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Double Deckers in Quinte

British Travel Association greeting

A recent transfer of records from the City of Belleville included an intriguing framed item from the British Travel Association, bringing warm greetings to the Mayor and People of Belleville through the medium of the Good Will Caravan of London Buses. The item has been duly added to the Community Archives (reference number CB 6/09) and we have done some more research online and in our newspaper collection to tease out its history.

Tourism from North America has always been a significant source of income to Great Britain, as this article from the Ontario Intelligencer in 1952 makes clear:

Tourist dollars from North America in UK

Visitors from Canada, States Spent 22,500,000 Pounds in Britain in ’51
Canadian Press Staff Writer .
LONDON (CP)—Visitors from Canada and the United States spent an estimated 22,250,000 pounds in Britain during 1951, not including fares, says the 24th annual report of the British Travel and Holidays Association.
Tourist traffic again represented one of the country’s chief sources of earning Canadian and American dollars. One-third of Britain’s total tourist receipts came from the United States or Canada.
Some 36,000 Canadians visited Britain in 1951, an increase of 5.7 per cent over the previous year. The report notes, however, that there was a tendency for them to spend more time on the continent
than previously. Canadians entering the United Kingdom in 1951 spent 5,950,000 pounds, including fares.
U. S. visitors spent 26,400,000 pounds including fare payments, a sum greater than any of Britain’s visible exports to the United States and equivalent to 20 per cent of all Britain’s physical exports there.
In order of importance in earning U.S. dollars for Britain are: tourists, whisky, woollen yarns and manufactured products, vehicles, other textile manufactures (excluding silk), machinery, . pottery, glass, cotton yarns and manufactures.
Britain expects to make 120,000,000. pounds from the tourist business during 1952 largely in Canadian and U.S. dollars.

The Good Will Caravan of London Buses was part of a campaign by the British Travel Association, in co-operation with London Transport, to encourage more Americans and Canadians to visit the United Kingdom. In 1950 a similar tour had visited European countries to promote the 1951 Festival of Britain, travelling 4,000 miles/6,500 kilometres.

The 1952 tour had started in America in March. This British Pathé news item shows the arrival of the three brand new London Buses in New York:

The buses travelled west to Los Angeles and San Francisco via Cincinnati, Dallas, and Albuquerque, then east again via Salt Lake City, Denver and Chicago. While still in America, it was decided to extend the 8,000 mile/13,000km tour to include eastern Canada. The buses visited London, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.

The buses arrived in Trenton on July 30th, 1952 and in Belleville on the following day. An advertisement in the Ontario Intelligencer on July 30th promoted the Belleville visit:

London Buses advertisment

Three of London England’s
Famous Double Deck Buses
from 10.00 a.m. till 12.00 noon
They bring to you greetings and good wishes
from the heart of the Commonwealth. To some
of you they are old friends, turning up where
least expected. To many they are just something
you have read about. But old friends or new
acquaintances, they are an interesting part of old
London, and you will like to see them and
perhaps ride in one of them.
You will like the Cockney Crews that bring
these buses to you. Come along and meet
them. These Crews and thousands like
them braved the blitzes and the blackouts
and they have already driven from
coast to coast to come and
see your town. The British Travel
Association and the London
Transport Executive are
delighted to send you this
goodwill Cavalcade and their
London Crews.

The newspaper reported on the visits the following day:

