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Le Courant

Automne 2011 | 13

A tower, a Dome, a Dial versus a Mayor's Dream

A Tower, a Dome, a Dial versus a Mayor’s Dream As we are putting the newspaper to bed, workers are installing the clock in the Post Office tower. (Étoile de l’Est, January 21st, 1937). It is finally done, Coaticook has a clock. But before this became a reality many things passed... Let’s start at the beginning. Between the 30th of June and the 7th of July 1934, a celebration was to be held in honour of the town’s centenary. The Committee was composed of 24 members, whom represented practically all the non profit organisations and associations of the Coaticook region. An elaborate program was mounted, f0r the celebration was to take the form of “A week to return home” Once the list completed, invitations were sent out to as many former residents as possible, inviting them back to their hometown for this special occasion. The Celebration was a great success, surpassing all expectations. A balance was left over after all expenses paid of 500$ to 600$. A MAYOR’S DREAM Around the same time, July 9th 1934, the Mayor, Mr. Wellie A. St. Pierre, outlined his project to the Town Council, to establish a park on the Old Market site. The park would be named, Father Chartier’s Park, in honour of the first Catholic priest of Coaticook. “I have dreamt of this for over a year and a half now”. The Town Council approved the Mayor’s project and passed a resolution authorizing the Mayor to carry out his project. In order to defray the costs of a monument, the Mayor declared that he would be responsible of solicitations for donations. (Étoile de l’Est, July 12th, 1934). By September 6th 1934, the donations are not coming in quite as quick as the Mayor St. Pierre anticipated. But, knowing that the Centennial Celebration had a surplus, he suggested that a portion of these funds be used to complete the work on the Chartier Park, seeing that the Celebration Committee had not made any sign of opposition. The Committee had just been inactive. It had not ceased to exist. On January 23rd 1935, was held an important meeting, in order to decide what to do with the surplus. This was most likely the largest assembly. The reason for such a large attendance was due to the fact that, the French speaking members wanted to use the surplus to help pay for some of the expenses incurred for Father Chartier’s Park, while the English speaking members wanted to use the sum to buy and install a clock for the Town Hall A special sub-committee was formed to study carefully and in depth the matter on hand .Later on, the President of the sub-committee Mr. E.E. Akhurst specified in his report that the committee had not met as yet, but that he had taken the initiative of studying the possibility of contributing to the purchase of an luminous fountain for the Chartier Park. But, after realizing that the Town council had already bought the fountain he then studied the possibility of buy a clock , which would be installed in the Town Hall Tower. This provoked a great and long discussion between the numerous members. The discussion finished by a motion from Mr. Arthur Bouchard and Mr. D. S. Bachand that half of the surplus be given to the Town Council to pay for a portion of the costs of the new Park. This motion was followed with an amendment from Dr. Shurleff and seconded by M.G. Moyle to the effect of, that the surplus be left untouched so that a meeting with the Town Council be scheduled, to make sure that they will accept the clock, paid by the Centennial Committee, but that the installation and maintenance be their responsibility . In case of a refusal by the Town Council, the same proposal should be made to the Federal Government, to have a clock at the Post Office. This amendment was adopted by a vote of 12 versus 11, all the English speaking members voting in favour while all the French speaking members voted against. (Étoile de l’Est, January 24th, 1935. pg 1). SO, WHERE IS THE GRANT? A mishap occurred at the last Town Council meeting. Councilman Tillotson brought up the question, ‘’whatever happened to the grant that was asked for by the Centennial Committee from the Provincial Government. The grant was awarded, but the Committee, nor the Town Council have received it’’. It was discovered that the grant had been received and for quite a while. The Mayor himself had received the grant. The check had been made out to his name and he had given it to the Town Secretary &Treasurer. The sum was applied toward the expenses incurred from the installation of the Town street lights. Mr. Tillotson protested and reiterated that it was the Centennial Committee that had asked and applied for the grant and that the monies received rightly belonged to the Committee. Despite his disapproval, the subject was closed. Councilman Tillotson wanted the grant so that it be applied to the purchase of the clock and by the same token prevent that any portion of the funds be used by those ’’Damn Frenchmen’’ PRESENTATION A T THE TOWN HALL It is written in the Étoile de l’Est dated February 14th, 1935, that two representatives from the Centennial Committee, the President Mr. Wallace and the Secretary Mr. Bouchard presented the offer of using their surplus of funds toward the purchase of a clock for the Town Hall’s tower, with the conditions mentioned previously. The Town Council decided to have the Building & Parks committee study this offer and come back with their recommendations, but also stated that they (the Town Council) reserved the right to the final decision. TOWN COUNCIL NOT OVER ENTHOUSIASTIC It is written in the Étoile de l’Est dated February 28th, 1935 that: During last night’s Council meeting, the Building & Parks committee submitted their report with the recommendation to accept the offer of the Centennial Committee. But the Town Council had not come to the same conclusion. All of the councilmen except Mr. Tillotson and Mr. Nourse seemed hesitant to accept the proposed gift. It would cost them more in the long run than the purchase made by the Centennial Committee. The Town Council decided to have Councilman Gérin assist the Committee in mounting a proposal for the Federal Government, so that it would take charge of the installation of this clock in the Post Office building, which was done and stated by the local newspaper on Thursday May 9th,1935. During the last Executive Board meeting of the Centennial Committee of Coaticook, it was decided, to ask the Federal Government to complete the construction of the Post Office by constructing a tower as per the original plans and to have them incorporate a for faced clock with a striking mechanism. A petition was put into circulation, asking the Government to accept the Committee’s demand. TO RESUME THINGS The petition was signed by the majority of the residents of Coaticook. The petition was then given to Mr. John T. Hackett, the Deputy or Member of Parliament if you prefer for the County and will pass it on to the department that takes care of these concerns. From that point on no news, complete silence. Meanwhile, the Town Council unanimously approved the payment of 387.00$ for the luminous fountain ordered and or bought last fall for the Chartier Park. (Étoile de l’Est, Thursday the 28th of February, 1935). The Chartier Park was inaugurated the 2nd of September, 1935 in great splendour. The Mayor’s dream finally became a reality. LOW AND BEHOLD On Thursday the 21st of May 1936, the local newspaper informs us that the Federal Government had finally acknowledged the petition of the citizens of Coaticook. A letter from the Federal Department of Public Works was received, confirming the assessment of the new addition to the Post Office building and of the installation of the clock. The amount totalled 8500.00$. The Tower, stated in the letter, will have three floors and will be topped by a copula, in which will be placed a one faced electric clock. (One face is better than none.) The main walls of the Tower will be made of brick and embellished stone. The section of the true tower will be made of carved stone. As for the dome, it will be covered in copper. ‘’All comes to he who waits.’’

Horloge du bureau de poste

Le Courant

Le Courant est publié par la Société une fois par année. Membres de la société, historiens professionnels et amateurs partagent avec les lecteurs le fruit de leurs recherches. Les textes sont disponibles en français et en anglais. La publication de cette revue est rendue possible grâce au soutien de commanditaires locaux que nous remercions avec toute notre gratitude.

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