The records we lost

Sometimes the surviving records of an organization give us tantalizing glimpses of the materials that were not so carefully preserved. A recent addition to the Community Archives is one such example.

Added to our collections as Accession 2017-07 last week were a collection of By-Laws from Hastings County. Most of these were the official final by-laws, which carried the dates they were read at Hastings County Council meetings, as well as the seal of the County and the signatures of the Warden and the Clerk.

Here’s an example from 1912, of By-Law Number 715. The back has the dates the by-law was read (in later years by-laws tended to be read three times on the same day, but in 1912 they were read on consecutive days):

The front has the date on which the by-law was passed, together with the seal and the signatures of the Clerk (Arthur M. Chapman in this example) and the Warden (Denis Hanley).
For some of the earliest by-laws, only drafts survive, and this is the case for the earliest one in this accession: By-Law Number 5 of the County of Hastings, which was passed in 1850. This was passed with the aim of putting offenders to work, and it entered the record books as a by-law “To provide for the opening of a House of Correction.” Incidentally, the draft shows that there was some indecision about the name of the institution: in the drafting process it was changed to House of Industry and then back to House of Correction.

The text of the by-law was as follows:

By Law to provide for the opening of a House of Correction

Whereas it is expedient and proper to provide for the Correction of persons committed to Gaol for minor offences; and whereas this cannot be accomplished by permitting offenders to spend their time in idleness during the period of their confinement.

1 Be it therefore enacted by the Municipal Council of the County of Hastings, and it is hereby enacted by the same. That a part of the present Gaol of this County shall be set apart and used as a House of Correction for all person convicted for any offences either against the Statute Law or against the By Law or By Laws of any Municipality within this County, and who shall be put to Labour, according to the Provisions of this By-Law hereinafter provided.

2 That any mechanic who shall be convicted and sentenced shall during the period of his confinement, work at this own proper trade the County furnishing materials, and the produce of the labour shall be disposed of for the benefit of the County and the funds paid into the hands of the County Treasurer.

3 That any person not a mechanic who shall be convicted and sentenced shall during the period of his or her confinement be set at such work as the Guardian of the House of Correction shall deem advisable, and the produce of their labour shall be disposed of in like manner and for the same purpose as set for the in the second section of this By-Law.

4 That it shall and may be lawful for the Guardian of said House of Correction to contract with any municipality for the labour within the Walls of the House of Correction of any number of the persons sentenced to hard labour, at all times submitting his contracts for the sanction and approval of the Warden of the County.

5 That it shall be lawful for the Guardian to confine any prisoner to solitary confinement in any cell, who shall refuse to labour or work as required by the provisions of this By-Law and pending such solitary confinement the fare of such prisoner shall be bread and water.

6 That the Treasurer shall keep a separate account of the costs and charges incidental upon the establishment and maintaining of the House of Correction and of the receipts of the same, and shall submit annually a separate account of the same to the Municipal Council of this County.

7 That the Gaoler of the County shall discharge the duties of Guardian and shall be given the annual sum of fifty pounds in compensation for said duties

8 That it shall be the duty of said Guardian to enter upon a Book the value and proceeds of each person’s labour, and when discharged shall close the account against said person. He shall keep a report Book in which he shall make daily entries of the conduct of prisoners. He shall call in the aid of the County Surgeon upon the sickness of any prisoners confined in the House of Correction and shall at all times carry out the instructions of the Surgeon with reference to the sick or ailing.

9 That an estimate shall be given by the County Surveyor of the costs of erecting a stone wall 12 feet high in lieu of the present Board enclosure and so soon as this shall be handed in the Warden shall advertise for tenders for building the said wall, to be paid for by debentures at two and three years.

The terms of the by-law seem harsh to a twenty-first century reader, but from a recordkeeping perspective it is section 8 which is the most intriguing. How interesting it would be to read the Guardian’s log book, to gauge the success of this enterprise by seeing how much money each individual generated while they were in the House of Correction, and to read his reports on the behaviour of the prisoners. Sadly, none of these records has survived to satisfy our curiosity.

