Listowel
19th Century Council Projects
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From History of Perth County 1825-1902
by William Johnston, published in 1903

It is noticeable that from these enlarged facilities and constant increase in population, the projects of her council became more ambitious.   Notwithstanding that a debt of $30,000 had been incurred, a further liability of $26,000 was assumed for local improvements.   Of this sum $10,000 was set apart for constructing a central school, $8,000 for mills, $3,500 for gravel roads, $2,000 for fire protection, $1,500 Elma debt and interest, and $1,000 to purchase a new cemetery.   A further sum of $3,600 was also raised to purchase a new fire engine.   In 1879 $7,000 was set apart for local improvements, consisting of a fire hall and lock-up, $2,000 supplementary grant to the central school building, and $1,000 for opening streets and improving fire protection.   During this year, also, $6,000 was provided for erecting a high school.   It appears to me worthy of note that while improvements were being carried out, and the people were putting forth their energies in every direction, nothing is said regarding a municipal building, unless we accept the fire hall and lock-up as being specially designed to accommodate the town officers.   I may also be permitted to say that for a town with its stately homes; its public buildings, second to none in the province where a similar population is gathered together; its manufacturing establishments, extensive and built of costly material, giving the town an imposing appearance, it is not creditable that a dilapidated structure on a principal street should be still used as a town hall.

In 1883 the last important addition was made to the town's indebtedness by a loan of $10,000 for re-constructing bridges carried away by a flood, two of which were on main streets.   In 1880 seven hotel and two shop licenses were issued at a charge of $110 for hotels and $200 for shops. Old Father Time, who has wrought many changes since that period, has also placed his finger here, there being now only three.   These are first-class, however, spacious, and well conducted. From the days when the pioneer placed a tallow candle in a socket made from a potato, and whose dim light scarcely penetrated the dark recesses of his shanty, except the coal oil lamp, previous to 1880 there was no system of lighting.   During that year a gas company was organized, with W. J. Hay and Thomas E. Hay as principal promoters.   This institution supplied light till 1897, when the same company introduced electricity, thus supplying the people with the latest and most approved mode of lighting.   Here, also, will be found representatives of nearly the whole of the benevolent societies, all elevating and doing good, each in its own sphere.   The sixty volumes received from Wallace at separation, as Listowel's share of the public library, have grown and expanded to thousands of volumes, and is known as the mechanics' institute library.