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.