Tom McMaster, Jack of All Trades
The hamlet of New Hope, formerly Bergeytown, was incorporated as the Village of Hespeler in 1858 and at the first village meeting, Henry Fields was appointed police constable and served until 1873. He was succeeded by various men, for short periods of time, over the next 15 years.
In 1888, Mr. Thomas McMaster was named police constable and by 1893 was named Chief Constable. Mr. McMaster had been born in Kirkcowan, Wigtonshire Scotland in 1841 and was a veteran of the British Army, having served in Montreal, Quebec with the 4th Battalion 60th King’s Royal Rifles during the American Civil War.
Chief Constable McMaster was described as an excellent constable, a fine friend to all and a popular citizen. He also held down more jobs than anyone in town before or since that time!
For the princely sum of $260.00 per year, his main duty was to maintain law and order and keep crooks out of Hespeler. That was a 24/7 around the clock fulltime job; but in addition to that, his duties also included being the Health Inspector, Noxious Weeds Inspector, Caretaker of the Hespeler Public School, Town Hall and Fire Station buildings. He was also the Town Foreman taking charge of roads and sidewalks, all street cleaning and grading, etc. He was the Dog Catcher and responsible for sale of dog tags.
If all that was not enough, Chief McMaster’s duties also included acting as the Town’s Tax Collector and for many years responsible for the Fire Brigade as well. In fact, he was pretty much everything in the Town’s administration except for Chief Magistrate.
Chief Constable Thomas McMaster retired an honoured and respected citizen in 1913 at the advanced age of 71 years.