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FIRES IN BRUSSELS PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 January 2010 16:13
A FIERY HISTORY OF BRUSSELS
With the progress of man and machine, the Brussels of today, has fortunately not seen the devastation of major fires too many times.
During the years, it had its share, however. Between 1860 and 1875, the prosperity of the town was set back no less than three times, when fire levelled the entire business section.
In 1968, Mrs. Clarke Matheson compiled a historical sketch of Brussels, which contained an excerpt regarding its pioneer days.
"I can remember my father telling of the last fire which started in the J.D. Ronald foundry. It was a hot dry season and hope for saving the factory was gone.  It was felt that the river would prevent any damage to the business section. Suddenly, the fire jumped the river and practically every store in the village was burned to the ground. Rather than discouraging them, these reverses seemed to spur them on to build better and more substantial buildings. Many of the business blocks erected after the last major fire are still standing."
In the 1879 Belden Atlas it is written, "The spirit and enterprise which have met these disasters by fresh and greater efforts have given Brussels a place among the villages of the province, which many envy and any might possess with pride."
***
In September of 1887,  the fire brigade was called to a barn fire on the Armstrong farm at the westerly section of the village. The barn, stable, 40 tons of hay, 10 acres of wheat, 10 acres of oats, a self-binder, rake, wagon, buggy and small articles were lost.
***
In March of 1888, fire started in the rear of an Albert St. dwelling owned by David Haiste. The cause was believed to have been a stovepipe.
The flames made little headway due to snow on the roof and the streams of water flowing from them. However, the building was badly damaged.
***
In the summer of 1888 on a Monday morning, A. Wilson, assisted by Walter Smith and P. Seel were repairing machinery at the flax mill, when a hot iron, used to burn a hole in some wood, ignited a wooly substance. Before the men had time to think, the flame ran up the inside of the building to the roof. Pails of water kept the fire in check until the brigade arrived.
***
High winds made things exciting when a Sunday morning fire in March of 1889 ignited in the inner wall of an apartment occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Ben Whittard in the Leckie block on Main St. The chemical engine was used and the fire was supposed to have been put out, but broke out again.
Once things were under control, a man was put on guard all day and throughout the night to prevent a breakout, as with the high winds, things could have been very serious.
***
That is precisely what happened in May 1905 in Brussels, as another disastrous fire blazed through the downtown core, attracting a train load of spectators from Wingham.
An excerpt from that issue of The Brussels Post, describes:
"Thursday afternoon about 2:45 the large barns of the Queen's Hotel took fire, occasioned by some workman putting up eavestroughing. Almost in an instant the flames levelled the building and the hay and other flammable matter burned like a torch."
The story continues that considerable time elapsed before water was thrown, while the high wind fanned the blaze into a "perfect fury".
The fire quickly spread across Thomas Street into Walter's livery barn and Plum's blacksmith shop and Westward to T.T. Thomson's residence. The livery was saved primarily because of its metal roof. The others were lost.
Flying embers spread to the American Hotel stable, then to P. Scott's blacksmith shop and the adjoining pumpworks of F. Adams. Mrs.  Strachan's cottage, south of the American stables, and George Edward's stables were the next victims, as the fire soon levelled them.
Across Mill St., the fire ignited an implement shop owned by Fletcher Sparling, George Edward's planing mill, R.K. Ross's flouring mill, the home of Mrs. Grieves and the stables of Walter Lowry and the Thuell Bros.
As if this wasn't trouble enough the wind carried the fire across the river to a stable owned by Jno. Conley and the J. Cober & Sons' carriage factory.
Once it appeared as if the Queen's Hotel was also doomed. Fire caught the cornice, but men on the roof extinguished it.
Mayor Watson of Listowel was in town that day. He telephoned that town's fire and water committee chair to send its fire engine which was dispatched by special train from Palmerston. It set to work in drowning out smouldering ruins.
A shower of rain in the early evening came to help drown out much of the burning debris.
***
One evening in May 1909 while R. J. McLauchlin was feeding the horse, he knocked the lantern from its peg. Seeing what he had done, he made a grab for the lantern and ran outside. However once there he discovered he only had the handle.  By this time the hay was a mass of flames so McLauchlin turned his attention to the mare, which he got to safety.
In minutes the entire building was in flames and despite the best efforts of the fire brigade it was a total loss. Estimate of damage was $300.
Brussels had been comparatively free from fire over the previous years with the last blaze being the Livingstone flax mill on Sept. 17, 1907.
***
An explosion occurred on a Saturday morning in January 1909 at the home of the editor of The Brussels Post. A Kootney steel range with waterfront and attaching pipes to the upstairs bathroom blew up.
