BIRKS CLOCK EXPERIENCE
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1. Scan QR code.
2. Open Experience with an iPhone or iPad.
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3. Place on a flat surface, and enjoy.
The 1930 Birks clock takes pride of place today in Hamilton Farmer’s Market, playing 200 tunes throughout the day. Watch the jousters in their infinite challenge and notice the clock’s intricate details. Download the Augmented Reality file to examine this famed artifact and its storied history right in your living room or backyard.
THE BIRKS BUILDING In 1882, the Canada Life Assurance Company moved from James Street South (the Pigott Building) into a new building at the southeast corner of King and James streets. It was known as the twisty tower because of the top tower's unique design. Oscar Wilde, who lectured in Hamilton May 30 and 31, 1882, stated it was one of the most beautiful buildings he had seen in Canada.
PURCHASING AND TURNING ON THE CLOCK The Canada Life Assurance building was sold in 1929 to Henry Birks and Sons. A fire in November 1929 forced Birks to rebuild the damaged sections, including the twisty tower. A copper roof, a canopy and show windows were added, and the interior was completely remodeled. Birks also ordered a copy of the charging horsemen clock at Wells Cathedral in Somerset England. The 18-foot-tall clock was set going at 10am on October 11, 1930.
A NEW LIFE FOR THE BIRKS CLOCK More than 50 years later, in August 1972, Birks vacated the building and moved into Jackson Square. Despite protests, the Birks building was torn down and replaced with a 15-storey $3.5 million office building where First Ontario Credit Union operated. Fortunately, the charging Horsemen clock was reinstalled on a pillar outside Jackson Square but ceased working shortly afterward. Later, it was removed and completely restored and installed in the renovated Farmer’s Market.
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ORIGIN OF THE BIRKS BUILDING
The Canada Life Assurance Company opened their first building on James Street South, where the Pigott building now stands. This building had previously been the officer’s barracks while the prince concert’s rifle brigade was stationed from 1862 to 1865. In 1882, they moved into a new building at the southeast corner of King and James streets. The building became known as the Canada Life Assurance building or the twisty tower building because of the unique design of the top tower. It was known as one of the finest public buildings on the continent. Oscar Wilde, who lectured in Hamilton May 30 and 31, 1882, stated that it was one of the most beautiful buildings he had seen in Canada. This was in the context of his premise that commercial activity need not clash with the desire for the beautiful. The building flourished in this location.
PURCHASING AND TURNING ON THE CLOCK
The site was sold in 1929 to Henry Birks and sons. The Birks opened their first Hamilton store in 1879. Later that year, in November 1929, the building suffered a fire. Birks was advised to tear it down and build a new modern building, but instead he made a decision to rebuild the damaged sections, including the twisty tower. They remodelled the tower and added a copper roof, a canopy, show windows, and completely remodelled the interior. They also ordered a copy of the charging horsemen clock found at Wells Cathedral in Somerset England. The 18-foot-tall clock was set going at 10am on October 11, 1930. Birks flourished in Hamilton and became a destination. Many people made arrangements to meet under the clock after their downtown business was finished.
A NEW LIFE FOR THE BIRKS CLOCK
Birk’s vacated the building and moved into Jackson Square in August 1972. On September 1, 1972, it was announced that the old Birks building would be torn down to make room for a new 15-storey $3.5 million office. Picketing at the old building began at once, but to no avail, and the building was demolished. Construction began on the new high-rise office building that was to replace the iconic Birks building after demolition was completed. This was the home of the First Ontario Credit Union. Fortunately, the charging Horsemen clock was saved. It was reinstalled on a pillar outside Jackson Square, but ceased working very shortly afterwards. Later it was removed and completely restored and installed in the renovated farmer’s market in Jackson Square.