The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario - South Bruce Grey Branch
/bigger> Celebrating its 119th Anniversary
19 Years of Renewed Life
/fontfamily>In the beginning ...........
/fontfamily> Victoria Jubilee Hall was built to replace Walkerton's original wooden Town Hall. The cornerstone was laid on August 15th, 1897 in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
Intended as an imposing structure suitable for the County Town of Bruce, the new Hall was designed by A. R Denison of Toronto, and constructed by contractor Henry Clark, using marl brick and local fieldstone. The cost was $10,000. A bell purchased in 1870 in Troy, New York sat in the adjacent market square until it was hoisted to its home in the tower of the new building.
Victoria Jubilee Hall has 8 different levels and contains an impressive, 300-seat theatre. In places the walls are 3 bricks thick. The first Town Council meeting was held in the Hall on February 17, 1898. The first electric installation consisted of 15 lights, which cost $3.30 per month. Municipal records show that proceeds from a concert held during the Hall's official opening were intended to purchase glass-covered faces for a clock in the tower. The windows sat empty for 109 years.
Originally the ground level was used for a farmers' market. It was later converted to a fire hall and firemen's quarters. Over the years, the rest of the building housed municipal offices, a market place, the Opera Hall, council chambers, the public utilities commission and a police office.
In 1979, Walkerton Town Council designated Victoria Jubilee Hall a building of architectural and historic significance under the Ontario Heritage Act.
In 1996, however, the Municipal Council and the Town Clerk's office moved from the building to rental quarters. The cupola and bell were taken down from the building and left on the parking lot. The following year, as Victoria Jubilee Hall was marking its 100th birthday, the Municipal Council attempted to remove the heritage designation, and in April announced demolition plans. Horrified, local residents working with the South Bruce-Grey Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario fought to save the building, and purchased it, in trust for the community.
New life .............
In 1998, as if to provide a talisman, a rare drawing of Victoria Jubilee Hall by noted Canadian artist David Milne was discovered. Milne, born in Bourgogne, was a student at Walkerton High School when he made the drawing. He later attended the Normal School, which was in Walkerton at that time.
Since then, Victoria Jubilee Hall has renewed its vital role as an integral part of the social, communal and cultural fabric of the municipality. Four phases of renovations and improvements have been carried out already. Thousands of people annually pass through the doors, to attend meetings, conferences, courses, dance classes, music recitals and performances.
To mark the arrival of the new century in 2000, First Night celebrations were held, and the restored bell rang in the new year. In addition, a stained glass window was installed in the passage beside the main stairs, and a commemorative quilt containing the embroidered names of 576 families was designed and installed.
Victoria Jubilee Hall served as the community response centre and Ontario Government headquarters in Walkerton, for 18 months, following the e-coli crisis of 2000. In 2001, beautiful stained glass windows were installed in the front foyer, to commemorate the water tragedy.
As Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002, Jubilee Garden, with its lovely gazebo surrounded by roses, was established and has become increasingly more beautiful each year.
Finally, after 109 years, in time for Homecoming 2006, clocks were installed in the four windows of the bell tower. Now the clock chimes can be heard every day, throughout the town, celebrating 110 years of Victoria Jubilee Hall in the life of the community.
The Opera House is a prime architectural feature of the Jubilee Hall and recently it has been revitalized with performances from such renowned artists as Valdy, Liona Boyd, Wingfield Farms, Barrage, Peter Appleyard, The Arrogant Worms & Buddy Wasisname. and the Other Fellers, Jim Witter, Pavlo, Quartetto Gelato . The performance hall has a seating capacity of 300 which includes a beautiful balcony area.
"Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer."
Pictures or Stories
We are always looking for pictures, information or stories about Victoria Jubilee Hall. If you have any of these we would be elated to see or hear about the Hall.
Special thank you to Wightman Telecom Limited for their generosity to Victoria Jubilee Hall.