By | January 16th, 2017|Featured item, News|0 Comments

Harry, the last Fire Hall horse

Al Cleary

In 2015 the Community Archives lost one of its regular volunteers, Al Cleary. 2016 would have marked Al’s fifth year of volunteering in the Archives, and in memory of him we are sharing this story, which Al researched, wrote, and presented in 2012 as a ‘Story from the Archives’ for the Hastings County Historical Society.

When Belleville was incorporated as a police village in 1836, the Fire Regulations stated that all citizens from 15 to 60 were to help pull the fire equipment if so directed by any town official.  Later years brought bigger and heavier equipment that was drawn to the fire by horses.

CABHC: HC05266 Hose wagon and hook and ladder wagon at No.2 Fire Hall, before 1901

CABHC: HC05266 Hose wagon and hook and ladder wagon at No.2 Fire Hall, upper Front Street, Belleville, before 1901

By the turn of the century the firemen were still volunteers, the horses were under contract to the City, and only the drivers or teamsters were paid.  These were sometimes young boys and paid accordingly.

Jan. 1, 1916 saw the fire department made into full time permanent paid positions, with professional teamsters.  Stanley Pomeroy, at 18 years of age, was hired in 1920 as a teamster because he was considered an expert with horses.

CABHC: HC04478 Two new motorized fire trucks, with Harry and team mate hooked to the ladder wagon, at No. 1 Fire Hall, lower Front St., circa 1922.

CABHC: HC04478 Two new motorized fire trucks, with Harry and team mate hooked to the ladder wagon, at No. 1 Fire Hall, lower Front St., Belleville, circa 1921.

In 1921 the City of Belleville bought two new motorized fire trucks to replace the two horse drawn hose wagons, and the horses that drew them were retired.  Stan Pomeroy’s main job had been to look after the horses, so he stayed at No. 2 Fire Hall to work with the remaining team that pulled the hook and ladder wagon.

Stan had special feelings for Harry, his favorite horse.  Harry was a real character with a special personality, somewhat like Stan himself.  If he could get down by the river after being washed, groomed and curry combed, he was very likely to get down and roll in the mud, almost on purpose.  When it was time to bring him back to his stall at the fire hall, he would get all upset if he wasn’t treated to a chocolate bar or a plug of chewing tobacco.  In 1926, the city bought a motorized International hook and ladder truck.  Harry and his partner in the team had pulled the old ladder wagon for 22 years.

When Harry’s  partner died at the fire hall, the City decided to sell old Harry to a market gardener, but the firemen refused to allow their faithful old horse to spend his last days being worked to death pulling a plow.  They agreed to keep him in a stall at the fire hall, and exercise him in the yard behind.

CABHC: Intelligencer 'Time Capsule' of May 25th, 1993 showing Harry's Fire Hall stall. Stan Pomeroy is second from left.

CABHC: Intelligencer ‘Time Capsule’ of May 25th, 1993 showing Harry’s Fire Hall stall. Stan Pomeroy is second from left.

Later Harry was pastured in Bleecker’s Woods north of the city for his well-deserved retirement, but within a few months of leaving the Fire Hall, the old horse died at the age of 23.  Stan Pomeroy claimed he died of a broken heart.  The Fire Department turned out as a guard of honour for old Harry at his funeral, the last of the Belleville Fire Department’s horses.

CABHC: HC04108 Burial of Harry the horse

CABHC: HC04108 Burial of Harry the horse

 

By | November 22nd, 2016|Featured item, News|0 Comments

A Poster in Pieces

By Laurel Bishop and Kieran Delaney

The Archives receives many donations, but few as intriguing as the colourful rolled-up newsprint poster brought in to us last year. The owner, Dr. Charles Bateman, had found the poster among his belongings, but knew nothing of its provenance. Its origins were a mystery. When carefully unrolled, it measured 1.25 metres in width by 2.5 metres in length. It proved to be in a delicate condition—fragments of the poster had disintegrated, but one thing was clear—its message was to announce Belleville’s Coronation Day Celebration in 1902. The problem was the date: Thursday, June 26. Queen Victoria had died in January of 1901. The coronation referred to had to be that of her son, King Edward VII, and his wife, Queen Alexandra, but a quick check on the internet showed that the event occurred on August 9, 1902. What was Belleville planning when it commissioned this elaborate poster? We were interested in both restoring the image of the poster, while conserving the original and researching the circumstances of its publication.

