Signs of the Times

Harmony Centre’s recent rebranding took another step towards completion with the installation of new exterior and interior signage. Made possible by a generous grant delivered by the Community Foundation Grey Bruce from the WindsorEssex Community Foundation via the Investment Readiness Program, the signage is both functional and representative of the new upbeat look Harmony Centre’s been aiming for. The colourful, informal, and organic nature of the of the redesign now extends from our basic print media to our website and social media outreach. It does a great job of reflecting the positive and forward-looking nature of this important cultural hub.

Harmony Centre is a charitable organization run and maintained by volunteers.

Local painting contractor Rob Hassard was delighted when he was invited to teach an Owen Sound District Secondary School class how to paint a room. But he wanted to do it out in the field, not in a classroom. So, he put out the call, and Harmony Centre responded.

“Harmony Centre is a perfect place to teach a group to paint because it’s a charity, and this is a great way of giving back to the community in a very practical way,” he says.

Harmony Centre also has an abundance of rooms, and the Board Room was selected for the project because of its manageable size.

Hassard is excited about the project because he believes that painting is an ability that people carry with them wherever they go. “At some point in your life you’re going to have to paint a room,” he says. “If you have some basic knowledge about how it’s done, then you’re ahead of the game.”

Instruction will be provided on how to select paint, make minor repairs, prepare surfaces for painting, masking, and various techniques for applying paint.

“I hope this will inspire some young people and give them the confidence to take on projects of their own,” Hassard says.

But Rob also believes that painting is a transferable life skill that also teaches about setting goals, problem solving, and patience.

“Everything in life is a process,” he says. “Learn the process – learn to trust it – and you’re all set.”

A recently-completed project to install energy-efficient windows, state-of-the-art heat pumps, and necessary electrical upgrades to the 150-year-old Harmony Centre has helped secure the future of this important Owen Sound cultural institution and position it to serve the interests of the local community for many years to come. 

Thanks to grants from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and funds contributed through local donations, the former church-turned-cultural-venue, is now warmer, healthier, and more financially sustainable.

According to Harmony Centre Vice Chair Barry Randall, the project has resulted in significant energy efficiencies that have reduced building’s carbon footprint and increased the indoor air quality at The Harmony Centre. But of equal importance, the project has ensured the long-term viability of the facility. “Now we are free to deliver programming and focus on the needs of our community users – rather than struggling to pay our heating bills,” he says.

The Harmony Centre’s HVAC overhaul was a large undertaking that replaced the old boiler and radiator system with 13 individually controlled high-efficiency ductless heat pumps. According to project engineer Jeff Graham, president of Owen Sound-based GSS Engineering, the results are well-worth the effort. “Historically, The Harmony Center used approximately 26,000 cubic meters of natural gas per year to heat the building,” says Graham. “By installing the heat pump system and eliminating use of natural gas, the Harmony Center has reduced green house gas emissions by approximately 50 metric tonnes per year.”

Thanks to a grant from Community Foundation Grey Bruce, the Auditorium is now a more comfortable place to spend an evening.  The centre section of seating has been replaced with new, modern, comfortable chairs.  The switch to chairs allows for much more flexibility in the Auditorium, as they can be moved or removed as needed.  We can now open up a dance floor or set up cafe tables and chairs.  Recently, removal of the chairs allowed Look Up Circus to hold their summer camp in the Auditorium where the high ceilings allowed for set-up of the high circus apparatus.  

Many of the old wooden pews were sold at auction and buyers, like Holly Sled of Rock the Sound, are happy to have a piece of the old Knox Church as a keepsake.  Any excess wood from the pew removal was donated to Intersections Wood Collaborative and will lead a new life as a piece of fine wooden furniture or art. The goal is to replace the rest of the ground floor pews with chairs whenever funding allows.  If you are interested in sponsoring a chair or purchasing a pew, please contact us at

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