Howell Block has served a wide variety of functions within the St. George community, including a tinsmith, drug store, hardware store, library, museum, community hall, newspaper office, lawyers office, central telephone office, and post office. The original store and distillery was owned and operated by Nicholas Barmore in 1834 and the original building was demolished in 1891 with a stone building constructed in its place.
Presently, the building is in the care of the South Dumfries Historical Society and is the home of the St. George and Area Museum and Archives.4
Howell Block is the oldest First World War memorial in Brant and one of the oldest in Ontario. 5
The site is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and the national inventory of War Memorials (35007-001).
1834 – Nicholas Barmore Operates Original Store and Distillery 1
1836 – Building Sold to James Bell Ewart
Ewart hailed from Dundas, and placed the store under the management of George Stanton, who had been appointed village postmaster in 1838 and had conducted business in the store for Nicholas Barmore as well.1
1858 – Samuel Stanton Purchases Building
George Stanton’s brother, Samuel, purchased the building for 250 pounds in March from James Ewart’s executors (he died December 17, 1853), and allowed George to concentrate on milling form then on. 1
1860 – George Stanton Moves to Paris
Stanton would continue his career as postmaster in Paris, leaving the care of the store to his brother, Samuel.1
1866 – Christopher Batty Purchases Insolvent Store
Samuel Stanton, now postmaster of St. George entered a partnership with John Hudson however luck was not with them and they went bankrupt. Christopher Batty purchased it in October and went on to open a tinsmith shop and general hardware store in part of the building.1
1868 – Christopher Batty Assumes Postmaster Position
Christopher Batty succeeded Samuel Stanton when the former resigned in November.1
1871 – Unsuccessful Attempt to Sell Store
Chris Batty offered the store and stock for sale, but for whatever reason, the sale was never held.1
1872 – Christopher Batty Enters Partnership with John P. Galloway
Batty took on John. P. Galloway as a partner in April.1
1874 – John P. Lawrason Opens Drug and General Store
Lawrason took out a lease on the premises, ending the Batty-Galloway partnership.1
1876 – Howell & Fleming Rent Store
Lawrason moved to North Carolina in November. On November 24, James H. Fleming and William W. Howell formed a partnership and rented the store.1
1877 – Jonah Howell Buys Insolvent Store
Jonah Howell bought the store for $2000 at the public auction on January 12 after Christopher Batty went bankrupt. Jonah Howell continued to honour the existing leases by Walter Smith, who operated a tinsmith, and by Fleming & Howell, who operated a drug and hardware store.1
1878 – Robert Hickox Buys Out Tinsmith Shop
Hickox would go on to found a tinsmith dynasty in the village.1
1881 – William Howell Secedes From Partnership
James H. Fleming goes on alone for another decade.1
1886 – Robert Hickox Sells to Whitney and Charles Wilber
Hickox sold on December 1st, and moved into a new block he had commissioned to the north on Main street.1
1891- Construction of Stone Building Commences
Demolitions began in April and James H. Fleming has to vacate the premises in the meantime. The present stone block was built by Jonah Howell4, beginning in April and continuing throughout the summer. Once complete, Fleming moved back in, and William Grant occupied the other half of the building with a dry goods and millinery store.1
1892 – Jonah Howell Dies
Howell unexpectedly passed away on May 10, at the age of 77. His property passed to his wife, Mary.1
1893 – Robert Lindaw Leases North Shop
He established a dry goods and millinery outlet. The upstairs was used by John Shepperson and Alex Robertson for a newspaper office and a lawyer’s office respectively.1
1895 – Central Telephone Office
In March, the Central Telephone office was located in Howell block.1
1897 – John Thompson Buys Lindaw’s Store
Due to the death of his wife, Lindaw sold his stock and store to John Thomson. Unfortunately Thomson was unsuccessful and abandoned the store within a few years.1
1899 – William Saas Moves In
Saas’s store in the Lawrason Block had burned down.1
1900 – James H. Fleming Sells to John Martin Kitchen
The sale occurred in January and Kitchen continued the store despite a lack of experience with the drug business.1
1901- John Martin Kitchen Employs James McNeilly
1902 – John Kitchen Leases Other Store
When the north shop became vacant, Kitchen leased it and combined the two into one: McNeilly managed the drug, stationary and hardware shop while John Kitchen’s son, Frank took care of the new shop. 1
1903 – James McNeilly Temporarily Replaced
McNeilly resigned in April and was replaced by a Mr. Ritz, but returned in June to resume his work.1
1903 – Peter Maitland Rents North Shop
He opened a boot, shoe and grocery store in September. John Kitchen sold his lease to John P. Lawrason and Osborne Howell who continued to employ James McNeilly.1
1905 – James McNeilly Replaced
After his move to Milton, McNeilly was replaced by a Mr. McKenna and a few years later by Harry Burns, forming the new firm of Howell, Lawrason & Burns.2
1910 – Peter Maitland and James McNeilly Buy Out Howell, Lawrason & Burns1
1912 – McNeilly & Co. Dissolved
McNeilly took over Maitland’s half of the property, while Joseph Burke took over the hardware shop in the south side.1
1919 – South Shop Acquired by United Farmers Co operative Co. Ltd.1
1923 – Lewis H. Wood Buys Shop
The property changes hands in September, but Mr. Wood only carried on for ten months before declaring bankruptcy on July 5, 1924. The property was subsequently sold to a group of St. George citizens who held it in trust for the St. George Community Hall.1
1924 - Building Purchased by Louise Kitchen and Remodeled
