Ottawa

Historic bell stolen from Brockville, Ont., waterfront

Volunteers in Brockville, Ont., are ringing in the new year by searching for a historic bell apparently stolen from the eastern Ontario city's waterfront over the holidays.

Stolen brass bell came from a train that ran at the turn of the 20th century

The bell came from a train that ran between Brockville and Ottawa around the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was installed near Brockville's railway tunnel in September and vanished sometime around Christmas. (Communities in Bloom Brockville/Facebook)

Volunteers in Brockville, Ont., are ringing in the new year by searching for a historic bell apparently stolen from the eastern Ontario city's waterfront over the holidays.

The bell was donated by a collector, and in September the city installed it in a garden near Brockville's railway tunnel.

It vanished sometime between Dec. 24 and 28, according to Brockville police.

Hillary Geneau, executive director of the city's downtown business improvement area, told CBC Radio's Ontario Morning Thursday that the iron stand and brass bell was about 75 centimetres high and weighed 115 to 135 kilograms.

Removed with tools

"[To take it] they would have had to be very strong or have some kind of vehicle," she said.

"My first thought was that it may have been just pushed over and dragged, but when I went down and I saw it had been removed with tools."

The donor of the bell told the BIA the bell came from a train that carried cargo from the St. Lawrence River in Brockville to and from Ottawa in the late 1800s and early 1900s, though the donor didn't know what particular train it was on, Geneau said.

Steam engine 3011 departs through the Brockville rail tunnel's south portal in this archival image. The steam engine travelled through the Brockville tunnel until 1954, with the last train using it in 1970. The tunnel has been repurposed as a tourist attraction. (Brockville Museum)

It was still in good condition and the donor told them it was worth about $1,500.

"It had a rope on it and people would come and ring it. You could hear it from our office [about a block away]," she said.

Geneau said police have told her they're watching resale websites to see if someone tries to sell it, including for scrap.

She's hopeful whoever took it will see that the community cares about the bell and decide to return it.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Brockville police at 613-342-0127 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

With files from CBC Radio's Ontario Morning