New owners preserve Emo landmark

Tom Ryan’s residence has escaped a date with the wrecking ball, and another Emo landmark will remain untouched thanks to its new owners.
Prior to Ryan’s passing, Gordon Meyers had purchased the property. The Meyers had two decisions to consider–either move to the house or remodel the upstairs at Meyers Clothing for their living quarters.
Well, Meyers and his wife, Adele, eventually decided to live above the store, which made it easier for him to keep tabs on his business.
But during the past 10 years, Meyers’ son, Grant, had taken an interest in the property and secured it. Since then, he married and, with Lucinda, has two growing children.
This meant expanding to the house to give the family extra space to move around.
This past fall, Grant Meyers decided to build an addition to the north end of the house and upgrade the remaining structure, insulating the entire building and adding new siding to give it that brand new look on Front Street West.
Ryan, in his prime, had given Emo the electricity it required, especially when lamps and lanterns were the only supply of light. A committee appointed by town council approached Ryan to see if he could provide electricity for Emo residents.
With $1,000 he had borrowed from five local businessmen, Ryan went to Saskatchewan to see if he could purchase a new generator. He bought a Fairbank Morse engine and installed it in the basement of the former Langstaff-Schurg office, the only part of the mill that did not burn.
The electricity generated was quite weak but, at that time, there were not many electrical appliances and the electricity was mainly used for lighting. When dusk fell, one could hear the chug of the motor starting up.
It was shut down when the last train went through at night, usually about 2 a.m.
Some meters were installed but not enough for the whole town, and it was very easy to see where the meters were. The charge was 17 cents for the first 25 kilowatts, with descending rates.
Ryan’s power plant served the community well until Ontario Hydro came in, beginning construction of the distribution system in 1946 with the first customers being connected in 1947.
Ryan then donated the land to the town and Emo Park is now located there.
He also operated Tom Ryan’s electrical shop on Front Street, which was purchased by Mr. Fraser, located next to DeGagne apartments.