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Tour Title Owen Sound Downtown Historical Walking Tour
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1 - Legates - new.JPG Legate Building The Legate Building was renovated in the 1930s to house two full floors of furnishings. The building’s marble inserts below massive display windows, diagonal show window on the corner, wooden signage, handsome cornice and awning complement the original style. The second floor windows are now recessed, with stone sills and lintels, and stepped brick. Although erected in the 20th-century, the building is harmonious with the 19th-century style of Downtown Owen Sound. Self Guided Tours   Click here to show map location
2 - City Hall - old.jpg Owen Sound City Hall The original Town Hall was built here in 1868, including an eight-sided wooden cupola with a dummy clock face which read 9:03—correct twice a day! This ‘clock’ was replaced in 1920 with a square tower, four-sided clock and chimes, to commemorate the City’s incorporation. Originally, the ground floor was rented as stores and market stalls. As municipal business grew, the entire building was used. Gutted by fire in 1961, the present City Hall was built in 1965. The space around City Hall is known as Local Hero’s Square, featuring plaques honouring prominent citizens, including the story of John ‘Daddy’ Hall, veteran of the War of 1812, escaped slave and Town Crier.   Click here to show map location
3 - Coulson Hotel - old.jpg Coulson British Hotel In 1854, J.P. Coulson arrived in Sydenham. A few years later, in 1857, a hotel owned by H.G. Campbell was torn down. On that site J.P. constructed and opened Coulson’s British Hotel, the village’s first major hotel, with 80 rooms, stables, dining rooms, a bar, and a women’s parlour. One of the very early main street buildings in Owen Sound, it became the hub on Coulson’s expanding empire which included stage coach lines, hotels, and mail and freight services. The hotel did a good business until the railroad superseded the stagecoach allowing people to travel directly to their destinations without the need for a hotel stopover. One highlight of the hotel was a visit to the Town by conservative Sir John Clark, when speeches were given from the balcony of the Coulson Hotel. At one time there was a tunnel through to the back, located where a store is now located, to allow coaches and horses to get to the stables behind the hotel. One of J.P.’s daughters was a founder of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. As one of Owen Sound’s wealthiest citizens, J.P. donated $8,000 to the cost of the 1868 Town Hall. The utilitarian design of the building has lost its one embellishment, a front balcony. The French parapet roof line, with its gable ends, has been replaced with a flat roof. Self Guided Tours   Click here to show map location
4 - Parker Pharmacy - new.JPG Parker's Drugstore Originally the home of Parker’s Drugstore, part of Upper Canada's (Ontario) first drugstore chain, this building later became Owen Sound’s first telegraph and telephone exchange. Two apothecary chemists named Henry Parker and Mr. Cattle met on a ship bringing them to Canada from their native England. En route they decided to go into business together and when they reached the New World they established the Parker & Cattle Drugstore. The pharmacy and drug store opened at this location in 1856. Henry opened a branch in Durham in 1860. His brothers, S.J. (Stephen Johnston) and Joseph W. Parker looked after branches in Owen Sound, Goderich and Paris, Ontario. The company was reorganized in 1869 under the name of Parker & Co. S.J. Parker was a treasurer of the Country of Grey, president of Grey Bruce Loan and Savings Co., president of the Board of Trade (the forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce), and chair of the Owen Sound General & Marine Hospital, among other things. He was also one of a group of businessmen who brought waterworks, telephone, electricity and gas services to the Town. S.J.'s nephew, ‘Gentleman John’ Parker was involved in many of the same organizations and community causes. He also had a connection to journalism and history as editor of Druggists Weekly and the first president of the Owen Sound Historical Society. The words ‘Parker’s’ and ‘Toiletries’ are still visible in the glass above the entrance doorways. This handsome three-storey commercial terrace features intricate brickwork in contrasting colours of pink and buff, diagonally-laid brick on the façade separating the upper floors, and brick pilasters rising to the roof line between sets of paired windows with brick arches and central keystones.   Click here to show map location
5 - Fulfords - new.JPG Fulford Hardware Edgar Allan Fulford was born in Sydenham Township. He opened his first hardware store across from City Hall, and moved to this location in 1941. Original floors and fixtures help maintain this store's old-fashioned atmosphere. It's a three-storey brick building with three large windows in each of the upper storeys. The first floor façade at the main entrance, with its centre door, posts, display windows and the leaded glass over the doorway, is original. A pattern of stepped brick beneath a simple cornice graces the roof line. The lower cornice is bracketed and finished with bulbous drop finials.   Click here to show map location
