and Jail House
The old town hall of Caledonia Ontario was built in the year 1857, and it is said to be occupied by a ghost that haunts the hall today...
Back in the year of 1853 Caledonia was incorporated as a village. The first council meetings were held in an INN by Mr. John Campbell. Later any further meetings were arranged at the grammer school. As the meetings continued at the school a small majority of council members voted on Feb. 27th/1854 for a new town hall and lockup house to be built.
The clerk was asked to contact a John Turner of Brantford for plans to build the new town hall to be made 30 feet by 30 feet, two storey brick, with stone basement, and to limit the cost to no more than 1,000 pounds. The contract was granted to Bird and Johnson Ltd for 1,275 pounds to build the new town hall.
On January 16th/1858 the council had their first meeting in the town hall. The town hired on a keeper for the hall, Thomas Belford, who was granted the use of certain rooms in consideration for keeping the hall cleaned.
During the first year of the town hall stalls were fitted for a butcher's market in the basement.
For many years the town's policeman occupied an apartment on the main floor and the basement was fitted with two jail cells that are still there today, but are not in use. It is reported that the town hall has a ghost or two that made this place their home.
Calendonia Town Hall was Built in 1857 , this is what the front entrance looks like today. It is the only one of five town halls that were built that still stands.
Inside the old jail cell that used to be in use up til 1945. And no that is not a real person on the floor taking a nap:) This is how a prisoner would sleep. There were no beds fitted for the cell.....
In this photo you can see the way the cell looked back in its day with the cold rock walls, complete with the old iron bars that look into the next cell.
Oh yes...the old bucket routine..... This was the potty to be used by the prisoner while in lock up.
The door for the cell was made of a very heavy wood with a long slider latch as seen in the photo. The door you see is the original door that was used.
The wall on the left has been redone, but you can see how the prisoner would have to curl up on the floor to try to get a good night's rest....
A close-up view of the heavy door that used to be locked to keep the prisoner in his cell. As well you can see the old barred window that peeped into the next cell.
Bill Stotts was known as the "lovable" constable by many folks in Caledonia that knew him. Bill knew many children in Caledonia and he had a knack to remembering their names. And when he saw them on the street he would address them by name. He would also help them cross the street safely. Bill also had many friends from the Six Nations Indian reservation and if any of them came to town and needed a ride back, Bill would give them a ride.
Some folks that remember Bill say he was gentle, kind and courageous. Legend had it that he could also become very firm when need be. Bill had always had respect for his fellow man and in return it came back to him a hundred fold. The Six nations that knew Bill and visited the town would sometimes assist Bill if he had come across any trouble makers in town.
Bill always used discretion in his line of work, not force. However if he had to use force, some say he had a grip like a vice. Bill was always in control and there would be no question about that.
Constable Stotts and his wife lived on the main floor of the Town Hall from 1937-1955. The lock ups down in the basement were no longer in use all future prisoners were transported to the Cayuga Jail.
Constable Stotts always worked alone and was always on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Bill was also the local dog catcher and sold dog licences and returned the lost dogs or cats back to their worried owners.
One story is told of three hoodlums who were about to speed away in a stolen car when Constable Stotts stood in front of the car with his arms and hands out from his side and the hoodlums were surprised at what he was doing. And while they were thinking about should we go or not, Bill made the arrest and took them to jail.
He was also the traffic director for the town. Whenever there would be a funeral procession, Bill would be doing his duty to help.
A big winter storm hit the town of Caledonia in 1945. The roads became blocked in all directions. While the blizzard raged on throughout the night, a baby decided to be born. The distraught parents, unable to get their car out of the garage, appealed to Constable Stotts for help. At five in the morning, despite all the hazards, Bill was able to rescue the mother from the house and get her to the hospital over treachous roads. Once he got the mother to the hospital he was offered money for his services, but keeping with his style, he refused to take a cent and replied to the mother "Only too happy to help."
He was dependable, trusted, and a friend to all who knew him. Those who remember him say Caledonia is a better place, because for a time Bill Stoots was the town's protector. Bill died in 1959 and his death was mourned by many in Caledonia.
The Old Town Hall is rich in history and holds some unexpected guests of the paranormal that occupy the hall and made themselves right at home. Could the spirit of constable William Stotts still occupy the Old Town Hall where he used to work and live? It may very well be, for he so loved his apartment and took great pride in his work and he had a love for the community of Caledonia.
If you ever get a chance to visit the Old Town Hall that is now a museum, we suggest for anyone to go and take a look around if you dare.....