is considered one of the three “fathers of hydroin Ontario, most known for his work with the Western Ontario Power Commission.  Detweiler was an advocate for the public distribution of hydroelectric power as well as the development of municipal power-works.[2] Aside from the hydro-electric industry, Detweiler also worked for a Berlin (now Kitchener) button manufacturer, the Oberholtzer Shoe Co., and was the first president of the Great Waterways Union of Canada.[3]

Detweiler was furthermore a friend of Homer Watson and a contributing member to the Grand River Park Company, which was established to preserve Cressman’s Woods. When Detweiler passed away in 1919, Homer later tried to contact him through a séance.[4]

A spirit card is an alleged communication from the spirit of deceased person written by a medium. In this spirit card from the “spirit” of Detweiler to Homer Watson, he relays that he is “still concerned with the Park scheme” – referring to Cressman’s Woods. HWHG Permanent Collection.
A spirit card is an alleged communication from the spirit of deceased person written by a medium. In this spirit card from the “spirit” of Detweiler to Homer Watson, he relays that he is “still concerned with the Park scheme” – referring to Cressman’s Woods. HWHG Permanent Collection.

Robert Ferrie

Robert Ferrie was a resident of Doon and donated land to the construction of Doon Presbyterian Church in 1854. He was originally born in Scotland but then immigrated to the Waterloo Region. He worked as a miller and merchant who eventually took over the Doon Mills Company after the death of his brother. He also established a post office in Doon and served as the Postmaster.[5]

Adam Ferrie

Adam Ferrie was born in Glasgow, Scotland and immigrated to Preston (modern day Cambridge) in 1837. He was appointed postmaster in Preston and then went on to become the founder of Doon. He established the Doon Mill which gave the village its name. He also built the house that Homer Watson would later purchase and turn into an art gallery. He died in the prime of his life at age 36.[6]

Jacob S. Roos


Jacob S. Ross was born and raised in the town of Preston (modern day Cambridge). He worked as a shoemaker for most of his life. His store was known around town and was said to have been maintained at a high standard of excellence. His shop was filled with everything from ladies finest to the men’s and boy’s. Jacob Roos thoroughly understood the shoe business and made sure his community was provided for.[7]

Robert Strang


Robert Strang was born in Doon on July 1st, 1868. He worked as an insurance agent and eventually moved to Winnipeg where he lived out the rest of his life.[8]

John Tilt

John Tilt b. 19 Jul 1831 Capel, , Surrey, England d. 30 Jul 1915 Doon (Kitchener), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada: Waterloo Region Generations (regionofwaterloo.ca)

John Tilt immigrated to Doon from Surry, England. He worked as a brickmaker who owned his own business. We dealt specifically with bricks and drain tile as well as being a dealer/manufacturer of lumber and lath.[9]

David Cole

David Cole b. 29 May 1844 Waterford, Townsend Twp., Norfolk Co., Ontario d. 30 Sep 1921 St. Catharines, Welland, Ontario, Canada: Waterloo Region Generations (regionofwaterloo.ca)

David Cole was the co-owner of Watson Woollen Mill. His house is now a heritage property. It was built in 1894 and some of the most prominent features include a bay window and a small porch.  He worked as a laborer, Clothier, and manufacturer.[10]

Heman Cole

Heman Cole b. 5 May 1840 Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada d. 13 Oct 1928: Waterloo Region Generations (regionofwaterloo.ca)

Heman Cole was the co-owner of Watson Woolen Mill; he was also Homer Watson’s cousin. He ran New Hamburg Brick and Tile Factory. He sold bricks to Homer Watson for the extension of the gallery onto his house. The price was two paintings. Herman’s house is also a heritage property today that includes classical Italianate features.[11]

Perine Brothers

Moses Billings Perine b. 5 Feb 1815 Jackson, Washington, New York, United States d. 23 Apr 1898 Doon (Kitchener), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada: Waterloo Region Generations (regionofwaterloo.ca)

Joseph Southworth Perine, Esq b. CALC 3 Oct 1820 Jackson, Washington, New York, United States d. 26 Jul 1880 Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada: Waterloo Region Generations (regionofwaterloo.ca)

William Danforth Perine b. 20 May 1826 Salem, Washington, New York, United States d. 16 Aug 1895 Oakland, Alameda, California, USA: Waterloo Region Generations (regionofwaterloo.ca)

Moses, Joseph, and William Perine were the founders of the Doon Twines Company. Originally from New York, they immigrated to Doon in 1864. Once they had arrived, they encouraged local farmers to grow flax so they could produce twine. They built a flax mill and a sawmill in Doon where they carried out their business.

Moses Perine commissioned Homer Watson to paint a portrait of his mother, Hannah Billings Perine, when the artist was around 18 years old.[12]

[1] “The Father of Doon”, Waterloo County Chronicle, 17 Mar 1898
[2] Daniel B. Detweiler Fonds, MG30-A7, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
[3] Ibid.
[4] Spirit Card from Daniel Bechtel Detweiler to Homer Watson, Undated, Homer Watson House & Gallery Archives, Kitchener
[5]  Ibid
[6] Ibid
[7]  Waterloo County Chronicle 8 Nov 1894, p. 1
[8]  1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy. Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics. A History of Manitoba: Is Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company 1906. Goldsborough, G. (2019). Memorable Manitobans: Robert Strang (1868-1906) mhs.mb.ca retrieved 9 June 2019 from https://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/strang_r.shtml
[9] County of Oxford RG2 Serious 4 Clerk Subseries A Petitions
[10] Census – ON, Waterloo, New Hamburg – 1871, Page 23. Census – ON, Waterloo, Waterloo South – 1881, Waterloo S. Twp. 1881 Div 3 Page 35. Census – ON, Waterloo, Waterloo Twp – 1861 (South Division), Div. 2 Page 11.
[11] Illustrated Atlas of the County of Waterloo, H. Parsel & Co., Toronto – 1881 (village of New Hamburg entries)
[12] Excerpts from “The Perine Flax and Lumber Mills in Ontario, 1854 – 1871,” by Josua D. MacFadyen, Waterloo Historical Society Volume 93 – 2005, pp. 51-75. The Bay of San Francisco, Vol. 1, pages 670-672, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

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