Coronation poster in pieces

The digital restoration process presented significant technical challenges. Scanning of the poster would have provided images that were consistent in scale and orientation. However, after the passage of 113 years, the poor quality of the newsprint meant that some disintegration had occurred and posed the problem of handling such paper without further damage to it. It was necessary to photograph what remained of the poster with the result that photos available for the restoration were neither consistent in scale nor in orientation. They had to be constantly adjusted for both size and alignment.

Coronation poster pieces (2)

Image restoration of the Coronation poster was done using the software program Photoshop whereby separate images can be assembled into a single composite picture. Digital photos of the various pieces of the poster were assembled into a whole, similar to completing an electronic jigsaw puzzle on a computer screen. Where pieces of the coloured portions of the poster were missing, it was possible to use Photoshop to copy one part of an image to another. For example, if a fragment was missing from a flag, it was possible to copy a similar portion from the same or even another flag. Where a suitable portion was not available, it was necessary to copy one from the internet or from a like image.

Re-creation of the original text was difficult and time consuming. The fonts used were over a century old and quite unique, and there were a significant number of them. If a letter was missing in a line of text, it was sometimes possible to copy an identical letter from the same or another line. If copying was not possible, then it was necessary to create that letter from scratch in a size and style consistent with the rest of the text in that same font. This meant copying portions of other letters where applicable or producing them by freehand drawing.

While this time-consuming digital restoration was being carried out, the task of researching the historical background of the poster was in progress.

In 1901 it had been over sixty years since a monarch of Britain and her Empire had been crowned. In December of that year, an Executive Coronation Committee was formed in England to plan Edward VII’s coronation. In Belleville, on May 13, 1902, a public meeting was held with the purpose of planning a celebration in honour of the event. An article on page 1 of The Weekly Intelligencer on May 15, entitled: “You’re All Invited and the Band’s Engaged,” gives details of the early discussions and the appointment of various committees with their chairmen to handle such matters as finance, advertising, sports and music. A limit of $1,000 was established to cover expected costs.

On page 4 of The Weekly Intelligencer that same May day, in a column entitled “Timely Topics,” the anonymous writer pens these words:

“The Coronation Day celebration is off to a good start. Tell your country cousins there’s going to be ‘doings’ in Belleville on June 26. They can all come in and have the time of their lives. … The right men have got hold of the matter, it will be a success as sure as shooting, and we’re going to help crown His Majesty King Ned in up-to-date style.”

Two weeks later, a preliminary version of our poster appeared in The Weekly Intelligencer advertising the coming event. June 26 would be “One Solid Day of Amusements & Rejoicing.”

Weekly Intelligencer, May 29, 1902

Weekly Intelligencer, May 29, 1902

Finally, on June 5, 1902, The Weekly Intelligencer published the details of the programme planned for Coronation Day. Here we can read about the prospective activities which match very closely those listed on the poster in the Archives. The morning programme was to consist of a military and civic trades’ procession with the participation of the 15th and 49th Regiments. The afternoon would feature a balloon ascension, trick bicycle riding on a steel wire, races, Highland dancing and a lacrosse match. And finally, in the evening, a grand Kalithumpian parade would wend its way from the Market Square to the Agricultural Park where a fireworks display would take place under the personal supervision of Professor Hand.

For the uninitiated, in old Ontario, a Kalithumpian parade referred to a noisy, boisterous parade marked by discordant music and outrageous disguise and was often organized to celebrate the Queen’s birthday or Dominion Day.

The Professor Hand referred to in this article was not Professor William Hand, the founder of the Hand fireworks company, as he had died following an accident the year before, in October of 1901, but his son, Thomas William Hand.

