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BELL SOUND FOR HISTORIC MILESTONE (Posted On: Thursday, July 03, 2008)

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The sound of the bell in the clock tower of Collingwood Town hall sounds regularly.  It chimes the hours of the day and in the quiet moments of a day you can hear them in several areas of town.

In reality it is a sound that is so common to us all; the chimes probably pass several hours a day where we don’t even consciously notice them.  It is after all a regular part of our day.

Thursday morning though it is highly likely though that many people noticed that

at eleven o’clock the chimes were ringing.  The first eleven rings of course were the ones that were expected.  The bell kept ringing.

It wasn’t a malfunction, it was planned and the chimes continued until 40 of them had been marked off at eleven o’clock. 

The ringing of the bells was meant to mark an historic birthday.  As we celebrate our
Sesquicentennial in Collingwood the folks in Quebec City are marking a milestone that none of us will ever see.  Hopefully the town will, but none of us will.

It was in 1608 that Samuel de Champlain founded a settlement that would grow into
Quebec City.  That is right; Quebec City is 400 years old.  It is considered one of the oldest European settlements in North America.

According to Wikipedia there are many Mexican cities that date from the 16th century; Quebec City, though, is considered to be the first European-built city in non-Spanish North America.

There are several Canadian and American cities that were created earlier than Quebec City but it earns the distinction because it was established for the specific purpose of receiving permanent settlement.  The others were first designed as commercial outposts.

Actually if the first settlements of that area had taken the city would be about 570 years old as the site first had a fort back in the 1530’s.  It was established by Jacques Cartier.  The first attempts at making a permanent settlement were abandoned because of harsh winters and poor relations with the First Nations residents of the area.

As it is, July 3rd , 1608 is considered the day that the city was officially established by Samuel de Champlain.   Agriculture, firewood and the fur trade were vital components of the early roots of the city.  And these roots were evident over a long period of time in the early history of the city.

One of the most significant battles that determined the future of Canada was fought in Quebec.  The Plains of Abraham are in the western part of the city, in an area known as Battlefields Park.  The British took the battle during the Seven Years’ War and a year later took control of all of New France.  Eventually getting France to rescind all claims to land in our country.

Now of course we associate Quebec City with the world famous Winter Carnival, an event that most Canadians are familiar with even if they have never visited.  The stunning architecture of Quebec maintains the links to Old Europe; the fortified walls are a UNESCO world heritage site.  Hockey fans of course remember the Quebec Nordiques and the great NHL play off battles staged with Montreal.

Several months ago Collingwood council, like many municipalities across Canada were asked to set aside a few moments on July 3rd to mark the historic 400th birthday of a city that has such a prominent place in Canadian history.  All the municipalities had to do is have a bell ringing at 11 am.  The forty rings of course mark each decade of the cities long history.  Council in Collingwood eagerly accepted the idea.

Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier says as a patriotic Canadian he was eager to have the town take part in the event.  Mayor Carrier says that he definitely wanted to hear our town bell, ringing knowing that the chimes marked a moment in Canadian history.

Our town of course is celebrating a special anniversary this year, the Sesquicentennial of the official creation of the town of Collingwood.  And while we celebrate 150 years, we can understand on a smaller scale what the people of Quebec City are enjoying. 

So what you heard this morning was not a clock that forgot what time it was, but instead with 40 rings it was a clock being used to remember a moment in Canadian time that definitely is worth remembering.

Segments from Mayor Chris Carrier
and Dale West - The Peak FM
Photos: CBC.CA


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