6 - Coates & Best Building - new.JPG Coates & Best Building Built in 1902 for Edgar Creighton, this building has always been a stationary and bookstore until 2010. J.P. Coates opened his stationary store here before WWII, then went into partnership with Morley Best to create Coates & Best. The facade of this structure forms a continuous, unified facade with the adjoining building to the north. Repetitive window patterns form an arcade stretching over the two occupancies to give visual significance to the building. The upper windows are set into the wall by means of a recessed masonry arch around each window. These window openings are well-detailed and simply executed and the whole is accomplished with a refreshing economy of means. The lower store front is separated from the upper facade by means of a moulded cornice. The upper cornice is accomplished by use of a simple wooden bracket and moulding design. City Council designated this property under the Ontario Heritage Act for historical and architectural reasons in 1991. Street View only   Click here to show map location
Tour-1-FNDorrLepan.jpg F.N. D'Orr Lepan Store The property on which this building stands was originally crown land. The land was acquired in 1844 by a man named Price from Peterborough for $85 only to sell months later to George Spencer for $30. In 1848, the land was sold again, this time to F.N. D’Orr LePan who paid $150. LePan then erected a two-storey frame structure and opened a general store, going into a partnership with W.F. Wolfe. An Irish immigrant, LePan was a liquor and wine merchant and also sold groceries and other provisions. In 1905, the boom-town front structure was moved from the northwest corner of 9th Street and 2nd Avenue East to its current location in order to make room for the Kilbourne Building. For many years, the D’Orr LePan building was home to the Earl Georgas Ski Shop. Due to structural deterioration, the building was demolished in 2006, and this building with a replica facade was erected in its place. The original building was an example of an early wood frame structure. The boom town front was considered fast, easy, and inexpensive to erect and often prefabricated and transported to the site. This method of construction suggests LePan had a desire for immediate accommodation and shelter rather than a prestigious building.   Click here to show map location
19 - Owen Sound Garage - old.jpg Owen Sound Garage In the 1910s Kilbourne Real Estate built many structures on this block - the Roxy Theatre in 1913 at 251 9th Street East, the business block to the east in 1911 at 263 9th Street East, and this two-storey, 78’5” x 100’ brick garage in 1911 at a cost of $10,000. The first tenant was McLinden’s Garage, but by 1917 it was the home of the Owen Sound Garage, with H.H. Bowman as manager. An ad in the Town directory that year stated the Owen Sound Garage sold Ford and Oakland automobiles, tires, motor accessories, etc. “free air can be had from our hose at the curb, being supplied from the “Tottheium Post”. Gasoline and water may also be procured without leaving your seat, from this post. Ring the bell and you will be served immediately.” Only two other garages were listed in the 1917 directory, Theaker’s Garage at 779 2nd Avenue East, and Alfred Frost at 756 2nd Avenue East (later Owen Sound Motors, a Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Cadillac dealer). As an aside, in 1899 local jeweller Alfred J. Frost designed and built a car in the backyard of his Owen Sound home, the fourth horseless carriage to be built in Canada. Frost opened one of the first and most successful auto dealerships in the Town, selling White, Mclaughlin and Studebaker cars. In subsequent years, other automotive-related services were offered from this site, such as repair shop, battery service, moving service, and tire sales, and each year more and more automotive-related businesses were opened in the City. The Owen Sound Garage was replaced by R.H. Flint & Sons Autos in 1926, Prout Motors in 1936, and Rite-Way Motors (‘have the cleanest used cars in the district’) in 1946. By 1958, the only automotive use was a Firestone Tires dealer, which lasted at this site into the late 1970s. Non-automotive businesses used this site beginning in 1958 when Northern Business College (formerly above RBW at 945 3rd Avenue East) moved here (upper floor), along with Georgian Cleaners and Owen Sound Canvas in 1964. In 1968 Percy’s Billiards moved to this site, with Todd’s Sporting Equipment opening here in the early 1980s. These last two types of businesses continued into this century. Today, it is being redeveloped as The Sydenham, a condominium residence. The building’s architecture is similar to the Commercial style common to early 20th-century mainstreet structures throughout Ontario. The façade of this two-storey red brick building is comprised of four bays, separated by wide, shallow brick pilasters; the main floor of each bay was entirely glazed as windows or doors, ideal for showcasing the cars sold within; each second storey bay is a study in symmetry with three 2-over-2 windows topped by brick headers. Similar windows are regularly spaced in the other three façades, sans pilasters or any other ornament or brick treatment. The bricks are set in a common bond, with header courses laid every eight rows. The front façade also sports a shallow horizontal band of brick at fascia level, the same width as the vertical pilasters. Street View only   Click here to show map location
