From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall

FromThe Scrap Book

By: Dr. Bill Randall

Taylor Hall Coming Down

June 22, 1990

Another landmark will soon be gone! Taylor Memorial Hall first opened in 1932 by the Taylor families, due to age and redundancy will soon disappear.

Before it does let’s try to recapture a little bit of its relationship to the early history of Harvey.

 John Taylor came from Scotland to Harvey and subsequently married (August 19, 1857) Elizabeth Swan the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Russell) Swan. John himself was born in 1825 and had already achieved some affluence prior to his coming to Canada. Upon his arrival he bought the woolen mills in York Mills from Mr. George Lister and operated it for some years after which he rented it to Mr. Skene.

John and Elizabeth had no children. John however did have a brother William, who came to Tweedside and married Margaret Atcheson the daughter of Andrew and Marjorie (Robinson) Atcheson. They had four children, John William, born in 1865, Andrew born in 1866, Ann born in 1868 and Margery May born in 1872. John William also had a nephew in Scotland, David, born in 1866 and in 1888 he too came to Harvey and married Margaret Robin son. They had no children and after Margaret died, late in life, David married his cousin Ann. They too had no children.

David was a carpenter and built a number of houses, the one we remember most is the one which is now the Swanhaven Nursing Home. He also built the Ritchie house for he and his first wife. David and his second wife (cousin) Anne decided the Taylor House was too big for them so they built a much smaller house which is now occupied by Steven Adamson. They then gave the larger house to the village of Harvey to be used as an Outpost Hospital.

The only Taylor males to have continued the family in Harvey would have been John William senior’s two sons, John William Jr. and his brother An drew. Andrew, having remained unmarried, died at the age of 25, the victim of a shooting accident. Brother John also never married but lived his bachelor life in Harvey being very active in the church. He also had a small furniture store and sold caskets. A Sunday school teacher and elder, he was also a Justice of the Peace and Sheriff. He died at the age of 67, and it was in his memory that his sister Margery May, wife of Dr. Thomas Walthall; his sister Anne, wife of David, and cousin David built a hall for the benefit of the Harvey community and it was subsequently named Taylor Memorial Hall. The building memorialized John W. Taylor and was built on property belonging to Fannie Robison, sister to David Taylors’ first wife.

In 1931, Hazel Grieve recalls a picnic which was held on the grounds near the then partially completed hall. In 1932 the hall was officially opened and at the ceremonies David and Anne Taylor, using a specially in stalled telephone called Annie’s sister, Mrs. J. Walthall in Texas, who sent her greetings to the community –truly remarkable to be able to talk to someone that far away! Not only did Mrs. Walthall send her greetings, but over the years Mrs. Walthall sent a considerable amount of money for various other community projects.

Many years prior to 1932, there had been a Harvey Improvement Association and it seems as though they assumed the responsibility for the care of the hall and the nearby fair grounds which were located on leased land from the CPR. On July 13, 1938, at a meeting in the hall the Harvey Improvement Association became incorporated as the Harvey Improvement Association Ltd., “for the purpose, among other things, of taking over the assets of an unincorporated association known as the Harvey Improvement Association, therefore it was moved by James A. Murray, seconded by Dr. B. H. Dougan, that the Association accept a conveyance of these assets as soon as the same could be made.” This information came from the minutes of the meeting, chaired by David G. Taylor and attended by Inez A. Davis, Leonard J. Gay, Wilmont J. Tracey, James A. Murray, Dr. B.H. Dougan, and Rev. Alexander MacKay.

For many years Taylor Hall was the most prominent hall available in the Harvey Community. It was used for all manner of social events, public meetings and community entertainment which even featured “moving pictures”. It was the focal point of the Annual Harvey Fair Days accommodating the serving of hundreds of meals, hosting beauty pageants and dances.

Since the late ’50’s Harvey began almost an epidemic of building halls. Church halls; Masonic Hall; Curling Club; Schools Gymnasiums; an Agrena Complex; Lion’s Club Hall and now a further enlargement of that hall. As a result, Taylor Memo rial Hall became less frequently used and when the Harvey Fair Days  moved to the Agrena Complex, Taylor Hall became almost obsolete. A carelessly started fire in the summer of 1988 burned down the big grandstand and almost burned Taylor Hall as well. Minor vandalism has added weight to the argument that Taylor Memorial Hall is more of a liability than as asset. A determination of its use or disposal will be made by the Harvey Improvement Association Ltd. 

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: