Betty Jo Belton: Betty Jo’s presentation was entitled “Stratford’s Save the City Hall League”. In her initial slide, she showed a clipping from the Stratford Beacon Herald commemorating the designation of Stratford City Hall as a National Historical Site in 1983. The battle to save City Hall began in 1971, when successive Councils demonstrated support to raze the Hall to make way for a hotel complex or alternate commercial development. A group of citizens who valued the building formed a committee to examine other options. Originally, this committee was composed of women only; Jo Ann Hayes, Evelyn Broadfoot, Mary Brothers, Ellen Stafford, Winifred Kneital, and Dolores Whiteman.
The original City Hall was victim to a fire in 1898. The present City Hall was then commissioned and cost $35,000 to build and was expressly designed to fit the triangular plot where it now site. It housed a library, reading rooms, an auditorium, and council chambers. The City Hall was the site of the 1906 reunion, the return from war of the 1946 Perth Regiment, and the Centennial celebrations.
However, by the1960s, it was looking down at the heels, so City Council invited architects to investigate the costs of repairs. It was determined that the building sound but the mechanical components were out-dated and in poor shape. Mention was made of the low percentage of office space to building size. Tenders of $500,000 were entered to effect updates, which was thought to be exorbitant for an old building and a committee was struck to look for a new site.
On Nov 25th 1964, the Beacon Herald ran the story and in an editorial said that there were two sides to the story. Letters to the Editor poured in, with the vast majority writing in favour of keeping City Hall. Nevertheless, in1967, Mayor CH Meier showed plans for a 10-storey hotel in place of city hall, with plans to start the work in 1968. Incoming Mayor John Hiller wanted to stay neutral and asked the public for ideas for city hall, but no action was taken. By 1969, there were serious concerns about the need to replace the plumbing and obsolete heating. With cracks inside and out, it was estimated that there were no more than 25 years left in building.
The Save the City Hall League collected 2000 signatures to ask for a plebiscite on the building. They stated that they had support to keep the building and that Council was not acting in accordance with the wishes of the electorate. Councillor David Bradshaw was tasked with getting a committee together to study the issue and to make recommendations
In April 1970, the original 1964 report resurfaced to avoid more costly studies. A June meeting was set to settle the matter. With Bradshaw in favour of saving the hall, the committee was encouraged to write 10-12 briefs to support saving the hall. The Beacon Herald encouraged all interested parties to attend the public meeting on May 23 1970. Of the 81 submissions made, 64 were in favour of saving the hall.
However, a new developer was in the works sniffing about the hall and the Council voted 6-5 in favour of demolition. In response, the League requested legal advice. Robert Mountain represented the City at that time. In April 1971, a public meeting was held to address urban planning since the hall was coming down. A drop-in centre was established by the League so that people could sign for support. Letters written to public figures to garner support, were favourably answered, most notably by Farley Mowatt.
The August 1971 Council Meeting to hear a proposal by developer David Owen had the item removed from agenda. Council voted 7-3 to table the City Hall issue. By Sept 9th David Owen was no longer interested and the Mayor blamed this on the editorial in the Beacon Herald, and announced it at Rotary meeting on the same day. He criticized the behavior of League supporters. On Sept 10th, the committee was tasked with coming up with an alternative, but no plans were approved. In Nov 1971, a joint committee of councillors and merchants were asked to make a plan. They hired a local architect to repair and update the Hall. In July 1972, a $2.5 million proposal for a commercial undertaking with parking on site was proposed but abandoned in Aug 1972.
On June 1, 1974 a re-dedication service was held and the Hall was restored by Christmas 1974. In June, 1982, it was designated as a heritage structure and then a National Heritage site.
Cambria thanked Betty-Jo Belton for her entertaining and informative presentation.
We acknowledge that are meeting on land that was the traditional territory of the Neutral (Attawandaron), Anishnawbe, and Haudenosaunee peoples. This territory was the subject of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between these nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.
Pat Reavy welcomed Lori Campbell, a Metis-Cree-Scottish woman by presenting her with a tobacco tie. Lori was a child of the 60’s scoop and has spent her adult life reconnecting with her heritage while obtaining two Bachelor’s degrees (in Indigenous Studies and Psychology), a Master’s degree from the University of Regina. She is currently working on a PhD in Social Justice Education.
Lori began, speaking in her native Cree, before translating into English her thanks for the tobacco tie, which she accepted in recognition of the positive thoughts and intentions attached to the gift. She explained that after accepting a tobacco tie, she would later burn the tie in a sacred fire so that these good thoughts and sentiments might rise to the Creator. She also appreciated the land acknowledgement that opened the meeting this evening. She emphasized that it was significant as it indicates acceptance and respect of Indigenous peoples.
Lori is part of Treaty 6 Northern Saskatchewan, but as part of the 60’s scoop, was taken from her family and community and adopted. She did not know her natural family until adulthood. She is the eldest of eight, all of whom were fostered or adopted. Her siblings did not know their stories either. They were among the 20,000 taken between 1951 and 1991. These children’s rights to their culture were stolen.
All Canadian’s should be concerned about the relationship between government and Indigenous peoples. Even the actions of government-sponsored efforts at reconciliation are troubling . For example, the Truth and Reconciliation Council currently travelling across Canada will only listen to a person’s personal experience, not what that person may have observed happening to others, or to those children that died. In addition, the teachers and clergy involved in the residential school system are not telling their part of the story, so the process is woefully incomplete. Also, this commission does not address land issues at all. In the space of 150 years Indigenous peoples regressed from thriving to barely surviving. The water is contaminated – 150 indigenous communities lack drinking water, the land is depleted. More native children are in the care of the child welfare system now than in the 1960s-1970s.
