Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011

Veteran's Day the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was a very cold morning. The crowd out to watch the parade, and the ceremonies, was very large. I took what pictures I could while maneuvering for room in the crowd.

I really should learn how to reset the day on my camera. Ah - technology.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Charles Milton Richardson Graham, 1868-1932

C.M.R. Graham was born 15 March 1868 in London Ontario to William Graham, and Catherine Richardson. (1) He married Ida Wells Smyth 6 January 1892 in London. The 1901 Census lists him as a gentleman furrier. (2)
"The London Free Press", January 2, 1912.
He became mayor of London in January 1912 to 1914. The Free Press describes his terms in office as marked by aggressive policies. (3)

He had also been involved with the local militia, and in 1915 he was offered the command of the 142nd. Battalion (London’s Own) then being organized in London. When overseas the battalion was broken up for re-enforcements. In 1918 he reverted to the rank of Major, and served with the 18th. Battalion (4). Also in 1918 he was promoted to Lt.-Colonel, and awarded the D.S.O.
"The London Free Press", February 16, 1932.
He died in London on the 15th  of February, 1932.

(1), Ontario, Canada births and Ontario, Canada, deaths, 1869-1938 and deaths overseas, 1939-1947.
(2) “The London Free Press“, 16 February, 1932. obit. The Free Press described him as in the gent’s furnishing business up to 1916 when he sold his share of the business to his brother.
(3) A term at that time was one year. Elections were held every January. He was recognized as a Conservative in politics. With Sir Sam Hughes in charge that took precedence over any military experience. In spite of this he was an exception to the rule as he proved to be quite a good junior officer at the front.
(4) The 18th. Battalion was the second battalion to be raised from Southwestern Ontario, and was in the trenches by the end of 1915.

Canada 150

Canada 150 is a national campaign to encourage Canadians to collect their life stories, family and community histories. The idea is to collect, and document, these collections for the upcoming 150 anniversary of the founding of Canada in 2017. For further information go to the Canada 150 web page.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fragments From The Forks

I attended the book launch on Saturday of Daniel J. Brock's new book "Fragments From The Forks" at the Attic bookshop here in London. Sponsored by the London and Middlesex Historical Society the book launch was well attended. As a member of the Society I was able to get my own copy.

According to the author this book is the result of 30 years of patiently accumulating data on London's history. For over 500 pages -in chronological order- it lists events, people, and well -fragments- of London's history. I would not necessarilly refer to this book as a history but more of a reference book. The index is very well done, and this as much as anything makes this book a useful reference tool.

At the back of the book Daniel Brock has included tables of demographic and area stastics, listings of public officials, and a price index calculator.

In my own area of interest which is the military history of the region quite a bit has been missed; however, that in no way takes away from the usefulness of the volume.

The book is published by the Aylmer Express Ltd. and is available for $40 for the softcover and $50 for the hard cover edition.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

London 1900

An ad from "The London Advertiser" January 3, 1900. Kingsmill's is still around. As kids we called it the Quiet store.
It is the new century. As those of us who witnessed the change from the twentieth to the twenty-first century know that it is a big event. Right. Well - not if you go through 1900 in the two London dailies. As far as I can tell there were no big parties. At least none reported in the papers. Head line news in January 1900 was the war in South Africa. British Empire troops were kicking ass. At least as far as the London papers were concerned. A large crowd turned out to see off London’s boys who volunteered for the Mounted Rifles. Both papers would continue to closely follow their adventures in South Africa.

Frederick George Rumball (1) was elected mayor in January 1900( mayors at that time served one term, and were elected in early January).

From "The London Free Press, October 1, 1940. It's the only picture that I have been able to find of Mayor Rumball. I expect that in 1900 he had darker hair.
The century may have changed but London did not. Electricity was yet to come. Public transit was horse drawn. Homes were heated by coal. The refrigerator was the ice box. Newspapers had yet to find the technology to include photographs in their stories. Light was supplied by candle or kerosene lamp. The telephone had made it to London though.

This photo was actually taken around 1885 at the corner of Richmond and Dundas. There would be virtually no changes in the streetscape by 1900. The horse drawn trolly would not be replaced by electric trolleys for another 10  years after 1900.
 One thing that did not, and has not, changed is the ridiculous advertisments in the papers.

