Government Services

This section contains images relating to Aylmer’s municipal services, such as the fire department, the police force, the post office, and the Terrace Lodge long-term care home.


Fire Department

In April 1872, Aylmer Council passes a by-law for the "establishment of a fire brigade". The villages's first fire brigade was established in 1874, after two fires in May and June of that year destroyed a number of businesses.

The Fire Department of the Town of Aylmer was established by Council in 1891.

As of 2012, the Department is staffed by a full time Fire Chief, twenty-one volunteers and five Auxiliary members.

The Aylmer Fire Department provides Fire & Emergency Response, Public Education and Inspection services from its station at 323 John St. South.

  fire 1   fire 2
  Title: Aylmer Fire Department - New Fire Truck
Date: 1978
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds- Aylmer Fire Department file
Caption: "Here It Is- $114,000 worth of shiny red and white metal and assorted sophisticated gadgets make up the new fire truck which was delivered to the Fire Hall on Tuesday."
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  Title: Aylmer Fire Department No. 1
Date: ca. 1980
Part Of: Hugh Sims fonds
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Police Force

In 1887, after Aylmer was incorporated as a town, a by-law was passed, creating the office of Chief Constable for the town.

The Aylmer Police moved from cramped quarters at the old town hallto a renovated facility behind the present Town Hall in 1976.

With the assistance of federal and provincial grants, the Aylmer police moved its facility to a modern new building on Beech Street East.

The Aylmer Police Service now consists of a Chief of Police, four Sergeants, eight Constables, two Special Constables, two Dispatchers, five Auxiliary officer positions, and seven part-time jail guards. The vehicle fleet has four marked cruisers and a bicycle.

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  Title: Aylmer Police Department
Date: 1975
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Aylmer Police Department file
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  Title: Aylmer Police Department - Police Station
Date: 1976
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Aylmer Police Department file
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Post Office

As Aylmer's local development and growth increased over the early years of its existence, the establishment of a general store was required. The general store later became the home of the town's first post office. It was in 1837 that Aylmer's first post office was open for business. It was operated by the appointed Postmaster, Philip Hodgkinson, a position he later held for 40 years.

Aylmer's post office was built in 1913. Aylmer's present town hall occupies the former post office and customs house bought by the town after the new post office was built in 1974.

  post 1   PostOffice1972
  Title: 'Post Office, Aylmer, Ontario'
Date: [193-]
Part Of: Robert Moore Postcard Collection
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  Title:'Aylmer Post Office- First Letter Delivered by Postal Carrier'
Date: 1972
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Aylmer Post Office file
Caption: "First Letter - Mayor Forrest Moore of Aylmer is shown as he receives the first letter to be delivered by postal carrier in Aylmer Monday morning. Mail delivery was inaugurated during a special ceremony in front of the Aylmer post office. Handing the letter to Mayor Moore, is Paul Dopp, one of six men who will deliver mail door-to-door in Aylmer."
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Public Utilities

A town waterworks was installed in 1884 after numerous devastating fires. The Waterworks and Electric Light Department of Aylmer dates back to the 1890s. The electric light plant owned by the Aylmer Electric and Manufacturing Company was purchased by the Town in 1901. In 1907, ratepayers voted for the establishment of a Public Utilities Commission, and the first commission held their inaugural meeting in January 1908.

In the late 19th century, water was drawn from Catfish Creek and from individual household wells. In 1904 a well was established in Malahide (where well #4 now resides) which provided water to the reservoir at Balmoral Park. When the Public Utilities Commission was set up in 1907, one of its first tasks was the tendering of the construction of a 12 inch conduit between the Aylmer Condensed Milk Company and a well on the Barker farm, which supplemented the water being drawn from the well established in 1904.

In 1992, the PUC and the town of Aylmer both agreed that a pipeline from St. Thomas to Aylmer should be pursued. This pipeline became operational in 1995, but the Aylmer PUC continued to maintain some of its wells for emergency purposes.

The first phone line established in Aylmer occurred around 1884. Historical accounts indicate that a phone line was set up between the Aylmer Canners, Walker’s Pork Factory, David Marshall’s grocery store, Thomas Nairn’s office and the bank.

The Aylmer and Malahide Telephone Company was established in 1928. Amtelecom Inc. became the official name in 1978, and began to expand into cable television services, and eventually, internet services. The present name is Amtelecom Group Inc. In 2007, Amtelecom was acquired by Eastlink.

