This “remarkable little town” has the distinction of being home of Ontario’s oldest municipal government.
On May 15, 1790, a group of pioneer settlers held a town meeting to elect officials to manage the affairs of the township of Sidney for the coming year.
This town meeting was the first of its kind in Upper Canada (Ontario). It was held because the government of Quebec, which had jurisdiction over Sidney, until Upper Canada was established in 1791, was ignoring their requests for locally elected officials.
Due to its central location in the township, Wallbridge became the logical meeting place for the council and courts of session. Since it was founded by William K. Ketcheson, Sr. in ca. 1800-1810, the early meetings were held in the homes, stores, inn and schools of the Ketcheson families until the town hall was built in 1850-51.
It was the site where Sidney council made decisions ranging from the height of fences to national concerns over land expansions for Canada’s largest military air base at CFB Trenton.
Initially, Sidney Township council approved motions in Wallbridge that affected the townships of Thurlow and Rawdon. This responsibility ended when Thurlow and Rawdon formed their own municipal governments, in 1798 and 1821 respectively.
In 1850-51, the Sidney Town Hall was constructed on this site. It was the multiplex of its day for Sidney: hosting civic, educational, religious, recreational, and social events until it burned down in 1943. These functions then moved to the Orange Hall (55 Wallbridge Road). The town hall was not rebuilt.
No. 3 Company (Sidney) 49th Regiment Hastings Rifles called Wallbridge home from its inception in 1866 until it was disbanded in 1920. Militia men had to assemble twice a year on the town hall grounds to train and to hone their rifle skills.
For almost two centuries, this community was the “hub” of Sidney Township with stores, churches, schools, and thriving small industries such as the bed spring factory and the cheese factory of international fame. However, by 1980, it had lost all these functions to larger centers.
Instead of disappearing, the Hamlet of Wallbridge reinvented itself as a desirable bedroom community in the late 1900s.
In 1998, Sidney Township was amalgamated with the City of Quinte West and the Wallbridge community’s central role in municipal government ceased.
A plaque to commemorate our proud cultural heritage.
– City of Quinte West 2015
GPS Co-ordinates: 44° 12’ 42.32” N 77° 28’ 25.09” W (44.21166667, -77.50083333)
Street location: Wallbridge Road near Grenville Park Drive in the Village of Wallbridge.
MORE INFORMATION: The parkette is a plaque-reader’s paradise. It commemorates Ontario’s oldest municipal government and also contains a number of other plaques marking items of historical interest.
SIDNEY TOWN HALL 1850 to 1943: A detailed description of the original town hall, with sketches, and a lengthy description of the multiplicity of uses of the town hall over a century of time.
WALLBRIDGE CHEESE FACTORY OF INTERNATIONAL FAME ca. 1864-1958: Features a detailed account of accomplishments at the cheese factory plus a chronology of events related to the cheese factory.
WALLBRIDGE MAPS: Maps of the village in 187, 1900, 2011, showing locations of historic buildings in the village.
WALLBRIDGE PUBLIC SCHOOL A.K.A. SS#13 SIDNEY (CA. 1825-1969) Children in Wallbridge were educated in a series of school houses, including one over a blacksmith shop, until a permanent brick school house was built in 1911. A second school house was built in 1958 to accommodate grades one to four. Both schools were closed in 1969 when the province opted to bus students to larger regional schools. Both of the old schools are still in use as private residences.
DECORATED VETERANS OF WWI & WWII from the Wallbridge Community: Colonel Roscoe Dudley Vanderwater, D.S.O, Flight Lieutenant Leroy “Roy” W. Woods, Lieutenant Colonel William Douglas Graham, M.C., Flying Officer Keith Charles Fox, D.F.C. With photos and brief biographies.