Pierpoint reserve designated cultural heritage landscape

ELORA – Council here voted on April 11 to add the Pierpoint Fly Fishing Nature Reserve to Centre Wellington’s Cultural Heritage Landscape inventory and the township’s Cultural Heritage Landscapes official plan amendment project.

The township will also start a working group to figure out how to commemorate the site. And it will pursue having the property designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The township had identified 18 cultural heritage landscapes (CHLs) and in 2021, council of the day formally approved further work to include the CHLs in an official plan amendment.

“The Pierpoint settlement area was not initially recommended for inclusion as a significant CHL due to insufficient information to meet the prescribed criteria,” reads a report by senior planner Mariana Iglesias.

“However, its cultural and historic significance was not disputed. So further research was warranted and directed by council.”

Richard Pierpoint was born in 1744 in the Bundu region of what is now Senegal.

He was captured in 1760, enslaved, brought to North America, and bought by a British officer. 

He fought for the British in the American Revolutionary War in 1780 and again in the War of 1812.

As a reward, he was granted 100 acres of land on the outskirts of Fergus – one of the first Black settlements in Ontario.

The land changed hands following his death, eventually being purchased by Robert and Lynda Grant.

In 2010, the Grants donated the land to the township for the creation of the fly fishing reserve with the caveat that the property serve as a passive park, open to all with no entrance fees to accommodate fly fishing and also to encourage the appreciation of nature.

Once the working group is formed, members will figure out a way to commemorate Pierpoint’s story at the site.

Pierpoint himself was designated a National Historic Person by Parks Canada in 2020 “in recognition of his life experience, hardships, and contributions as a Black Loyalist in Upper Canada,” Iglesias’ report concludes.

Parks Canada is considering where to erect a commemorative plaque in Fergus.