Discover ‘Discover’!

Now you can explore the holdings of the Community Archives from home, if you have access to the internet. We are beginning to share descriptions of the materials we hold through a new service, which we are calling Discover.

Discover uses the open-source archives management software AtoM (which stands for Access to Memory). AtoM provides archives with the ability to log new additions to their collections and to describe materials and share those descriptions online.

There are currently over 100 archival collections available in Discover, with more being added every day. Recent additions include the papers of Gerry Boyce and the County of Hastings.

Discover also allows for the addition of digital files and there are over 50 digital objects in the system. Some of these are finding aids and others are digital images from our collection, such as this image of the Reliance Aircraft staff in Belleville in 1943:

This new service makes it possible to find out whether the Community Archives holds records that will be relevant to your research before you visit. We hope it proves useful!

By | July 21st, 2016|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

Official opening of the new Community Archives

Front window of the new Community Archives (photo by Robert House)

Front window of the new Community Archives (photo by Robert House)

April 7th saw the official opening of the Community Archives in its new location at 254 Pinnacle Street, Belleville, on the second floor of the Belleville Public Library. Around 100 people gathered in the John M. Parrott Art Gallery for the event, including MP for the Bay of Quinte (and former Mayor of the City of Belleville), Neil Ellis, shown here with Gerry Boyce in one of the Archives’ vaults, surrounded by boxes of Gerry’s own records and those of the Hastings County Historical Society.

Neil Ellis and Gerry Boyce

Neil Ellis, MP and Gerry Boyce (photo by Mark Fluhrer)

Mayor of the City of Belleville, Taso Christopher, kicked off the formal proceedings by thanking all those involved in developing the project to build a new archives and County of Hastings Warden, Rick Phillips, added his thanks. Both stressed the significance of the cooperation involved in bringing the construction work to completion. MP Ellis, Councillor Garnet Thompson, Chair of the Belleville Public Library Board and Richard Hughes, President of the Hastings County Historical Society also spoke.

Retired Archivist Sharon White received a certificate of appreciation for her work for the Archives.

Mayor Taso Christopher and archivist Sharon White (photo by Donna Fano)

Mayor Taso Christopher and archivist Sharon White (photo by Donna Fano)

As part of the event, it was announced that the new Archives reading room would be named the Gerry Boyce Reading Room, in honour of Gerry’s nearly 60-year association with the Historical Society and its collections. The audience gave Gerry a standing ovation.

Photo by Donna Fano

Announcing the Gerry Boyce Reading Room (photo by Donna Fano)

Chief Privacy Officer and Archivist of Ontario John Roberts addressed the room, welcoming the opening of the new archives and bringing some volumes of local records with him from the Archives of Ontario, including the second volume of minutes from the Town of Belleville, 1860-1870. Further local materials currently held at the Archives of Ontario will be returned to the Community Archives later this month.

John Roberts, Chief Privacy Officer and Archivist of Ontario. Photo by Robert House

John Roberts, Chief Privacy Officer and Archivist of Ontario (photo by Robert House)

Gerry cut the ribbon (well, the archival cotton tape), to officially open the Archives with broad smiles all round.

Ribbon cut (photo by Robert House)

By | April 16th, 2016|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

Come to see our new location

AAW poster letter small right logo

Next week is Archives Awareness Week in Ontario, and the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) and the Archives of Ontario (AO) are working together to help archives share information about their activities. There’s a list of events on the AAO’s website and the AO have produced this lovely poster to promote the week.

Here in Belleville, we will be celebrating the official opening of our new Community Archives and providing behind-the-scenes tours of the new facility. You can sign up in person at the archives’ front desk, or you can fill in an online form to book your place on a tour. There are eight tours available between 4th and 8th April, with a limit of ten people to each tour.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new space. We will be open for research in the week following Archives Awareness Week, starting Tuesday April 12th. Our regular opening hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 1pm to 4pm.

By | March 29th, 2016|News|0 Comments

We have moved!

It has been a long process, but this week the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County moved into its new, purpose-built location inside the Belleville Public Library.

Moving trucks filling up in Cannifton

Moving trucks filling up in Cannifton

Eight men and three trucks arrived at 154 Cannifton Road North on Monday morning, and by Wednesday lunchtime everything was safely transferred to the Library. We were lucky with the weather, managing to pick the three driest days of the past two weeks.

Archives on the move

Archives on the move

Covered wooden computer carts were used to move the archival volumes and small boxes, which had all been carefully colour-coded to show which vault they were going in to at the Library.

Carts ready to be filled

Carts ready to be filled

There were a lot of carts! Here are some of the boxes sitting on their new shelves:

Intelligencer negatives on their new shelves

Intelligencer negatives on their new shelves

The most challenging items to move were the eight map chests: these are very large and heavy and it took nearly all the moving team to get them onto dollies and then into place in the new reading room.

Installing the map chests

Installing the map chests

Our thanks to the movers for all their labours, and to the staff at Belleville Public Library for putting up with the construction work in their space for the past year and for being so helpful during our move.

