Born on February 14, 1835 in the district of Côte Saint-Michel in Montréal, William Watson Ogilvie was the son of Alexander Ogilvie and Helen Watson. In 1871, he married Helen Johnston, also of Scottish origin. During his youth, his uncle William Watson trained him as an inspector. William Watson Ogilvie's brothers established A. W. Ogilvie & Co., which would become a major mill, before William Ogilvie joined them in 1860.
Business flourished not only in Montréal, but also in Western Canada, and particularly for supplying wheat, which would be processed into flour. Then in 1892, W. W. Ogilvie purchased Somerville farm, opposite the Lachine Rapides, a 180-acre plot of land in Bas-Lachine, which is the Borough of LaSalle today. He called upon architect Alexander Cowper Hutchison to build a Queen Anne-style villa, known as the Ogilvie Manor. On that piece of land, as a gentleman farmer, he bred Ayrshire dairy cows of great renown.