"There was a terrible noise like the firing of a cannon and, quick as a flash, the room was filled with flying missels of iron and steel, fire ashes etc, " the newspaper account read. The force of the blast blew out two windows and left the range a mass of scrap iron. Mr. Kerr and his sister-in-law Miss Kay of Winnipeg were thrown to the floor. Mr. Kerr sustained some broken bones while Miss Kay was struck on the head.
The pair had little time to think about cuts and bruises, however as fire had ignited in several spots. Water was handy, fortunately and the danger was soon eliminated.
Mrs. Kerr who had been suffering lumbago, was in her upstairs bedroom. The cause of the explosion was a frozen pipe between the ceiling and upstairs floor.
***
A flurry of excitement was caused in late July 1939  when a tin of gasoline exploded at the Ford garage. No one was hurt and no damage was done.
***
A flash fire at Bridge Motors in Brussels in 1966 damaged the interior of a two-storey garage and sent one man to hospital.
Glen Bridge, the son of the business's owner, George, was taken to Wingham hospital after suffering burns to his arms and face. He had been working around a gasoline tank of a car when an electric light bulb on an extension cord broke, exploding the gas. Brussels firefighters, led by Chief Gordon Stephenson, arrived at the scene within five minutes and had the blaze under control in a half hour.
The top half of the garage escaped with light damage. One new car, two used cars, equipment and stock were lost. The garage office sustained smoke and water damage. Total loss was estimated at $50,000
****
In the 1970s, fire gutted Carl's Body Shop, located at the south end of Brussels on Turnberry St. at about 10:30 a.m. Damages were estimated at $40,000 and the shop was nearly destroyed. A car and truck that had been in the building were also lost.
Carl Graber eventually rebuilt the business, which is now the site of Brussels Auto Sales.
***
A fire on the farm of Charles Thomas just north of Brussels, July 1976, caused an estimated $27,000 damage. Forty-two sows, all with litters, worth an estimated $12,000 or more were killed in the blaze. The barn was damaged to the tune of at least $15,000.
Brussels firefighters were called to the scene, but were unable to save the structure. Faulty wiring was suspected as the cause of the fire.
***
As many as eight pumper and water tank trucks from four fire departments battled a wheat field fire on Friday, July 29, 1983 at the farm of Max Oldfield, just outside of Brussels. The cause of the blaze was due to straw winding onto a shaft of a combine.
The Brussels department answered two calls within three minutes of each other, the second being on a Grey Twp. farm, owned by Murray Cardiff. They assisted the Grey department with the one Brussels pumper, while the second truck was at the Oldfield fire.
Wingham and Blyth were eventually called and Grey arrived on the scene when they had the Cardiff fire extinguished.
Chief Howard Bernard said the big concern was for the houses on the edge of Brussels and the farm buildings.
Two fires under the Brussels fire truck, caused by the exhaust, were put out with no damage to the pumper. Bernard said at the time that there had been three fire trucks lost in wheat field fires in Ontario, something that had not been a problem before.
Approximately 10 acres of wheat was lost at the Oldfield fire and approximately four acres at Cardiff's.
"The standing wheat gave us problems,"said Bernard. "It was unbelievable. The heat, smoke and speed of the fire were really something. The fire seemed to create its own draft."
The fire department was called to a fire at Charlie Thomas's just a few days later on Monday, Aug. 8. The fire on a combine was extinguished before they arrived at the scene. There was no damage and the cause was an overheated bearing.
***
A major fire occurred in Brussels downtown in October of 1983. Two families were left homeless after fire ravaged the Olympia Restaurant and Turnberry Upholstery. Damage, which included smoke damage to several neighbouring stores, was estimated at $150,000. Firefighters were at the scene for 11 hours.
The call came in at 10:10 p.m. after the owner of Turnberry Upholstery, who lived above the business, noticed smoke coming into the apartment.
By the time the firefighters arrived the restaurant was engulfed in flames. Wingham, Blyth and Grey Twp. fire departments were called in to assist.
The cause of the blaze was unknown, though the Ontario Fire Marshall at the time determined that it may have started in the false ceiling in the rear section of the restaurant.
The Protopapases, who owned the restaurant, were visiting family at the time of the fire.
Local people offered food, clothing and lodging. "The town has been super," Gus Protopapas said at the time.
"I feel sorry for my neighbour because the fire started in my place. I'm grateful nobody was hurt, but it's still a great loss for everybody."
