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An icon in the making

In this week’s Remember This, a photograph captures construction of the Collingwood federal building at the outset of the First World War.
Construction halts for a photograph at the Collingwood federal building, which stands today as an iconic downtown structure. Huron Institute No. 46, Collingwood Museum Collection X971.565.1

The architecture of Collingwood’s Federal Building is not the only iconic characteristic of this historic structure, the story of its construction is also rich in history.

The building’s design was inspired by the State Finance Building in Havana, Cuba. Construction on the building began the same year as the start of the First World War. Initially it was a post office and customs house, today it houses federal government offices as a Service Canada site.

Inside you can see an intricate stained glass dome bearing the coats of arms of the four levels of government, including the Town of Collingwood.

This photograph was taken October 10, 1914, during the building’s construction.

It appears work was halted for this photograph.

Seven workers appear atop the building’s Corinthian columns, while a dapper gentleman perched on a piece of lumber at the structure’s base smokes a pipe.

The hand-painted signage for Whites Limited Wholesale Hardware and Metals appears on the brick building to the right, while window signage for the Enterprise and Messenger Newspaper appears on the left.

The lone bicycle propped in the foreground appropriately foreshadows the numerous bicycles that would be left along the sidewalk while residents retrieved their mail for years to come.

Remember This is a weekly series of historic photographs submitted by the Collingwood Museum to These photographs were originally collected and documented by the Huron Institute in an historical catalogue entitled Huron Institute Paper and Records: Volume III. Much of Collingwood’s early history has been preserved due to the dedication and foresight of the early museum’s founders, namely its secretary-curator David Williams, upon its establishment in 1904.