This past Friday, June 23rd, the Steelton Seniors’ Centre held an event to reminisce over the many years of history that have been enjoyed at the facility.
“We knew we were having fun – We didn’t know we were making memories.” – Vicky Taylor, Recreation Programmer at Steelton Seniors’ Centre
There were photo displays throughout the room, several on old doors. Vicky said the doors were in the basement but she wasn’t sure where they came from. She offered up a tour of the basement area which was used as a jail that housed 10 inmates back in the day, complete with a skeleton in one of the cells (a bar that was across the doors) as well as a tree trunk that was used as a post and some old brick posts. The basement area was also used by a Weaving Guild at one point (the oldest guild in Ontario) and it has recently moved to the Museum.
The town of Steelton was originally its own community located north of Cathcart Street and west of North Street. It was developed about 100 years ago for local steel workers and remains a working-class neighbourhood to this day.
In 1906, Steelton budgeted $10,000 for the construction of a town hall to be used for township business, police services and even included a jail cell in the basement. The foundation was laid in November of 1906 and the building was completed in April of 1907.
After the new town failed to attract significant business taxation to pay for its services, Steelton and its 7,000 residents were absorbed by the city of Sault Ste. Marie on January 1st, 1918.
In 1919, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library opened its first branch library in the Steelton Town Hall building – called the “West End Branch”. Approximately 800 volumes were transferred from the Main Library. The West Branch was closed temporarily in 1923 due to financial problems but reopened in 1924 as Steelton Branch Library where it continued to serve residents in the west end of the community until it closed permanently on June 30th, 1992.
Since then, it has continued to operate as a central part of the west end neighbourhood, functioning as the Steelton Seniors’ Centre to this day. Last October 2016, Sault Ste. Marie Municipal Council voted to move the Steelton Seniors Centre to the Northern Community Centre on Goulais Avenue after it was determined that the 110 year old building created challenges far beyond its usefulness. Lack of parking and accessibility issues continue to pose serious challenges for seniors to adequately access programming at the facility.
Thanks to the Steelton Seniors’ Centre for sharing the following photo gallery with us.