1900s


Deseronto Archives has started to make the photographs in its collections available on the Internet, via the popular photo-sharing website, Flickr. This is going to be a long-term project, given the small size of the Archives’ staff (in numbers, rather than stature, that is!), but it should significantly increase the availability of the photographs beyond the walls of the Archives room here in Deseronto. Today we made a start with photos from the Bay of Quinte Railway Company collection. These include this splendid shot of Engine #5 and its crew, about to leave Napanee for Deseronto, in the early years of the twentieth century:

BQR-06-14

We have no information about the men in this picture, so if you can help identify them, please leave a comment, either here or on the Flickr page for this picture.

As we’re experiencing a particularly snowy February, here’s a photograph to remind us that the warm days of summer will be here again before too long. This shot was taken by Harold McMurrich Rathbun, grandson of Hugo Burghardt Rathbun, the man who established Deseronto as a major lumber centre in the late nineteenth century.

It was taken on a trip to the Sandbanks in Prince Edward County in July 1908. To modern eyes, the people in the group seem rather over-dressed for a July day at the lake. Look at the thickness of the coat that the man is carrying. And what on earth did he have in that bag?

The negative of this photograph is one of many taken by Harold M. Rathbun that were presented to Deseronto Archives by the South Fredericksburg Heritage Committee in 2005. The photo’s reference number is HMR2-06-28.

As St. Valentine’s Day approaches, Deseronto Archives investigates a love story that began on the Mohawk Reserve (now known as the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory) one hundred years ago.

Tom LongboatOne of the most famous Canadian athletes of 1908 was Tom Longboat, a marathon runner with a string of successful races to his name. He was born in 1887 to Onondaga parents in the Six Nations of the Grand River Indian Reserve.

His first major race victory was at the 1906 Around the Bay Race in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1907 he won the Boston Marathon and the following year he went to London, England, to run in the Olympic Games. Unfortunately he did not manage to complete that marathon, as he collapsed after running 19 miles (30 kilometres) in hot and humid conditions.

Longboat turned professional in November 1908 and it seems to be at about this time that he met Lauretta Maracle, who was described by the New York Times as “an Indian school teacher” at the reserve near Deseronto. The Albuquerque Citizen has an intriguing report about the couple’s courtship (which manages to get Lauretta’s name completely wrong). They planned to marry at Massey Hall in Toronto, after a benefit performance on 28 December 2008. Lauretta was an Anglican and the New York Times noted on 20 December that Tom was to be received into the Anglican Church the next day.

A last-minute snag was reported in the same paper on December 27, under the headline ‘Ban on Longboat Wedding’. The Archbishop of Toronto, Arthur Sweatman, had written to Rev. Alfred H. Creeggan of Deseronto, who was due to conduct the ceremony and told him not to, as he believed that Tom’s conversion was too sudden and therefore unlikely to be sincere. Other Anglican ministers were also prohibited from presiding over the wedding, but the marriage did go ahead, although it is not clear who officiated.

The union between Tom and Lauretta was ill-starred, however, as Tom was reported missing, presumed dead, during the First World War and Lauretta married another man. On Tom’s return she decided to stay with her new husband. Shortly afterwards, Tom also married again, to Martha Silversmith, who was from his own Six Nations reserve.

There are no images of Lauretta available, but this photograph from Library and Archives Canada (C-014095), via the Wikimedia Commons site shows Tom in his prime (although his pose looks far from natural).

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