Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Casting St Marys' Past

Postcard of our Town Hall, written in 1906 - Image courtesy of St Marys Museum 
St Marys' Town Hall plaque
Visiting St Marys is something to write home about.

In previous posts, such as The Grand Trunk Trail BridgeLayers of HistoryVictorian Building Blocks (Part II), you got a glimpse at our historic town of St Marys. This post will be about those understated, but elegant plaques affixed to its buildings and other structures. They say so much in such a restricted space. Although inconspicuous, they carry the weight of history and convey a message of respect. Below, you'll see some of the plaques we pass by on our daily dog walks, there are many more all around town.

The old water tower
The St Marys Grand Trunk Station is still in operation.
The Opera House is now a rental apartment building with commercial businesses on the main level.
The Mill Race runs between a park and a nature trail walk way.
The St Marys Public Library
The first home of our local newspaper, The Journal-Argus, is now occupied by The Chocolate Factory, a popular candy store.
The Andrews Jewellery building was occupied for many years by Anstett Jewellers, an Ontario family owned chain, but they have left town and put the building up for sale. 
Canada's first Eaton family store is now The Flower Shop.
The Hutton-MacPherson Block is home to MacPherson Art supply store.
The privately owned Myers' House has been lovingly restored and is impeccably maintained.

It's admirable and quite surprising that such a small town has so many historical plaques. Our Canadian big cities should be embarrassed. When Brian completed his biography on Montreal poet John Glassco, a joint effort was made to commemorate him with a plaque. He took advantage of his family connections, The Alloy Foundry, to have one cast.

The effort has resulted in the establishment of the Writers' Chapel at Montreal's St James the Apostle Anglican Church. You can see photographs of the interior (and Brian) taken at a recent event here.

Brian recently spoke with Nigel Beale about literary Montreal and the importance of recognizing historical buildings, significant people and events through historical plaques. Obviously, a subject St Marys understands very well. Brian's audio interview


Donna said...

Thanks for this virtual tour, Anyes!

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Donna,
You're very welcome, I though this post would be right up your alley.

GinaBVictorian said...

Wow St. Mary does have a lot of historical plaques! All of the buildings are so pretty, thanks for sharing them with us in photos. Have a great week!

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Hi, Anyes - I think I'd be very happy living in that old opera house.

Here in St. Petersburg, Florida, it's a real job (and practically a full-time one) to protect 1920s Mediterranean-style buildings from getting torn down. The irony, of course, is that they get replaced by new buildings that are themselves torn down in a much shorter time. I've seen one corner of town that's had three buildings in 30 years!

The Dusty Victorian said...

Hello Gina,
Your very welcome, glad you enjoyed it. Have a great one as well.

The Dusty Victorian said...

Isn't that Opera House amazing! I can totally see you living there.
What a shame for St Petersburg. Preservation in a time where people are condition to the instant and disposable is a challenge everywhere - especially in big cities. In sleepy little towns like St Marys, people are rather very conservative and they don't like change, which helps in the preservation of its history.
Always a pleasure Mark,