Archives from home

If you are missing interacting with archival materials while the COVID-19 restrictions are in place, a new project from the Community Archives might be of interest to you. We have scanned the 1871 Hastings County assessment roll and would like your help in making the names in it available to the public.

Each municipality in the county of Hastings sent a copy of its assessment roll to the county authorities. The rolls list each occupier of lands, with details of the property, its value, and additional information such as the occupation of the individual, how many people were in their household and even how many sheep, horses and cattle they owned.

Transcribing the information in these records gives us a picture of the way Hastings County had been settled by 1871, and expands on the information available to us from the national census which was taken in the same year.

How does it work?

The images for each municipality have been saved as individual PDF files. Some are easier to read than others (they were all compiled by different municipal clerks). As an example, here is the first page of the assessment for Carlow/Mayo Township, whose clerk had a clear hand and which only has three pages of information to copy out.

Detail of Carlow/Mayo assessment roll

For each township, there is also a data entry form in the form of a Google spreadsheet which anyone can contribute to. Here is the link to the Carlow/Mayo one.

Each page in the township’s assessment has its own tab in the spreadsheet, circled here in red.

If you would like to take part in this project, please edit the data entry forms online (links to the all the PDFs and the online forms are in the table below). If you would rather not work online, there is also an Excel spreadsheet to download, which you can complete (one form for each page) and email to the archives.

Contact the archives if you have any questions about the project.

Note on names: some of the townships have names listed in reverse order (Abbott, Jane for example). In those cases, please write out the names in natural order (Jane Abbott) in the spreadsheet, so that they will be easier for people to find.

Help with names: the 1869-1870 Directory for the County of Hastings is available online from the Internet Archive. This has an alphabetical listing of names of individuals for each township, which is useful for checking the spelling of names that might be hard to read in the assessment roll.

Municipality Image file Data-entry form Progress
Bangor, Herschel, McClure, Monteagle and Wicklow [10 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Bangor, Herschel, McClure, Monteagle and Wicklow townships Data entry form for Bangor, Herschel, McClure, Monteagle and Wicklow townships Complete!
Carlow and Mayo [3 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Carlow and Mayo townships Data entry form for Carlow and Mayo In progress
Elzevir [18 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Elzevir township Elzevir data entry form In progress
Hungerford [39 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Hungerford Township Data entry form for Hungerford Township In progress
Huntingdon [19 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Huntingdon township Data entry form for Huntingdon Township In progress
Madoc [27 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Madoc township Data entry form for Madoc Township In progress
Marmora and Lake [23 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Marmora and Lake township Data entry form for Marmora and Lake township In progress
Rawdon [27 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Rawdon Township Data entry form for Rawdon Township In progress
Sidney [43 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Sidney Township Data entry form for Sidney Township In progress
Stirling [8 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Stirling Data entry form for Stirling In progress
Thurlow [48 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Thurlow Township Data entry form for Thurlow township In progress
Trenton [21 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Trenton Data entry form for Trenton In progress
Tudor, Wollaston, Limerick and Cashel [10 pages] PDF file of 1871 assessment roll for Tudor, Wollaston, Limerick and Cashel Data entry form for Tudor, Wollaston, Limerick and Cashel
Tyendinaga [52 pages] 1871 assessment roll for Tyendinaga township Data entry form for Tyendinaga township In progress
By | March 26th, 2020|Featured item, News|2 Comments

Say Cheese!

Space in archives is a constant concern: we are always going to run out of shelf space for holdings at some point. One way of not using up space too quickly is to try to avoid adding duplicate materials to our collections. The more complete our catalogues, the easier this becomes, which is one reason we have been prioritizing getting our online catalogues as comprehensive as possible. A large part of our photograph digitization project was identifying duplicate images and only sharing one photograph online, as far as we are able.

Back in January we received a donation of a photograph of a 1950s baseball team made up of employees from Stephens-Adamson, the Belleville manufacturer of conveying equipment.

The team included Gordon Cooney (fifth from left at the back) and the photograph was taken in front of a fountain that used to stand at the Quinte Exhibition grounds in Belleville.

Baseball team


Today another photograph arrived at the Community Archives, and at first sight it seemed to be the same image.


Neither image is perfect: one has a crease across it, and the other is slightly marked with a stain. A closer look showed that they are not actually prints from the same negative.

Compare the photographs of this man, standing in front of the fountain in both images:

Comparison of facial expressionsUndoubtedly it is the same person, but with a very different expression on his face. Looks like we will be keeping both of these photographs, after all!

We don’t know exactly when this photograph was taken, or the identities of any of the people in it, apart from Gordon Cooney. Please let us know if you can identify any of the players, or if you have any information about the team.

By | February 19th, 2020|Featured item, News|3 Comments

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 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

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