William Fairbairn portrait with saw

William Fairbairn and his wife Jean Wanless were married in 1813, and emigrated to Canada from Roxburghshire, Scotland, in 1817. William was trained as a stone mason and his wife was a nurse. The Fairbairns arrived in Wakefield in 1834.  In 1838, William erected the area’s first grist mill beside the La Pêche River.  Its original thick stone walls are still an attraction in today’s Wakefield Mill.

William and his wife had four sons — Archibald, William, John and George — and four daughters — Helen, Mary, Elsie and Frances. In 1861, their sons went west to prospect in the gold fields of British Columbia. Members of the Fairbairn family lived in this house until 1906.

William died on February 6, 1872, and his wife predeceased him in 1868.