Doon Presbyterian Cemetery Tour

A self-guided tour including Homer Watson’s grave

The grave of Homer Watson, celebrated landscape artist of Doon, is located in the Doon Presbyterian Cemetery, a ten-minute walk from Homer Watson House & Gallery.  This cemetery holds the graves of Homer Watson, his closest relatives, and many important residents of Doon in the 19th century.

This self-guided walking tour describes the significance of several former Doon residents and their contributions to the rapidly developing village during the lifetime of Homer Watson.

Doon Presbyterian Cemetery Tour
Click map to enlarge

1. Jacob Cluthe

Jacob Cluthe (1856-1935) bought the Ferrie grist mill (a mill that grinds grain into flour) in 1983 and converted it to a Shoddy mill (producing woolen fibres and mattresses), a cider mill and also used it to produce cutlery. Cluthe updated the mill dam, which became known as Cluthe’s dam and was famous locally for being the largest and deepest dam in the area. Cluthe’s family would later develop the millpond into a popular summer resort known as Willow Lake.

2. Ephriam Ernest

Ephriam Ernest (1881-1942) was a farmer in the Doon area and an early agricultural spokesman who actively campaigned for greater control of produce by farmers, including the establishment of a co-operative dairy in 1913.

3. Jacob Kinsey

Jacob Kinsey (1863-1914) was a grandson of Dilman Kinzie (several variations of spelling were adopted by his grandchildren), a pioneer who came from Pennsylvania to found one of the oldest homesteads in Waterloo County. The graves of many of his relatives can be found in the adjoining Kinzie-Biehn Cemetery.

4. William David Hepburn

William David Hepburn (1835-1926) was the owner of a factory in Preston (Cambridge) that manufactured boots and shoes, employing many locals. His success was largely due to an exemption from taxes through a local government effort to encourage manufacturing.

5. Moses Billings Perine

The Perine family has been living in North America since 1665, originating from French Huguenot immigrants. Moses Perine (1815-1898) and his brother W.D. Perine opened the first flax mill in Canada. This industry was the lifeblood of Doon, bringing in railway traffic and employing hundreds of local men. Moses gave Homer his first commission, while Joseph Perine offered the artist a business position as an alternative to an artistic lifestyle.

6. Christian Schneider

This granite marker is a memorial to Christian Schneider (1758-1850), the earliest settler on the site of this cemetery. Christian was born in Pennsylvania, came to Doon in 1806, and built the first house in this, then unsettled, area of primitive forest.

7. William Allen

One of the early pioneers in the area, William Allen (1803-1879) bought a Doon area lot from Adam Ferrie. An early local merchant, William owned the village shop which sold dry goods, meat and produce.

8. Ross Hamilton

One of Canada’s foremost art critics, Ross Hamilton (1890-1952) established the Doon School of Fine Arts in 1947 on the site of the Watson Estate. Ross was also the founder of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Society.

9. Charles Tilt

Charles Tilt (1884-1967), was the son of John Tilt, a prosperous local manufacturer and uncle to Homer Watson. John opened a sawmill and pail factory in Doon and employed Homer during his difficult early years as a fledgling artist.

10. Irving Watson

Homer Watson’s younger brother Irving Watson (1856-1932) was well known in Doon as a musician in the local band.

11. John Turel

John Turel (1882-1913) was known locally as the proprietor of the inn at Lower Doon during the early 1900s. The hotel prospered at this time due to its proximity to the Grand Trunk Railway station on the busy Dutch Mail Route.

12. Homer Ransford Watson

The largest Watson memorial marks the grave the Watson family, descended from James Watson (1793-1870) who came to Doon from New York by oxcart. The grave lists Ransford Watson (1824-1861), a local sawmill owner and father to Homer Watson, along with his wife Susannah, Jude Nathan (1853-1867), Homer’s beloved older brother who tragically perished in a brickyard accident and Phoebe (1858-1947), his devoted sister. An engraving on the side commemorates Homer’s only son, Charles, who died at birth. Finally, Homer Watson (1855-1936), and his wife Roxanna are listed.

Homer Watson was Canada’s first internationally celebrated landscape artist. He was known for depicting Canada as it truly was instead of through the lens of the European art world. With no formal training, he rose to popularity after his painting The Pioneer Mill was purchased by the Marquis of Lorne as a gift for Queen Victoria.  Throughout his career, Watson travelled to the United States, England, Scotland, and Paris but it was the landscape in his hometown of Doon that really inspired him. Homer Watson was also one of Canada’s first environmentalists, spearheading the movement to protect Cressman’s Woods, now known as Homer Watson Park.

Roxanna Watson passed away 18 years prior to Homer and her death deeply impacted the artist.  Roxa’s death likely amplified Homer’s interest in spiritualism and he would spend the rest of his life regularly communicating with her via séance.

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The Loch Doon area was memorialized in celebrated Scottish poet, Robert Burns piece “Ye banks and braes O’ bonnie Doon”

Ye banks and braes o’ bonny Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae weary fu’ o’ care?
Thou’lt break my heart, thou warbling bird,
That wantons thro’ the flowering thorn:
Thou minds me o’ departed joys,
Departed, never to return.

Aft hae I rov’d by bonnie Doon,
To see the rose and woodbine twine;
And ilka bird sang o’ its love,
And fondly sae did I o’ mine.
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,
Fu’ sweet upon its thorny tree;
And my fause lover stole my rose,
But, ah! he left the thorn wi’ me.