By Mrs Milton Thompson
During 1902, a group of men led by Roy Hunter conceived the idea of presenting Concerts in the McKinley Block Opera House to raise money for a Town Clock that was to be placed in the Municipal Building being built on Erie Street South. Mr Hunter and some of his concert helpers (the Bullers) moved out west, so the funds they had collected lay idle in the Bank for a number of years. Many donations were given by local individuals, a Miss Bell Buller being one of the generous ones.
Then at a meeting of the Ridgetown Women's Institute, held in August 1915, a clock board was formed. It was comprised of Convenor, Mrs Sales, and helpers Mesdames Bowyer, Coll, Mitton, Alexander, Craig, Miss Buller, Waterworth, the Shaw sisters, Mrs Watt and Miss E. Backus as Secretary Treasurer. The Members of the Women's Institute served lunch two days at Ridgetown Fair and sold tags on the grounds, raising $141.77 toward the clock fund. This was balanced by members soliciting the business people and canvassing the town of Ridgetown.
January 1920 - Mrs A Wright President of Ridgetown Women's Institute reported that Reeve Beck had asked the Treasurer of the Clock Ffund, if the Women's Institute would still endorse their previous offer to raise $1,000.00 toward paying for a Town Clock.
February 1922 - a resolution stating - Ridgetown Women's Institute of erecting Town Clock, would turn over the money in their possession collected for the purpose of erecting Town Clock, as also will Mr Hummel, the amount in his possession, collected for same purpose, to the Ridgetown Council, in the event of their erecting a Town Clock. As this Institute has taken up the work of Civic Improvement in establishment of a Women's Rest Room (a movement which fills a long felt need, and a work we wish for the co-operation of Town Council), we cannot vouch for a specified amount over and above that already raised for the Clock purpose, but will endeavour to augment such amount provided Town Council grant the Ridgetown Women's Institute free use of the Council Chambers of the Municipal Hall, heat and lights included, for the purpose of holding any teas, or other meetings they may deem necessary to increase the fund for the purchase of a Town Clock, to the $1,000.00 for which the Institute have been asked.
In March 1922, Council accepted this resolution so the Women's Institute canvassed again, receiving $147,15. With interest accrued and amounts subscribed in 1915, as nearly as could be estimated, the total would practically amount to $945.00 - a balance of $55.00 yet to be raised.
September 1922 - Reported the clock was bought and being shipped as it had been purchased from a Croydon Clock Firm in England. Cost of clock $1900.00, of which the Council paid the balance, after the Institute's agreement to pay $1,000.00 and $738.70 in Mr Hummel's possession; having been raised for same purpose.
The head firm in England sent their man from England to Ridgetown to place it in its present position. When it needed repairs, the factory in England had been bombed out during the war and its patents destroyed and lost. However, Lloyds of England, the owners, had a branch in Toronto, Canada.
The second clock was bought from "Lloyds" but the head Firm in England had a clock branch in Toronto supply Ridgetown with the clock. Mr Lee Simpson and Mr Roy Squires have parts of this first clock in their antique collection among other historic relics.
The new clock was to be placed where the town bell had been in the Municipal Building's Tower. However the face of the clock was larger than the openings where the bell sound came through. Mr J.L. Wilson (who owns the Broom Factory) and Mr Richardson built a scaffold around the Tower and made the hole bigger so the face of the present clock fitted into its position.
John Richardson of Ridgetown, who had the job of looking after the weigh scales on the market square (now a parking space near Kemp and Hooper Service Station), also looked after the of ringing the Town Bell in the Municipal Tower.
Although the clock does not strike the hour today it stands a landmark in the town and reminds us of the untiring effort of the Women's Institute of 1913, who worked so hard to better the town of Ridgetown.
Mrs Milton Thompson
Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.