Mary Smith, Historic St. Marys:
In early 1987, both the St. Marys Museum and Cadzow Pool were faced with critical situations. For five years, the Museum had been storing an ever-growing collection of farm machinery in a back wing of the old Maxwell plant on James Street South. Some members of the committee collecting these artifacts hoped that a portion of this old stone factory could be converted into an agricultural museum. But the owners of the property, out-of-town developers, decided to demolish the entire complex. What would become of the Maxwell collection?
At the same time, health officials had reviewed the facilities at the 60-year-old Cadzow Pool. If upgrades to the washrooms, deck, water supply and drains were not completed, the pool would not be permitted to open for the summer. A solution had to be found quickly.
Fortunately, government assistance was available. The town applied for and received a grant from the Ontario Neighbourhood Improvement Program (ONIP) for improvements to the pool and construction of a building to store and display the valuable Maxwell artifacts. With planning and cooperation, these two separate projects were blended to the advantage of both. Separately they would have been difficult — perhaps impossible — to fund.
At the pool, the retaining wall at the north end was removed and new washrooms, showers and change rooms were constructed. A frame superstructure above this concrete first storey became a barn or implement shed for the Museum. In other words, the Cadzow change rooms provided a foundation for the barn while the barn provided a roof for the pool building.
This ambitious project got underway in April 1987 with the Journal Argus keeping a careful eye on its progress. This week’s photograph from the April 15 newspaper shows the footings just poured for the building and work underway to prepare the deck area for a new surface.
The deadline was tight but, despite considerable anxiety, Cadzow Pool passed all inspections and opened for lessons and recreational swimming the first weekend in July. The barn was finished just in time for the Maxwell collection to be relocated before demolition started on the old factory complex. A number of volunteers including Louis Martin, Ray and Dwight Bennett filled the new barn with locally manufactured implements and machinery. Visitors can still see and appreciate these treasures today.
There have been many other cooperative projects involving the Recreation Department and the Museum. To learn more, contact the Museum: 519-284-3556.