Buses visit Trenton

British Buses Stop in Town – For Short Visit
TRENTON. — Speaking of big ones fishermen Charlie Hilton and Bill O’Malley of Trenton, caught a salmon trout worthwhile bragging about. They were fishing at Buck Lake the other day and hooked a 15-pound beauty. They were surprised at, the size of the huskie and the fight it put up. It took them just three minutes to heave the big fellow over the side and into their boat. They were using copper line about 150 feet down.
The three British buses travelling United States and Canada arrived here yesterday afternoon, after making a 60 mile detour at Brighton. They came by the back road from Stirling because the bridge crossing the Trent river is not high enough to allow double decked buses to pass.
E. T.Bonny, Osterjey, Isleworth, Middlesex, and a crew driving and maintaining the trams, were greeted here by Mayor Kenneth J. Couch and a delegation from, the town. Mr. Bonny said it. was interesting to note that in London, Canada, the entourage had received the biggest reception. Some 2,800 persons were taken for rides during the stopover there. The expedition was sponsored by the British Travel Association.
Already the three buses with accompanying maintenance vehicles have travelled 9,500 miles across the United States from New York to Los Angeles and back across the country into Canada. At the “hole in the wall” on No. 2 highway at Newcastle the buses scraped through with a half inch to spare.
In Trenton several hundred were taken on sight seeing tours.

Buses visit Belleville

Double Decker London Buses, Personnel on Goodwill Tour Of Ontario Welcomed by City
Double decker London Transport buses on the final lap of a 10,000-mile goodwill tour through United States and Canada provided a tinge of nostalgia for many Belleville and district residents from “over home” when they stopped in the city overnight.
The three double decker buses off the streets of Old London arrived in the city last evening and this morning were viewed by several thousand local residents. Many took the advantage of a short ride in one of the buses and a big percentage of the people. viewing the buses were former English people who had come to Canada to live.
It was a bit of Old England as the Cockney voices answered questions of dozens of interested persons who crowded into the market square area while the buses were on display. People who had visited England or former residents who had not been back home in years sought out the English drivers and conductors with questions relating to “over home” or about the tour.
Kiddies Get Big Kick
Local kiddies got a big kick out of their upper deck ride about the city and the bus did a roaring business during the several hours, in which free rides were offered.
One of the buses was fitted out as a display vehicle with the top deck fitted out with colored pictures of typical English scenery and other points of interest.
Travelling with the buses is a personnel of 22 including drivers, mechanics and representatives of. the British Travel Association, which with London Transport, are joint sponsors of the tour.
The party left England about the middle of March and toured the United States and are returning by way of Canada. They will be away from England about five months.
“Not a holiday, but a real experience,” was the way one of the Cockney drivers described
the trip.
At a civic reception tendered the touring personnel held at the city hall. Mr. Harry Price, public relations representative for the tour, explained that. insofar as Canada was concerned the trip was a goodwill tour. “The American phase of the tour was more of an educational nature,” he said;
Welcomed by Mayor
Mayor A. M. Haig expressed the official welcome to the tdUr personnel and assured that anything concerning England was dear to the hearts of most residents of this city and district.
Attending the reception were most of the city aldermen; heads of civic bodies and presidents of various service clubs and other organizations. Coffee and doughnuts were served by the ladies of the city hall staff.’
Following their arrival in the city last night, Mr. Price, Edwin Hills and Edwin T. Bonny, mechanical supervisor, were entertained to dinner by the Industrial Commission.
The high double decker English buses are not built for Canadian highways, it has been found by their drivers, who have to make numerous; detours around low bridges and subways.
Had to Make Detour
For instance they could not get under the highway bridge at Trenton and had to go north around by Campbellford to get across the Trent River.
Double, decker buses are favored in England because of their high seating capacity-56 passengers—with compact dimensions. It is explained that short highly manoeuvrable vehicles are essential in many of England’s old cities and towns with their traffic congested, narrow winding streets and sharp corners.
They are powered with 125 horsepower diesel engines. London Transport has 7,250 double deck buses, and another 1,000 single deckers.

The buses returned to England in August 1952 and entered normal service in London. One of the buses was acquired by the London Bus Museum in 1977 and has been restored to its condition at the time of the 1952 tour. It is now on display at the museum.

RT2775 (photo by Peter Zabek, courtesy of the London Bus Museum)

Does anyone remember the visit of the buses to Trenton or Belleville?