  water 1   phone 1
  Title: 'Waterworks and Electric Light Dept., Aylmer, Ontario'
Date: [192-]
Part Of: Robert Moore Postcard Collection
Caption: Colour illustration of the exterior of the Waterworks and Electric Light Department of Aylmer, and surrounding property, with a small manmade lake in the foreground. On the back, there is a caption that reads: "Everybody has troubles of there own. Buy a Percival Sulky Plow and forget them. W.R. Hare, Agent, Aylmer."
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  Title: Amtelecom Incorporated - Emergency Call System
Date: 1969
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Amtelecom Incorporated file
Caption: "Help Standing By - Seen here operating the switchboard and the high frequency radio at the Aylmer and Malahide Telephone Company's Sydenham Street office is Mrs. George Foreman. The radio, part of an information-emergency system designed to serve East Elgin residents, is connected with the Aylmer Police office, car and hand unit. The system was established to assist residents in making emergency calls and is in contact with six fire departments, the police, ambulance and other such services."
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  phone 2   PUC
  Title: Amtelecom Incorporated - Changes Name
Date: 1978
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Amtelecom Incorporated file
Caption: "Only the Name is Changed - A major change made by Amtelecom Inc. this year was to the name. Previously the 'Aylmer and Malahide Telephone Company Ltd', the company became Amtelecom in July. President and General Manager Roy Barnard said at the time that a TV interviewer had said the old name sounded like an operetta!"
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  Title: Aylmer Public Utilities Commission - New Fence
Date: 1974
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Aylmer Public Utilities Commission file
Caption: "Installing New Fence - Aylmer Town Works Department employees installed a fence just west of the Aylmer Fire Hall Tuesday between the parking lot and the bandshell grounds. Shown here from left are Bob Beattie, Works Superintendent John Tribe, and Art Hill with the shovel. The major portion of the work was complete when this photograph was taken. The posts had to be levelled and the galvanized metal fence still had to be bolted to the posts."
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Terrace Lodge

Terrace Lodge was built on 12 ½ acres of land purchased in 1970 for $40,000. However, it was not until a petition bearing 2,601 signatures of residents of the area was presented to the provincial government in 1974 that funding was approved. The building was completed in 1977. The Official Opening was held on September 12, 1977.

  terrace 1   terrace 2
  Title: Terrace Lodge - Exterior Taking Shape
Date: 1976
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Terrace Lodge file
Caption: "Exterior Of New Home For Aged Taking Shape- The Aylmer Home for the Aged, on Highway 3, has begun to take on a final appearance as the structure's exterior is well on the way to being completed. Gilvesy Construction Ltd., may have the job completed by May 1977. The 100-bed home will house residential-type patients."
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  Title: Terrace Lodge - Officially Opened
Date: 1977
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Terrace Lodge file
Caption: Terrace Lodge Is Officially Opened- Terrace Lodge, Aylmer's new Home for the Aged, was officially opened Friday. Among those attending the official ribbon-cutting ceremony were, from left; Dave Cook, Elgin County Warden; Ron Lake, reeve of Belmont; Lawrence Crawford, director of the senior citizen's branch of the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services; Jack Hodgson, Springfield reeve and chairman of the opening ceremonies; and John Wise, Elgin M.P."
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The Aylmer Mechanics' Institute and Library Association was established November 9, 1874, under the governance of a Board of Directors, and maintained a reading room/library at Aylmer Town Hall. The institution became a Free Library in 1897, and a Public Library in 1901.
From ca. 1905-1912 the Library occupied various locations on Talbot Street East, Aylmer.
In 1912 Aylmer citizens David Marshall and J.J. Nairn purchased property on the southwest corner of Centre and Sydenham Streets which they then donated to the Town of Aylmer. A new Library building was constructed on this site in 1912-1913 with funds secured from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. The Library opened in its new premises in the Carnegie Library building at 62 Centre Street, Aylmer in the early spring of 1913.
In 1940 the Aylmer Public Library joined the Elgin County Library Association, and continued as a member of that organization when it was re-formed as the Elgin County Library Co-Operative in May 1947.
The Aylmer Public Library Board administered the Library until it was disbanded in December 1965 as a result of legislation amalgamating all Elgin County municipal public library boards under the authority of Elgin County Council. Aylmer Public Library became the Aylmer branch of the Elgin County Library effective January 1, 1966.
In 1982 the Library returned to its original location, relocating to newly renovated premises on the ground floor of Aylmer Old Town Hall at 38 John Street South, Aylmer.
Long-serving supervising librarians have included Agnes Haight (1911 (acting) /1912 (permanent) -1938), Helen Youell (1938-1952), Elinor Given (1952-1983), and Christina Mayhew (1983-[2012, ongoing]).

Images of the Aylmer Public Library can be found on the following page of the Elgin County Library virtual exhibit:



The old business office of the late Joe Grigg, at 14 East Street, Aylmer was bought in 1973 by the Aylmer Museum Board and was gradually turned into a museum. The Grand Opening of the Aylmer and District Museum was held in December 1977.

In 1990, the Town of Aylmer purchased the property that housed the museum, but in 1998, Council directed that the Museum should become a community organization rather than a department of the town. Therefore, in 1999, the Aylmer and District Museum Association was formed to continue the operation of the Museum and to promote the heritage of the area. In 2012, the museum changed its name to the Aylmer-Malahide Museum & Archives.

  MuseumOpening   MuseumExhibitPreparation
  Title: Aylmer and District Museum - Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Date: 1977
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Aylmer and District Museum file
Caption: "Cutting the Ribbon - Aylmer's first museum was officially opened Saturday by Mayor Forrest Moore. Above, Mayor Moore is cutting the ribbon while members of the museum board look on."
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  Title: Aylmer and District Museum - Fashion Exhibit Preparation
Date: 1981
Part Of: St. Thomas Times-Journal fonds - Aylmer and District Museum file
Caption: "Sorting Through Memories - Aylmer and District Museum Director Pat Zimmer examines a remnant of a wedding apron that predates 1815. The apron, worn by former Aylmer seamstress Moira Garnham, will be part of the museum's fashion exhibit in the spring."
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