At the October meeting of the East Flamborough Township Council, the members accepted the offer of a lot from Mr. John Cummins and agreed to pay him £50 on condition that he also provide the deed to the property. Plans and specifications for a suitable building were called for and in November, those submitted by Walter Grieve, a Waterdown stonemason, were accepted at the cost of £5. At the same meeting the Clerk, Andrew Hall, was authorized to advertise in The Spectator and the Dundas Daily Banner for tenders to construct the new building. A month later, they awarded the contract to a local carpenter, John Graham, whose tender bid was £900. It was also voted that John Graham would build a safe, with the exception of a door, at no extra charge.
Construction proceeded rapidly and almost without incident, although the contractor was reported to council on 3 July 1857 as having purchased inferior shingles for the roof. He was ordered to replace them or the balance of monies owing would be withheld. In October, Stewart Begg of Millgrove was awarded a contract to construct a fence around the hall at a cost of $130. John Reid was requested to provide furniture for the building (for which it appears he was never paid) and John English was asked to build a platform, for which he was paid $8.
Once completed, council established rules and regulations regarding the uses to which the new building could be put. Among those they settled upon was that “the Public shall have the free use of the Town Hall for any public lecture that is calculated to benefit Society in general – to the exclusion of all Tea Meetings, Bazaars and Shows and Religious Worship.” Two months later, councillors decided that religious worship was of some benefit as they voted that members of the Episcopalian Church could have the Town Hall Gallery each Sabbath for Divine Service for one year. For this privilege, the Anglicans agreed to pay $30, but only if the sum was applied to providing seats in the gallery so that the worshippers could sit.
The Waterdown Mechanic’s Institute Library moved into the hall when the Anglicans left in 1860, staying until the late 1880s, and in the early part of the twentieth century, meetings of the Loyal Orange Lodge were conducted upstairs. From 1858 onwards, it was used for elections and then in 1879, when Waterdown was incorporated as a village, the East Flamborough Council purchased the building for $150 so it remained the township hall.
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 1 June 2007.