Oro-Medonte council approves Ontario Heritage Act designation for Old Town Hall

·2 min read

Prize-worthy quilts, butter tarts and fancy cakes have filled the Old Town Hall at the corner of Line 7 North for the past 153 years.

To honour its place as a local cultural icon, Oro-Medonte council approved an Ontario Heritage Act designation for the Old Town Hall and the adjoining Cenotaph, March 25.

Built in 1868 and home to the Oro World’s Fair since 1869, Andria Leigh, Oro-Medonte’s director of development services described it as a typical community hall, with hand-stitched quilts pinned to the walls, prize photographs and homemade baking on display each year during the Oro Agricultural Society Fair.

“There are going to be new generations that are going to get to see that building for what it’s always been used for,” Leigh said. “The whole piece of the designation and protecting that public hall and that gathering space, that’s what it’s tied to; it’s that opportunity for people to continue to gather there and see that heritage.”

Based on a heritage designation report by Su Murdoch Historical Consulting, the one-storey frame structure and accompanying Cenotaph built in 1921 are historically linked and of cultural historical significance.

Upgrades were performed on the Cenotaph several years ago, including removing steps and installing a cement walkway to make the pillar itself accessible to residents each Nov. 11. Remembrance Day ceremonies were cancelled in 2020 and have been cancelled this year as well due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oro-Medonte’s Heritage Committee is largely responsible for the designation of both the Town Hall and Cenotaph, said Mayor Harry Hughes.

“The town hall was the administration building for the county,” said Hughes. “They used to meet in houses and if you go back in history far enough, they usually were meeting in a pub somewhere.”

Hughes said Oro-Medonte’s Heritage Committee has considered designation for a number of historically significant buildings, including the African Church and the St. Thomas Anglican church in Shanty Bay.

Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance