Memorial Hall, Part 1

This Waterdown landmark is slated to undergo some important upgrades, so a look at its history seems appropriate as we approach the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War.

Located in the centre of the old commercial core of the village, the hall property sits on the highest point of Dundas Street as it passes through town.

The site appears to have been undeveloped until the early 1870s, at which time a number of frame commercial buildings were erected – among the most notable was Vance’s Tinsmith, Hardware and Funeral business that lasted until 1900, when it was sold first to the Wilson family and then John Kitching, who retained ownership until 1920.

The earliest building on the site was the Waterdown Bell House and Tower, which also housed Vance’s various businesses. Erected in 1874, the Bell House was the centre of village life, serving as the Town Hall, following the granting of municipal status. The first village election in 1878 and the first Waterdown Council meeting took place in the building, which also housed the Third Division Court for the County of Wentworth, the village lock-up and the Fire Department’s sole hand pumper. It was also used by several municipal and community organizations, such as the Waterdown Women’s Institute, founded at the beginning of the 20th century.

Housed in the tower was the village bell, tolled to mark the start and finish of each workday and to alert residents of emergencies, such as fires.

A number of serious fires along the north side of Dundas Street during the first two decades of the 20th century began to dramatically change the face of the village.

Among the businesses lost were Crooker’s General Store on the corner of Main and Dundas in 1906 and the Cummins Drugstore in 1918. The Bell House and Tower was demolished in late 1921, with the Women’s Institute Minute Book noting a meeting held there on November 1, 1921.

By spring 1922, the construction of the new hall had begun.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 9 January 2014.


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