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Councils made big decisions over the years

March 17, 2017

Barbara A. Martindale- For What It's Worth April 3, 2013

In the In, or sometimes called the House of John Campbell, located where Tim Hortons is today, the first council of Caledonia met January 17, 1853. Caledonia had just been incorporated as a village.

 

For some time during those early years, council met at least once a week and later every two weeks.

Who should be on that first council as reeve but (of course) Caledonia's founder, Ranald McKinnon. The clerk was A.C. Buck, a chemist and druggist.

 

Councillors were John Jackson of Seneca Village and engineer with the Grand River Navigation system; John McDonald, a shoemaker; Thomas Bryant, well known as the first person Ranald McKinnon came across in Byrant's tavern when he entered the wilderness that would become Caledonia; and Duncan Ferguson.

 

 

Council met in John Campbell's Inn and other makeshift quarters for five years until the Town Hall was built in 1857. The building of the Town Hall was discussed for months until March 25, 1856 when a by-law was proposed for the purpose of borrowing 800 pounds to build a Town Hall and public lockup house. Following third reading on May 8, 1856, the by law was passed.

 

The first council meeting held in the Town Hall was January 18, 1858 with John Scott as reeve and John Aldridge as clerk. In fact, John Aldridge had taken over that job in 1854 and he was in the position for 44 years until 1898. At this first meeting in the brand new Town Hall, council agreed to insure their building for 800 pounds, which was the approximate cost.

 

The Sachem had been in Caledonia for two years by this time and would carry the news of council for many, many years henceforth.

 

One hundred years later in 1958, two items from Caledonia council's September meeting as reported by The Sachem were significant.

 

The first was a presentation from the fire department that proposed plans for a new fire hall, which had been received from the architects. Council agreed that $10,000 be earmarked for a new fire hall, but that clerk Kenneth Berscht should notify the architect that the building of the fire hall be laid over to the 1960 council.

 

That new fire hall, along with the police station (also incorporated within the fire hall), was officially opened Saturday, June 18, 1961.

 

On that same day and on the same programme, a new post office was officially opened too. At the time the post office was stated as being a Dominion Public Building.

 

Jack Forster was fire chief and 20 firemen were listed. Herb Little was postmaster with a staff of five and Russell Old was custodian. The police chief was Alex Hendry.  W. Allen was the architect of the fire hall and police station. Lester Shoalts was the contractor. The post office and fire hall, as they were built, exist today.

 

The other significant happening at that 1958 meeting was the establishment of a Liquor Store in Caledonia.

 

"Expedient and desirable, application to be made to the Liquor Control Board for the establishment of such a store," stated the motion that carried. Many remember the rules surrounding purchasing liquor when it opened.

 

An insignificant complaint about noise coming from the Golden Gloves restaurant at early hours in the morning was also dealt with by council at this meeting. Council passed a motion that the "Police be instructed to take action to curb noise being created at late hours outside the Golden Gloves restaurant.”

If the condition continued, council would consider passing legislation to license and regulate restaurants.

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