Further reading:
Transport for London Corporate Archives Research Guide No 40: Overseas Bus Tours
London Bus Museum 1952 AEC Regent III bus – RT2775

By | September 9th, 2019|Featured item, News|1 Comment

10,000 (and counting!)

This week the Community Archives has passed a numerical milestone in our photographic digitization project, with the uploading of our ten thousandth image to the photo-sharing website, Flickr. Our project began with the sharing of the Grace Waters photograph album, showing scenes of nursing during the First World War. This image was the first one added to Flickr, in August 2015.

Group of nurses in First World War uniforms

Grace B. Waters album

Since then, a range of summer students and volunteers have been helping to scan, describe, and share the extensive collection of photographs amassed by the Hastings County Historical Society from 1957 to 2010. The photographs record buildings (many now vanished), people, and local events, all now available to browse from the comfort of your own internet connection.

The 10,000th image records a significant moment in the Hastings County Historical Society’s own history: the 1961 opening of the first Hastings County Museum in the former Registry Office building on Church Street in Belleville. Gerry Boyce can be seen on the extreme right of the photograph. Since its foundation, the Historical Society has been a powerful force for the care of local history of all kinds and at the Community Archives we are proud to be able to share the results of their work over the past 60 years.

Opening of the Hastings County Museum

HC08237: Opening of Hastings County Museum, August 9th, 1961

Tips on using Flickr

If you are new to using Flickr, we have compiled a brief guide here to help you navigate the site. Flickr holds photographs from some 75 million people, so it is useful to know how to just search one account, like that of the Community Archives.

First of all, you’ll want to navigate to the home page of the account. In our case that would be flickr.com/photos/cabhc. There is a search box at the top of the page, but this searches all of Flickr, so you’ll want to limit that, which you can do by clicking on the small magnifying glass just above the photographs:

Flickr home page

This will change the search so that it only looks across the pictures in the Community Archives’ holdings. You’ll see that the search box changes slightly, with the name of the collection appearing at the start of the box:

We hope you have fun exploring the photographs and look forward to sharing many more in the years to come!

By | June 13th, 2019|Featured item, News|2 Comments

Local Link to a London Disaster

On January 6th, 1898, the Weekly Intelligencer reported on a disaster which had taken place in the city of London, Ontario, three days earlier

Intelligencer report on the London Disaster of 1898


Awful Calamity at a Municipal Meeting in London.


The Winners in the Municipal Battle Had Gathered in the City Hall to Listen to Speeches by the Successful Candidates – The Platform and Floor Gave Way and Twenty-Three Were Carried to Death – The Dead and Injured.


F. Heaman, C. Beckit, E. Luxton, N. Carrothers, R. Leigh, S. Harris, A. Phillips, L. W. Burk, W. J. Smith, W. C. Talbot, John Turner, Benjamin J. Nash, J. W. Borland, Frank Robinson, W. H. Dell, Stephen Williams, Ben Jacques, O. Bruce, James McLean, John Fellows, John Burridge, Allen Towe, Unknown Man.


Geo. Yates, Reporter, Joshua Darch, H. Passmore, Reporter, Thomas Blanch, Ald. Robt. Carrothers, Mayor Wilson, – Burges, W. Gray, leg broken, – Fleming, arm broken, Ald. Neil Cooper, internal injuries, H. Van Wyck, head cut.

London, Jan. 4.- During the height of a triumphal after-election meeting, 23 people were thrown to their death by the fiving way of a floor in the City Hall last night. Scores were injured, and the hospitals of the city are crowded with the dying and dead.

London, Ont., Jan. 5.- London’s pall of sorrow darkened and hung heavy over the city yesterday. From the masts of the city flags waved at half-mast in dolorous silence, and citizens spoke in whispers as they realized the magnitude of the disaster which had in a moment blotted out the lives of 23 people who the evening before were jubilant with life.

From all sections of the country came messages of sympathy, showing how deeply the calamity had touched the hearts of the people of Canada.

