Know Your Neighbours – Dr. Lucius Oille

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Photo Attribution: St. Catharines Museum N-1044

Dr. Lucius Oille was born in 1830 and was one of St. Catharines most prominent citizens. He served as a member of council for several years before becoming mayor in 1878. He was only the second mayor of the city and first chairman of the waterworks. He did not stand for re-election; however he continued to contribute to the city.

Oille was a physician and owned the first x-ray machine in St. Catharine. Dr. Oille was involved in dozens of city projects, such as the organization of the Niagara Central Railway and the city’s first streetcar system. In 1878 Dr. Oille donated a fountain in front of the courthouse at the corner of King and James Street to the citizens of St. Catharines. He wanted to provide water to citizens that were shopping in the market square or had come downtown to work. Tin drinking cups were attached to the fountain by a chain so that people could use them to drink. Dr. Oille even thought of the animals as the fountain has a small basin at the bottom specifically for them. This gift marked the establishment of the city’s waterworks system in 1875-1876. Dr. Lucius Oille died on August 15, 1903.

An obituary from The St. Catharines Standard, August 15, 1903 included the following information:

Lucius Oille was predeceased by Oille, George, U. E. L. (father).  He graduated from Toronto University with a B.A. in 1855 and an M. A. one year later. He graduated from medical School in 1859 with a Gold Medal. He was the only Gold Medalist Physician in St. Catharines.

Oille served as the Second Mayor of St. Catharines, after its incorporation as a city. After his retirement from this post he presented the city with its first public fountain which stands at the corner of King and James Streets.

He has been called the father of the Water works system. He was a member of the board of commissioners for 17 consecutive years and he contributed significantly to the development of the railway in St. Catharines.

Dr. Lucius Oille passed away in 1903.

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