Oshawa’s Town Hall

1877- c. 1953

The first village council meetings in the 1850s were held in Munroe’s Tavern that was located on the southwest corner of King and Simcoe Streets. Later, John McGrigor provided land at Athol and Centre Streets so that a simple, one-storey frame building was used. Here, Council meetings were held as well as housing the fire fighting equipment, a manually operated pump and a hand hauled hose reel. This building had a small room added in 1866 to be used by the police.  It continued in use until 1877 when it was sold for $650 and a new building was needed for the growing town.

Fire fighting facilities were the initial concern of the village council in 1877.  They had finally received an up to date horse drawn steam fire engine and a horse drawn reel.  Before this, it was up to the citizens to provide for the village. Council purchased a lot of land on Simcoe Street and Duke Streets in April.  A new Bylaw, no. 209, was created for this transaction and was completed for the sum of $1000.

On this lot, a Fire Hall was to be constructed with a hose-drying tower.  Beneath the hall was to be a cistern capable of storing 300,000 litres of water.  There was also space created for council meeting and a magistrate’s court at a cost of $3000.  Mr. John Bailes provided plans and tenders were advertised in May of 1877.  On June 6th, the contract was awarded to W.T. Dingle for $4900.

In August, there was council discussion about adding a clock to the tower and an alarm bell for the fire hall.  This caused changes to be made to the tower and a Seth Thomas clock was added at the cost of $575.  A one thousand pound bell arrived January 1878 costing $315.  However, most of the work had been completed in 1877 and a final payment of $5175 was made to W.T. Dingle in December of that year.  There is no record of opening ceremonies for the new town hall, but a nomination meeting was held in the new council chamber on December 28th, 1877. This building served not only as a town hall but also as fire station, police station, and jail.

John Kellow was the Chief in 1905. Four of the 20 volunteer fire fighters (including officers) he worked with were obliged to sleep at the station.

In 1909, the tall clock tower on Town Hall was struck by lightening, a spectacle which drew a crowd to see the sight.

In 1916, Angus Cameron became Chief of the Fire Department. He received the department’s motorized fire equipment, a Chevrolet Hose Tender. He was later appointed as Chief when Oshawa became a city in 1924. The same year, he received a new Bickle equipped G.M.C. Fire Pumper by R.S. McLaughlin.

After serving as the municipal centre for seventy-five years, the town hall was demolished in the 1950s and replaced by a municipal parking lot.

With information from:


“Town Hall,” article written by Oshawa Museum staff for the Oshawa Express newspaper, 2008.

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