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So far Amanda Hill has created 34 blog entries.

Knee-deep in records

Thurlow Town Hall

Thurlow Town Hall

As we look forward to taking up new quarters in the Belleville Public Library, we take a backward glance at the Thurlow Town Hall, home to the Hastings County Historical Society and its collections for the past 13 years.
The hall was built in 1873 as the administrative centre for the township of Thurlow, now part of the City of Belleville. Gerry Boyce has found the following snippet recording the progress of the building in the Daily Intelligencer of August 26th, 1873:

Daily Intelligencer, August 26th, 1873

Daily Intelligencer, August 26th, 1873


The Township Clerk of Thurlow writes us that the new Town Hall in that Township is rapidly approaching completion, and that the work is very substantial and neat, and gives very general satisfaction.

The shield-shaped plaque on the front of the building notes that it was built by J.A. Northcott. John Northcott was born in Lapford, Devon, England in around 1805. He was a carpenter who came to Canada in 1853 and settled in Belleville, where he entered into partnership in with fellow Devonian, Walter Alford. They worked on a number of houses and other buildings in the town up to 1876, when Northcott retired. He died on December 26th, 1881 and the Daily Intelligencer obituary noted that he

was a true type of the better order of Englishman – outspoken, independent, yet concealing a heart as tender as that of a woman under a bluff exterior, and withal as honest as the day.

Plaque on Thurlow Township Hall

Plaque on Thurlow Township Hall

With amalgamation of the City of Belleville and the Township of Thurlow on January 1st, 1998, the building became available for use as the headquarters of the Hastings County Historical Society.
A plan of the building was drawn up in October 1998 by Gerry and Susie Boyce, with the help of Carson Cross. This item has recently been donated to the Community Archives as part of the extensive Gerry Boyce fonds it carries an intriguing section labelled ‘Mystery Area’.

Mystery area

The ‘mystery area’

Gerry tells us that this area was identified by the difference in measurements between the inside and outside walls of the building. Belleville’s Mayor of the time, Mary-Anne Sills, used a hammer to open up the wall and investigate the space. Blue duct tape remains on the wall as evidence of her handiwork.
This is not the first time that the internal walls of the building have been under attack: in February 1961 the wall of the vault was broken through by burglars looking for cash in the vault. The Ontario Intelligencer reported on the crime on February 7th, with photographs of the damage caused.

Ontario Intelligencer, February 7th, 1961

Ontario Intelligencer, February 7th, 1961

Ironically, the robbers could have saved themselves some work, as the vault was not locked at the time. Nor did it contain any cash, according to the Intelligencer’s report.

Ontario Intelligencer, February 7th, 1961

Ontario Intelligencer, February 7th, 1961

From an archivist’s point of view, it soon becomes apparent that the old building is far from ideal as a store for the unique materials which have been collected over the years by the Hastings County Historical Society. Signs around the place alert the occupants to some of the hazards:
Do not attempt to climb the stairs
Frozen pipes warning
The other key problem with the building is the space available to the Community Archives: the building has no barrier-free access and the shelves are all full-to-overflowing. We are not quite as knee-deep in records as the clerk was in 1961, but it feels like it, sometimes. In September we had to empty the former Irish Hall of records when that building was sold. Our colleagues at the Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives came to the rescue, taking in over 50 boxes of material temporarily until we can move them into the new purpose-built archival storage in the Belleville Public Library.

 Lennox & Addington shelves

Records temporarily in Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives

The move will be of tremendous benefit to the collections and to those who make use of the materials. The next few months are going to be very exciting!

By | October 6th, 2015|Buildings, Move to Belleville Public Library|0 Comments

New location: floors going in

Concrete being pumped through the third-floor window of Belleville Public Library

This morning the progress on the Community Archives’ new home in Belleville Public Library became visible from the outside of the building, as concrete for the new floors was poured through the third-floor window of what will become one of three archive storage vaults.

Below is a view taken from the second floor of the library last month, looking up towards that same window. Here the new floor of the third-floor vault was still under construction. The larger of the two second-floor vaults can be seen on the left.

Interior of Belleville Public Library, showing new third floor for archives vault

It’s exciting to see the new space coming into shape. We’ll keep you updated on the project’s progress here and hope to welcome you into our new location in 2016!

By | September 9th, 2015|Buildings, Move to Belleville Public Library|0 Comments

100 Years Ago

From the Newspaper Published in Belleville, Ontario


This is a series of articles transcribed from the Intelligencer newspapers during the war years 1914-1918. Canada was brought into the First World War on August 4, 1914, when Britain declared war on Germany.

Archives Volunteer Laurel Bishop has researched the Intelligencer newspapers (published in Belleville, Ontario) to find reports about local men and women who served in the war and evidence of how the war affected life on the home front.

Excerpts from the newspapers will appear on the Archives web site exactly 100 years after the day they were published in the newspaper. Complete copies of all articles can be viewed at the Archives. Note that most of the images with the articles are from other collections at the Archives – they were not printed in the newspaper but are included here to illustrate the people or places under discussion.

By | August 6th, 2014|Intelligencer WW1 Local News|0 Comments

The Hotel Quinte

In her glory days she was Belleville’s grandest hotel – host to prime ministers, foreign dignitaries, and famous people.   She remained a stately downtown presence until destroyed by fire on the night of December 20, 2012.

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The main event at the Community Archives during January 2013 has been to research the long history of the Hotel Quinte and create a public exhibit featuring some of the archival materials.  Thanks to the hard work and long hours of the dedicated volunteers,  nine panels were finished in time for the show at the Quinte Mall this past week, co-hosted with the Hastings County Historical Society.  Many thanks also to the hundreds of visitors who stopped by to look at the exhibit and share their memories.

There has been a hotel at the northeast corner of Bridge and Pinnacle Streets in Belleville since 1847, except during the periods after four disastrous fires.  The Dafoe House opened as a first class hotel in 1847, burned down in 1855, was rebuilt, and burned again on October 4, 1886.  The land was then sold to Henry Corby, who opened the Hotel Quinte on February 28, 1895.  This hotel burned down on January 5, 1907.  It “rose phoenix-like” again, larger and “more magnificent than ever” (according to newspapers of the day) and reopened on February 27, 1908.  Nearly 105 years later, the hotel lies in ruins and rubble once more, awaiting the next incarnation.

The archives holds many photographs, postcards, newspaper articles, programs, and dinner menus that illustrate the different buildings (inside and out) and the grandeur of the Hotel Quinte through through its long life.

By | January 27th, 2013|Buildings|0 Comments