Village of Athens Virtual Walking Tour

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Walking Tour: Sites and Murals


I. Sites of Interest

A. Athens Town Hall

Athens Town HallBuilt in 1904 this building was officially opened by Sir Wilfred Laurier. In addition to the municipal offices it also housed a library and the fire hall. A siren used to signal the volunteer firefighters to action. Today the siren is still sounded every day at noon.

B. Joshua Bates Centre

JBCThis centre for the performing arts, located above the Town Hall, was restored by the citizens of Athens in 1994. A variety of venues take place here including, meetings, drama, comedy, and music.

C. Post Office

Built in 1914, this building has operated as a full service post office since that time.

D. Beer and Liquor Store

E. Centre 76

The indoor skating rink of Centre 76 is the hub of Athens’ activity in the winter. During the summer months the building is used for many activities including the famous Farmersville Fair Arts & Crafts sale (3rd weekend in July).

F. Memorial Park & Garden

A cenotaph, and monuments commemorating the pioneer families who settled this area, and the Little Immigrants sent to Canada from the Quarrier Homes and Bernardo Homes in England can be found flanked by floral plantings. Playground equipment and picnic benches make this a perfect spot to stop and rest.

G. Township Hall / Public Library

Built in 1857, this building was the only meeting place in the village. Shows, concerts, court proceedings, political meetings and band practices were once held here. The building also housed the village jail. Today the building operates as a library and is a CAP (Computer Access Point) centre.

H. Fairgrounds, Centennial Park

The home of Farmersville Fair. Also has facilities for soccer and baseball games and is home to our newest play structure.

I. Public School / Lions Hall

Lions HallOriginally built in 1860 as a school, and later rebuilt in 1905 following a fire, this building still features separate boys and girls stairwells and entrance doors. Presently it is owned by the Athens Lions Club and hosts the VON, playschool activities for children, Bingo and various meetings. It is flanked by a garden colour-themed in Lions Club yellow and purple.

J. Christian Reformed Church

Constructed between 1863 and 1867 as a Wesleyan Methodist Church this stone building at one time also housed the Presbyterian and Standard Churches.

K. Quaker Cemetery

The Society of Friends met in Athens from the early 1800’s until 1888. Their meeting house, built in 1838, was the first and only Quaker meeting house in Leeds County. Many prominent Quakers are buried in this cemetery.

L. House of Industry

MapleViewToday an ultra-modern seniors facility, the original building was erected in 1895 to house the elderly and the poor. Surrounded by 100 acres of farmland, the residents operated a very successful farm, not only providing food for themselves but also selling some too!

M. United Church

United ChurchOur oldest church building. This magnificent stone church was built as a Methodist Episcopal Church in 1842. It was later enlarged and renovated in 1902.

N. Baptist Church

A frame building was built on this site in 1854 to house a Select School. It was also used as the first meeting place of the Baptists. In 1888 this building was moved next door to allow for the construction of the present church. The original building was brick sided and is now used as the manse.

O. Wiltse Pioneer Cemetery

Benoni Wiltse, a United Empire Loyalist and his brothers settled in this area in 1792. The region around the cemetery is still known as Wiltsetown. Restoration of this pioneer cemetery was begun in 2003 by the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada.

P. Shades of Green: A Memory Garden

"Shades of Green"Actually three gardens in one! In the shade garden, a rustic bridge brings you to an ornate bench facing a birdbath and surrounded by hundreds of beautiful shade-loving plants. Hand crafted name plates identify the plants. In a circle east of the shade garden lies the memorial rose garden.

Eleven red rose bushes surrounding the bronze sundial commemorate the eleven Athens men who died in the First World War. The hydrangea and spirea plantings around the Township Hall replicate the plantings done by the Women’s Institute in 1922.

Q. Reynolds Park

Created on the site of the Reynolds Store, this garden built by the Reynolds family and donated to the Village, features an arbor covered with hops plants, a huge selection of flowering shrubs and even a bird house replica of the original store.

R. Dancy Park

A naturalization project. In the spring of 2004, thirty tons of topsoil was manually moved by volunteers to create an L-shaped berm. 13 spruce and pine trees and 30 shrubs were planted to create shade and to provide a home for birds.

S. Valleyview Court

An octagonal flowerbed created at the main entrance to the Valleyview seniors’ apartments boasts a different colour theme each year.

T. Spectacular Sunflower Border

Planted by the students of Pineview Public School, this 100 foot garden, made up of 16 varieties of sunflowers, is timed to reach full bloom when the students return to school in the fall.

U. Gateway Beds

Surrounding the newly installed entrance signs to our community are raised beds, built with dry-stack stone and filled with colour. Designed, built, planted and maintained by volunteers, they create a spectacular welcome to our village.

V. Children’s Play Structure

Visit Athens’ newest climber at the Centennial Park Fairgrounds. This modern play area was installed in June 2004 by the Athens Lions Club and friends.

II. The Murals

1. “Brave Deed”

"Brave Deed"“Brave Deed,” which enlivens the Fire Hall’s wall, depicts courageous men, women and children as they attempt to quell the fire behind a former shop on Main Street. Also included in the mural is a description of the bravery of a local man who risked his life to extinguish the blaze. The mural was painted by Mary Lynn Baker of nearby Addison and was completed in 1990.

