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Hidden architectural treasures of Cambridge

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Local History, Community Voice

  • The Black Bridge Road Bridge. Photo credit: Region of Waterloo
    The Black Bridge Road Bridge. Photo credit: Region of Waterloo
  • Black Bridge Road Bridge. Photo credit:  Kayla Jonas, 2007.
    Black Bridge Road Bridge. Photo credit: Kayla Jonas, 2007.
  • Façade, Duncan Ferguson Homestead, April 2014. Photo credit: Andrew Foster
    Façade, Duncan Ferguson Homestead, April 2014. Photo credit: Andrew Foster

Linda F. | April 1, 2014

Surely spring will come soon, with warm weather that makes you want to be outside and doing some exploring. Even if you haven’t got time to travel far, there are still places to discover, right at home. Here are three suggestions for buildings and structures to be found in out-of-the-way places that might intrigue you.

My first suggestion is the Sheave Tower, located at 90 Old Mill Road in Blair. It was built in 1876 by the local miller, Allan Bowman, in an ingenious design to use the same water twice from Bowman Creek, using a water turbine in the tower and a steel cable that connected the tower to the mill. The mill burned in 1929, and the ruins became the subject of artists more than any other structure in this part of Ontario. The tower was restored in 1962, and more recently in 1999. There is no longer any machinery in the wooden tower, but the setting is still as beautiful as ever, and artists still come to paint it.

The second structure is the Black Bridge on Black Bridge Road. This steel bridge was built in 1916 to replace a wooden bridge over the Speed River on the road to Guelph. The bridge is a truss bridge with riveted joints, and there are few of this type of bridge left in Waterloo Region. The bridge was renovated in 1988, but because of development in this area, the single lane road bridge may be demolished. See it in the lovely surroundings of the Speed River while you can and bring your fishing rod.

The third building is an old stone farm house, the Duncan Ferguson homestead, now occupied by the Fiddlesticks Community Centre, at 71 Cowan Boulevard. Ferguson was an early settler in the area who became the first Deputy Reeve of North Dumfries in 1852 and was Reeve in 1854 and 1855. He was also a farmer, carpenter, teacher, and involved with the founding of Mill Creek School. This fieldstone house, built about 1856, replaces the original log house that Ferguson built in 1829. Unfortunately, the wooden barns located near these houses did not survive: many became victims of lightning strikes or were torn down to make way for new houses.

Ferguson’s home is one of many farmhouses unobtrusively and almost invisibly tucked into subdivisions where they may still be found.

Discover more historic architectural sites with Waterloo Region’s newly published Historic Countryside Tours.