Timepiece slated for construction this fall in McGregor Park

NANAIMO – Timepiece slated for construction this fall in McGregor Park thanks to donation by the International Order of Odd Fellows.

Time ticks by.

A couple rushes to catch the newest production at the Port Theatre. A commuter hops onto the ferry heading to Protection Island. A woman glances at her watch while perusing the bus schedule to see when the next one will arrive.

This fall, people won’t have to glance at their watches or iPhones to see what time it is thanks to the installation of a five-metre clock at the entrance to McGregor Park.

The clock is being built through a partnership between the City of Nanaimo and the local branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The Odd Fellows group, which has operated in Nanaimo since the early 1870s, faced dwindling numbers recently.

Concerned the society was reaching its final days in the city, it sold property and donated $50,000 each to the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation and the Nanaimo school district.

Members also donated $50,000 to the city for the timepiece to recognize the role the society has had.

The Odd Fellows group has since added new members, but is seeking more to continue working in the community.

The clock will have a plaque and benches around its base.

Jeff Ritchie, senior manager of parks and civic facilities for the city, said everyone on the parks, recreation and culture commission is excited about it.

“It’s kind of like our public art – it’s something to talk about and is a meeting place,” he said, adding the location gets lots of foot traffic and is highly visible.

The city will begin clearing the location in late August or early September, and the Odd Fellows will be responsible for the clock’s installation. The clock will be 5.18 metres high and have four faces. About $20,000 will be used to prepare the base and $30,000 will go toward the clock itself.

Todd Wood, a member of the Odd Fellows, said not a lot of people know about the organization’s history in the community. The order originated as a benevolent society.

Members paid dues, which were collected to give assistance to widows and the children of miners who died in the coal mines or members who were out of work or in distress. As conditions improved and unions began forming, the order continued its work to aid those who needed assistance and started donating to local charities.

“They have been around well over 100 years and their relationship with the city started when the city incorporated,” said Wood. “They wanted to do it for the citizens of Nanaimo.”

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