2. “Farm Life”

"Farm Life"This 26’ by 12’ mural was painted by artist Cathie McGuire in 1990. It is located on the west wall of Athens Pro Hardware.

The border features an alternating pattern of quilt squares and historic farm scenes. Women and children are depicted at their daily chores and activities of farm living. Quilts have historically represented rural life, bringing friends and neighbours together for quilting bees. The centre of the mural depicts farmers and a steam machine threshing grain. Although she is an experienced painter, this was Cathie’s first mural.

3. “Athens H. S. Graduation, 1921”

"Athens H.S. Graduation"This mural is located on the wall of Athens District High School, and was completed in July, 1989 by artist Dan Sawatzky.

The artist chose to depict the last graduating class and the Athens High School before the disastrous fire of October 27, 1921, which destroyed the building. Classes immediately resumed in temporary quarters in the Athens Town Hall. On January 7, 1925, the students moved into the new Athens High School, built on the site of the former school. As you drive by, watch as the car in the mural mysteriously turns to follow you!

4. “The Train Station”

"The Train Station"This mural, on the east wall of 34 Main St East, was painted by Lorrie Maruscak in 1986. Between 1888 and 1952, the words “Here comes the train,” were heard daily, announcing the arrival at the Athens station of the B & W (Brockville - Westport). This mural depicts memories of fashionable women in their stylish hats and long skirts. A horse drawn taxi from the Armstrong Hotel waits to take passengers to downtown Athens. The train brought increased prosperity to the area.

5. “The Gathering”

"The Gathering"Pierre Hardy was commissioned in 1987 to reproduce an original oil painting of local artist Crawford Chelson Slack. Mr. Slack (1855-1929) was an Athens (Farmersville) resident for most of his life, and was an accomplished artist, poet, student of nature and a lover of music.

His paintings are now scattered all over the country and highly prized by the owners. In 1984, the Village of Athens had nine of his paintings restored, and these now grace the walls of the Athens Municipal Office and Council Chambers and the Athens Public Library.

Pierre has captured the spirit of the “locals” gathered around the stove, catching up on the local news and events. By including a portrait of “Crawf” in the oval at the right of the mural, he has paid tribute to the talents of our own local artist. In his own unique manner, Pierre has also painted himself at work, at the left of the mural. This mural was the first of three to be painted in Athens by Pierre Hardy.

6. “Charleston Lake Picnic”

"Charleston Lake Picnic"Noreen Mallory has presented the dazzling beauty of a perfect summer day at Charleston Lake, c. 1915. The mural, painted in 1987, is located on the west wall of 17 Main St East and is 61’ by 23’.

Athens residents Crawf Slack, Jennie Lamb and others are enjoying a peaceful picnic, while children swim in the calm bay waters and fishing guides prepare a mouth-watering shore dinner of freshly-caught lake trout. The Charleston steam launch rides gently in the water, waiting for the passengers’ return to Charleston Village. Squirrels, chipmunks, birds and a snake, natural inhabitants of the lake, add to the serenity and beauty of a hot, lazy day.

Noreen Mallory, a native of Brockville, has spent summers at her cottage at Charleston Lake.

7. “Main Street Scene”

"Main Street"This mural, by Andrea Green, is located on the east wall of the Stedman’s Store, 7 Main St. East, and was completed in 1986. Andrea succeeds in capturing a slice of Main Street Athens life circa 1910.

Thirty-nine true to life people, painted from old photographs and Edna B. Chant’s books, fill the old board sidewalks in front of the centre block to watch the Orange Day Parade.

Andrea Green is a well known local artist.

8. “The Village Bandstand”

"The Village Bandstand"Completed by John Hood in 1987, this 48’ by 13.5 foot mural depicts a band and the village bandstand, with the new Model School in the background, c. 1925. The bandstand was built in 1924, through the efforts of the Athens Women’s Institute and concerts were held there to the delight of young and old. The mural is located on the west wall of Athens Video Plus & Harvest Cafe, 29 Main St East.

9. “Highway 42 East of Athens in the 1890s”

"Highway 42 East of Athens"In 1994, local professional artist Mary Lynn Baker completed her third Athens mural. Located on the east wall of Athens Freshmart, the mural is 84-1/2 feet long by 7 feet high. This mural depicts historical activities and buildings in Athens and area. A numbering system makes it easy for the viewer to identify the locations, painted in the centre area of the mural.

10. “Step into the Past”

"Step into the Past"Athens’ first indoor mural adorns the interior wall of Main Street Pizza on Main Street, Athens. Painted in 1997 by artist Sheila Ballantyne and assisted by Sergio Lopes, the painting depicts a social gathering on the porch of an old stone house at the turn of the century.

11 “The Life of Joshua Bates”

Athens’ newest mural adorns an entire wall inside the building of Charleston Lake Storage on Charleston Lake Road. Painted by a group of Athens Christian School students during the summer of 2001 under the direction and vision of Tony Endhoven, this lively work portrays Joshua Bates (1801-1864), a founding father of Athens. To arrange a viewing call 924-1423 or 924-2932.

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This walking tour & map have been brought to you by the Athens District Chamber of Commerce and The Mural, our community newspaper.

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