This website is one year of the sixteen-year farm diary of John Ferguson who lived from 1851 to 1931. The original diary is a series of pocket calendars each page filled side to side with tiny, spidery handwriting. Microfilm copies of it are available at the Archives of Ontario and the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA). I have transcribed the 1873 entries because the names and places can be easily cross-referenced with the 1873 Directory of Peel County and the 1877 Historical Atlas of Peel County.
Ferguson took over the management of his father’s farm as a young man in 1868. The property, through which the Etobicoke Creek ran, was located between Hurontario Street and Connestoga Drive north of Wexford Road in what is now one of the most intensively used sections of Brampton’s Etobicoke Creek Trail. Few signs of the past rural landscape remain but the series of Heritage Brampton cemeteries near the trail hold the tombstones of many of the individuals that made up his family and community.
Through documenting the life of his farm as well as the calendar of social and religious activities, Ferguson captured an in-depth view of Brampton just after Confederation. The agricultural methods he outlines in detail including crop rotation, intensive fertilizing with manure, cover-cropping and pasturing animals to replenish the soil, have been embraced by ecological farmers.
The diary is annotated with online archival material from the era and illustrated with the photographs of Reuben R. Sallows of Goderich, Ontario. For those interested in putting faces to the names mentioned in the diary, PAMA’s Brampton Portrait Studio Collection holds photographs of the many personalities that made up the rich tapestry of Victorian Brampton.
Brampton Farmer’s Diary is dedicated to Brian Gilchrist, long-time archivist and raconteur of Peel area history, who died last May. Through our conversations he made me see how Methodism was the organizing force in the life of someone like John Ferguson.
My name is Teresa Casas and you can read my blog on my Wychwood Barns farmers’ market pop-up history exhibits here: http://backtothepark.wordpress.com/
I welcome feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org