Upon the streets the disaster was the sole topic of conversation. The cause for it was earnestly discussed by the citizens…

[Drawing] Mayor-Elect J. D. Wilson, M. D., Whose election was being celebrated.

One of the people killed in this disaster had a Hastings County connection. Leander Ward Burke was born in Huntingdon Township in around 1859 and grew up with his parents, James Gilbert Burke and Charlotte Jane (Vandervoort) on their farm on lot 10 of the fifth concession. By 1888 both James and Charlotte had died and Leander was living in London in 1890, working as an agent for a life assurance company.

Burke’s death was registered with those of his fellow accident victims. Ironically, the ‘name of physician in attendance’ is Dr. John D. Wilson, the very man whose election everyone at the event had been celebrating, and who had himself been injured in the disaster.

Death registrations for accident victims

Death registrations for accident victims

After the disaster at City Hall, Leander’s body was returned to Hastings County and he was buried in the Moira Cemetery.

The Community Archives holds a tinted tintype photograph of Leander Burke, taken when he was conducting a group of girls near Maynooth, Ontario. This item was donated to the Hastings County Historical Society by Hazel Hutchinson of Stirling, Ontario, in September 1974.

HC04943: Leander Burke with choir near Maynooth, Ontario

By | June 5th, 2019|Featured item, News|0 Comments

May events

Archivists in Community Archives reading room Earlier this month, we were delighted to be able to host archivists from across Ontario at the Archives Association of Ontario’s annual conference, which was held in Belleville for the first time. The Community Archives was the venue for the First Timers’ Reception, pictured here, where newcomers to the event were welcomed and encouraged to get to know each other with a game of ‘human bingo’. It is quite surprising how noisy a group of archivists can sound when they get together…

On Thursday, May 30th, the Community Archives will be taking part in the Older Adult Information Fair at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre in Belleville. We will be sharing information on researching the history of a property, and there will be a prize draw to enter. If you are in the area, please call in to find out more about our work and how we can help you.

Older Adult Information Fair poster

By | May 23rd, 2019|News|0 Comments

New book on Belleville in the First World War

Laurel Bishop signing copies of her bookThe culmination of four years of work was celebrated today by Community Archives volunteer, Laurel Bishop. Laurel’s research on life in Belleville during the First World War is familiar to regular visitors to the Community Archives’ website, where from 2014 to 2018 she has been sharing newspaper reports 100 years after their first publication.

These reports have now been selected, edited, and compiled into book form and published by the Hastings County Historical Society. The book’s title is Belleville in the First World War: Reports from the Intelligencer. The volume is available here in the Community Archives, at a price of $30.

Congratulations to Laurel on the incredible amount of work she has put in to this project.

Cpver of "Belleville in the First World War"

By | April 23rd, 2019|Intelligencer WW1 Local News, News, World War 1|0 Comments

True or False?

With the end of our ‘The Tales We Tell…’ exhibit, we are now able to reveal the winners of the pictures and which ones were fact, which ones fiction.

Of the eighteen images, six had true stories attached to them, while the remainder were either completely fabricated or were a mixture of some true elements with a fair sprinkling of false ones.

Prize winners

Congratulations to our eighteen winners, pictured here with their prizes: John, John, Susan, Caleb, Philip, Brenda, Julia, Niall, Eveline, Helen, Denise, Adam, Colleen, Nancy, Jody, Terry, Andrea, and Lorie.

