Owen Sound's 1857 Bylaw: Dog Control illustrated how a pioneer town controlled dogs in the community, sometimes authorizing harsh measures.
Last week in this column I described how the first leaders of the community tried to handle the problems related to the use of alcohol in Owen Sound.
Alcohol, however, was not the only problem which the leaders of the new town faced in the town's formative period. The first council of the new town of Owen Sound had many tasks to perform in its first months of existence. Primarily, it seems that the preservation and the promotion of the quality of life of the citizens of the community were of paramount importance if one looks at some of the first bylaws enacted in the new town of Owen Sound.
The new council appointed John Mills to the position of Chief Constable in charge of a force of six deputies. W.W. Hodgson, Thomas Hutcherson, James Boyce, Abraham Creighton, James Reach, and Valentine Brown were the men assigned to the task of keeping the peace in Owen Sound. Two deputies worked in Centre Ward, two more were assigned to Bay Ward, and the other two patrolled River Ward.
Given the problems pertaining to the trade of alcohol in the community one would think that the constables would have been required to spend all of their time policing this problem. However, the town constables were also required to work as handymen, building public structures and making repairs when necessary.
In the 1850s Owen Sound's growth was essentially focused in the Sydenham River valley and on the east hill. Little thought had been given to intensive expansion on the west escarpment. Instead, it seemed to be the plan of the community's leaders that the expected growth would be directed to the area on the east hill.
To further this plan, the town council in 1857 petitioned Sir Edmund Walker, the Governor General of British North America, to set aside lots on the east hill for the purpose of garbage disposal and parks. To meet this end the town reserved lots 11, 12, 13, and 14 on the west side of Cathcart Street and lots 11, 12, 13, and 14 on the east side of Princess Street for future use.
The seventh by-law passed by the new town council concerned the control of dogs in the community. The bylaw required dog owners to pay a fee of five shillings per year for each dog over the age of three months. If a dog owner failed to pay the license fee, they were subject to a fine of 2 pounds. Interestingly, only half the fine went to the municipality. The other half was given to the person who complained to the authorities that his neighbour had failed to purchase a dog license. This by-law also required that the dog wear a collar with the name of its owner engraved on it.
If there was a threat of rabies or other serious illness dogs could not be allowed to run loose. If they did, anyone could shoot the dog without any repercussions.
As well, if a dog "seemed to find pleasure in biting or attempting to bite pedestrians or horses", it could also be shot on sight. One would think that this bylaw would have served the needs of the community for many years hence. It seems obvious that it must have been ineffective as throughout most of Owen Sound's first half century of existence there were many more by-laws enacted to cope with this problem.
The actions and by-laws of the first council of the new town of Owen Sound in January and February 1857 provide us with an insight into what life was like in this community almost one and a half centuries ago.
The information used in this article came from files in the Grey County Archives.
A version of this article originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on February 9, 2001.
Charles Rankin, I Presume: October 7, 1840 marked the meeting of Land Agent John Telfer and surveyor Charles Rankin on the banks of the Sydenham River and the founding of Owen Sound.
Black History: Emancipation Day celebrates the abolition of slavery and it continues to be an annual celebration in many locations that were in some way, or another touched by the impact of slavery.
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Billy Bishop: Owen Sound Hero earned national and international fame as a World War One Fighter pilot and used his high profile to aid in the World War Two effort.
John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.
Black Clawson Kennedy: An Iconic Owen Sound Industry provided income for area residents and economic development for the community for almost 150 years.
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Owen Sound's First Newspaper: The Comet came into existence a mere 10 years after the first settlers braved the wilderness that would become the Grey and Bruce region.
Owen Sound's First Town Council was created to develop the necessary infrastructure for a pioneer community to grow and prosper.
Owen Sound Tavern Bylaw (1857) tried to tackle the issue of monitoring taverns in the Upper Canadian pioneer wilderness.
Owen Sound's 1857 Bylaw: Dog Control illustrated how a pioneer town controlled dogs in the community, sometimes even using harsh measures.
Owen Sound CPR Strike in 1908 immobilized harbour activities in that important Georgian Bay port, the CPR's eastern Great Lakes terminus.
Owen Sound CPR Link began with a bang, suffered a setback, and ended with a whimper.
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Owen Sound 1920 Stories provide an interesting look at the community as it was about to become a city.
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Owen Sound Street Names honour the individuals who made a contribution to Owen Sound's development. Today the streets are numbered to help visitors find their way.
O.S.C.V.I.: the History of an Owen Sound High School details from the very beginning the establishment of a high school in the community.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 Owen Sound details life in the last wilderness in Upper Canada in the 1840s.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 (Part 2) continues the memories of Elizabeth Byth as she encountered life in the Upper Canada wilderness that became Owen Sound.
Pioneer Theatre was a big hit in Owen Sound and across southern Ontario, where Vaudevillians like Perth Ontario's Marx Brothers played to full houses.
U.S. President Taft Visited Owen Sound Ontario, a Georgian Bay port in a momentous winter of events in 1920 as Owen Sound celebrated its incorporation as a ci
Some Interesting 20th Century Events in Owen Sound: One, in particular featured a mayor acting to avert a major labour-related confrontation.
The 1940's: An Eventful Decade in Owen Sound and Grey County: A war; a surprising political event; sports celebrations and much more.
Wawanekas: Fastball pioneers who were a legendary women's fastball team from Owen Sound who dominated their sport for a decade or more.
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Emily Pankhurst Visits Owen Sound. The well-known suffragette visited Owen Sound and spoke not only about suffrage, but the bolshevik threat.
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A pioneer home was very utilitarian. It served the pioneer family's essential needs, while the work of clearing the land and planting crops took priority.
Pioneer justice might be described as ruthless. But the question remains, did they always get the right man?
CPR Grain Elevator Fire in 1911 in Owen Sound harbour would have a profound impact on that Georgian Bay community.
Reverend Ryerson Visits Owen Sound and despite a great reception from the citizens of the community, he posts a negative newspaper story of the community.
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