ByWard Market bell rings out again
Bell silenced in early 1990s, and no one knows why
After 25 years of silence, an old bell in Ottawa's ByWard Market rang once again Monday morning to let everyone know the market is open for the season.
From now on, it will continue to ring each morning at 9 a.m.
The 141-year-old bell, which weighs 180 kilograms, was cast in 1877 in West Troy, N.Y., and was installed in Ottawa's fourth iteration of the market, where it sounded the market's opening and closing every day.
"The people around here didn't have the communications we have today, and they had to know when it was time to work and open their stalls," Ottawa Markets executive director Jeff Darwin told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning in an interview Monday before a ceremony to ring the bell.
Bell survived 1926 fire
In 1926 the market building was destroyed in a fire, but the bell was salvaged and housed for many years in a church at the corner of Crichton and Charles streets in New Edinburgh. In the 1970s the then Mormon church was sold to Brian Northgrave, who donated the bell to the City of Ottawa in 1976.
The bell was installed in the new ByWard Market building (its fifth iteration) and was used to signal the opening and closing of the market for years.
But at some point in the early 1990s the bell was silenced, and no one seems to remember why.
Then, in January this year, Ottawa historian and artist Andrew King noticed the bell and asked Mayor Jim Watson if it could be made to ring again.
<a href="https://twitter.com/JimWatsonOttawa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JimWatsonOttawa</a> there is the old ByWard Market bell that survived the fire from the 1800s that was rung to open/close each Market day...it’s hidden away but can we get this ringing again? <a href="https://t.co/c5sp2WT5tr">pic.twitter.com/c5sp2WT5tr</a>—@twitandrewking
'I want everyone to ring it'
Darwin agreed. It took a while to find a structural engineer who knew about large bells, but an assessment was eventually performed and some refurbishment done.
"We had it inspected, it's insured, we've got a new rope on it, and a structural engineer tells us it should ring fine," Darwin said Monday.
The bell will now sound every morning at 9 a.m. ET, and anyone can have a try.
"I want everyone to ring it. This is an opportunity for anyone off the street. Check with the front counter, tell us you want to ring it, what day you can come back, and you'll ring the bell and sign our new register," Darwin said.
A plaque next to the bell tells its story. Watson, King, Darwin and Coun. Jeff Leiper were among those who attended the ceremony Monday morning.
Kudos to <a href="https://twitter.com/OttawaMarkets?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OttawaMarkets</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ottawacity?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ottawacity</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JimWatsonOttawa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JimWatsonOttawa</a> and others for making the ol’ bell toll once again in the Market Buidling...she still is super loud! <br><br>And let it be known ANYONE can ring the bell each morning at 9am! <br><br>For Whom The Bell Tolls? YOU <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ottawa?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ottawa</a> <a href="https://t.co/VEAkno7qzX">pic.twitter.com/VEAkno7qzX</a>—@twitandrewking
Greatly enjoyed ringing the Market Bell this morning w/ <a href="https://twitter.com/JimWatsonOttawa?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JimWatsonOttawa</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/MathieuFleury?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MathieuFleury</a>. Glad <a href="https://twitter.com/twitandrewking?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@twitandrewking</a> got a chance to ring it out, too! <a href="https://t.co/2R1ha9AXYW">pic.twitter.com/2R1ha9AXYW</a>—@JLeiper
CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning