Former Deseronto archivist Ken Brown passed away on June 29th, 2019. Ken looked after the Deseronto collections from 2001 to 2007. He was a keen historian of the town and spent many hours examining the pages of the Deseronto Tribune. He coordinated the project to transcribe the obituaries of the Tribune, which are now available here for everyone to see, and to catalogue the Deseronto Archives photographic collection, now online through the Flickr Commons.

This newspaper clipping from the Napanee Beaver of June 12th, 2002 shows Ken with fellow history buff, the late Floyd Marlin, whose own collection of historical materials is now part of the Deseronto Archives. The headline refers to Floyd, but could be equally well-applied to Ken.

Newspaper article about Floyd Marlin and Ken Brown

Ken was a frequent visitor to the Deseronto Archives (always by bicycle!) after his retirement from this post, and his knowledge and willingness to share it were invaluable for his successor. Ken’s obituary is online here. Our thanks to Ken for all his work on building the Deseronto Archives collection, and our condolences to his loved ones.

On this day in 1919 the Town Council of Deseronto discussed a letter they had received from Miss Margaret S. Stoddart:

Minute about Miss Stoddart's dog


Miss Margaret S. Stoddart – stating that her dog died twenty four hours after she had paid her dog tax, and asking the Council to refund the Amount of the tax.

Moved by the Reeve, seconded by Coun. Burns that the Treasurer be instructed to return to her the Amount she paid for dog tax on her returning the tag. Carried.

Margaret Sheldon Stoddart was born in Toronto on June 8th, 1871, the daughter of two Scots: William Stoddart, a tailor, and Margaret (née Home). The family were living in Deseronto by 1891. Henry Osborne took a photograph of their house at 187 St. George Street, to the north of the Presbyterian Church in around 1895:

William Stoddart's house

The house is still there today (although the trees are a bit bigger!):

Google Streetview image of St. George Street house

In 1896 William placed an advertisement in the Deseronto Library Catalogue for his tailor’s shop on Main Street:

Advertisement for Stoddart's tailor shop

Margaret Stoddart senior died in December 1901. This photograph of William in his ‘Sons of Scotland’ regalia was taken in about 1903. He died in August 1906.
William Stoddart

At the time of the 1911 census Margaret Sheldon Stoddart was living in the St. George Street house with her brother, William (also a tailor), and his children, Bruce and Nora, who were described as ‘lodgers’. The children’s mother, Frances, had died in July 1906 in Kemptville. During the First World War Margaret acted as a chaperone in the dances put on for the airmen who were learning to fly at the local Royal Flying Corps camps.1 In 1921 William was no longer living in the Stoddart’s house and Bruce and Nora were described as ‘son’ and ‘daughter’ in relation to Margaret, perhaps suggesting that she had adopted them. Nora later married Harold McMurrich Rathbun.

Margaret Stoddart died in 1947 and was buried in Deseronto Cemetery in plot 19I. History does not however record where her dog was laid to rest!

1. C.W. Hunt Dancing in the Sky (2009) p.137

This Google map shows the burial or memorial places for the Deseronto men who died during the First World War.

This memorial project has revealed a lot to us about the Deseronto people who were directly involved in the First World War. For many of those who lived through this conflict, their lives would be forever altered by the loss of loved ones, friends, and health.

Our thanks to all those who have contributed additional information and family stories about these people, who would otherwise just be names in records. It has been an honour to learn about them all and to reflect on their experiences.

Harold MacDonald Pineo signature
Lieutenant Harold Macdonald Pineo died of influenza on this day in 1918 in the Royal Air Force hospital in Deseronto. He had transferred to the Royal Air Force in May 1918 from the army, and had only been with 42nd Wing since September 19th, 1918.

Pineo was buried in Virden Cemetery, Manitoba.

On this day in 1918 Sergeant John Ray Holland died at Camp Rathbun Hospital in Deseronto of pneumonia caused by influenza. Holland was a carpenter who had joined the Royal Flying Corps in England on July 6th, 1916. In March 1917 he was transferred to the new training camps in Canada where he was promoted corporal in August 1917 and sergeant in April 1918 when the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force. In some records his name is given as Roy, rather than Ray. He had previously served for four years in the 3rd West Riding Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery.

Holland was born in Bakewell, Derbyshire in 1890. In the 1911 census he was listed as an apprentice joiner, living in Sheffield, West Yorkshire. He married Phyllis Rhodes in Sheffield on September 23rd, 1914 and the couple had two children, born in February 1915 and April 1916. Holland’s parents were Richard and Annie Holland. They were living at 56 Cherry Street in Sheffield when he died.

John Ray Holland was buried in Deseronto Cemetery.

John Ray Holland gravestone

Con Barnhart's signature

On this day in 2018, Con Barnhart died in No. 12 Canadian General Hospital in Bramshott, England of meningitis.

Con was buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Bramshott.

He is also remembered on the Deseronto war memorial.

Deseronto memorial

David John Powless signature

On this day in 1918 David John Powless died of pneumonia at 913 Dundas Street, Toronto. He had been discharged four weeks earlier from the army due to being over age (he was a few weeks shy of his fiftieth birthday). He had served overseas for 22 months.

Initially the Dominion Pension Board refused to pay his widow, Rose, a pension, as Powless had already been discharged when he died. The Toronto Star took up her case, claiming that the widow and her children were surviving on $8 a week, the earnings of her daughter.

Rose Powless and children

Rose Powless and children, from the Toronto Star, January 31st, 1919

This photograph from the newspaper shows Rose with Douglas, Florence, Edwin, Mayford and Alfred.

On February 20th, 1919 the Toronto Star reported that:

The attending physician gave his certificate that Pte. Powless would undoubtedly have recovered had it not been for the fact that service overseas had undermined his constitution. But owing to the fact that death occurred after discharge, and there was no disability on record, no pension was granted to the widow on her application. The board at Ottawa wrote that the regulations did not permit it.

Just before Christmas the G.W.V.A. [Great War Veterans’ Association] found Mrs. Powless in a destitute condition, the earnings of her 15-year-old daughter being her sole income. They gave what relief they could, and other societies joined with them. After an application had again been refused at Ottawa, the case was taken up by Central Branch G.W.V.A., and was reinvestigated by the Ontario office of the board.

The decision not to grant her a pension was changed in her favour when the case was reconsidered under public pressure. She was granted a full pension of $936 per year.

Between 1918 and 1920, Rose Powless moved to Michigan with Thomas John Collick and her four youngest children.  David John Powless’s five children from his first marriage with Louisa Maracle all stayed in Canada. Rose had two more children with Thomas Collick and died in Otsego, Michigan in April 1967.

David John Powless was buried in Prospect Cemetery, Toronto.