The true stories were the ones attached to the following pictures:

HC00854 'Bug House' on Dundas Street East, Belleville. HC00854 – The ‘Bug House’ (Dominion Entomology Lab) on Dundas Street East, Belleville
1888-1900 Fire Insurance map of Belleville, sheet 4. Belleville Fire Insurance map of 1888-1900
Belleville Hardware Company buildings, Pinnacle Street. HC00899 Belleville Hardware Company buildings, Pinnacle Street, c.1911
Raising of lightship, Muskegon. James F. Anderson negative 337B, raising of lightship at Muskegon, Michigan, 1911
Members of the Circle Six orchestra DESHIS-08-04 Members of the Circle Six Orchestra, c.1927
Horse and mule and three people with 'Votes for Women' sign. HC04638 Burrowes family members with ‘Votes for Women’ sign
By | February 26th, 2019|News|0 Comments

The Tales We Tell…

Archives, museums, libraries, and galleries generally pride themselves on the accuracy of the information they provide to their users. Careful research is carried out and the general public trust the staff of these institutions to explain their contents in a reliable way.

Historical materials often only survive by chance: some of these fragments of the past find their way into collecting institutions like the Community Archives or Glanmore National Historic Site, but many do not. And historians, librarians, archivists, and curators are human beings who can be mistaken, deceived, or dishonest, just like everybody else.

‘The Tales We Tell…’ exhibit

We are living in a world where truth can be hard to determine. In our first ever show in the John M. Parrott Gallery, we are sharing a series of images from the Community Archives with accompanying stories. These stories contain a lot of facts and some of them are true. But there are also some complete fabrications.

We are inviting people to explore our exhibit and to see if they can tell fact from fiction. We are also inviting them to think about who they can trust, and about the stories that cannot be told, because fragments of evidence about those people did not survive into the present, or were never created in the first place.

If you like any of the pictures, we are offering them as prizes in a draw at the end of the show. Entrants just need to tell us which stories they think are true, and which picture they would like to take home with them. On February 14th we will draw the winners’ names.

Thank you to Mike Gaudaur of Quinte Studios for making our images look so beautiful, and to Trevor Pross, Holly Dewar, and Susan Holland of the Belleville Public Library and John M. Parrott Gallery for the opportunity of putting on this exhibit. Additional thanks to Community Archives volunteers Trevor Parsons and Marilyn Wood for helping to come up with stories for some of the images.

By | January 4th, 2019|News|4 Comments

A 1907 photobomber?

We’re currently processing additional materials donated by the family of Lewis Zandenberg. Lewis was a former president of the Stirling-Rawdon Historical Society and Chair of the Stirling Public Library Board, and a keen genealogist and local historian. Among the items he collected are a pair of photographs from 1907, taken to mark the 50th wedding anniversary of a couple from Stirling, Ontario.

Golden Wedding group photo

2016-34/1/26/1 Golden Wedding group photo

The married couple are identified on the back of the photographs as Abigail Ann (1839-1927) and Stephen Badgley (1835-1914). Abigail’s maiden name was Barager and she married Stephen on October 27th, 1857.

Abbie Ann and Stephen Badgley

2016-34/1/26/2 Abby Ann and Stephen Badgley

The building in both of these photographs is the Methodist Church in Stirling, now St. Paul’s United Church. The younger couple in the front of the car are probably the Badgleys’ son, William Ward Badgley (1868-1929) and his wife Sarah (born Stiles, 1866-1958).

A closer look at both photographs reveals an interesting character: there is a man pictured in them who doesn’t seem to entirely belong. He is lurking just outside the group in the first photograph, hands in pockets, in contrast to the more formal poses taken by the rest of the people in the image:

Man on edge of group

2016-34/1/26/1 (detail)

and here is what seems to be the same man, skulking at the corner of the church in the second photograph:

2016-34/1/26/2 (detail)

We are left wondering if he was part of the party, or if he was deliberately inserting himself into the photographs to spoil them.

By | August 10th, 2018|Featured item, News|0 Comments

Finding the right home

Medical diploma for Clyde Orrin Barney

Medical diploma for Clyde Orrin Barney

Sometimes materials find their way to the archives, but don’t really belong there. One important role of the network of archivists around the world is to communicate with each other about such items and try to establish where the ‘right place’ is for something.

