This story starts when two brothers, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Campbell
and Major David Campbell, arrived here shortly after 1831 to claim their
well-deserved land grants from the British Navy.
Their property included the future town site and Ferris Park. Early
settlers would “ford” the Trent River on the brothers' property,
a short distance north of Ranney Falls.
known as Campbell’s Ford - now Campbellford. In 1836 Robert died,
leaving his portion to David.
then sold his holdings to James Cockburn and Nesbitt Kirchoffer; the latter
subsequently, in 1871, sold his section next to the river to Nathan Grills
(1822 -1891) and his wife Elisabeth (Saunders, 1831- 1918). The parcel on
which you are now standing, transferred in 1887, to their son Richard and
his wife Harriet (Hooper, 1843-1921) and later to the youngest of their
three children, George W. Grills.
George and his wife Sarah Ann (Muffatt) lived and farmed here with their
four sons until 1926. Three years later, the vacant two-story cabin burned
to the ground, leaving the footprint you see today, overgrown with apple
trees, rhubarb and lilacs.
out buildings were located at the base of the hill near the sheepwash.
The property was then sold to William Scott in 1934 for pasture until
the province bought it in 1968.
The loose stone foundation is the sole remaining evidence of the three
generations of Grills who once farmed here and is testament to their many
descendants still in the vicinity.
Take a walk back in time by following the original road allowance which
identified the north property line. This trail now links Bedrock site
#99 and Valleyview site #40. On top of the drumlin, a short distance south
of the Comfort Station, there was a gate and a chute that was once used
for loading cattle.
Prepared by Friends of Ferris and approved by William
Theodore Grills - 2015
The land in Ferris Park is steeped in history. Part of that history includes
a small unobtrusive stone foundation which is witness to five generations
of a family that once lived, worked and played here. This is their story.
In 1831 the dense forest of Seymour Township was cleared along the banks
of the Trent River where lumbermen pitched their tents and only a few
settlers dared to penetrate inland to farm. More settlers arrived, particularly
a number of half-pay military officers claiming their land grants, one
of whom was Lieutenant Commander Robert Cock (Retired) Royal Navy, a veteran
of the Napoleonic Wars.
Robert was born in Inverkeithing, Scotland in 1789. When his father joined
the navy in 1796, Robert joined too as a first-class volunteer on board
the 36-gun ship, the THALLA. He was six years old! At the age of twelve
he rose to become midshipman, served at home and in the Mediterranean
as Master’s Mate. Approaching his 16th birthday he was midshipman
on board the THUNDERER at the Battle of Trafalgar. After the battle he
was sent with a seasoned boatswain to take charge of a French “Prize”
ship but they became lost in the fog and landed off the coast of Spain.
Robert received two medals for his actions in the Battle of Trafalgar,
one at the time and one 43 years later. He became 1st Lieutenant at the
age of 21, having survived the forcing of the Dardanelles, Guadeloupe
and Alexandria. When the wars ended he returned to Inverkeithing where
he met and married Elizabeth Greig Currie. He joined the Merchant Marine
and again went to sea. After a few voyages, a ship wreck and a short period
spent as ferry master on the Firth of Forth, his zest for adventure dampened.
Also, considering Elizabeth’s wish that their sons avoid a career
at sea, he decided to take up his land grant in Canada.
In 1834 he came to Seymour and chose his property. In good faith he left
money to have a cabin built and returned to Scotland. Two hundred of his
four hundred acre land grant now forms the north eastern section of Ferris
Provincial Park. This particular property was chosen by Robert because
the rolling hills reminded him of Scotland. When Elizabeth, Robert and
their five children, (the youngest under a year) arrived in Seymour Township
in the late fall of 1835, there was no cabin! They spent their first winter
in a converted shed belonging to a fellow naval officer.
In the spring of 1836 their cabin was built on a stone foundation. Three
more children were born here and this cabin was home to all of them. Surrounded
by lilacs, the remains of this stone foundation still exist on a sheltered
slope near a creek. After Robert’s death in 1855, Elizabeth sold
the homestead (most of which is now parkland) to their eldest son Robert
for five shillings. This Robert, his wife Mary Little and their 11 children
also called this cabin home. Later they built a brick house, a barn and
outbuildings north and west of the present park office. A brick yard,
operated by their son Lewis was opened on the outskirts of town in 1887.
After Robert’s death all of his properties were divided amongst
Their son William, who remained on the home farm, and his wife, Jessie
McKelvie, became the next owners.
They had two daughters, Margaret and Ella. Their farm house was destroyed
by fire and a smaller home was built on the old foundation.
William and Jessie operated a mixed farm where cattle, pigs, sheep, horses
and poultry were raised. Crops of grain, corn, and hay were harvested.
In early spring trees were tapped and maple syrup was sold. Neighbours
helped each other by exchanging work at threshing, silo filling, wood
cutting, and barn building “bees”. Women worked extremely
hard preparing huge meals to feed the hungry men on these occasions (sometimes
12 or more at both dinner and supper).
Often farm wives worked right along with the men helping with chores, milking
and other tasks. Children did their share of the work as well -- gathering
eggs, feeding hens, going for the cows, piling wood and other farm chores.
As with most farm families of that era, they were more or less self sufficient;
their large gardens and orchards provided the family with fresh fruit and
vegetables. Summer and fall were busy seasons for the entire family. By
late fall, apples, potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips were stored in
the root cellar. The shelves were lined with crocks of pickles, jars of
jams, jellies, canned vegetables, fruit and meat. In the barn, the mows
were piled to the rafters with hay and straw and the granaries and silo
full to capacity.
Ella married Allan Curle and Margaret married Oscar Rannie. After William’s
death the farm was sold to Margaret and Oscar and they too operated a mixed
farm similar to that of the previous generation. A new barn was built, the
house and outbuildings were modernized and a number of other improvements
This was a working farm until 1969 when the Province of Ontario purchased
all of this property except the house and a few acres surrounding it. Oscar
and Margaret’s four children were the fifth generation to live, work
and play on this scenic farm.
Prepared by descendants and Friends of Ferris June 2015
I just heard about the Memory Book you will be putting together.
I then started to think about a few events my friends
and I put on a few
years ago.... for about 4 summers.
The "Teddy Bears Picnics". We would go into
the Santa Claus parade every
year to hand out flyer inviting everyone to come "Ferris Park"
summer for the "Teddy Bears Picnic".
One year we had a large Mounties Police Bear, another year "Smokey
Bear", then "Nautical Bears" also in 1999 a wonderful wedding
bear Alexandra and Scout, the bear from the "Cottage Country"
Many years ago when I was chair person for "Friends
of Ferris" we did do
a wonderful "Bat Day" where children and adults made bat houses.
Also it was great fun for a few years in September when we put on a
large yard sale. It was well attended.
Later I move down south for a few years and was no longer
But, for many years I really enjoyed my time in Ferris Park.
Copyright Ferris Provincial Park Campbellford ON Canada
with the site? Contact the webmaster