Bell Mansion

The Bell Mansion is one of the oldest and architecturally significant buildings in the Kingsmount-Bell Park area and, indeed, the City of Greater Sudbury. With Laurentian University in insolvency and the court conducting a confidential process for sale of property including land and buildings, the Sudbury Arts Council posted the following media release regarding the Bell Mansion. Please read up on this historical building and feel free to share your concerns with members of City Council.

Sudbury Arts Council – Conseil des arts de Sudbury

The Bell Mansion is an important historical community building.

As one of the few beautiful older buildings left in Sudbury, the Bell Mansion and grounds are often used as the backdrop for weddings, photo-shoots and historical education. It is owned by Laurentian University and occupied by the Art Gallery of Sudbury. 

With Laurentian in insolvency and the court conducting a confidential process for sale of property, including land and buildings, the Sudbury Arts Council is very concerned that the mansion and grounds will be sold.

Many people may not know of the restrictions on such a sale, so we offer a review: In 1984 the city designated the mansion and grounds as an official heritage site under provincial guidelines. Such a restriction allows sale of the property but no alterations of its structure or appearance without city council approval.

A second restriction involves the history of the property. When Mrs. Bell died in 1954, she willed the mansion to the Memorial hospital. After a fire, the mansion was given to the Masons for a club house but they could not get the property rezoned. The Masons sold the property to the Chamber of Commerce which rebuilt the interior for the purpose of creating a Sudbury community museum and art centre as a centennial project from 1966 to 1969. For the symbolic sum of one dollar, the chamber gave the property to Laurentian University, but with important conditions. On the property’s land title, the completion of that “gift” in 1969 is noted. Further, Laurentian and the chamber signed an agreement of which the crucial paragraph states “the [university] agrees to use of the aforesaid lands and premises when received for the purpose of a Museum and Arts Centre to be known as the Sudbury Centennial Museum and Fine Arts Centre of Laurentian University and use by the University to promote appreciation and enjoyment of the Arts by the public.” The name has changed but the purpose remains. The agreement also includes that the university has to keep to the “spirit” of the agreement made.

So we worry that the “spirit” of the agreement may not be kept. We hope the mansion can remain as a place serving cultural purposes and offering educational opportunities to Sudburians.

Dr. Dieter K. Buse has researched the history of the property and can supply further information. (Buse@cyberbeach.net) 

Linda Cartier, President, Sudbury Arts Council
Sudbury Arts Council 

Watch for Us! Community signs

Are you concerned about high-speed traffic on your street? Please be aware of the Watch for Us! Community Signs program. The program provides residents with lawn signs to remind drivers to slow down and watch for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, children, seniors and people with disabilities or those who use mobility devices. Signs are available free of charge, and available on a first come, first served basis. For more information click here!

Kingsmount Sidewalk Stamps:

Take a walk back in time

Perhaps you’ve stumbled upon these inconspicuous sidewalk markings in the Kingsmount neighbourhood. If not, the discovery awaits you. The 2 km loop on the attached map connects all eight stamps and can be started from any point. 

A sidewalk primer

It is reported that when Patrick and Minnie Frawley arrived in March 1889, Sudbury had three sidewalks constructed of packing boxes in mud. 

By 1895, the Town of Sudbury had established a Roads, Streets and Bridges Committee. The installation of raised Cedar plank sidewalks was approved on the condition that property owners along the stretch would pay a portion of the costs. 

It wasn’t until 1905 that Town Council considered a by-law relating to the construction of Granolithic sidewalks. Granolithic concrete, a type of construction material composed of cement and fine aggregate such as granite, provided a permanent durable surface. The first streets targeted for concrete sidewalks were parts of Elm, Elgin and Durham. It would be another five years before the suburbs would get the granolithic treatment. Some of the first sidewalks poured in the suburbs were along parts of Marion, Paris and John. Sixty percent off the cost was to be paid by the owners of the property fronting these improvements. The contract was awarded to D.L. Brown (aka “The Cement King”). Brown’s Concrete, established in Sudbury in 1907, was the town’s first manufacturer of concrete products. 

The origins of sidewalk stamping

Sidewalk stamping in North America dates back to the turn-of-the-20th-century. Berkley California has sidewalk stamps dating from 1899, Portland from 1902, Vancouver from 1906, and Calgary from 1909. There is no consensus on the oldest stamp in Toronto but there is one dated 1913 on Toronto Island. In Sudbury, the oldest sidewalk stamp appears to be 1929. 

There are two types of stamps used in Sudbury. The first spells out the contractor name and the date. The second simply has the name of the street and the date when the sidewalk was poured. The latter appears to be unique to the Kingsmount area (I have heard of one in the West End). In recent years I have identified eight – six remain on public sidewalks, one has been repurposed into a private driveway and one has been lost due to a sidewalk upgrade. 

Originally, these sidewalk stamps marked the year the sidewalk was laid, similar to dating buildings and bridges. Today, they inform the origin of a neighbourhood or a pattern of urban development. 

