Built of locally quarried limestone, the former East Flamborough Township Hall on Mill Street North is one of the finest examples of mid-Victorian civic building in rural Southern Ontario. In design, construction and materials, the hall closely resembles the neighbouring church built in 1838 by the Wesleyan Methodist congregation – originally of frame and then re-clad with stone in 1865.
The township building consists of two rectangular storeys, with an open hall on each floor and a medium gabled roof surmounted by a cupola that identifies it as a public building. Noteworthy features include the doorway with transom, large round-headed windows on the second storey of the front facade and multi-paned windows, most of which retain their original glass. The building’s exterior is virtually unaltered from the day it was constructed, only the porch at the front entrance has been removed, possibly between 1920-1930.
The first and most important business of the new Corporation of East Flamborough Township in 1850 was the election of councillors. The vote was restricted to males 21 years or older who could meet minimum property requirements. Those standing as candidates had to be residents of East Flamborough. The township was divided into five wards and after the ballots had been counted, Thomas Smith, Alexander Brown, John Page, Mark T. Crooker and James McMonies were elected to serve.
When the members of the first council gathered in Waterdown on January 21, 1850, possibly at the American Hotel, the only business was the election of Thomas Smith as reeve and the appointment of James Kent Griffin as clerk. The ledger book containing the council minutes records that their only business at the second meeting a month later was to agree upon rules and regulations that should be followed as they conducted their business of governing the municipality.
During the next five years, the councillors spent much of their time at meetings worrying about the condition of roads throughout the township and the failure of many inhabitants to pay their taxes. Not until Reeve Alexander Brown Jr. called a special meeting on Saturday, June 28, 1856, was there any discussion about a suitable building being constructed to serve as a township hall. At the meeting, they agreed “to appoint Messrs. Stewart, Foster and Morden to be a Committee to ascertain where a suitable site for a Town Hall could be obtained and the price,” and to report to the Council at its next meeting.
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 4 May 2007