***
In July of 1988, fire broke out in the Brussels Legion. For several hours while the Brussels firefighters fought the dangerous blaze, officers from the Wingham OPP were hot on the trail of the two men they believed responsible.
Shortly after the fire department was called at 2:20 a.m., police were notified as a break-in was suspected from the start. A downstairs window had been broken and the firemen had determined that the front door had been forced open.
"Nobody would have minded the little bit of liquor they took, it's the stupid vandalism that put my men's lives at risk," Fire Chief Howard Bernard told The Citizen.
Volunteers were at the scene until 6 a.m., several times donning special breathing apparatus in order to enter the smoke-filled building.
Two former Brussels residents were later charged with one count of break, enter and theft and one count of arson. The first man was arrested just hours after the fire broke out, while the second was arrested the next day.
Estimates of damage to the building were between $150,000 to $200,000. Most of the lower floor of the Legion was gutted while the entire building suffered heavy smoke and water damage as firemen fought the stubborn blaze. Exterior damage to the steel-clad building was minimal.
The Legion has since been rebuilt.
***
Other fires in Brussels recalled by local residents include Cal Krauter's Plumbing and Heating, which was gutted twice, the 5¢ to $1 store,  Bob Krugeman's furniture store, St. John's Anglican Church and Phieffer's barn, where Pete Cardiff carried water in buckets to extinguish cinders on the barn roof.
Fire's tragedies
Fire – controlled it can be a source of warmth, a thing of beauty, but raging out of control it is, at the least, unpleasant and at its worst, terrifying.  It almost certainly always causes damage and often mean loss of some type or another.
When the late Gordon (Doc) Stephenson retired from the Brussels Fire Department after 38 years, in 1983, he recalled the challenge of fighting fires and winning. Sadly, he remembered three times there were loss of lives as well.
"I was acting fire chief when three small boys died," Doc told The Huron Expositor. "The other fires claimed the lives of two elderly sisters and the mother of three children. These are the worst fires. They really stick in your mind."
The Expositor wrote "Doc shudders when he thinks of the three boys who died. 'Their mother tried to rescue them. She had taken the boys to a second storey window. She lifted the window and was sucked out of the house. The boys didn't have a chance'." This fire occurred at the home of David Firby, 670 Elizabeth St. on Dec. 31, 1959. Though the house was gutted, the top storey was removed and the remainder remodelled as a cottage style home, now owned by Wallace and Jean Bell.
The Firby's had built a new house next door, which they had planned to move into soon. It is the home today of Lloyd and Mabel Glanville.
Doc also remembered the death of two elderly sisters, Janet and Jane McNair in a house fire in December of 1951.
A report in the Dec. 19 issue of The Brussels Post from that year states that it was believed the younger sister, Jane, 78, had died trying to rescue her bed-ridden sister, Janet, 80. The fire was believed to have started in the kitchen stove, while Jane was at the barn of the Grey Twp. property. She saw the house on fire and tried to get to her sister, who was in the upstairs bedroom.
Brussels firemen were summoned by neighbour Ray Seiling. By the time they arrived, the frame home was a raging inferno.
A FIERY HISTORY OF BRUSSELS
With the progress of man and machine, the Brussels of today, has fortunately not seen the devastation of major fires too many times.
During the years, it had its share, however. Between 1860 and 1875, the prosperity of the town was set back no less than three times, when fire levelled the entire business section.
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BRUSSELS' LOST ORGANIZATIONS PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 January 2010 16:18
Children’s Aid Society
A branch of the provincial Children’s Aid Society was formed in Brussels in late December of 1909.
The officers were: president, Rev. A. C. Wishart, BA; vice-president, Rev. E.G. Powell; secretary, J. H. Cameron; treasurer, W.H. Kerr; Committee, Rev. Mr. Cameron, F. H. Gilroy, George Thomson, F.S. Scott, G. A Deadman and W.M. SInclair.
The organization was the outcome of a visit of W.A. Gunton of Toronto, inspector of the department of Neglected and Dependent children.
AOUW
The officers elected to the Workmen’s Lodge in June of 1887 were: M.W., E.E. Wade; foreman, W. H. Cloakey; foreman, W. Ainley; financier, J. Shaw; recorder, J.A. Creighton; receiver, R. N. Ferguson; guide, T. O’Neil; I. W., G. Birt; O.W., Wm Thompson.
The executive elected in April 1911 was: M.W., R. Leatherdale; foreman, R. A. Pryne; overseer, N. F. Gerry; recorder, W.H. Kerr; financial secretary, W.H. McCracken; treasurer, G.A. Deadman; guide, Jno. Simmons; inside watchman, W. Armstrong; outside watchman, W. Work.
