Something For Everyone – The Town Hall

6107 Perth Street

Richmond Agricultural Society 'Dining Hall" 2012
Richmond Agricultural Society ‘Dining Hall” 2012

Church suppers beside the jail!  That is part of the history of this building which has been a social centre for villagers for more than one hundred and fifty years. Built on Cockburn St., it was originally the Town Hall for the Village. Then during the term of Reeve Hugh Rielly (1886-1896) the building was moved several blocks to the south side of Perth St. near the corner of McBean (this area is now part of the Memorial Park).  The building was moved for a second time, in 1951, and at its new location, across the street, became the Dining Hall for the Richmond Fair.
In 1850, when Richmond became an incorporated village, it was entitled to have its own reeve and council, and became equal in stature to the governments of the surrounding townships each of which had its own municipal building.

Previous Town Hall on Lennox St. 1863
Previous Town Hall on Lennox St.
1863

The 1863 map of the village indicates that a Town Hall had been built on the west side of Lennox St. just south of Strachan St.  This was an area within the floodplain of the Jock and it is not surprising that the seat of village government was relocated to Cockburn St.,

Town Hall on Cockburn St.- Just North of Strachan St. Goad Map - 1889
Town Hall on Cockburn St.- Just North of Strachan St.
Goad Map – 1889

beside the village school.  The Belden Atlas tells us that it cost $600. to construct the new Town Hall on Cockburn.

By the end of the 1880’s, Perth St. had become a busy thoroughfare, and as previously mentioned, the building was moved to this location and enlarged. The newly renovated building was two storey and another structure was added to the original to form a concert stage at the back.

Old Town Hall 2
Town Hall circa 1900
courtesy GTHSThe building  did offer “something for everyone”.

The basement was used for church suppers and also contained three jail cells. (was there a connection??).

The top storey was used for a variety of purposes – some official –  Village Council meetings and court sessions – some social- concerts, both school and church, plays, and later in the early twentieth century, movie pictures.

The Hall was well used by various church groups.  On the day after the dedication of the Richmond Methodist Church, in December 1901 ” About 400 people attended (a Tea meeting) with the ladies providing refreshments in the basement of the church.  After the meal the people assembled in the Town hall where an excellent program was enjoyed.”  Two parishioners of St. Paul’s United Church reminisced that some time after church union in 1925, ” A ‘chicken’ supper in connection with the Anniversary was held ….  All church families contributed food for this supper which was held in the basement of the old Town Hall.”

Carp Review Dec. 31, 1925
Carp Review
Dec. 31, 1925

Other activities were described in the History of St. John’s Anglican Church.    1932 – “The A.Y.P.A. of St. John’s Church held a special meeting in the town hall last week and entertained the young people of the Hazeldean, Ashton and Munster societies.  Upwards of one hundred young people were present.” February 28, 1934 – The A.Y.P.A. of St. John’s Church had a very enjoyable time on Friday evening when Mr. Gardiner Rea and Mr. Westley Dunbar provided conveyance and accommodation for upwards of 25 young folk by way of a sleigh ride.  The party on returning to town were served a hot supper in the town hall.”  March 17, 1934 – “The choir of St. John’s Anglican Church held a very successful St. Patrick’s concert on Saturday evening, March 17th in the Richmond town hall.  Two very enjoyable one act plays “Mr. Casey’s Secret” and “Compromising Bridget” were greatly enjoyed.”

The building was also used for dances and card games as well as private parties.
In 1924 when the Richmond School was destroyed by fire, high school classes were held in the Town Hall until a new school was constructed.

Ed. Dallaire described going to the Hall in the 1930’s.  “The upper level was used mainly for dances, plays and moving pictures when they became available.  It had a raised stage and heavy dark blue curtains.  There were several rows of benches which sat six or eight people each down each side.  When dances were held some of the benches were places around the outside walls and the girls sat on them waiting for some guy to ask them to dance.  The rest were piled at the back and the boys stood in front of them eyeing the girls.”

In 1951 , with the completion of the new Memorial Community Centre which contained both a community hall and new council chambers, the old building became redundant. The top storey was moved across the street to the Fair Grounds and it became the Agricultural Society’s  “Dining Hall”.  It is still used every September to provide fair-goers with home cooked meals prepared by members of various church congregations.
The building no longer has a raised stage so it doesn’t host concerts but it has been used for community gatherings, card games, rummage sales and meetings for various organizations.

Architecture:

Something for everyone is reflected in the architecture of the building.  The Town Hall is a rectangular wooden building with plain windows.  It had a bell tower like some rural schools, and a pediment over the entrance in the spirit of the Greek Revival tradition. The spooled spandrel trim at the gable end ( which is still in place) and the spooled columns (removed) were like those found on some Gothic Revival buildings.

Sources:

  • Curry, John. Richmond on the Jock. Stittsville ON: The Stittsville News, 1993.
  • Dallaire, Ed.  “J.J. Dallaire  – Barber” 1993.
  • Goad, Chas.E. CE “Map of Richmond” Montreal:1889. (thanks to Ian White for sharing this map)
  • Goulbourn Township Historical Society Files Richmond Branch OPL.
  • Goulbourn Township Historical Society Files – Digital photos
  • Graham, Mildred et al. Richmond “150” Yesterday and Today 1818-1968. Ottawa:1968.
  • Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Carleton. Toronto: H. Belden & Co., 1879. 1997 ed. Oshawa: Wilson’s Publishing Co.
  • McCoy, Mildred et al. 160th Anniversary of St. John’s Anglican Church, June 24th,1983. Richmond: St. John’s Anglican Church, 1983.
  • Rice, Rev Roger B. St. Paul’s United Church 1827-1977. Richmond:1977.
  • Riedel,Bonny, The Heritage of Goulbourn: A Driving Tour. Goulbourn Township Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, 1990.
  • “Stittsville News”, November 9, 1983.
  • Walker, Harry and Olive. Carleton Saga. Ottawa:The Runge Press, 1968.

 

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One Response to Something For Everyone – The Town Hall

  1. Bob Fosse says:

    Great place for a jamboree!

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