Sunday, September 25, 2011

Al Morrow shares stories of Hanover's history at the September 2011 meeting

Al Morrow, a member of the Heritage Committee of Hanover first gave a brief summary of how Hanover came into being, as the settlement was located on the borderline between Grey County and Bruce County, to the west. In 1904, the Province of Ontario forced the settlement into becoming a town. Its location had led to much discussion through the early years, boundry-wise, etc.

Originally, those coming into the area came from Durham on the Garafraxa (#6 Highway), and were forced to camp for the night on the banks of the Saugeen River. Abraham Buck was one of these travellers, in 1849, and decided he liked the area, so he stayed, erecting a tavern/inn for the convenience of those coming through. For a time, the settlement was known as “Buck’s Crossing.”

Hanover was referred to for many years as the “furniture town”. The first factory was destroyed in 1900, by fire. This was built by a Mr. Knechtel, who was not a native, but born in Waterloo County in 1864. After the fire, the plant was rebuilt and operated until 1983.

Mr. Morrow conducted the group on a tour of the building which houses the municipal administration, the police office, the public library and the Council Chambers. It was interesting to note the attention given to preservation of artefacts dating back to the early history, and the Heritage Committee have been granted space in this building to accumulate and store items they wish to retain.

The bell tower was visited next, and the group was treated to a description of how this new tower came about, following the demolition of the old post office building. As the town bell had been located there, it was felt that it needed to be housed appropriately. J. Smith & Sons, Midland Clock Works, Derby, England built the mechanism for the bell. It bears the date of 1915. The original bell dated back to 1870, and came from a local church, and was brass. Unfortunately, it was stolen during the time of demolition, and the present bell does not resonate as nicely. The tower opened in 1997.

The group crossed the street to tour Heritage Square, sited where the Knechtel factory had been located. A stone at the entrance greets visitors, reading “It is good for us to be here. Abraham Buck, 1849”.

Mr. Morrow explained that the people who came to this area arrived by following blazes on the trees to mark the trail. The surface of part of the Square is composed of large tiles, many of which bear the names of people important in the history of Hanover during the first 100 years, and by following these particular tiles, one can trace the history of Hanover and its people. The Square opened in 2003, and is a gathering spot for celebrations of many kinds. A large amphitheatre with a dais for a speaker is located here, and this amphitheatre is flooded in the winter and becomes an outdoor skating rink.
Thank you to Bonna Rouse for her account of the meeting and to Susan Schank for the photographs.

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