This first Ponoka Town Hall was built in 1907 at the corner of 51st street and 50th Avenue and faithfully served our community for close to 55 years.

The long and colourful saga of the Ponoka Town Hall

This week's Reflections looks at the time when the old Town Hall was built.

From that first exciting day on October 4, 1904 when Ponoka was officially incorporated as a Town our thriving community has enjoyed a long and colorful history of amazing growth, which has resulted in achieving countless ongoing successes as well as bravely facing many exciting and very tough challenges along the way. Over these past 112 years our friendly town has been led by over 35 elected Mayors and Councils, and these dedicated men and women have been called upon to make the vital and final decisions, stay in budget, and set the direction that will be the best for the present and future of the community and in the best interests of each and every citizen of all ages.

Our first palatial Town Hall

The daring local ‘political process’ in those very early years in Ponoka was decided in the first telephone office or where-ever a meeting place could be found, but then, due to a lot community pressure and lobbying our first magnificent two-story Town Hall, complete with a huge fire bell on the roof, was completed in 1907 at the corner of 51st street and 50th Avenue. As well as the Town Office the busy facility would serve as the home of the Fire Hall, the dog catcher, the courthouse, the Magistrate, and the Town Police, with a jail in the basement, and extra room upstairs for public meetings and even a few dances. After faithfully serving the rapidly growing community for over a half a century a great deal of public pressure was forthcoming to replace the aging structure with a modern new building. Here is the ‘red hot’ editorial, entitled TIME TO SAY YES that was written by Jack Kelly and appeared in the September 6, 1961 edition of the Ponoka Herald.

Town Council is again giving the residents of Ponoka an opportunity to do something about the decrepit building which serves as Ponoka’s Town Hall. It has decided to hold a plebiscite on the matter in conjunction with the forthcoming election of Mayor and two councillors in October. The deplorable condition of the roof, stairways, and the brick veneer siding is a fact known to most of our citizens. These are such that adequate repair is impossible. In addition, the lack of adequate space creates a constantly growing problem as the town grows and with it the amount of administration required.

Newcomers and visitors to Ponoka are interested in establishing a business or making their home here must come first to the town hall for the information they need. The effect on these visitors of the old, run down, ugly building should not be under estimated. This building does nothing to foster a first impression of a vigorous, prosperous, growing community….quite the reverse. Perhaps even more important is the effect on ourselves. From youngsters to old people, everyone would like to feel proud of his own home town, and likes to brag about it on occasion, and this is how it should be. People making their homes, raising their children, and putting down roots in a community should take pride in working together to make their town the best possible place in which to live. Much has already been accomplished, Ponokans are proud of their schools, their facilities for sports, their hospitals, the good work of their active service clubs and lodges, their developing parks and beautifying programs. Yet each time they go to their town hall they feel a twinge of shame. The town hall is the very heart and core of our community, and it should be the symbol of the pride we take in our town. As it stands now it is indeed a sorry symbol.

The town has been well administered and well managed, and it is presently in sound financial shape. Mayor Don McCrimmon and all of the Councillors….Messrs. Auten, Cerveny, Pendleton, Baker, Bartram, and Mark voted unanimously in favor of holding this plebiscite. This is the first step towards getting a new Town Hall. Let al of our citizens make a point of getting to the polls next month, and may they give an overwhelming YES for a new Ponoka Town Hall. On election day Oct. 18, 1961 the New Ponoka Town Hall was approved by 565 votes for and 177 against, with an estimated construction cost of $125,000.

 

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