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So far Amanda Hill has created 34 blog entries.

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

Crime after Crime

Archivists are guided by collecting policies, also called acquisition policies, when it comes to deciding what to add to our collections. These might be determined by the geographical area that an archives covers, or perhaps by subject matter. In the case of the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County, our general remit is a geographical one: we collect materials which reflect the activities of people in our area. If materials are brought to us that would be more appropriately kept by another archival institution we normally advise the owner to take it there, or send it there ourselves.

But there are always exceptions to rules and when this old volume arrived at the archives a few weeks ago, it became clear that this was going to be one of those cases.

The volume is ‘Circular Book 2’ and it was originally created by the Toronto Police Service, between 1929 and 1931 (and is therefore clearly outside of our collecting area!). However, the owner did not want to donate the book to an archives; they were just looking for some advice.

The book has seen better days: the spine is in a sorry state and the pages are very brittle, acidic and crumbling. We were concerned that the volume would only deteriorate further and suggested to the owner that we photograph the pages, so that the information could be saved and made available to researchers before the condition of the book got any worse. They agreed and were happy for us to share the images online.

Pasted on to 273 pages of this book are wanted posters (or circulars) from police departments and private detective agencies across North America. Sometimes the pages were annotated with information on the date and location of the arrest of the suspect. The photographs of these pages have now been added to our collection as digital files (2017-70) and are all available on Flickr.

These notices were produced at the height of Prohibition in the USA and they include one for Fred Burke, the man suspected of committing the Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago in 1919.

There are many posters about men who escaped from prison, including Frank Grigware, who escaped from the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1910 (on a hijacked locomotive) and ultimately settled down in Alberta under the name James Fahey.

The faces staring up from these posters are overwhelmingly male: there are only two female criminals out of around 500 identified in the book. One of these was Dorothy Cherris, who was wanted in Houston, Texas for involvement in gang murders.

Dorothy and her husband, John were members of a gang of bank robbers.  John was shot in the head by fellow gangsters on August 30th, 1931 and his body was dumped in the Brazos river near East Columbia, Texas. Two weeks later, Dorothy was killed in a car accident near Bonne Terre, Missouri.

Cross-references from inside the volume suggest that there were at least three other ‘Circular books’ maintained by the Toronto police service. This one somehow ended up in Belleville and was rescued by its current owner during someone else’s house move. We don’t know if any of the other volumes survive, but at least the contents of this one are now available for research. Its pages give us an interesting glimpse into police procedure and criminal activity across North America between 1929 and 1931.

By | August 25th, 2017|Featured item, News|0 Comments

Fire Insurance Maps online

The fire insurance maps produced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are a valuable resource for researching the history of settlements and buildings. They show all the structures in a locality and are colour-coded and annotated to show the materials that each building was made of.

As an example, here is a detail from page 2 of the 1878 map, showing St. Michael’s church.

Detail of map showing St. Michael's church

The blue colour tells us that this building was made of stone, while the X in the bottom right corner indicates that it had a shingle roof.

The next map shows a big change in the footprint of the church and notes that it was “Under Construction” in May 1888. The replacement church was taller than the earlier one, by some ten feet. Instead of shingles, the O indicates that the roof was now made of slate.

Detail of 1888 fire insurance map showing St. Michael's church

Between one publication and another, the maps were updated with patches to show changes to buildings. You can see the corner of one such patch in the image above, while the map page below carries more than forty patches, representing alterations to buildings in residential Deseronto streets between 1893 and 1911.

1893-1911 Deseronto Fire Insurance map with patches

In the Community Archives there are six of these maps for Belleville, ranging in date from 1878 to 1957, and one for Deseronto.* They are one of our most heavily used resources and years of use have resulted in wear and tear to the maps. By photographing the maps, we can share them online and protect the originals from further damage.  You can now explore Belleville as it would have been in 1878, 1888, 1904, 1915 and 1942 and Deseronto between 1893 and 1911.

*Note that the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives in Napanee also holds a Deseronto fire insurance plan (from 1922).

By | July 25th, 2017|Buildings, Featured item, News|0 Comments

Senior of the Year!

Yesterday evening, the Council of the City of Belleville made Lorna Garbutt its Senior of the Year for 2017. Lorna has been volunteering in the Community Archives since 2009 and is a key member of the volunteer group. She has been responsible for cataloguing the Archives’ map collection (over 2,000 items!) and sorting and listing all the newspapers held in the Archives. The photograph below shows the newspaper collection after it has been boxed, sorted and labelled by Lorna and some of our other volunteers.

A far cry from the way it used to look before the move downtown:

Here is Lorna receiving her award from Councillor Denyes and Mayor Christopher:

And here she is, alongside fellow Community Archives volunteer, Lois Foster, who won the same award five years ago.

Congratulations, ladies, it’s a pleasure to work with you!

By | June 28th, 2017|News|0 Comments

Sir Gilbert Parker

The Community Archives received a significant new accession this month in the form of a large shipment of records relating to author, politician and former Belleville resident, Sir Gilbert Parker (1862-1932).

Many of the papers were contained in metal trunks which were packed up by Parker in London in 1918.

Several packages and scrapbooks in the collection were wrapped in editions of The Times dated in July of that year (the year he stepped down as the MP for Gravesend in Kent, England).

You can read more about Gilbert Parker in this month’s newsletter. Our next task is to arrange the records and describe them. Archives volunteer and history student Trevor Parsons is making good progress on arranging the records. Here he is in the reading room, surrounded by Sir Gilbert’s papers:

And cutting through a small mountain of red tape:

By | March 15th, 2017|News|0 Comments

The Camera Never Lies…

One of the largest collections in the Community Archives is the series of negatives produced by staff members of The Intelligencer, Belleville’s daily newspaper. The negatives range in date from the 1950s to 2001 and were donated to the Hastings County Historical Society in 2008. The series is not complete, but it is extensive, and the negatives often contain images that were not published in the newspaper, making these an interesting and valuable resource.

On 25th Janaury 1960 The Intelligencer covered the closure of Belleville’s old Post Office, on the southwest corner of Pinnacle and Bridge streets. The building had opened to the public in 1883 and was being replaced by a new Federal building on the southeast corner of Pinnacle and Station streets.

The photographs used in the article correspond to a set of negatives taken on 23rd January, which we have scanned and made available through Flickr. Comparison of the negatives with the published photographs in the newspaper brought to light an interesting discrepancy. In the newspaper, we see Postmaster Albert Clare locking the doors of the old building, standing alone on the Post Office steps.

In the negatives, we discover that Albert was not standing on his own, but was accompanied by assistant postmaster, John H. Smith:

The image does not show the words ‘Post Office’ above the door. However, another negative in this group does show the text and also two white notices on the door:

In the final version the two images have been combined to create a more pleasing composition, carefully excising Mr. Smith in the process.

A reminder that even before the days of Photoshop, although the camera does not lie, a photograph most certainly can!

The old Post Office was taken down in the early 1960s and replaced by a new building for The Ontario Intelligencer. Here is the empty lot, looking north, in June 1964. The Quinte Hotel is just visible on the right of the image.

This photograph in the newspaper for 7th November 1964, taken from City Hall, shows the new building under construction, with the Quinte Hotel in the background.

CABHC: 2017-13 Newton Thompson collection

By | January 30th, 2017|Buildings, News|0 Comments