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Community spirit plentiful at Alton bicentennial celebration

By Zachary Roman

The bell of the old Alton Public School was once a familiar sound. 

It rang for the first time in a long while on September 17 when Alton community members celebrated their village's 200th birthday outside of the iconic school, which many Alton residents remember attending or teaching in.

The day's festivities began around 10:30 a.m. when Steve Turner, also known as The Wedding Piper, piped in special guests, including Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson, Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones, and Ward 1 Area Councillor Lynn Kiernan. They walked to a podium in front of the old Alton Public School, where Caledon's Town Crier Andrew Welch gave a proclamation. 

Welch said this proclamation was extra-special, since he lives in Alton.

Welch, formerly the top Town Crier in the whole province, skipped the 2022 Ontario Guild of Town Criers competition as it would have conflicted with his duties at the Alton bicentennial.

Welch's cry at the Alton bicentennial was also his first since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, meaning it ended with “God Save the King.”

Jones spoke at the bicentennial, noting the passion that Caledon residents show in their loyalty to their communities is commendable.

“It speaks to how important friends, family, and neighbourhoods are,” said Jones. “It is an honour as your Provincial Member of Parliament to, on behalf of the residents of Dufferin-Caledon, recognize Alton on the occasion of your bicentennial celebration. In a village with a strong, water-powered industrial heritage, Alton now is home to many attractions where residents and visitors can appreciate its beauty, 200 years in the making.”

Kiernan spoke at the event on behalf of Dufferin-Caledon MP Kyle Seeback, who couldn't make it to the celebration. Kiernan noted she felt honoured to be speaking in front of the old Alton Public School, as her brother and sister attended it.

“This is an impressive milestone and worthy of this fabulous celebration. We're gathered here today to look back on the rich history of the village of Alton and towards an exciting future for our beautiful community,” said Seeback in his statement read by Kiernan. “Alton is a village full of historic charm, which can be seen in the large number of 19th century buildings spread across the village. These buildings tell an exciting story from the days of being a thriving industrial centre to becoming a vibrant arts and culture destination, offering residents and visitors alike outstanding experiences. Alton may be a small community, but it has made it a significant mark on the map.”

Mayor Thompson was the next to speak, and he said he wanted to thank everybody who was part of putting on Alton's bicentennial celebration.

He led the crowd in attendance in a round of applause for all of the volunteers who made Alton's bicentennial possible — and for those who made all the bicentennials that happened or will be happening in Caledon this year possible.

Thompson said he was happy to see so many people out for Alton's bicentennial.

“That's what we're all about. That, as mayor, makes me proud to see what we have here. We never want to lose it and that's what we want to build for the future,” said Thompson.

“Congratulations on your bicentennial. Alton is a vital historic community in the Town of Caledon, and we look forward to its growth and prosperity in the years to come.”

Sally Drummond, the Town of Caledon's heritage resource officer, spoke at the bicentennial on behalf of Heritage Caledon. She said nothing makes a heritage committee happier than seeing a whole community out to celebrate their history, and that Alton “has it all.”

“You have an incredible natural setting… standing history in terms of all the historic buildings you have around… and you villagers, the many generations that have been through this very school,” said Drummond. “What other community is renowned in the 19th century for its woolen long underwear, in the 20th century for its balloon and condom production, and in the 21st century as an artistic hub and the home of a third-generation bakery and bistro? The geography, the history, and you people are what really make this community an endearing place.”

Nancy Early, branch supervisor of the Alton branch of the Caledon Public Library, wrote a children's book in honour of Alton's bicentennial. At the celebration, she took to the podium to thank everyone who made the book possible, and was greeted with loud cheers.

Following the official bicentennial ceremony, there was a day of fun to be had all throughout Alton. Historic walking tours, local food and drinks, art gallery open houses and historic displays were just some of the many things that residents and visitors alike enjoyed on the occasion of Alton's 200th birthday.



Post date: 2022-09-21 19:08:39
Post date GMT: 2022-09-21 23:08:39
Post modified date: 2022-09-29 10:44:49
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