As if I needed further reasons to drink beer. I just knew it was a food group.

I guess being a 98 pound weekling was a worry even in 1900. This ad appears in both papers throughout 1900.
And now for the scary ad.

I did not know that Chase & Sandborn had been around since 1900. Today grandfathers use sugar to give the little tykes that get up and spin.

(1) Frederick George Rumball was born 8 December 1853 in Clinton, Huron County, Canada West to Benjamin Rumball and Mary Johnston. He died 1 October 1940 at Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario. In 1900 he was a lumber merchant in London.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Health Tip !

I could not resist this when I saw it on Facebook. London has a shortage of family doctors at this time. That when the medical school is located in this city at the University of Western Ontario. So what are the alternatives ?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- Queen's Avenue

c.1875 Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, London, Ontario, Canada
I have added three photos to catch the length of Queen's shown in the c.1875 picture. This photo is on the corner of Queen's and Richmond looking east. One London Place is in the background.
Looking in the opposite direction from the corner of Clarence and Queen's toward Richmond.
From the corner of Waterloo and Queen's looking toward Richmond. First St. Andrew's United (in 1875 Presbyterian) Church is out of site just to the right. The trees are on a corner of the church property. Quite a lot of changes for Queen's Avenue over the years.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Summer Of 1914

Historians have long maintained that before August 1914 Canadians largely remained innocent or perhaps not interested in events in Europe. I thought that I would have a look at the London newspapers to see if this was true. The answer is - yep.

It is really two or three days before England’s declaration of war that either the “London Free Press” or the “London Advertiser” gave front page coverage to the unfolding of events in Europe. So what interested Londoners in July 1914.

The biggest stories were about the tragic events surrounding the sinking of the liner (May 1914) "The Empress of Ireland" in the St. Laurence river. It had everything - tragedy, loss of life, and scandal. Londoners had been on the liner, and it was a rare day that names of those who survived, and those who did not (funerals get front page coverage) , appeared in the papers. A titillating scandal was reported when it was found that a Mrs. Charles Cheu had fled from her marriage, and boarded the liner as Amelia Mott. She was not one of those who survived.

There was a provincial election in the offing. “The Advertiser” was convinced that with this election the Liberals would reign supreme, and Temperance would finally be enacted in Ontario. Take that you barroom loafers! “The Free Press” was cool to that idea.

What was not cool was the weather. In June temperatures reached 94.5 degrees F. Stories advising people on how to keep themselves cool ran in both papers for several weeks. That included advice (for women of course) on the proper maintanence of the refigerator (read ice box).
Keeping cool in Victoria Park, "The London Adversiser", June 9, 1914.
The Ringling Brothers’ Circus was in town. There was a procession down Dundas St. of wagons containing lions, panthers, leopards, and of course the elephants.
“Keep back, Mickey, or they’ll getcha,” shouted a small child. “Naw, day won’t nudder, if je ain’t got no tobacy widja,” was the scornful reply (an attempt at humour by the Advertiser).

Another attempt at humour by the Adversiser cartoonist. "The London Adversiser", June 15, 1914.
For women the colours of choice for the summer were black and yellow.
"The London Adversiser", June 12, 1914.
All topped off with a stylish cape. No mention of how that would fly in 94 F. degree weather. Perhaps a feathered white hat would help ? Apparently it goes with anything.
"The London Adversiser", June 14, 1814.
No mention of what was to come in August. Armageddon !

Friday, July 22, 2011

Television Memories

Naturally the kid on crutches gets front page in his father's employee newsletter.
Lorine McGinnis Schultz’s post “Sharing Memories” from July 17 reminded me of when my family acquired their first T.V. in 1953.

As a background in 1953 I had what is called “perthes “ - I leave it to you to look this up in your dictionary ! It meant that for a year I was in a harness preventing me from using my leg. What do you do with a five year old who spends his days getting around on crutches ?

The answer seems to have been to get him a television set. As close as I can remember it was a 12" black and white in a cabinet. Wish I still had that cabinet ! It also meant purchasing a rather large aerial to receive signals as London at that time did not have a local T.V. station. That came the following year.

