A site for a village at Canowindra was originally reserved south of the Belubula river, but the village grew haphazardly on private land north of the river. Early tracks from the ford of the river and from the lower Lachlan converged at what is now the bend in Gaskill Street and early businesses grew around a rough square there.
The first photo captured of the site from The Sydney Mail of September 21st, 1889, describes Canowindra’s main street looking southeast from the square: “The first building on the left is Mr Boyd’s store; then appear the cottages of Mr Rice and the office of Mr Dry (a well-known agent); then Clyburn’s hotel and the post office finish the line. On the right are the blacksmiths, bootmakers, the Commercial Bank, the local saddler’s shop, Clyburn’s sample rooms and hall, and last, but not least, Mr Finn’s stores.”
The second photo shows the street at around the same period looking northwest. It also shows Mr Rice’s cottages with shops in front and Mr Boyd’s store, where the Rural Bank was later built. It was not until after the Boree Shire was formed in 1906 that there was any town planning and the old ‘square’ was gradually eliminated as new buildings had to be built forward and the street aligned. The only surviving buildings of the ‘then’ period are one of ‘Mr Rice’s cottages’ behind the new frontages of the Craft Shop and Federation Fotos and the 1887 part of Finn’s store.
An interesting glance at the main street of Canowindra’s past and present.
Contributed by Dorothy Balcomb, Historical Society