Brussels Mechanics’ Institute
In the 19th century reading material was not as plentiful as today. Books were expensive, the print was small, but the quality good. The opening of a library was a great boon to any community. The early subscription libraries were replaced by Mechanics’ Institutes, beginning in the 1830s. The former had existed solely to lend books while the latter was intended to provide their members, mechanics and workingmen, with lectures, classes, reading rooms and lending libraries.
The Brussels Mechanics Institute was incorporated in 1874. In the latter part of the century it provided a library and reading room in the Holmes Block over Smale’s store. Librarian Miss Ross, served until 1887.
Every year a crowd gathered on a Saturday night in January for the auction of magazines. Purchasers would have the privilege of removing magazines from the tables as soon as new ones arrived.
The Brussels Mechanics’ Institute elected officers for the year of 1887 were: president, J. R. Grant; vice-president, F.S. Scott; secretary/treasurer, A. Hunter, directors, Jno. Shaw, Rev. Jno Ross and Rev. W. Smyth, W.B. Dickson, George Rogers, Adam Good, Angus McKay and Dr. Hutchinson.
A motion passed in April of that year that no one would be allowed to take books from the Library without having first paid their membership fee.
The librarian was commissioned to solicit subscriptions for membership for the coming year. She would be paid 10 per cent on all cash received.
Rev. Ross and the president were commissioned to arrange for the purchase of $125 worth of new books for the library.
The financial returns for the year showed receipts of $194.20, with expenses of $112.17 for a profit of $82.03.
There were 1031 volumes in the library representing works on science, biography, history, fiction, poetry, voyage and travel, miscellaneous, religious literature, encyclopedia, magazines, reports and atlas. Fiction was the preferred choice that year. Members numbered 54.
By May 27, 1887, there were 80 names on the membership roll of the Mechanics’ Institute.
One year later the library had a balance of $114.77. The librarian was Miss Minnie Shaw, who reported to the Institute that there was a total of 1,397 books in the library, with 107 members.
At the end of the century municipal library boards were established to provide library services.
Women’s Foreign Missionary Society
The Brussels auxiliary of the WFM Society met the first Tuesday of each month in the year of 1887.
Its anniversary meeting was held in April. The well-attended program was as follows: devotional exercises, motto song by nine little girls, paper on missions by Miss Robertson, sacred music by Mrs. Hutchinson, recitation by Miss McGuire, sacred music by D. Stewart and family, address on missions by Rev. A.Y. Hartley of Bluevale, missionary anthem by the youth choir, recitation and song by five girls and two boys, an anthem by the Choral Society, recitation by Miss McGuire.
The Society was in a prosperous condition with about 50 members. Their contributions in 1887 were $120.
IOOF
The Brussels Independent Order of Oddfellows celebrated the lodge’s anniversary in April of 1887 with a service at Melville Church. The pastor, Rev. Jno Ross delivered the sermon on how “loving God implored reverence, confidence and obedience”.
According to The Brussels Post he spoke very “scathingly of sentimental sympathy and said that oceans full of it were not worth a drop of genuine sympathy and helpfulness”.
He concluded his address referring to the noble work done by the IOOF.
Canadian Temple IOGT
The following officers were elected to this lodge in Aug. 1888: W.C., George Currie; W.V. Miss Roddick; W.M., David Armstrong; W.D.M., Miss May Kerr; P.W., William Miller; W.C., Thomas Hill; W.T., Miss Lily Vanstone; W.F.S., William McCracken; W.S., James Blashill; W.I.G., Miss Bessie Moore, W.O.G., Luther Ball; T.D., Jas. Buyers.
The membership exceeded 50.
COF (Foresters’ Court)
In June 1888, the following officers held the reins of government for the ensuing term in Princess Alexandra Lodge, COF: C.R., Rev. W.T. Cluff; V.C.R., A. J. Lowick; Chaplain, A.Crozer; R.S., W. Smith; F.S., George Rogers; Treasurer, S. Smale; S.W., S. Wake; J.W., W. Wilbee; S.B., N. Flatt; J.B., J. Stretton; H.C. Delegate, Wm. Blashill.
This lodge was a popular institution according to the local newspaper.
Brussels Band
Harry J. Whitley came to Brussels in 1883, to teach the Brussels band. Four years later it was one of the best in the county.
In June of 1887 the band received first prize in Seaforth. The $60 was to be spent on  new uniforms.
The Brussels Brass Band of the early 1930s was led by a Mr. Schade and Ernie Seddon, both of Wingham. Members were trumpeters, Wilfred Cameron, George Smith, Wilford Willis, Jack Baeker and Earl Moore, trombonists Ken Tyerman and Cliff Buschlin; baritones Ross Cardiff, Roy Pascoe and Bill King; saxaphonists Norman Hoover and Ken Ashton; clarinetist Bertram McDonald; bass horn players Chester Rintoul, Jack Gibson, Lloyd Wheeler; alto Gerald Gibson; kettle drummers Mac McDowell and Louis Russels and Bob Campbell as bass drummer.
In 1932 the band won first prize at the Waterloo Music Festival, but was later disqualified as contestants were to be 21 and under. Only  two in the Brussels group were, so they were given third prize.
The first uniforms were black pants, white shirts with black bow ties and Japanese koolies (hats) made of rice straw.
A year later the Perth Regiment of Stratford discarded their old uniforms which the band purchased. The pants were navy blue with a red stripe down the leg. The tunics were bright red with officer style peek caps.
Caledonian Society
Beginning 1878, the Caledonian Society hosted the annual Auld Scotia’s Games.
Gentlemen’s Club
Some 50 years ago, a group of retired gentlemen began to gather in a room above the present day municipal office. Every night after supper members of the Gentlemen’s Club would climb the 23 stairs  to socialize and enjoy some games of euchre. The club has its share of interesting stories.  One member tumbled down that long flight to his death. On another occasion a group discovered a group of teens had snuck in to the unlocked building and caused some minor mischief. The police officers were called and the miscreants taken away.
As members passed away the club declined in numbers until only a handful continued to make the trip up those stairs. The club ceased to exist in 1992.
A plaque has been made with the club members names:  Alex Rutledge, R.J. McLauglin, Jim S. Smith, Jack Thynne, Dan McTavish, Walter Scott, Jas. Kerr, Water Kerr, John Rowland, Ken Ashton, Alex Shaw, Jack Yuill, John Bowman, Alvin Logan, Chas. Draper, Albert Quipp, Jake Fisher, Wess Kerr, Jas. W. Smith, Frank Thompson, Ned Rutledge, Glen Smith, Joe Cooper, Stan Alexander, Bill Smith, Harvey Craig, Jack Savage, Jack McCutcheon, Norm Hoover, Ross Cunningham, Carson Watson, Jack White, Norm Pheiffer, Gordon Grant, Jas. McTaggart, Jas. McFarlene, Jas. McDonald, Bob Bowman, Wilbur Turnbull, George Davidson, Brigham Henry, Ward Sellers, Francis Kearney.
CGIT
Marguerite Krauter and Wilma Hemingway began a Canadian Girls in Training chapter through Melville Presbyterian Church, circa 1950. Membership was approximately 10. The club disbanded after about a decade.
BRUSSELS ORGANIZATIONS FROM THE PAST
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HOTELS IN BRUSSELS PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 18 December 2009 15:37
Like most area  municipalities, hotels were in abundance in Brussels during its early years. A story in The London Free Press of Feb. 15, 1964, by Leon Cantelon, indicated that  by 1863, what was then known as Ainleyville, had two hotels, The British Hotel, owned by Simon Powell, The North American Hotel, owned by William Armstrong and one saloon, The Dingle Saloon, owned by John Graham.  The 1879 Belden Atlas listed five hotels among the assets of the young village.
The Revere House , a wooden building, was situated just south of the railroad tracks to the west of Turnberry St. The Central Hotel was situated on the east side of Main St in what is now the liquor store parking lot. The Tecumseh Hotel was owned by Wm. Vanstone, one of the first settlers to what was then Ainleyville in 1859. He was also the owner of the chopping mill, flour mill and saw mill, where the Logan Mill presently stands.
Cited in the Belden Atlas as "one of the finest buildings we have ever seen in a place of corresponding size" was the once-splendid Queen's Hotel, which, its splendour having faded, was demolished in 1986 to make way for what is now the Foodland. The following description is taken from that 1879 historical atlas.
"The main facade (of the Queen's Hotel) shows a chief front and two projecting wings, the interval being filled by a handsome piazza of equal height with the main building , which is three stories and a basement; the centre is topped by a lofty and highly ornamental rectangular tower, surmounted by a cupola whose top is protected by a handsome iron railing.
The architecture of the rectangle is broken at intervals by dormers which add to the general effect, making it as a whole, one of the finest commercial buildings anywhere to be found."
Sadly, by the time the building was demolished most of its former glory was long gone. The brick had been painted white and the paint was flaking. The hotel had been vandalized. The original balconies were gone, along with the cupola. One wing had been covered with clapboard.
The village of Brussels picked up the property at a tax sale and, concerned with the safety of people in the area, sought a buyer to redevelop the main steet location.
Demolition began in March of 1986 to make room for a new EMA supermarket. Total Demolition of Brussels had the contract to remove the building, bricks and other materials  to be recycled into other building projects.
One piece of the hotel which remains alive is the front of the old sample room. Brussels native and architect John Rutledge, had remembered that under the boarded up front of the hotel was an ornate storefront of what used to be a pool hall and hamburger stand operated by his aunt, Maggie Rutledge. He asked for the boards to be removed so he could get a picture, then was so impressed he contacted the Huron County Museum curator, who purchased it and used it in a streetscape reproduction at the museum.
When Brussels celebrated its centennial in 1972, the last of the two remaining hotels was then called The New American Hotel, the "new" having been added years earlier. This hotel, later renamed the Brussels Inn remained open for many years after the Queen's closed. When it closed, for a time there was fear that it would meet the same fate  as vandals quickly attacked and started its rapid decline. It was, however, saved in the late '80s by June Warwick. Then when Joe and Helga Springer of Waterloo purchased it in 1992 they renamed it the Brussels Country Inn. They remodelled the upstairs transforming 17 rooms and one restroom into three rooms and three suites with private baths.
Downstairs required primarily cosmetic work, with the end result being an elegant updating and new life for a part of Brussels history, a reminder of the once glorious structures that thrived in the bustling new community of the 1800s.
The couple ran the Inn successfully for several years before selling it. The new owners eventually abandoned the building.
Fencing went up around it in 2006, as chief building official Paul Josling said the building was no longer safe to enter. In January 2008 the building was demolished ending the era of hotels in Brussels.
BRUSSELS ONCE HAD FIVE HOTELS, NOW NONE
Like most area  municipalities, hotels were in abundance in Brussels during its early years. A story in The London Free Press of Feb. 15, 1964, by Leon Cantelon, indicated that  by 1863, what was then known as Ainleyville, had two hotels, The British Hotel, owned by Simon Powell, The North American Hotel, owned by William Armstrong and one saloon, The Dingle Saloon, owned by John Graham.  The 1879 Belden Atlas listed five hotels among the assets of the young village.
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BRUSSELS LAW ENFORCEMENT PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 18 December 2009 13:57
These were the men of law and order. But they were also the men who tended the fire, shipped stock, weighed coal, swept streets, hitched the horses to the fire wagon and rang the town bell. Where today small communities get by without the constant presence of a police officer, in the early days the town constable was everything to the village. Their day could begin at 4:30 a.m. and end at 8 that evening.
While many pre-20th century Brussels Posts make reference to Const. McComb, one of the first to be remembered by longtime residents was Robert Oliver. He was followed in the 1920s by Gordon McDowell, a big man, who maintained the peace in a no-nonsense manner, while earning the respect of those who encountered him. His wife, Christine, was a practical nurse, who, they say, helped to bring many Brussels babies into the world.
According to an old story in The Toronto Star Weekly, if Brussels was a one-man town, that man was Const. MacDowell. The article states, "If city slickers start cutting up around the town, Chief MacDowell appears as the instrument of law and order. If fire breaks out, and one did four years ago, Chief MacDowell appears in the role of adjutant of the volunteer fire brigade. He is caretaker of the municipal buildings, truant officer, dog catcher and streetsweeper. His title is utility officer."
A village bylaw from June 1934, appointed McDowell and George Evans as constables and officers to enforce the Liquor Control Act of Ontario.
They were followed by George Campbell, who was appointed in 1938 ,Wm. "Bid" Bell, who was also a "great stick handler and hockey player", and Charles Shaw.
The last of the town constables was David (Scotty) Hastings. Born in Ohiltree, Scotland, Mr. Hastings came to Canada at the age of 14. He moved to Brussels following his marriage to Vera Fox in 1939. He enlisted in the 100th Battery RCA in 1939 and served overseas until his discharge in 1945.
Prior to his many years of service as a village employee, he was employed with Duncan McDonald Lumber and Joe Brewer Coal.
Mr. Hastings, who received a 25-year pin as a member of the Brussels Legion Branch 218 (and played the tenor drum with the pipe band), passed away March 28, 1974.
In March of 1989 Brussels opened its Community Oriented Policing (COP) Extended Services Office in the library basement. COP's focus is to form a partnership that best serves the ultimate interest and protection of society. A constable, Carl Rickert, was assigned to work with the community representatives to find ways to deal with things that affect the quality of life in a small town, such as vandalism and drugs.
Law breakers
From the Files of The Brussels Post
June 1887 — Some contemptible sneak or sneaks broke into the army barracks and cut the heads off the two drums in pieces. This is a very small trick and shows very little manliness. Constable McComb will find some subjects for the cooler in the neighbourhood of the barracks some of these evenings. Ruffianism is not going to run Brussels and the violaters of law and order should be taught so very emphatically.
June 1887 — Some boys went into Thos. Kelly's garden and destroyed a lot of flowers. The Post says, "He is prepared to rake them fore and aft with a little common salt if they repeat their visit."
Oct. 12, 1888 — For some time Adam Good, general merchant had missed from his store large quantities of hats, boots, shoes, groceries and other matters. Suspicious, he hid in the store to be an unobserved observer. The first person to enter was W.T. Hall, who obtained, from a youth employed with Mr. Good, McCullough, two pair of overshoes and left without paying.
Next Sam Beattie, a livery stable keeper,  obtained a felt hat, with the same "advantageous terms".
When Mr. Good revealed his presence and demanded an explanation the youth confessed that this business had been going on for some time with no other remuneration than trifling sums given to him "to put in his own pocket".
Both men were charged with knowingly receiving stolen goods. They were arrested and tried that same day.  The  pair was escorted to Goderich by Constables Scott and Ainley. E.E. Wade acted as Mr. Good's legal adviser, while R.S. Hays acted for the prisoners.
July 1888 — Thomas Wilson, son of James, was fatally shot by a gun he and Kenzie Scott had been handling while on Elizabeth St. on the way to J. Hargreaves drug store, where he worked. The pair had been trying to draw an old charge from the gun, and failing that,  put powder in the nipple and cracked a couple of caps without causing the powder to explode. Tom then left and got near the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, when the gun was discharged and the slug struck him on the right temple. A good share of the shot lodged in his right arm, neck and face. Dr. McKelvey attended, but Tom passed away that evening.
Coroner Dr. Graham helped to dispel the rumours, by declaring he believed the shooting to be purely accidental. It was decided that an inquest was not necessary. The victim's family did not want an inquest. However, the father of Kenzie was anxious for an investigation.
Tom Wilson's funeral two days later was largely attended despite a heavy rainstorm.
The July 29 paper reported that an investigation was held into the shooting. Mr. Wilson addressed the court saying, "I opposed a coroner's inquest, but on hearing so many false reports I thought it better to have an investigation."
After hearing the evidence the case was dismissed. Kenzie Scott received a "very strong reproof".
George Andrews, sent to Goderich from Brussels in June of 1888 for stealing some scrap iron, was sentenced to one month in jail at hard labour.
Mr. Andrews had taken the iron from P. Scott's blacksmith shop and sold it to  London scrap iron dealers.
Aug. 26, 1909 — A bigamy case developed some unusual features. The accused parties were John Scott, a young Englishman of about 22, and Jane Hazen, 45. Mrs. Hazen, who is the wife of Christopher Hazen of Proton Station, left her husband the previous December and moved to Orangeville with her two children.
Some three weeks later Scott followed and as she was destitute he boarded with her and provided for the family. They married on July 12 in Brampton.
In court Hazen said he was married at Brussels 21 years ago to this wife, then Jane Billings, and that they had lived happily until Scott appeared on the scene. He said they had five children, one of whom had died. Mrs. Hazen, on the other hand, said they had 10 children, six of whom had died through malnourishment and the refusal of her husband to provide medical care. There was no indication that Scott knew of the previous marriage and his acts were seen as having some elements of humanity.
She received a suspended sentence, as in the opinion of the magistrate, she seemed to have been "more sinned against than sinning."
April 20, 1911 — George Vanstone was found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the beating death of his son. He was sentenced by Justice Falconbridge to life in prison. The Brussels Post of that time states, "The prisoner's wife burst into tears when she heard the sentence."
Feb. 8, 1961 — Joseph LeBarge of Toronto pled guilty in Goderich to the theft of $1,600 worth of goods, including a TV set, transistor radios, shotguns, rifles, TV tubes and tools during a break-in at Oldfield's Hardware Jan. 6.
Feb. 16, 1961 — The Texan Grill was hit by thieves during the early hours of a Monday morning. Cigarettes and juke box money was stolen.
The building was entered after thieves broke a rear window, then not finding anything there, forced open the front door. They used a pinch bar to pry out the coin box of the jukebox, rummaged through the till, but left 50 coppers in the till untouched.
This was the most recent in a series of break-ins over a two-week period. Other stores hit were the sale yards, Lowe's Red and White and the Baeker Butcher Shop, where they failed to gain entry. The issue of The Post  states, "Apparently the thief is a confirmed cigarette smoker as he takes only cigarettes, not cigars or tobacco, and scorns chocolate bars."
May 30, 1961 — The office of the Brussels Sales Yard was broken into with the thief making off with a quantity of cigarettes and about seven dollars in cash form the lunch counter till.
This was yet another in a series of break-ins that had plagued business over several months.
May 4, 1961 — Safe crackers got $1,500 in cash from the East Huron Produce during the early morning hours. It was believed the safe was blown open with nitroglycerin after the building was entered by forcing the front window on the south wall opposite the door of the office. The safe door was completely blown off, but nothing else appeared to have been tampered with.
The robbery was discovered by Dick Stephenson, a employee. Burglary tools had been left behind, including a pinch bar, axe, batteries and wires.
The robbery left the manager Wm. Stephenson without funds to carry on Saturday business.
Nearby residents believed they heard an explosion about 4 a.m. Wingham and Mt. Forest detachment of the OPP investigated.
In September of 1989, the long story of the fire at the Brussels Legion Hall, July 6, 1988, came to an end. Leonard Gordon Cowie and Robert Martin Killick pled guilty to charges relating to the incident when they appeared in Ontario Supreme Court in Goderich. Killick received a two and a half year pentientiary term for setting the fire which caused more than $200,000 damage. He also received four months consecutive on a break and enter charge and two months consecutive for theft. Cowie was given one year in a reformatory, plus probation.
THE LAW ENFORCEMENT IN BRUSSELS HISTORY
They were the men of law and order. But they were also the men who tended the fire, shipped stock, weighed coal, swept streets, hitched the horses to the fire wagon and rang the town bell. Where today small communities get by without the constant presence of a police officer, in the early days the town constable was everything to the village. Their day could begin at 4:30 a.m. and end at 8 that evening.
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BRUSSELS CEMETERY PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 December 2009 16:55
Now sitting at 15.8 acres, Brussels Cemetery is Morris Twp.’s largest and most frequently-used cemetery.
The cemetery is just south of Brussels in Morris Twp. on land that was once owned by Robert Burgess. It lies on the north half of Lot 30, Conc. 7 and originally occupied just 4.75 acres, until being expanded to 15.8.
The cemetery serves as the final resting place for several early citizens who played a vital role in shaping the village as it’s seen today, such as John Leckie, the village’s first reeve and William Vanstone, who played a big part in the early development of Brussels.
Prior to 1865, the cemetery was aptly named the New Connection Burial Ground, since it was cared for by members of the New Connection Methodist Church of Brussels until 1865.
The first expansion was negotiated between Rev. Charles E. Stafford of Brussels Methodist Church, a handful of trustees and Mrs. Margaret Burgess in 1875.
The additional land came at a cost of $200 per acre and $100 per additional acre.
At the time, a plot, which was five grave spots, cost $8; and individual graves came at a price of $1.50 each.
When the Brussels Methodist Church joined with the New Connection Methodist Church in 1884, that church cared for the cemetery until 1925, when the church union placed it in the care of the Brussels United Church.
Until the 1940s, upkeep of the memorials as well as the sites were left in the hands of the families of the departed. This was impossible for many families who lived miles away, and had to pay locals to maintain upkeep in their absence.
In the 1940s, the cemetery’s board of trustees began offering a one-time perpetual care cost of $50 to cover upkeep. This cost has now risen to $400 per plot, but it is still a one-time payment.
However, a program initiated in 1982 alleviated the plot owners of the responsibility of the monuments. Then in 1993, the new cemetery act was put in place, further distancing the plot owners from the upkeep of the plots.
The Brussels Cemetery Board now governs over the cemetery. It receives no financial assistance from municipal councils. However, in 1981, the Brussels United Church petitioned council to take over ownership of the property in 1981.
Longtime caretakers of Brussels Cemetery include: Robert Dark, Percy Mitchell and Adrian McTaggart. Currently, the caretaker is Douglas Murray and the chairman is Douglas Sholdice.
Several years ago, a rock and plaque were placed at the cemetery in honour of long-time board member, Jack Bryans.
Across the street from Brussels Cemetery, on the east side of County Road 12 is St. Ambrose Cemetery in Grey Twp.
The St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church purchased the land in late 1914 from Isabella Rands.
BRUSSELS CEMETERY FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR 140 YEARS OF RESIDENTS
Now sitting at 15.8 acres, Brussels Cemetery is Morris Twp.’s largest and most frequently-used cemetery.
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