The whole package must have set my parents back a months salary.  The channels available were from Detroit, and Kitchener.

So what did I watch ? As far as I remember it was mostly westerns, and Howdy Doody.

I do not think I missed a program.
I was glued to the T.V. That hasn't changed much in 60 years.
Loved the program. The actors also showed up for a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey game. A plus in my books.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - St. Paul's

St. Paul’s was first erected as a frame building on Dundas St. in 1830. The building burned down in 1844. The brick building was erected on it’s present site, and opened in 1846. Originally there was a cemetery on the church grounds which except for a few tombstones was moved to Woodland Cemetery.

The tombstones lie on their side just to the north and west of the church. They are weathered, and hard to read; but I have taken photos of a few of them.
To The Memory Of
Colonel in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers
died at London C.W.
on the 10 December 1843
Aged 41 years
Elizabeth Showers
Laurence & Abigail
died May 10, 1838
Wife of
Bert Wils
died Sept 19 184?
Aged 24 years

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Canada Day 2011

Canada Day at Harris Park.
reinactors of the Royal Scots Light Infantry from the War of 1812.
It was a beautiful day. Sunny. warm, and not muggy.

The military, and veterans, were out to dedicate a mural to the young men and women who lost their lives in Afganistan.

A powow featuring native veterans od the Canadian Forces.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

London’s Mystery Man

"The London Free Press", 1 July, 1941.
London’s mystery man died at Westminster Hospital on 29 June, 1941. He was variously called Oliver Jordan or Jordan X.X. Smith. He had been a patient at Westminster Hospital for 20 years.

During that time there were attempts to find out his identity. Jordan X.X. walked into the Ripon, England, reparation camp in 1919 with a group of prisoners of war wearing a German uniform. His speech was clouded, and he had no memory of who he was. His finger prints were sent out to bureau’s throughout Canada, and the United States, with no success. Various people claimed a relationship to Jordan X.X.; however, nothing was proved. (1)

It would have been interesting to see what today’s science would have found.

(1) “The London Free Press”, 1 July, 1941.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mayors Of London - Francis Evans Cornish


Portrait hanging in London City Hall.

Francis Evans Cornish (1 Feb. 1831-28 Nov. 1878) was Mayor of London 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864. (1)

He was born to William King Cornish, and married Victorine Clench in London 31 October 1853. Francis Cornish is one of the more interesting characters to be mayor of London. He was a member of the Orange Order and very much anti-French, anti-Catholic, and very anti-Louis Riel. As mayor he was responsible for resolving a scandal at the city’s hospital, and oversaw the first serious efforts to reduce fire hazards in the city.

In 1863 he physically attacked a British commander who had boasted of a affair with his wife. He was convicted of assault and fined eight dollars. On another occasion Cornish was arrested for public drunkenness. Mayors in the 1860‘s also acted as local magistrates. Cornish tried himself, and fined himself four dollars. For good measure he also gave himself a lecture on the evils of drink..

Politics at that period was a rough and tumble affair. Cornish was not above receiving assistance at the polls from members of the Orange Order, and there were some accusations that he was not above stuffing the ballot box. He was defeated in 1864 when members of city council called out the militia in order to assure an honest election. (2) In 1872 Cornish moved to Manitoba where he became Winnipeg’s first mayor in 1874. Apparently he won by a margin of 383 votes to 179 in a city in which there were only 382 eligible voters. He must have put his London experiences to work. (3)

He also left his wife in London when he moved to Manitoba, and took up with a mistress until his death in 1878. Politics in the first half of the nineteenth century were far from boring.

(1) At that time mayors were elected for one year terms.
(2) Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
(3) The following link outlines his antics while in Manitoba.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Before and After 2

Richmond Street lokking south c.1916, Library and Archives Canada.
Richmond Street lokking north from Dundas St. The trolleys are gone.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Before And After

Dundas St. looking east from Talbot. c.1871. The Regional Room, London Public Library. The description underneath the photo was apparently added in 1931.
Dundas St. looking east from Talbot in 2011. Personal collection.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Labatt Brewery Donation

Labatt Brewery donated164 years of historical documents to the University of Western Ontario (UWO) on June 1st..

Labatt’s President, Bary Benun, officially turned over The Labatt Brewing Company Archival Collection to Western’s President Amit Chakma, on June 1. Labatt also donated $200,000 to assist in digitizing portions of The Labatt Brewing Company Archival Collection. This will help preserve some of the key content of the collection and make it more accessible. “

Advertising poster c. 1894. The Labatt Archives Media Center.

Considering the volume of material available I expect that business historians are drooling. I am not sure what is there that might interest genealogists; however, if the collection contains staff records it could be a gold mine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Book Review - Time Traveller’s Handbook

Althea Douglas, “Time Traveller’s Handbook: A Guide to the Past”, Dundurn Press, 2011, ISBN 978-1-55488-784-2 (soft cover) $19.99

Althea Douglas’s new book is an excellent addition to the reference library of both genealogists, and historians. Althea maintains that family historians are essentially time travellers; but then again so are historians. Many of the references, and terminology, used a hundred years ago that we often turn up in documents are not relevant for us today. A handy book that can remind us (those of us past forty that is) what a quart, mile, or acre were is a useful reference.

The book deals with deciphering documents, family traditions, money and its value, trades, how people lived, and seafaring and military traditions. An appendix of important dates, notes that are chock full of references, deciphering Latin references, and a strong bibliography are for me very useful. As a boy I had British measures such as quarts, peck, mile, and inches pounded into me to the point I can not seem to shake them even now. Younger people should find these tables useful.

Unfortunately, I am now old enough to remember many of the life style references. When I was 6 and 7 my family lived on a small street in the village of Byron (now part of London), and I still remember the horse drawn Silverwood’s milk wagon. I do not remember the milkman ever sitting in the driver’s seat. The old horse probably knew the milk route better than the milkman. Right up until the end of the 1950’s my maternal grandmother kept her coal furnace. My paternal grandmother finally got electricity to the farm house when her sons returned from the war. With electricity, and a septic tank, my father bought her her first refrigerator. Much of the lifestyle we wonder about today was not that far in the past. Either that or I am getting old.

I highly recommend “Time Traveller’s Handbook” for any genealogist or historian’s reference library.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Simcoe And London

John Graves Simcoe (February 25, 1752-October 26, 1806) was the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (1791-1796). The capital of Upper Canada at that time was in Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) which Simcoe viewed as militarily too close to the American border.

The present site of London was to become the future capital of Upper Canada, and the river was renamed the Thames. The Governor-in-Chief Lord Dorchestor rejected this proposal, but accepted the second choice of York (Toronto). For Dorchester London was just too far west. Simcoe moved the capital to York in 1893. He was also responsible in laying out two roads which were to aid in the defence of Upper Canada. Younge Street which was built on a north/south axis from York on Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe, and Dundas Street east/west from York to London. His roads were strategic not for the convenience of settlers. In 1793 when Dundas Street was begun it virtually ran from nowhere to nowhere.

To secure his first choice as capital Simcoe purchased land from the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi nations in the 1790’s. He set aside 3,850 acres at the forks of the Thames as a Crown Reserve for the site of this future capital. Originally he was going to name it Georgina not London. The Crown Reserve was to hold up the founding of the city for some decades.

John Graves Simcoe is remembered in this area with a Simcoe Street, and a Lord Simcoe Public School (gone the way of the dodo now). As a footnote he was responsible for the abolition of slavery in Upper Canada years before it was abolished by Britain.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

To Begin

To begin let us start with a short description of London to set the scene for further posts. London is located in Southwestern Ontario roughly half way between Toronto and Detroit.

The current location at the forks of the Thames river was selected in 1793 by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe as the future site of the capital of Upper Canada: but was rejected by the then Governor-General.

London was founded in 1826 The British located a garrison in the village in 1838. On January 1, 1855 London was incorporated as a city (10,000 or more residents). London was a city within a forest, and thus came by its nickname “The Forest City”.

The arrival of the railroad in 1853 stimulated a rapid growth in the city’s population, and cemented London’s role as the prominent city in Southwestern Ontario. London’s population as of 2009 was 362,000.