April 30, 2018
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.
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.