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Cranbrook clock tower mechanism turns 101

The clock in Cranbrook’s clocktower was assembled 101 years ago. - Arne Petryshen photo
The clock in Cranbrook’s clocktower was assembled 101 years ago.
— image credit: Arne Petryshen photo

The mechanism that runs the four clocks on the clock tower celebrated its 101st birthday this year and its 100th last, but despite the momentous occasion it went uncelebrated.

Mayor Wayne Stetski brought up the fact at last week’s council meeting on July 14.

When all four clock faces stopped at the same time, Stetski decided to find out why.

“I was in Delamont Jewellers which takes care of all of our clocks — all the clocks had stopped at a particular time and I was curious as to why that happened,” Stetski said.  “So I went in to see them. In essence, the mechanism in there – this is where we missed an opportunity – is 101 years old now, so we missed the 100th anniversary to celebrate the clock.”

The clock is still run off the old mechanism, Stetski explained.

“In order to make those hands move on the clock, there are huge weights that you hand crank up at the top of the tower, and actually they go down below surface in the ground.”

“As with any grandfather, grandmother clock, that’s what keeps the mechanism moving,” he said. “If you happen to miss winding, the clocks all stop at the same time on it. That’s in essence what happened there. But to me the important message was that 101-year-old mechanism, and we missed an opportunity to celebrate last year.”

Coun. Gerry Warner said the information about the mechanism and its history was quite interesting.

“No one likes history more than me, but maybe it’s time to consider a clock battery of some kind, because the clock is so often incorrect that it kind of destroys the purpose for which it was built,” Warner said. “I don’t know if there is some cheap system that could be put in and give us consistent time.”

Warner’s suggestion on switching the mechanism didn’t catch on around the table.

Stetski noted that Mr. Delamont told him that it’s quite difficult to keep the four clock faces moving ahead.

Coun. Angus Davis was reminded of his own clock.

“We have an old grandfather clock and you have to wind this fellow up every week,” Davis said. “Two big huge metal weights hanging off there. There’s sort of a ritual that goes along with that. When you’re in the house this thing is clanging away, you don’t even hear it anymore. You just get used to it… a stranger comes in the house and that bell just about knocks them out on the street.

“So I think that clock out there, let it just operate with its machinery the way it is.”

Steski noted that the Delamonts take care of the clocks free of charge.

“They do this as volunteers, so it’s entirely on their own time. We really appreciate that.”

 

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