Vaults B and C under construction

Vaults B and C under construction, August 2015

Special thanks are due to the Archives volunteers who worked incredibly hard to get everything ready for the move and to unpack materials at the Library during this past week. I hope they are all having a restful Easter weekend to recover!

By | March 25th, 2016|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

Proposing by post(card)

It may seem a strange idea today, but in the 1910s there seems to have been a ready market for postcards featuring the leap year tradition of women proposing to men. In the preparations for the Archives’ move to its new location, we came across four such postcards, published by the Gibson Art Company in 1911 and collected by Gerry Boyce.

This one is the least misogynistic of the four:


None of these were written upon or mailed, but it would be interesting to know if anyone ever did propose through the medium of a leap year postcard. You can see all four postcards on our Flickr pages, and if this topic interests you, there is an online database of Leap Year postcards which has been compiled by Katherine Parkin of Monmouth University.

By | February 26th, 2016|News|0 Comments

Wrapping and packing

The Archives is busy with preparations for the move next month. Fragile items such as old copies of The Intelligencer are being wrapped to protect them, while other records such as the Hastings County records in the picture below are being rehoused in archival-quality boxes which will fit on the shelves of our new space.

Wrapping and packing

We are in the process of assigning locations for all of our existing records in the new building: this has involved creating an inventory of everything we currently hold and a corresponding inventory of every shelf available in our new building. By doing this, we have identified some 2,500 boxes and volumes in our collection, with more than 1,300 shelves in the new building. Each shelf will be labelled with a unique number, and each box or volume will be assigned to a particular shelf and labelled with its destination. There are a lot of spreadsheets involved!

Our moving dates will be between March 21st and March 23rd, with the official opening of the new facility due to take place in Archives Awareness Week in April.

KeysWe took possession of the keys this week and are looking forward to opening our doors to the public in April. Watch this space for details of behind-the-scenes tours and other activities taking place in Archives Awareness Week.

By | February 22nd, 2016|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

A glimpse into our new space

New entrance to the Community Archives

New entrance to the Community Archives

The drywall divider between the public and the construction area of the new Community Archives has now been removed, allowing people on the second floor of Belleville Public Library to see into the new Archives reading room for the first time. Our reception desk has been built and IT connections are in the process of being hooked up. Work on packing up the archives in our current space is under way and we are looking forward to formally opening our doors in the new building in April.

By | January 12th, 2016|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

End of year thoughts

As 2015 comes to a close, I would like to thank all of the volunteers and students who have contributed to the work of the Community Archives this year. The Archives volunteers alone have contributed some 4,000 hours of work in sorting, boxing, listing and digitizing records. We have helped more than 300 visitors discover more about our community’s past and have answered over 450 telephone calls this year.

Our Young Canada Works summer students, Heather Malcolm and Nicholas VanExan, worked hard on a variety of processing jobs, including the Historical Society’s Textual Records series and Gerry Boyce’s records. They also added a number of descriptions to Ontario’s online archival network, Archeion. In the Fall, Loyalist co-op student Sydney Welch was busy digitizing some of our glass lantern slides and negatives, many of which are now available on Flickr.

In the first three months of 2016 we will be moving the archives into our new location in the Belleville Public Library. With over 2,500 boxes and volumes to shift, this is going to be a major undertaking and there will be periods in that time where the Community Archives will be closed to the public as we prepare materials for the move. We ask for your patience in this transition period: if you are planning a research trip, please leave it until after March, when we will be in our new space and better able to assist you!

In the meantime, I would like to wish you a peaceful and happy holiday season and leave you with this postcard, sent by ‘sister Lillie’ of Port Stanley to Duncan Morrison of Tweed in December 1910.

Christmas greeting

Christmas postcard (back)

Amanda Hill (Acting Archivist)

By | December 24th, 2015|Move to Belleville Public Library, News|0 Comments

Drugstore Display

A new additions to the Archives’ collections this month is this photograph, found by members of the Woodley family in the basement of the former McKeown’s Drugstore at 271 Front Street, Belleville. It was donated by Betty Lavallee.

McKeown's Drugstore, c.1920

The display was promoting products as part of ‘Rexall Week’.  On show were a range of Rexall products, including: Liver Salts, Rubbing Oil, Baby Laxative, Rexall Orderlies, Celery & Iron Tonic, Beef Iron & Wine (made from the best predigested beef, concentrated iron and imported wines), Cherry Bark cough remedy, and Dyspepsia Tablets. The photo was taken by Belleville photographer Robert McCormick in around 1920.

McKeown’s store was at this location from around 1915 to the 1960s.  John Spottiswood McKeown was born in Belleville in 1871. He was the son of John McKeown senior (a boot and shoe merchant) and Mary Bullen. He married Caroline (Carrie) Lingham on October 5th, 1898 and they had one daughter, Helen, born in 1901. In 1921 the family were living at 16 Alexander Street, Belleville, with a maid called Florence Parks.

By | November 18th, 2015|News|0 Comments