Louise M. Kitchen purchased the building in 1924 for the sum of $5000 with the purpose of donating the building to the community as a memorial for those in the area who served in World War I. With the community's backing remodeled the building into a hall on the lower floor and a theater/hall upon the upper floor for a further $4900.4
1925 - Building Dedication and Public Opening
The building was dedicated as a memorial on August 20, 19256 during the ceremony that opened the hall to public use presided by the Hon. Harry Cockshutt, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario (1921-1927), who dedicated the building as a “Memorial to those who fought in the Great War.” A bronze plaque acknowledging this dedication with the names of those from the area who served was unveiled: “This building was presented in memory of Salem Griswold Kitchen by his wife was remodeled by the citizens of the community and is a memorial to the soldiers who fought in the Great War.” The building was placed into the care of a board of trustees, whose longest serving member was was the Hon. Harry Nixon (MPP 1919-1961 – Premier of Ontario 1943.)4 The St. George Public Library moved into the building this year.2
1926 – Broadcasting Centre
The local radio station C.K.C.R. used part of the building as broadcasting center for its Sunday afternoon show.1
1954 – Post Office Moves In
On June 1st, the post office officially moved into the south half of the hall. The south side had to be first renovated, and this work was contracted to Mr. H. Mitten. Ernie Harrott was given a contract by the department to build a counter, lobbies and other such necessary fixtures. At this time it was also decided to deed the property to the Township of South Dumfries in order to apply for a grant that would allow the restoration of the north side. Due to this renovation, several changes were made to the building: the recessed front was brought out to conform to the rest of the building; and an entrance was made for the upstairs and for the lower banquet hall; the ceiling of the banquet hall was lowered, insulated, and sound proofed; a tile floor was added; a cloak room and two washrooms were installed; the electrical system was rewired and redecorated.2
1955 – Renovations
Marboleum treads were placed on the stairs with aluminum nosing. The auditorium and the outside hall floors were sanded.
1957 – Renovations
A combination door was put on the inside of the back kitchen door to make a vestibule. This made the kitchen warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Aluminum combination windows were placed on the two east windows of the banquet hall.2
1963 – Renovations
A new roof was put in place, two modern washrooms, two tiled and paneled dressing-rooms, the stage was raised 10 inches and the back and sides were re-made of paneling with proper door frames. A small snack bar was added near the stage, with facilities for making tea and coffee, serving sandwiches, and washing up. The ceiling of the hall was insulated and covered with acoustic tiles. All the electrical wiring was replaced and new electrical fixtures were installed.2
1964 – Post Office Renews Contract
1966 - Post Office Renews Contract
1967 – Library Moves to South Hall Basement
The library was growing too large for its premises in the Community Hall Meeting room, however the north side of the basement of the township wall was found to be too damp to house the books. Luckily, the south side was dry enough, and a grant of $3000.00 was given by the Township Council, which was supplemented by an additional $1225.00 from the South Central Regional Library System, and a further $1000.00 from savings was sufficient to clean the premises and install walls, ceilings and more to create a working library. On June 5, Reeve T.O. Loveless and Board member Fred Bemrose officiated the opening of this new library.
2006 - A Second Plaque is Added to the Building
Unveiled on July 1, 2006, the new plaque recognizes those from the St. George and South Dumfries area that served in World War II and Korea.4
2014 - Roll of Honour Donated by Thomson Family 4
2016 - Veteran's Affairs Officially Recognizes Building
On January 11, 2016 Veteran Affairs Canada officially recognized the building by adding the St. George Community Memorial Hall to its national inventory of Canadian War Memorials.4
Howell Block is a two and a half storey building based on a Georgian style with a solid stone frame, symmetrical design, and original central doorway. The original display windows were removed in the mid-1920s and replaced with concrete walls and the central doorway was also bricked in and covered by concrete and there is now a commemorative plaque hung there. A wooden addition housing a stairway was later added to the southeast end of the building. Exterior walls are comprised of both stone and concrete and feature quoins. Arch designs above the upper windows are radiating voussoirs with keystones.
- Mannen, D. A. (n.d.). St. George, From Bauslaugh's Mill to Present.
- St George Women's Institute. St. George Woman's Institute Tweedsmuir Histories, Volume 3.
- St George Women's Institute. St. George Woman's Institute Tweedsmuir Histories, Volume 4.
- Thomson, Dave. Personal Interview. June 5, 2018.
- Veterans Affairs Canada. Memorial 35007-001.
- Davidson, Marcus. Amendment to Designating by-law 78-91
- Cook, Jeffrey, et al. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Survey of the Main Street of St. George for St. George Museum. St. George Museum, 1978
- Mannen, D. A. (n.d.). St. George, From Bauslaugh's Mill to Present St. George, Ontario.
- St George Women's Institute. St. George Woman's Institute Tweedsmuir Histories, Volume 3. St. George Woman's Institute, Retrieved 2015
- St George Women's Institute. St. George Woman's Institute Tweedsmuir Histories, Volume 4. St. George Woman's Institute, Retrieved 2015
- Davidson, M. Amendment to Designating by-law 78-91 Heritage Advisory Committee. January 20, 2016.