Tweed’s fire hydrants: The history and the hunt

Table of Contents

If you’ve driven through Tweed, chances are you’ve noticed the brightly painted fire hydrants lining the village’s streets. Some are splashed with animated characters like snakes and dragons and Sylvester the Cat. Others show local businesses, heritage buildings, and even Elvis Presley.

When I was a little kid, I remember cruising down Victoria Street with my family, trying to find as many of the dozen or so hydrants as we could. “There’s one!” we’d yell. “There’s another!” The winner was whoever spotted the most.

Today, you can find about 40 of the colourful spigots all over Tweed, and together they show off the artistic leanings of a community that’s been here since the 1830s.

Those painted hydrants didn’t start showing up until 1987, though. That’s when Canada World Youth hosted a Pakistan-Ontario exchange program. Some of the young people stayed in Tweed, and before leaving they came up with the idea of painting fire hydrants along Victoria Street as a lasting legacy.

It’s certainly lasted. What started as an artistic project on the main drag quickly spread to almost all of Tweed’s fire hydrants. Over the years, community groups, the municipality, artists, and non-artists have picked up their paint brushes to turn the otherwise ignored fixtures into vivid canvasses that have helped put this quaint riverside village on the map.

Of course, paint doesn’t last forever. That’s why you’ll often see new designs — and why you should head out on a hydrant tour if it’s been a few years.

Here are some helpful maps.

This map was created by the Municipality of Tweed to guide your journey. Google My Map

This map was created by Hastings County GIS – GIS Map with Photos

Here are a few hydrants you definitely shouldn’t miss:

#6: North America’s Smallest Jailhouse

230 River Street West

This intricately painted beauty depicts Tweed’s famous tiny jailhouse, which is a couple of blocks away. Built in 1898, the jail measures just 4.8 metres wide by 6 metres deep and originally held three cells and a lobby.

#27: Farm to Table

44 Metcalf Street

You’ll have to get up close to see all of the details of this food-themed hydrant that pays homage to Tweed’s farm-to-table community dinners and its rich agricultural roots.   

#39: Front Porch Ruckus

453 Victoria Street North

By car, it’s tough to miss the bright purple hydrant on the outskirts of town. But if you don’t stop, you might miss the guitar, musical notes and deck that portray Tweed’s annual Front Porch Ruckus.

#53: Tweed & Area Heritage Centre

40 Victoria Street North

You’ll find this locomotive of a fire hydrant outside the Tweed & Area Heritage Centre. A railroad once passed through the village, and you can find out all about it — along with a ton of other facts about the community — at the centre.

#61: The Fisherman

211 River Street East

The area in and around Tweed is a popular sport-fishing destination, so it makes sense there’s a fisherman hydrant. And it makes sense that it’s here near Stoco Lake, a hotspot for anglers.  

#64: Tweed Music Festivals

136 Colborne Street

The village loves its tunes, and Tweed Music Festivals is the non-profit at the centre of organizing some of its biggest music events. This hydrant, with its kaleidoscopic splash of colours and notation, is the perfect tribute.


213 Alexander Street

Decades ago, there was a rumour going around that Elvis Presley hadn’t died but was living in Tweed. Ever since, the village has become somewhat synonymous with The King. Now there is a wildly popular Tweed Elvis Festival every summer, which happens near where you’ll find this likeness of the Jailhouse Rocker.   

Check out Tweed’s tourism web page, Our Backyard, for way more things to do in and around the community.


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Quinn's of Tweed

345 Victoria St. North Tweed, Ontario K0K 3J0

Visitors often ask about the building and it’s name, Quinn’s of Tweed. In fact, tradition dictates that we keep, with honour,  the name Quinn’s of Tweed, the original name of the store and building. The Quinn’s of Tweed building is one of the town’s oldest and most beautiful historic stone structures, dating back to the 1880s. The twelve foot walls allow us to hang paintings in the traditional French salon style. You’ll marvel at the craftmanship of the ash and maple staircase, the old bookeeper’s office, and the stained glass that brings one back to an era when a handshake and promise were as good as gold – today, we still believe in those principles.

gaylord hardwood flooring

228 Victoria St N, Tweed, ON K0K 3J0

Charles Frederick McGowan sold the lot in 1907 to William James Lawrence for $600.00. Shortly thereafter Mr. Lawrence erected the building which still stands there today. He conducted a furniture business until 1912, when he sold the property to the Traders’ Bank of Canada, which within the year, was taken over by the Royal Bank of Canada. It operated out of the building until 1942, when the war forced consolidations and closures due to a lack of tellers (men). The property changed hands a couple more times before local Tweed family, Gaylord Forest Products secured the property in 2003. Since then, they have evolved every inch of the interior into an experience. Each room throughout the building is a real life ‘showroom’ from top to bottom; you simply have to see it to believe it. The stairwell in particular holds a lot of history!

Marmora and Lake Inn

Come as strangers. Leave as friends.

29 Bursthall St, Marmora, ON K0K 2M0

Experience the charm of our 1906 mansion, nestled in the village of Marmora, Ontario, an historic town celebrating 200 years in 2021. The large and stately home was built by Ed Shannon for lumber baron Henry Reginald Pearce (known as “Reginald”) and his family, who purchased the lot for $200. It remained a private family dwelling for many decades and eventually was converted to a Bed and Breakfast by Chris and Lilly Boldly.

It now operates as Marmora And Lake Inn B&B and boasts beautiful, spacious bedrooms with quaint old-world craftsmanship for a luxurious stay. Onsite amenities include an exceptional indoor swimming pool, bubbler tub, infrared sauna, large screen SMART TV’s in each room, wireless internet access throughout, and generous sized gathering rooms. And being a small town, the pool is open to the community and friends for a nominal fee (pre-booking is required).

Our guests enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast including locally baked breads and pastries, yogurt and fresh fruit, an extensive beverage and tea/coffee bar featuring a wide variety of flavours and blends. Great outdoor patio area for fair-weather relaxation and large private events.

Whether planning a romantic weekend for two, a small wedding, a family reunion or a week-long visit to bask in the natural beauty of the region, the Marmora And Lake Inn B&B will help make it a time to remember. (Please note that all bedrooms are on the upper levels and we don’t yet have accessibility assist.)