Brussels Town Hall 1875-1962
It was the focal point of community activities. It resounded with the voices of political orators and the sounds of good old fashioned hoedowns. Stock companies performed there, as did many talented local performers. Here, too were wedding receptions, card parties, bingo games and dances. It was used also for a time by a flourishing badminton club.
Many great orchestras played in the old Brussels town hall, which stood on the spot, at the corner of Flora and Turnberry Sts., where the Royal Canadian Legion Branch is now. Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians appeared there many times, as did Dalt Davidson's nine-piece band from Stratford, which was quite popular during that period. Many young folk had waltzed beneath its roof and filled its room with laughter.
For many years the lower floor of the hall housed the firefighting equipment and the old council chambers. Its town bell rang 60 times, four times a day. The fire bell was in the same tower but the wire ran outside it. That easy access meant a night in one of the hall's other rooms for one man, longtime residents recall. Jimmy Cullen, had an evening's accommodation in the two-bunk jail after he used the fire bell to alert the village that he had lost his cap.
By 1949, the building (circa 1875) was starting to show the effects of age and was badly in need of a face lift.
According to information, compiled by Bill Speir, the village council, which at that time comprised Reeve R.B. Cousins, William Speir, Roy Kennedy, Adrian McTaggart and Wilfred Willis, voted unanimously to renovate the inside of the hall. Mr. Speir was chairman of the committees.
The first item of business was to paint the exterior of the building. The carpentry work and plastering was put in the charge of Harold Thomas and his assistants, Bert Garniss, Charlie Thomas, Robert Raymond and Harold Raymond. They busily set to work straightening the front stairway, remodelling the stage, laying a new hardwood floor, modernizing with fir plywood and insulating the ceiling.
Royal maroon velour drapes and track were donated by the Majestic Women's Institute at a cost of $203, which enriched the auditorium a great deal.
Above the west door a small balcony was built where a movie project or a spotlight could be used.
The new floor which was of 3/4 inch maple was done without cost by the men of the village and surrounding territory. Steel roofing was put on the south half of the roof of the hall by Ivan McArter and Howard Clarke. Mr. John Parks and Walter Williamson had the contract of painting the interior and Max Oldfield supplied the paint at cost.
Despite the hard work, by 1962, the hall was again in disrepair and believed to be unsafe. It was sold by council and was torn down by the buyers Hank and William Versteeg.
For many, who spent many happy hours behind its walls, the loss was that of an old friend.