The History of The Old City Hall, Cambridge
Cambridge Old City Hall — In The Heart Of Downtown Galt
The History of The Old City Hall, Cambridge, Ontario on Cambridge Now
In 1858, the citizens of Galt (population 3,500) celebrated the opening of the new Town Hall and Market House. The Town Hall was built for $3,650.00 and was on the same site as the original Township Hall. The building was designed by architect H. B. Sinclair and was meant to reflect Galt's rapid growth, prosperity and influence in the region. However, not everyone was pleased with the design. On December 17, 1856 what was described as an unusually stormy 'indignation meeting' was held to protest the proposed design of the new Town Hall. Those present at the meeting condemned the Italianate design was inadequate and not at all reflective of Galt's growing importance. However since the building's design had already been approved by the building committee and the contract was to be awarded the following day the recommendations of the meeting were ignored. The building went ahead as designed with construction beginning in May 1857. However because of financial difficulties and disagreements between the architect and the contractor construction was not complete until November 1858. The materials included a base and trim in Galt limestone and split fieldstone used on the upper floors. The bell was placed in the tower in 1863 and rang at 6:00 am, 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm. The Jubilee Clock was placed in the tower in 1897 in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Galt was said to have the finest Council Chambers this side of Toronto. In 1965, the City Hall was renovated. The plans were drawn up by Peter Stokes, well-known architect specializing in the reclamation of old Ontario buildings. The City Hall was further renovated in 1990 to become the permanent home of the City of Cambridge Archives. The building is deemed an historic site of local and provincial significance. In the Autumn of 1981, the Corporation of the City of Cambridge moved its municipal offices to Cambridge Place, 73 Water Street North, in an effort to better serve the citizens of Cambridge. City Council and Committee Meetings have remained at Historic City Hall. These meetings are conducted in the Council Chambers on the third floor at 46 Dickson Street. An elevator is available. Cambridge enjoys a rich and diverse heritage, the product of its diverse origins within a number of adjacent communities. This heritage has provided a rich source of materials for the municipal archives that has taken on the task of organizing the political records of four communities into a comprehensive whole. To this mass of documents has been added many historical documents from the whole community that are used by local historians to tell the story of an ever-developing city. The Cambridge Archives has also been given responsibility for the care and preservation of the entire local history collections of the three branches of the local library system. These collections came to the Cambridge Archives in 1991 along with many municipal documents that returned to Cambridge from the provincial archives in Toronto. These combined resources make the Cambridge Archives the ultimate repository for local history research for this area. But Cambridge is also very fortunate to have in its Historic City Hall a place worthy to house this wealth of information. The first and second floors of the Historic City Hall, which once housed the entire administrative bureaucracy of the City of Galt, now holds the paper records of that administration, plus the paper records of Preston, Hespeler and many of the records, both old and new, generated by the City of Cambridge. This repository for our local history has been made possible in part through the corporate generosity of Toyota Canada Ltd, which made a gift of this project to the city soon after building its vehicle manufacturing plant here. You can contact the Archives by e-mail at: City Archives is located at 46 Dickson Street, 2nd Floor, Cambridge, ON We are open 8:30am -4:30pm Monday to Friday.