The “Timely Topics” writer did his utmost to encourage participation: “We haven’t had a celebration of any kind now for some time, now let’s make up for lost time and have a memorable jollification on the day King Edward gets his crown. All together, now.”

But no one counted on the King getting appendicitis—just two days before his coronation, he underwent an operation to save his life. As the writer of “Timely Topics” put it, “Who can tell what a day will bring forth!” By mid-July, Edward had rallied sufficiently so that official notification could be issued to the effect that the Coronation of King Edward and Queen Alexandra would take place on Saturday, August 9th.

King Edward VII

King Edward VII

However, the Coronation Committee of Belleville decided to give a grand fireworks display and band concert at Corby’s Driving Park on Monday night, two days after the coronation. Belleville City Council referred in their Minutes to Coronation Day as being on August 11, 1902. The reason can be found in the words written by our “Timely Topics” columnist writing in The Daily Intelligencer:

“It is pleasing to note that Belleville is going to celebrate the coronation of King Edward. The gentlemen who had arranged the celebration for June 26 were hit pretty hard, and no one would have blamed them very much if they had fought shy of things of that kind for some time to come. However, like loyal men, they thought the city should do something to mark the recovering and coronation of His Majesty.

“Of course, nobody expected anything would be done on Saturday. It was hardly in reason to ask our merchants to shut up their stores on the night of the busiest day of the week. But on Monday evening next there will be a demonstration on the Corby Driving Park, when the band will give a patriotic concert, and the grandest display of fireworks ever seen in Belleville will be shown under the personal supervision of Prof. Hand, of Hamilton, the man who makes ’em. Turn out and show your loyalty, join in the chorus of the National Anthem and let out a whoop or two for Good King Ned and the British Empire, which never took a back seat for anybody yet and doesn’t mean to.”

As can be seen from the above, the men who invested in the originally planned coronation celebration lost a good deal of money. They had the sympathy of the “Timely Topics” reporter:

“The gentlemen who engineered the proposed celebration on June 26 went behind many dollars owing to the unfortunate postponement. If there is a good attendance at the Driving Park to-night it will, though not altogether covering the loss, go a long way towards it. Turn out and enjoy yourself and give them a hand.”

Although far below the hoped-for attendance, on a somewhat chilly evening, at least 1,000 persons witnessed the display of fireworks and enjoyed the musical selections by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Band. Belleville’s Coronation celebration was complete. “Timely Topics” writer felt “the show was a good one, and nobody got his whiskers singed, so let’s be thankful.”

The Community Archives possesses a number of City of Belleville minute books providing a written record of Belleville City Council meetings. During the research process, a number of entries in Book 3 were found pertinent to the investigation. An example from the meeting on January 23, 1901 follows.

City of Belleville Council Minutes of January 23, 1901

“The citizens of Belleville Ontario join in the world wide sorrow felt for the death of the Empire’s beloved Queen, and wish in common with all Canadians to assure His Majesty King Edward of their fealty to His throne and attachment to His person.”

And finally, we come to the probable connection between our donor Dr. Bateman and the Coronation poster. Near the bottom is printed the name: Chas. Sulman, Chairman Finance Com., a man who became Mayor of Belleville from 1905 to 1908.

2016-30 Charles Sulman as Mayor of Belleville

2016-30 Charles Sulman as Mayor of Belleville

In The Daily Intelligencer of August 7, 1902, his generosity is recognized for having presented to the City of Belleville a Union Jack to be flown on the City Hall. Plans were for the flag to be hoisted for the first time on Coronation Day and Alderman Charles Nelson Sulman was to be asked to raise the flag. Dr. Bateman is one of Mr. Sulman’s grandsons.

After a year of work, the pieces of the digital puzzle that is the Coronation Poster (and the story behind it) have been put together and the end result can be shared with the citizens of Belleville again.

Restored Coronation Poster

 

 

 

By | June 16th, 2016|Featured item, News|0 Comments