Historic Calgary City Hall’s Famous Clock now on Display - Gateway Gazette

Historic Calgary City Hall’s Famous Clock now on Display

By Contributor

Jan 11

Citizens invited to come see a piece of Calgary’s history

Calgarians can now get a behind the scenes look of the inner workings of Historic City Hall’s famous clock.

The Seth Thomas Clock, originally placed in Historic City Hall in 1911, is the only remaining timepiece of its kind in Canada. Only 50 of this particular model were ever manufactured, and today fewer than 12 are operating worldwide that haven’t been modernized with auto winding or converted to electric operation.

Recognizing the historical significance of the clock, The City included its repair and restoration as part of the work to rehabilitate Historic City Hall. The clock is now fully repaired and will be on display during regular business hours in the atrium of the Calgary Municipal Building (800 Macleod Trail SE) until fall 2019 when it will be reinstalled in the clock tower. The clock will be housed in a transparent display case which will also be used to protect the clock when it is reinstalled within Historic City Hall.

“With only fifty clocks of this particular model ever manufactured, this clock is a valuable historical timepiece and is one of the most defining features of Historic City Hall,” said Darrel Bell, acting director of Facility Management with The City. “I’m excited that we are able to share this historical artifact with Calgarians, and I encourage all citizens to come and take advantage of this unique opportunity to see the clock up close over the next year.”

At 110 years old, Historic City Hall is the only surviving city hall from its time period in Western Canada. The rehabilitation of Historic City Hall is an important part of preserving Calgary’s history and is one of the most significant heritage projects underway in Canada.

Quick facts about the clock:

  • The clock is the only remaining timepiece of its kind in Canada. Only 50 of this particular model were ever manufactured, and today fewer than 12 are operating worldwide that haven’t been modernized with auto winding or converted to electric operation.
  • The vision for Calgary’s new City Hall in 1907 included an illuminated clock set into a five-story sandstone tower, which became the focal point of the building’s design.
  • In July 1910, The City contracted local jewelry firm D.E. Black to supply the tower clock and, with the exception of winding, provide maintenance for five years. D.E. Black chose the New Model 16A tower clock, manufactured by the Seth Thomas Clock Company of Connecticut, to be installed at a cost of approximately $3,500.
  • Designed to strike on the hour, the four-faced clock was fitted with a 1,500 lb bell and was guaranteed to run within a variation of ten seconds per month.
  • The clock was installed in 1911 by Rudolph Engel and synched with the “official” Canadian Pacific Railway time.
  • To run, the clock must be wound twice a week with a manual crank.
  • The total weight of the clock parts is 3,950 pounds.
  • Bell: 1,500 lbs
  • Clock: 1,700 lbs – including 9 ft pendulum that is 175 lbs
  • Weights: 750 lbs – two in total, one is 250 lbs and the other is 500 lbs

For more information on the heritage rehabilitation of Historic City Hall, visit calgary.ca/HistoricCityHall

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