This week, we received a medical diploma which was issued in Syracuse, New York, in 1910. It had been picked up at a yard sale in Syracuse by a Belleville doctor, J. Russell Scott, for the princely sum of one dollar. Russell Scott was active in local causes and local politics: here he is on August 18th, 1971, presiding over the official opening of the Quinte Mall as Mayor of Belleville. He was Mayor from 1968 to 1972.

CABHC: HCM00260 Mayor J. Russell Scott at the opening of the Quinte Mall

Scott placed the diploma in the archives of the Belleville General Hospital, but its original owner, Clyde Orrin Barney, had no connection with the hospital and so it was passed on to us. Our collecting policy is focused on people and places of Belleville and Hastings County, so this was not really something that we would be able to offer a home.

Along with the diploma was a typed obituary for Barney, who lived from 1882 to 1966. The obituary was from the Syracuse Herald-Journal and it explains that Barney was on the staff of the medical school at Syracuse University for much of his life.

In 1950 Syracuse University sold its medical school to SUNY Upstate Medical Center. The archivist of Syracuse University put us in touch with this institution (now called SUNY Upstate Medical University), and staff there were happy to offer a home to Dr. Clyde O. Barney’s diploma. After some careful wrapping and a trip to the Post Office, the diploma is now on its way to its rightful home: a satisfying result of archival cooperation.

By | March 6th, 2018|Featured item, News|0 Comments

Around the World in 318 Photographs

Kilties Tour of the World photograph album

In 1908 a Belleville-based band embarked on a bold tour of the Earth, performing more than 1,000 concerts, covering 70,000 miles (112,600km) and spending some $60,000 on transportation. The band was the Kilties, popular performers of mainly Scottish music in the early twentieth century and the first Canadian group to create a record (you can listen to some of their recordings at the Virtual Gramophone site). The Kilties musicians and choir were accompanied on their tour by the Clan Johnstone dance troupe.

The group started their round-the-world tour in Belleville, where their manager, Thomas P. J. Power lived (he was the proprietor of the New Queen’s Hotel on Front Street, opposite City Hall). After performing more than 50 shows across Canada, the troupe took to the high seas on the S.S. Maramar in Victoria, B.C. and headed West across the Pacific Ocean. Their trip took them to Hawaii, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy, France, Gibraltar, Scotland, and England (the full timetable is available in the Kilties’ promotional brochure).

One of the group compiled an album of photographs taken on the journey. Despite their punishing concert schedule, the Kilties found plenty of time to play the part of tourists and the album faithfully records many of the places they visited, including the Taj Mahal in India:

Taj Mahal in Agra, India

and the Sphinx in Egypt:

Kilties in front of the Sphinx

Alongside such standard tourist shots, are images that cannot be captured today, including the former Post Office in Yangon, Myanmar (then known as Rangoon, Burma), which was badly damaged by an earthquake on May 5th, 1930:

Or this image of the Victoria Clock Tower in Christchurch, New Zealand, with horses, carts, and an electric streetcar passing by:

Victoria Clocktower in Christchurch, new Zealand

This map from Flickr gives an idea of the number and location of the photographs taken:

Organizing a round-the-world tour in 1908 was quite an undertaking, and Thomas Power seems to have been a genius at promoting the Kilties. The band members always wore their kilts, even when they weren’t performing, and the photographs show huge Kilties posters displayed at the towns where their shows were hosted. This sign was put up in Masterton, New Zealand:

Kilties next to a Kilties advertisement in Masterton, New Zealand

Local newspapers were flooded with advertisements to ensure an audience. Here’s the Sydney Morning Herald from August 15th, 1908:

The photograph album was presented to Lena Power (Thomas’s wife) at Christmas 1910 by a man only identified as ‘Heine’. It was donated to the Community Archives one hundred years later by John D. Ryan. All the photographs have now been digitized and made available online, allowing everyone to explore the globe as the Kilties experienced it in 1908-1910.

By | August 30th, 2017|Featured item, News|1 Comment