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Water Tower

0, Queen Street East, Town of St. Marys, Ontario, N4X, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1978/07/25

Of note are the Tower's cylindrical shape and peaked roof.; Gordon Strathdee, 2007.
West Elevation, Water Tower, 2007
Of note is the Water Tower's position as a landmark when exiting the downtown.; Martina Braunstein, 2007.
West Elevation, Water Tower, 2007
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Other Name(s)

Water Tower
Queen Street East

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/12/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Water Tower is on the southeast corner of Queen and James Streets in the Town of St. Marys. The limestone and steel water tower was constructed in 1899.

The property was designated by the Town of St. Marys in 1978 for its heritage value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 26-1978).

Heritage Value

Located at the corner of Queen and James Streets, the Water Tower is an important feature in the town's streetscape. It is a landmark for those viewing the town and acts as a gateway to downtown from the east. This is illustrated through the slogan written on the tower. Although originally painted for the Old Boys Reunion in 1927 to read: “St. Marys, a Fine Place to Live,” visitors and residents are now welcomed into the town with: “St. Marys, The Town Worth Living In.”

The Water Tower is a symbol of St. Marys' growth as a community and a town. The development of the Water Tower occurred as a result of the actions of a local citizens group who, in the 1890s, pushed for the installation of a municipal water system in order to encourage industrial growth. Town Council agreed and construction of the system, which included artesian wells, pumping facilities, seven miles of water mains and the 75,000 gallon tower itself, began in the summer of 1899.

Also significant is the engineering of the tower. The town appointed Willis Chipman as the civil engineer for the project. Chipman was a prominent engineer who was involved with the construction of over 50 of municipal water and sewage systems across Ontario, including those in Gananoque, Goderich and Cornwall. Upon completion of the St. Marys project, Chipman noted that it was one of the best systems he had worked on.

The Water Tower is a fine example of industrial architecture constructed at the turn of the century in Southwestern Ontario. The cylindrical tower is built of solid local limestone with a steel tank. It has an Italianate design typical of many other buildings erected in St. Marys during this period. The construction of a water tower was a very significant investment; this coupled with a water tower's public function resulted in early waterworks facilities having excellent architectural design. This can be seen in the tower's arched windows and decorative banding on the base and by the silver-grey painted steel tank. Another noteworthy feature is the peaked roof.

The Water Tower served the Town of St. Marys for 90 years as the main tower until 1989 when a new tower was commissioned. The exceptionally preserved old tower remains an important symbol of the community.

Source: Town of St. Marys, By-Law 26-1978.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Water Tower include its:
- situation on a prominent corner, as a gateway marker to downtown St. Marys
- local limestone construction
- metal tank
- cylindrical design
- peaked roof
- arched windows
- decorative banding
- painted exterior of tank




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Technology and Engineering

Function - Category and Type



Water or Sewage Facility

Architect / Designer



Willis Chipman

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of St. Marys P.O. Box 998 175 Queen St. East St. Marys, Ontario N4X 1B6

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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