20 - WCTU - old.jpg Women's Christian Temperance Union The Owen Sound Congregational Church was formed in 1854 by Rev. L. Kribs; many members were “refugees from slavery who have escaped the Southern States”. The congregation of 150 resolved to replace their wooden church with a more permanent structure; in 1865 they purchased this lot on the southwest corner of Jackson and Stephens Streets (now 9th Street West and 1st Avenue West). In May of 1869 construction began and the new church was dedicated on June 18, 1871, costing just over $3,000, and making this one of the oldest church buildings still standing in Owen Sound. It was built of native stone cut on site. The Congregationalists held their services here until 1880 when they could no longer obtain a minister and disbanded. In 1882 the Canadian Women’s Christian Temperance Union bought the church to use as a meeting hall. Formed in 1874, the Owen Sound union was one of the first two to form in Canada. Very active over the next few decades, the WCTU fought their battles against alcohol from this site. The Lutheran Church bought the property in 1943 and operated one of the City’s earliest kindergartens from the building. In 1963 the Christian Science Society purchased the site; a reading room was located in the basement, now a private residence. The Society disbanded in 2006 and sold the property to private owners; presently the upper floor is a yoga studio. Constructed of limestone blocks cut on site, except for the rear brick wall, this church was built in the Regency Style with some very strong Gothic features, such as stone buttresses and perpendicular windows. The original steeple, which was removed in the 1940s by the Lutherans for safety reasons, added a somewhat Victorian touch and the style would best be defined as restrained Eclectic. Stained and leaded glass windows ornament the structure. The 14-foot tall main window on 1st Avenue West has “switchgear” tracery with stencilled floral motif stained glass; the other windows are of the Gothic lancet type. The roofing material has recently been replaced, the stonework repointed and the original wooden front doors replicated. City Council designated this property under the Ontario Heritage Act for historical and architectural reasons in 1979.   Click here to show map location
21 - TTAG - old.jpg Tom Thomson Art Gallery The Tom Thomson Art Gallery was established in 1967 as a memorial to the iconic Canadian landscape artist Tom Thomson (1877-1917), who grew up on the shores of Georgian Bay just a few kilometres north of Owen Sound. The Gallery houses a nationally significant collection of Thomson works and artifacts, paying homage to this maverick who fused a passion for the wilderness with a new and experimental style of painting. Now a cultural attraction, the Tom Thomson Art Gallery maintains a top-notch and revolving program of contemporary and historical exhibitions, lectures, forums, films, concerts and workshops. Today’s Gallery stands, literally, on its humble beginnings. Formerly the Church of the Nazarene (1947), the basement structure at the present site was purchased by the Grey County Historical & Art Society in 1959. The Society operated the Museum in the front, and the Gallery, comprised of four pegboard walls, in the back. Donations of paintings were welcomed, including five excellent paintings by Tom Thomson, three contributed by the Lyceum Club and Women’s Art Association of Owen Sound and two by Tom’s brother, George. A.Y. Jackson came to Owen Sound and supported plans for the new Gallery, and in 1961 donated one of his works. By 1964, though still in its basement existence, the Gallery had received works by three of the Group of Seven. The City of Owen Sound ratified the construction of the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, atop the existing basement structure, as a Centennial project. Construction began in 1966 and by the time the first brick of the street level was placed, the foundation of a unique public collection of Canadian art was solidly laid. The Gallery’s collection continued to grow over the years to include many paintings by Thomson, the Group of Seven, and regional and nationally recognized artists from across the country. With inadequate art storage and exhibition space, the City supported expansion once again. In 1988, the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery was completely renovated to feature several exhibition halls, collection storage, an educational studio and atrium. To commemorate the opening of the ‘new’ Gallery, a laser-cut steel sculpture by Micah Lexier was installed on the roof of the Gallery: “I feel this thing is of too great an importance to miss.” - words uttered by A.Y. Jackson upon first hearing of plans to establish an art gallery in tribute to Tom Thomson. In 1996, the Gallery’s website was developed, making our collection of Thomson and Group of Seven artworks available online. As the interest in Tom Thomson and his artwork continues to increase, people from around the world visit the Gallery. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Self Guided Tours; Washrooms   Click here to show map location
