February 4, 2024 Meeting
Doug Conley - Keeper of the Tower Clock
The meeting was held on February 4, 2024 at the Mount Brydges Legion Hall. Forty people attended the meeting.
The theme of the "show and tell" portion of the meeting was animals on clocks. Many fine examples were brought in and presented to our members.
Doug Conley from Wingham Ontario was our guest speaker who spoke about his experience taking care of the Wingham tower clock.
February 2024 Newsletter
Wow, I cannot believe we are talking about February already. We have had green grass for most of the winter, while some of you northern folks have had your fill of snow. Our meeting in February is usually the one we always worry about how many can make the trip due to the weather, but the forecast so far looks pretty good.
For our meeting Wayne Marten has arranged to bring along Doug Conley to talk about his time as the caretaker of the Wingham Post Office clock. I’m looking forward to meeting Doug and viewing his presentation.
Once again, we’ll be having our silent auction, so dig up some quality items for sale and bring along some cash to buy more things. I know Gerry Koolen is looking for a couple of tables for his items. One of the items the Club will be offering is the storage box we kept our things in at the Legion. This is a great storage box built by Bob, Ted and Gerry but unfortunately the Legion no longer has the room to store it. It has lockable doors along with two drawers inside.
Our show and tell display will be something a bit different. The theme will be “animals”. If you have a clock with any kind of an animal on it, bring it out, share and have fun. I am sure there will be the odd cuckoo, but I’d like to see some real oddball fun ones as well. Here is one of ours. (yes, it is a quartz clock).
We have number of new people coming to check us out on Sunday which is great. So, if you know someone that may be interested in clocks and watches or may be interested in them in the future bring them along. This is how we grow our club. And finally, if you would like to help us keep things rolling along, talk to any of the people listed below.
Thanks a lot, and I hope to see you Sunday.
Brian Melick – Membership firstname.lastname@example.org
Madison Laprise – Treasurer email@example.com
Charlie MaGee firstname.lastname@example.org
Ted Arthur email@example.com
Wayne Marten firstname.lastname@example.org
A Timepiece of American Innovation: A Review of "History of the American Clock Business for the past Sixty Years and the Life of Chauncey Jerome" by Chauncey Jerome
Editor's Note: This book is available, free of charge, at
There are a number of other free clock and watch books available on archive.org that may be of interest to our members (scroll down to the bottom of the page to view them under the title "Similar Items").
Chauncy Jerome (1793-1868) invented the OG Clock which he sold for $1. His company, the Jerome Manufacturing Co (1850) became the New Haven Clock Company (1853) making over 440,000 clocks a year. His businesses eventually failed and he died penniless.
This "book report" was written by ChatGPT4. I asked it to focus on specific aspects of Jerome's life I found interesting. In particular I was interested if ChatGPT would detect Jerome's feelings towards Seth Thomas and P.T. Barnum. I leave it to you to decide if ChatGPT reached the same conclusions that you would. The book is only 154 pages and is an easy one or two night read.
"History of the American Clock Business for the Past Sixty Years, and Life of Chauncey Jerome" by Chauncey Jerome is a remarkable book that offers a unique blend of personal memoir and industrial history. Written by the once-leading clockmaker in America, Chauncey Jerome, this book provides an insightful glimpse into the American clock industry from its infancy through its growth into a major business.
Jerome's narrative is both personal and historical, providing a detailed account of his own rise from a poor, uneducated background to becoming a pioneer in the mass production of affordable clocks. His ingenuity in using brass movements for clocks, which significantly reduced production costs, revolutionized the industry and made clocks accessible to a much wider audience.
The book is not just a business history; it's also a story of perseverance and innovation in the face of numerous challenges. Jerome's candid style and the inclusion of personal anecdotes make the story relatable and engaging. His descriptions of the various technical advancements in clock making, as well as the business strategies employed, are insightful and demonstrate his deep understanding of both the craft and the market.
Regarding Jerome's feelings towards other figures of the time, like Seth Thomas and P.T. Barnum, there's a mixture of professional respect and candid criticism. Seth Thomas, another prominent clockmaker, is both a competitor and a colleague in Jerome's narrative. Jerome acknowledges Thomas's skills and contributions to the industry, but he doesn't shy away from highlighting the competitive tension between their businesses.
As for P.T. Barnum, the famous showman, Jerome's perspective is quite interesting. Barnum, known for his flair for the dramatic and promotional genius, is a contrast to Jerome's more straightforward business approach. Jerome seems to regard Barnum with a sense of bemusement and perhaps a hint of skepticism towards his flamboyant methods.
In conclusion, "History of the American Clock Business for the Past Sixty Years, and Life of Chauncey Jerome" is not just a book about clocks or business; it's a story about American ingenuity, the rise of industry, and the personal journey of a man who played a pivotal role in it all. It's a recommended read for those interested in American history, industrial history, or the art of clockmaking.
Doug Conley - The Perfect Keeper of the Tower Clock
Doug Conley guest presenter at "the podium".
Doug and Wayne Marten talk about the Wingham tower clock. Click on the musical note for sound.
The Wingham tower clock chiming. Click on the musical note for sound.
Doug Conley lives in Wingham. His hobby is antique clock and watch repair, and he's a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.
Conley winds the tower clock at the North Huron Museum. This involves 20 minutes a week for the actual winding and one hour once a month for cleaning and maintenance. He began his role in 2001. The clock was in a damaged state and the leaders of the new municipality sought out a skilled and knowledgeable person to take on the job.
At the time Conley had been employed by Canada Post for 30 years and before that had been employed by the Canadian National Railway. During his time with CNR, many small stations were being closed. Conley had been involved with these historic pieces of architecture and had often paid special attention to a focal point of the furnishing of each, the station clock. He often stepped into a need that met his interest and growing skill and fixed a station clock, giving him personal satisfaction.
When the North Huron leaders approached him to become the keeper of the clock tower, Conley considered it a privilege. The clock had finally been installed in 1914 after the tower had been rebuilt to accommodate it, but there still remained problems. The regular winding would leave the time-side running for seven days but the strike side, which needed 45 feet of drop for the weights, had only 30 feet, necessitating a winding every five days.
With the support of the municipality, Conley analyzed the situation and consulted with others. He was given permission to drop the weights another floor but decided not to disrupt the architecture of the fine old 1907 building. Instead he used a pulley off a road grader and installed it as an extra part to increase the fall to 60 feet, thus correcting the problem. When asked about how people in town related to the clock, Conley told the positive story of a young ball player, now a retired businessman, who recalled often being part of an after-school game in the park and using the 5 p.m. strike to send him on his way home in time for supper.
Conley continues to look after the municipal timepiece. As he says, "There are not many such clocks still working in Ontario; this is one a the few still wound manually every week. Other similar clocks have been electrified. In some cases, the tower alone remains. These are referred to as tombstone towers."
He went on to say, "Listowel's clock tower and clock were exactly the same as Wingham's so the two were mutually supportive in terms of parts and models over the years. It requires a minimal yearly amount to keep the clock going. At times, repairs do have to be made. In 2009, part of a dial was lost and was replaced by plexi-glass. The east dial was not functioning or lit; the parts are there so it could be both fixed and lit.
Doug Conley is the perfect keeper of the clock. He is skilled in addressing its needs, interested in its history and devoted to serving both.
(Reprinted from an unknown publication at the North Huron Museum.)
Pictures from the meeting. Note: if you "double click" the image you can see the entire picture.