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Local History, History + Heritage

  • Galt Aircraft School, (later the Jolly Jumper factory) destroyed by fire in 1992
    Galt Aircraft School, (later the Jolly Jumper factory) destroyed by fire in 1992
  • Galt Aircraft School now the Stonebridge Business Centre
    Galt Aircraft School now the Stonebridge Business Centre
  • Preston Public School c.1905
    Preston Public School c.1905
  • Galt City Hall c.1941
    Galt City Hall c.1941
  • The Galt Woollen Mill on Water Street (as seen c.1905)
    The Galt Woollen Mill on Water Street (as seen c.1905)
  • The Galt Woollen Mill on Water Street later became the Riverside Pool Hall, familiarly known as the Purple Pool Hall (c.1975)
    The Galt Woollen Mill on Water Street later became the Riverside Pool Hall, familiarly known as the Purple Pool Hall (c.1975)
  • The Galt Woollen Mill on Water Street was later converted to apartments and commercial space
    The Galt Woollen Mill on Water Street was later converted to apartments and commercial space
  • Formerly Water Street Baptist Church, now the Cambridge Arts Theatre
    Formerly Water Street Baptist Church, now the Cambridge Arts Theatre
  • Galt Knife Factory, now the Grand River Brewing Co.
    Galt Knife Factory, now the Grand River Brewing Co.
  • The American Standard building, formerly the Stamped and Enameled Ware factory, currently being renovated as apartments c.1910
    The American Standard building, formerly the Stamped and Enameled Ware factory, currently being renovated as apartments c.1910
  • 1919 Peace Day parade float of a First World War tank in front of Babcock-Wilcox South Works
    1919 Peace Day parade float of a First World War tank in front of Babcock-Wilcox South Works
  • Riverside Silk Mills on Melville Street c. 1940, now the University of Waterloo School of Architecture
    Riverside Silk Mills on Melville Street c. 1940, now the University of Waterloo School of Architecture
  • Hespeler Town Hall under construction, c.1914
    Hespeler Town Hall under construction, c.1914
  • Preston Springs Hotel c. 1920
    Preston Springs Hotel c. 1920
  • Speed River Dam at Preston 1905, photograph by James Esson
    Speed River Dam at Preston 1905, photograph by James Esson

Linda F., Queen's Square | August 4, 2015

This is a good time to highlight some significant Cambridge architecture that has been preserved, usually by a combination of hard work on the part of people from heritage organizations and often, good luck.

Luck came in the guise of the three Cambridge downtowns maintaining many of their older buildings instead of sweeping them away in the postwar boom of the 60s.  Cambridge has also been lucky for those home owners, developers and architects who have recognized the historical value of their property.  There are plenty of lucky examples, among them the Georgian homes on Chillago Road, the former Galt aircraft school building on Water Street that is now an office building, and many other buildings throughout the city.   You’ll likely have some favourites: as a librarian, I’m glad that all three Carnegie library buildings are still around.

The hard work is exemplified in the preservation of the Preston Public School, now used as seniors’ housing.  The battle for Central School led to the creation of Heritage Cambridge (now ACO Cambridge), a hard fought double victory.

The fate of the Galt City Hall was also a close-run thing.  Former nurse and later councillor Helen “Nell” Donaldson is credited with having the vision – and the ability to persuasively share that vision -- to initiate and help carry through the 1965 renovations that helped preserve that historic building for future generations.

Bigger, more industrial buildings are harder work to preserve. Examples of the adaptive reuse of such buildings include Carlos Ventin’s development of the Galt Woollen Mill, the former Baptist Church now used by the Cambridge Community Players, the Galt Knife Factory which is now the Grand River Brewing Company, and the American Standard building which is being transformed into condominiums.

Much of the heavy lifting to save larger buildings has been done through cooperation among individuals, organizations and local government. The Southworks factory outlet, formerly owned by Babcock & Wilcox, comes to mind, as well as the preservation of the Silk Mills by the University of Waterloo for their School of Architecture, the use of the Hespeler Town Hall by the Hespeler Heritage Centre, and the redevelopment of the Old Galt Post Office that is now under way as a new library branch.

All these achievements are exciting and hard won, but like most things, there’s still work to be done.  Will Preston Springs Hotel at the foot of Shantz Hill finally be redeveloped?  What will happen with the Preston Dam and some of the old churches that are planning to amalgamate or move to new sites?  Stay tuned and stay involved!

Be sure to read the first article, Lost Architecture, and the second article in this series, Half-Saved Architecture.

Comments

Submitted by Rose Cole (not verified) on

My dad Charlie Patterson trained at the Galt Air Craft School. Do you know how I can find some information about it?
Thank You
Rose Cole

Submitted by Laura (not verified) on

Hi Rose,
Thank you for your question. A good place to start is the City of Cambridge Archives. Try searching for "Galt Aircraft School" (note: "aircraft" must be one word) in their online research portal, which is linked halfway down this page: http://www.cambridge.ca/en/learn-about/Archives-and-Genealogy.aspx
There are a number of student photos from the 1940s online. Perhaps your dad is in one of them.
If would like more info, please contact the Archives at (519) 740-4680 ext. 4633.
Best,
Laura
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