Lori’s grandmother attended residential school, and her mother lost all her children to adoption. Lori noted that the newest generation of indigenous children is over-represented in Canada’s child welfare system. There is a significant inter-generational gap in knowing how to parent and how to be a family. Despite the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issuance of three orders to address the recognized discrimination against native children, nothing has changed. The funding formula for school is fundamentally flawed, with indigenous children (education funded Federally) receiving thousands of dollars less per year than their non-indigenous counterparts (education funded Provincially).
The Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women cites time constraints as the main cause of the firing or resignation of twelve Board members. However there are other concerns. The inquiry does not address the root causes of violence against indigenous women and fails to address the role of the RCMP. The approach is one of pathologizing: assuming that indigenous peoples cannot care for themselves. Again, there must be accountability and perpetrators must be held responsible. Lori noted that both non-indigenous and indigenous women are most likely to be harmed by non-indigenous assailants.
We need to disrupt the national narrative by introducing children to indigenous culture and books, films and stories, to be proactive in promoting a truer view of Canada.
Reconciliation is an interesting concept, defined as the restoration of friendly relations and/or of making disparate beliefs compatible. Reconciliation requires that we understand our history to understand our present situation, but we are misinformed by our history books. The children in residential schools were taught that native peoples were dirty and heathen, inferior to white people. Non-Indigenous children were largely taught the same ideas. The residential schools were propagandized in 1950’s television commercials. Furthermore, When the Chief Medical Officer of Canada, Dr. Bryce reported on the misuse and abuse occurring in residential schools, he was fired.
Other countries that have held similar reconciliation processes have also not had completely successful outcomes. Part of the problem might be that there is no one held to account in the process. This has led to a call to action to explore ways that government might be held responsible. It is important for citizens to read the summaries and to discuss them widely. How do we reconcile?
In 1996, a $60 million report entitled the “Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples” was released, but little was done to follow up on its findings and recommendations. Ironically, education got us into this situation and education has the best chance of getting us out. For example, the story of Sir John A. MacDonald is not complete- it needs to be fleshed out to make him less hero, more human. The Jewish Holocaust is taught in schools, so the eradication of indigenous peoples and the history of residential schools will also become part of the school curriculum.
What can citizens do?
- Be an Ally. The CBC has a link to indigenous authors that will enlighten and inform.
- Speak and share with like-minded people
- Believe when Indigenous peoples tell their stories
- Look at representation in Boardrooms, Council Chambers and Senates
- Imagine Canada in 20 years- what will our children and grandchildren think of our actions
- Create a new and representative nation
Here is a link to 150 acts of reconciliation in the last 150 days of Canada’s 150th year.
Jane Cook thanked Lori for her thought-provoking and fascinating presentation and invited further discussion during the break.
Many thanks to the staff at the Stratford-Perth Archives for giving CFUW members and guests a tour of their facility this evening! Here are a few of our members with Archivist Betty Jo Belton (on the right) in the gallery space. We had an informative look at the behind the scenes work that goes into preserving our history in this state of the art facility.
Location Information : 4275 Huron Road, RR#5 Stratford, ON (Highway #8, just west of Stratford)
Each month, CFUW-Stratford Club donates items to Optimism Place, Women’s Shelter and Support Services. Optimism Place provides secure, protective housing for 8 weeks or more for women with or without children. We also offer a wide range of free and confidential support services. Please bring your donation to our Seasonal Celebration lunch on December 9th or to our General Meetings in January, February, March, April and May.
A Word From Optimism Place about their WISH LIST
With your help we can give these women the small things that restore their dignity while they stay with us and learn to heal.
Donations can be dropped off Monday – Friday, 9 am – 12 noon, but please call ahead to arrange your delivery.
519-271-5310 ext. 31. Also, we are most grateful for your donations, but please no drop-offs on weekends.
Thank you for your generosity!
WISH LIST: updated July 5, 2016
To support Optimism Place at Christmas we have a few suggestions, different themes for different days: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & New Years Eve.
HIGH PRIORITY items highlighted in PINK.
We accept very good condition or new items please.
URGENT: TWIN BED SHEETS
- Non- perishable food items
- Children’s lunch treats, drinking boxes, snackables etc.
- Cereal hot & cold
- Small fans
- Alarm clocks/clock radios
- Batteries; 9-volt, AA, AAA
- Bus passes/tickets
- Telephone cards
- YMCA passes
- Food and clothing, restaurants, manicures and pedicures, massages, movies
- WOMEN: Boots, jogging and yoga pants
- CHILDREN: Boots size 12, 13 & up, snow suits size 3, 4 & 5
PAPER PRODUCTS AND CLEANING SUPPLIES
- Toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex
- Detergent and cleaning products
- Tupperware or Rubbermaid containers
- Baking pans, cake, loaf, cookie & muffin
- Toasters, coffee makers, tea kettles, mixers
- Pot and pans
- Twin sheets and pillow cases
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mouthwash, Q-tips
- Women’s shaving cream
- Hair brushes
- Lipstick, mascara, foundation, eye shadow, eye liners, blush, makeup brushes
- Facial cleansers, facial lotion, body lotions
- Make up bag
- Baby wipes
- Diaper-rash cream
- NEW Diaper Genies and refills
- Tylenol, etc.
Thank you, but no used clothing is needed at this time.
Go to the Optimism Place Wish List on line by clicking the link below: