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150 Days of Brockville History

Since February, the Brockville Museum has been counting down 150 days until July 1st with a historical timeline of Brockville on their Facebook page. Part of local celebrations leading up to Canada 150, this account covers 150 years of history in 150 days.

Since it is June 1st and there is only a month left, we searched through their timeline (if you missed any days, you can find past dates on their Digital Museum website) to find some of our favourite pieces of local history posted to date, some of which we knew about and some we did not:

Day 8 (1874):

On July 1st, 1874, 10,000 people gathered on Court House Green to see Professor Squires and his balloon, the Atlantic. Once the balloon got above the rooftops, the wind picked up and the balloon crashed into the spire of the Wesleyan Methodist Church!

The force of the crash knocked the professor unconscious and left the basket dangling 80 feet above the ground. He was rescued by being pulled through a trap door in the spire.

Day 27 (1893):

1893 marked a grim milestone in the history of Brockville and the Counties Court House. At 8:06am on a cold December morning, the last man hanged in Brockville was declared dead. His name was Charlie Luckey. He had been found guilty of killing 3 members of his family the year before. Luckey claimed his innocence right up to the end.

Day 38 (1904):

Installation of the clock on Victoria Hall (City Hall) took place in the Fall of 1904,  although the bell was not in operation for another year. In 1905 a new bylaw set a curfew for town youngsters who were required to return home at the first ringing of the curfew bell. Because the bell at Victoria Hall was not yet ready, the fire bell on the Court House would sound to market curfew instead.

Day 58 (1924):

The Brockville Humane Society was officially organized in March 1924. Almost at once it was a busy group: one of its early inspectors traveled more than 281 miles in a single year as part of his duties! Over the years, the organization has gone through a number of name changes, mergers and addresses but remained focuses on the welfare of animals.

Day 64 (1930):

Disaster struck on June 26, 1930. The JB King, a drill boat working on the channel near Cockburn Island, was struck by lightning. The strike caused the entire vessel to explode. Of the 41 people on board, 30 were killed. 13 of their bodies were never recovered.

Day 73 (1939):

In 1939 Canada – and Brockville – welcomed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This was a historic tour: the first by a reigning monarch. 25,000 people gathered at the Brockville station to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. The Cossitt family recorded the event on a home video camera. To watch the clip, visit https://youtube.com/watch?v=BP3SPbXk4wU

Day 79 (1945):

Throughout 1945 some of the town’s biggest celebrations were to mark the end of the Second World War. VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) on May 8 is probably the best known, however V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day) was also celebrated.

Day 92 (1958):

One of the largest bank heists in Canadian history took place in downtown Brockville in 1958 when the Brockville Trust and Savings on Court House Avenue was broken into. The burglars got into the vault by taking down the adjoining wall and using torches to cut a hole into the metal. Not one knew anything had happened until the next day. Only one person was ever charged and much of the loot never turned up.

The above timeline information was originally posted on the Brockville Museum Digital Museum page and has been shared with their permission. Visit the digital museum for historical photos and articles to accompany each post.

Don’t forget to Like the Brockville Museum on Facebook to see the last 30 days of the timeline as they are released.