1 - Worthington Crescent 1931? (Southeast corner)

1 Worthington Crescent 1931? (Southeast corner)
At the corner of Worthington and Riverside, the sidewalk stamp date is becoming more difficult to read. An educated guess would be 1931.
This was a very busy corner as Riverside Dr. was a level railway crossing. Every day, dozens of pedestrians and drivers would have waited at the intersection for a train to pass before proceeding to Station Street (Elgin Street). In 1943, a census of traffic over the Riverside crossing counted more than 10,000 motor vehicles and 15,000 pedestrians over a three day period – by far the busiest of all the north-south crossings in the city.

2 -  Front St. 1945 (Northeast corner)

2 Front St. 1945 (Northeast corner)
The stamp at Front and O’Connor and two others in the neighbourhood are dated 1945. World War II ended and construction activity resumed.
The trio of stately homes on Front Street (61, 67 and 79) are some of the oldest homes south of the CPR tracks. Mayor Larry O’Connor (1905, 1906, 1907, 1910, 1911) and his family resided in the brick Queen Anne style house nearest the street that bears his name. 

3 - Douglas St. 1929 (Southwest corner)

3 Douglas St. 1929 (Southwest corner)
The oldest identified sidewalk stamp is located on Edinburgh (formerly Douglas St East). The date coincides with the beginning of water and sewer service to the Kingsmount area and the opening of Alexander Public School. In 1933, residents petitioned to change street names to reflect “more appropriate names” for a residential area. Olga was changed to Roxborough, Mazie to Kingsmount, and Gertrude to Homewood.

4 - Kingsmount Blvd. 1945 (Southwest corner)

4 Kingsmount Blvd. 1945 (Southwest corner)
The Kingsmount area was spreading westward with the opening of Wembley Public School (1943), St Alphonse Separate School (1946) and Wellington Heights. Still a new bylaw was passed in 1947 to restrict people living in the area from keeping chickens, pigeons, goats, or swine, and more than two dogs per household.

5 - Wembley Dr. 1945 (Private driveway)

5 Wembley Dr. 1945 (Private driveway)
One of three dated 1945, the Wembley sidewalk stamp has been incorporated into the lock stone design of a private driveway on the north side of Wembley near the corner of Laura St.

6 - Marion St 1947 (Northwest corner)

6 Marion St. 1947 (Northwest corner)
After World War II, a wave of residential development took place in the south-end including the new Beaton Subdivision, the Sudbury General Hospital (1950) and St. Michael’s School (1955). One wonders why sidewalks were only poured on Marion and both sides of David, west of Marion. History does reveal that sidewalks in the suburbs became increasingly scarce due to the post war shift to a car culture.

7 - St. Brendan St 1939 (Northwest corner)

7 St. Brendan St 1939 (Northwest corner)
The sidewalks on St. Brendan were replaced in 2020 and the fate of the stamp is unknown. The misspelling of the street name was consistent with street directories and maps at the time. The street was named after the Irish saint Brendan by “Count” Frederic Romanet du Caillaud. He hailed from the Limoges area in France and was one of the Sudbury’s largest landowners at the turn-of-the-20th-century. He is best remembered for building the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. 

8 - Marion Street 1939 (Northeast corner)

8 Marion Street 1939 (Northeast corner)
In June, 1939, Sudbury was a stop on the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth royal tour. By the fall, Canada was on the eve of World War II. For many years this intersection was the location of Fire Alarm Box 24 – one of three boxes situated south of the CPR tracks. In the case of a fire, the box could be activated to alert the Fire Department on Beech Street. The others boxes were located at Edmund and Ramsey Road, and Nickel (Stanyon) and O’Connor.  

Are sidewalk stamps heritage assets worth preserving?

Unfortunately since most sidewalk name and date stamps are found near the end of a block, many original stamps have been lost due to curb ramps and sidewalk updates.

In a growing number of North American cities, these stamps are considered heritage assets. When sidewalk updates are planned, historic sidewalk date stamps are being preserved – sometimes incorporated into new sidewalk construction.

What’s your stand on sidewalk stamps?

Paul Haynes is a local history explorer and Rainbow Routes XPLR Sudbury hike leader. If you know of the location of a sidewalk stamp that is NOT included in this article, OR If you know where a sidewalk stamp once existed, please share.

You’re Invited to our Spring meeting

The Ward 10 Kingsmount/Bell Park CAN is having a Zoom meeting April 7, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.  Please email info@ward10can.com to request the Zoom meeting invitation.

The Kingsmount-Bell Park Community Action Network (CAN) Is a new neighbourhood volunteer-based organization. CANs emerge from the collaborative efforts of citizens who care about where they live and want to make their neighbourhoods the best they can possibly be.

See you on the Zoom!

Map: Kingsmount-Bell Park Ward 10 CAN

If you’d like more information or to become a volunteer, please contact us at info@ward10can.com

Police Presence at CAN meeting

The Kingsmount – Bell Park CAN will benefit from the presence of Greater Sudbury Police Services. 
Constable Bailey of the GSPS participated in our CAN meeting October 7, 2020. He provided an update on recent activities in the area and responded to concerns raised by residents.

The GSPS has provided the following information about Thefts and Break-ins and Safe Disposal.

Industrial Self-AuditThefts and Break-ins

Residential Self-AuditThefts and Break-ins

I found a Needle – Now What?Safe disposal of needles

Public Waste Identification Chart Safe disposal