Description of Historic Place
The Galt Public Utilities Commission Building, located at 62 Dickson Street, is situated on the northeast corner of Dickson and Wellington Streets, within close view of the Grand River, in the former City of Galt, now the City of Cambridge. The property consists of a three-storey yellow brick and limestone building that was constructed in 1922.
The property was designated by the City of Cambridge in 2000 for its historic value or interest under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 1-00).
The Galt Public Utilities Commission Building was constructed after the need for a more reliable power source became apparent. In 1907, Galt officials, along with officials from other areas of what is now the City of Cambridge, negotiated with the Hydro Electric Power Commission to transmit electricity from Niagara to Galt.
Sir Adam Beck, known as the father of public electrical power in Ontario, spearheaded the Niagara power project, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Galt Public Utilities Commission Building. Sir Beck, who at one time lived in the former City of Galt and owned a manufacturing business in the area, encouraged officials to construct the building and to include in it a hydro shop, to promote the use of power. The building is said to have secured the future of electrical power in the community. In Sir Beck's honour, a memorial tablet on the building reads, “In grateful and affectionate remembrance of Sir Adam Beck without whose knightly courage and inspiring zeal this building and all for which it stands could not have been”.
F.C. Bodley, the local architect who oversaw the Public Utilities Commission Building's construction, in 1922, was also well known in the former City of Galt. Another prominent example of Brodley's work, in the City of Cambridge, is the Galt Arena Gardens.
The Galt Public Utilities Commission Building is an excellent example of the Modern Classical style of architecture. The Modern Classical style is demonstrated through the building's strong symmetry, flat roofline and understated details. The arched windows on the first storey and the panels of windows on the second and third stories, created by projecting pillars, also contribute to the simple beauty of this structure.
Located at the corner of Wellington and Dickson Streets, and part of the downtown Civic Centre area, the architecture of this building makes a significant contribution to the streetscape.
Sources: City of Cambridge By-law 1-00; Jim Quantriee, Essays on the History of Cambridge.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Galt Public Utilities Commission Building include its:
- memorial tablet in honour of Sir Adam Beck and his contributions to hydro-electric power generation in Galt and Ontario
- siting creating a dominant and imposing building which clearly communicates its importance within the community
- scale and grandeur
- use of yellow-brick and local limestone
- symmetrical features
- flat roofline
- projecting pillars on the second and third storeys which create panels of windows
- arched windows on the first storey
- central location in the Civic Centre area of Cambridge