22 - Library - old.jpg Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library At the turn of the 20th-Century, public libraries were seen as a vital service in the civic fabric of nearly every Ontario community. Owen Sound was one of them. Although a pay-as-you-go Mechanics’ Institute lending library had existed in the port town since 1855, free public library service was not available until 1911. In order to qualify for a Carnegie library grant, that year the Town’s citizens approved a by-law creating the Owen Sound Public Library. Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish immigrant who went on to make a fortune in the steel industry, donated over $50 million worldwide for the construction of free public libraries. Of the 2,500 public library buildings erected with Carnegie funds, 111 of them were in Ontario. Although Owen Sound had been granted Carnegie Foundation funds to build a public library in 1904, Council debate over local support delayed construction until 1912. The Carnegie Library officially opened to the public on Feb. 3, 1914. A prime example of the Neo-classical style favoured by the Carnegie Foundation, Owen Sound’s Carnegie Library was designed by the local premiere architects of the day, Forster & Clark. The Library’s main hall features an arched ceiling decorated with intricate plaster work created by Toronto plasterer J.P. Hynes. It was originally illuminated with opalescent bowls that a contemporary reporter declared, “cast a soft glow over the reading tables, lighting the entire room evenly and making reading a pleasure.” For decades, library patrons made their way up a single flight of stone stairs, entering the library after passing a pair of Ionic capped columns, topped by electric globes. A separate entrance led to a well-appointed lecture hall. Ontario’s Carnegie libraries served their public well, but by the 1970s, many were in need of renovation. Some had already been demolished to make way for new construction or were destroyed by fire. Others have buried their original Carnegie façade with modern glass and brick. The Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library’s Carnegie wing has been renovated twice; once in 1972 with an expansion that did not compromise the building’s historical integrity and again in 2003 when the library’s “great hall” was restored to its original grandeur. In the spring of 2004, the Library received provincial recognition from the Ontario Heritage Foundation under the Heritage Community Recognition Program for the sensitive restoration of the great hall. In 2009, City Council designated this section of the Library under the Ontario Heritage Act for historical, architectural and contextual reasons. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Self Guided Tours; Washrooms   Click here to show map location
23 - Kennedy Terrace - new.JPG Kennedy Terrace In 1865 this site originally housed Heap's Furniture Factory - a two-storey board and batten building with a 60' x 28' stone foundation. Later it became a fanning mill factory, used to extract weed seeds from the grain before seeding or selling. Window blinds were also manufactured here. In 1900, after the factory burned down, local contractor J.C. Kennedy built this terrace on the original foundation. Kennedy also built the General & Marine Hospital in 1912. Street View only   Click here to show map location
24---Market---old.jpg Waterworks & Market Building The Farmers’ Market building was originally constructed by the Parker Brothers in 1868 to house the waterworks. This date marked the first time utilities had been provided to the Town. The waterworks operated as a private venture until 1890 when it became a public utility. The building was thus referred to as the “Waterworks Building”. 1936 marked the transformation of the Waterworks Building into a Farmers’ Market. On August 8, 1936, what was described as, “The largest crowd since Old Home Week of 1927” gathered for the opening of Owen Sound’s covered market. Renovations included two covered ramps on the north side of the building and a public washroom in the east wing. Interior work included quarters for the Board of Health and the Market Caretaker on the second floor. Tables were placed in the first floor interior creating 74 spaces for vendor use. As the utilization changed so too the nomenclature, the structure was now known as the Market Building. At noon on Saturday, May 29, 2004, the first storyboard of the Downtown Storytelling Program was unveiled by the DIA at the Market. The plaque recognizes the Parker Brothers’ contribution to the City and celebrates the history of the Market Building. The Farmers’ Market is still open every Saturday from 7 am to 12:30 pm, with special events taking place throughout the year. This building is a very refined example of a 19th century “functional” building. The roots of its design derive from the forms of the utilitarian industrial, manufacturing and storage structures erected in Great Britain during the late Georgian period and during the Victorian industrial revolution. Such buildings are characterized by simple massings and the use of conventional materials such as brick, stone and timber in subtle and infinitely varied ways. They were designed to meet the requirements of the building’s functions as efficiently as possible while simultaneously achieving a novel aesthetic effect. These structures express the spirit of their times: a concentration of energy on commerce and industry in a focused and creative manner. Often the result of design by builders and craftsmen, with little or no involvement by professional architects, these utilitarian buildings display a clear and honest use of materials with a simplicity and neatness of detail. The builders of the old Waterworks Building adopted the vocabulary of the subtle architectural styles of the mills, docks, factories and warehouses of the British Isles to their local context. In 1986, City Council designated the Waterworks/Market Building under the Ontario Heritage Act. Kid-Friendly; Self Guided Tours; Site has its own Parking; Site Offers Food; Washrooms   Click here to show map location

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Group City of Owen Sound
Added By Shelley Jackson
Date Added April 28, 2014
Last Modified By HRC Admin
Date Last Modified May 30, 2014
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