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Iconic city hall clock on display at Calgary municipal building

If you’ve got the Calgary history bug, this is something you should really make the time for.

While the historic Calgary city hall undergoes a facelift, the clock from the iconic tower is on display in the Calgary municipal building.

The Seth Thomas Clock is one of only 50 of this model that were ever made and is the only remaining one of its kind in Canada. It was placed in the tower in 1911.

The clock had been undergoing its own repair and restoration prior to its scheduled placement back in the renovated tower in fall 2019. For now, it’s on display in a transparent case in the city hall atrium.

“With only fifty clocks of this particular model ever manufactured, this clock is a valuable historical timepiece and is one of the most defining features of Historic City Hall,” said Darrell Bell, acting director of Facility Management with The City.

“I’m excited that we are able to share this historical artifact with Calgarians, and I encourage all citizens to come and take advantage of this unique opportunity to see the clock up close over the next year.”

Interior view of the clock in the Historic City Hall tower. COURTESY CITY OF CALGARY

Quick facts about the clock (from the City of Calgary media release):

• The clock is the only remaining timepiece of its kind in Canada. Only 50 of this particular model were ever manufactured, and today fewer than 12 are operating worldwide that haven’t been modernized with auto winding or converted to electric operation.

• The vision for Calgary’s new City Hall in 1907 included an illuminated clock set into a five-story sandstone tower, which became the focal point of the building’s design.

• In July 1910, The City contracted local jewelry firm D.E. Black to supply the tower clock and, with the exception of winding, provide maintenance for five years. D.E. Black chose the New Model 16A tower clock, manufactured by the Seth Thomas Clock Company of Connecticut, to be installed at a cost of approximately $3,500.

• Designed to strike on the hour, the four-faced clock was fitted with a 1,500 lb bell and was guaranteed to run within a variation of ten seconds per month.

• The clock was installed in 1911 by Rudolph Engel and synched with the “official” Canadian Pacific Railway time.

• To run, the clock must be wound twice a week with a manual crank.

• The total weight of the clock parts is 3,950 pounds.

• Bell: 1,500 lbs

• Clock: 1,700 lbs – including 9 ft pendulum that is 175 lbs

• Weights: 750 lbs – two in total, one is 250 lbs and the other is 500 lbs