The Old Town Hall (part 1)

(From an Article in the Historical Society Newsletter Vol 7 #3 2009)

Merrickville Legion Br245 used to be the Old Town Hall which was built around 1856 as the Township seat for Wolford Township. The Hall was designed by Samuel Langford, one of the fine stone craftsmen brought to Canada to work on the Rideau Canal by Colonel By. A talented architect and builder he was responsible for the building of most of the fine stone buildings and frame homes in the village between 1840 and 1870.

Stephen H. Mirick and William Mirick presented the land on which the town hall was to be built. It is recorded that the building cost about $600. The first floor comprised the council chambers, the township offices and the lockup jail. The jail now serves as the bar storeroom. The second floor was the auditorium and was accessed by outside stairs on both sides of the building. In 1862 a stage was added complete with lights and roll-up curtain. Apparently it was a popular place for communal activities and entertainment. The back of the building used to have a tower on the north hip of the roof which was used for drying fire hoses and housing equipment. The tower was eventually removed but there are old pictures showing the tower.

In 1861 the town was incorporated and the township built its own town hall at Easton’s Corners. In 1863 the Grammar School was allowed to use the hall for six months. That same year the basement floor was laid and with the nervousness regarding the outbreak of hostilities in the American Civil War Captain Wright used the basement to drill and ready the men of companies 1 and 2. In 1862 the roof started to leak but it was not until 1877 that tenders were called to affect repairs.

During the 1920’s the hall was very busy with activities by the Catholic, Methodist and Anglican dioceses putting on events. The hall also catered to many professional entertainment groups as the hall was on the Chataqua (sp?Chautauqua) circuit and groups such as the Dumbells and Bell Ringers plus many others played to a full house and enthusiastic audiences.