Celebrations set for city hall clock, building’s centennial

Lisa Goudy
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Big Cliff hasn’t needed too much maintenance over the years.

The city hall clock, dubbed Big Cliff upon city employee Clifford Simpson's retirement, still keeps time at the top of city hall.

After a handful of volunteers worked on it, the clock above city hall is ready to go for its 100th birthday celebration on Thursday.

“It’s a huge milestone for us in terms of the community,” said Kelly Mentanko, operations manager with the city’s parks and recreation department. “City hall used to be a post office originally and so we thought maybe we’d get some volunteers in to give the clock a 100-year tune-up.”

The clock was first set in motion on Aug. 7, 1914 at 10 a.m. The 100th celebration of the clock, as well as the building, will take place on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in council chambers.

“It’s been a pretty good clock for us over the years,” said Mentanko. “It’s only been down once that I know of. Certainly it’s a hand-wound clock so we have to keep it wound every so often. I think just overall it needs some attention in terms of lubricating it up and cleaning it up.”

The clock needs to be wound approximately every two weeks. At the centennial celebration, photos of the internal workings of the clock, history of the clock and cake will also be at the ceremony. There will be limited edition 100th anniversary postcards of the clock as well.

Six volunteers helped out with polishing, cleaning and repairing the inner workings of the clock. Some of those volunteers previously worked on the Canadian Pacific clock at the bottom of Main Street in 2003.

“We certainly want to recognize the volunteers that came forward to do a little bit of work on the clock mechanism itself,” said Mentanko. “As well we’ve got a presentation to make to Yvette Moore. She has donated one of her prints of city hall to the city, which will be hung in the lobby of city hall.”

Some volunteers specialized in gears or cabling and came in whenever they could for a little over a month. The clock is now set to run for the “next 100 years,” said Mentanko.

Big Cliff was dubbed that name in recognition of former long-time city hall caretaker Clifford Simpson. He retired in 1993. Smith and Sons, now named Smith of Derby, built the clock in England.

The building was built between 1911 and 1914. The City of Moose Jaw bought the building in 1963 to use it as city hall. The police building was added on in 1986. It is a designated heritage property.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Canadian Pacific

Geographic location: England, Moose Jaw

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