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Cambridge City Hall

46, Dickson Street, Cambridge, Ontario, N1R, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/08/10

View of the east showing contextual location within market square – April 1990; OHT, 1990
View of the east elevation – April 1990
View of the north elevation showing the fire escapes added in the 1960s – June 2002; OHT, 2002
View of the north elevation – June 2002
Historic view of the west elevation showing former market space on ground floor – c. 1900; cambridgeweb.net, 2005
Historic view of the west elevation – c. 1900

Other Name(s)

Cambridge City Hall
Galt Town Hall

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1857/01/01 to 1858/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/19

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building at 46 Dickson Street, commonly known as both Cambridge City Hall and Historic Galt Town Hall, is situated on a prominent parcel of land in the City of Cambridge's central civic square. The two-and-a-half-storey rectangular building is fronted by a squared bell tower and was constructed in 1858 to the designs of architect H.B. Sinclair.

The exterior of the building and its surrounding grounds are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement. The property is also designated by the City of Cambridge under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (Bylaw 2129).

Heritage Value

Cambridge City Hall is historically significant for its association with the early development of the Town of Galt (now part of the City of Cambridge) and for its continued use as a center for municipal governance. Built to replace the former Dumfries Township Hall, which had been constructed on the same site in 1838, the Italianate design of the new building was originally scoffed at by many of the town's 3,500 residents. Consequently, an 'indignation meeting' was arranged by concerned citizens and the architectural styling of the proposed town hall was discussed on December 17, 1856. According to the locals, the building's design was not grand enough to match the emerging importance of Galt as a center of industry. Despite the apprehension, the project moved forward under architect H.B. Sinclair and builder William Graham after the town's first mayor, Morris C. Lutz, laid the building's cornerstone at a ceremony on May 13, 1857. Following a series of project setbacks, the town hall was finally opened on November 5, 1858 with the cost of construction totalling $3,650. The finished building contained the town market at the basement level and civic administrative uses on the first and second floors. Cambridge City Hall currently operates as both the municipal archives and the municipal council chambers, the latter use having been maintained since the building was first opened.

Cambridge City Hall is architecturally significant as an example of a typical town hall built in Ontario during the mid-19th Century. The simple symmetrical plan of the building is characteristic of the emerging mid-19th Century Italianate style, but the structure also contains many Georgian-inspired features such as its projecting pedimented bays and simple cornice. The belfry of the clock tower, added to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, is representative of a more eclectic late-19th Century Victorian architecture. Access to the building was originally gained through a set of ceremonial entrances on the east and west elevations of the tower, however, following a project in the mid-1960s to modernize the interior of the building, the stairways to these entrances were removed and access was shifted to a basement level door adjacent to the tower. This rehabilitation project was completed by architect Peter John Stokes and included the installation of an elevator into the tower.

Located in the City of Cambridge's central civic square, the building is a focal point in the former Town of Galt's historic core and can be viewed from numerous locations within the community. It is situated at the southern terminus of Cambridge Street and is enclosed by a set of roadways and an area of open space that ensure views of the structure remain unencumbered. The context of 'a building in the round' has been maintained since Galt's original street layout and now protects the setting of the City Hall in its original state. The building is also the center-piece of a collection of municipally-designated heritage buildings including the Wesley Methodist Church (1879), the Galt Vegetable Market Building (1887), the former Galt Fire Hall (1898) and the Durward Centre / Cambridge Centre for the Arts (1922).

Source: Conservation Easement Files, Ontario Heritage Trust.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Cambridge City Hall include:
- its association with the early urban development of the Town of Galt
- the continuous use of its site as a centre for municipal governance since 1838
- its continuous use as the municipal council chambers since 1858
- the use of split fieldstone for exterior walls and rough-dressed local dolomite granite for the foundation
- the centrally located projecting bays and gables of the east and west elevations
- the woodwork of the pedimented gable on the north elevation and the broken pedimented gable on the south elevation
- the simple but bold wood cornice that surrounds the building and divides the tower into two distinctive sections
- the double-hung sash windows containing flush fans, projecting keystones, and semi-circular arches
- the paired semi-circular arch openings on the east, west and south elevations of the clock tower
- the four clock faces of the tower with decorative wood mouldings
- the open arched belfry with mansard roof to shelter the old town bell
- the gently sloped slate-clad gable roof and the two sets of stone chimneys that flank the east and west pediments
- its location in the Civic Square area of Galt's historic core
- its siting within an enclosure of roadways and public space
- its prominence as a landmark with sightlines in all directions
- its close proximity to the other historic buildings of the Galt central core




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1897/01/01 to 1897/01/01
1965/01/01 to 1967/01/01
1982/01/01 to 1982/01/01
1989/01/01 to 1989/01/01
1990/01/01 to 1990/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Office or office building


Town or City Hall

Architect / Designer

H.B. Sinclair


William Graham

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conservation Easement Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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