1920s


Another family mystery this week, this time from across the Atlantic with a story which starts in the small Lincolnshire town of Brigg in England. The person we’re interested in is a man called Preston North, a tailor who was born there in 1859 to Frank and Jane North.

At the time of 1901 census of England, Preston North was living in three rooms in a house in Paradise Place, Brigg, with his wife, Martha (née Little) and their eight children: Caroline, Alice, Lucy, Frank, Preston, Charles, Percy and Robert. A 41-year-old tailor of the same name (and who was born in Brigg, Lincolnshire) is also listed as living in a boarding house in Pontefract, Yorkshire. The Pontefract Preston North is listed as single, rather than married. Interesting…

1901 census North family

1901 census entry for the North family (UK National Archives: RG13/3102 f.42 p.35)

By the time of the next census, in 1911, Martha is listed, still living in three rooms in Paradise Place with her six sons (Harry is the youngest, born after the 1901 census), but Preston is not at home that night and is not to be found anywhere else in England through the census records, although the fact that Martha lists herself as married rather than widowed suggests that Preston is still alive somewhere.

We don’t have access yet to the 1921 census records, so will have to wait a few years to see what they might tell us. What we do know is that Martha died in Brigg in 1924 and by 1933 Preston North was living in Deseronto. In that year he sent a postcard to his grand-daughter in England which showed the Bank of Montreal in the town (the building which is now the Town Hall).

On the postcard, Preston North noted that the bank had closed down due to lack of business (this happened in 1932 as a result of the Depression).

His great-grand-daughter also owns a letter which was written in Deseronto by North in 1939 (when he would have been eighty years old).

Letter from Preston North, 1939

Letter from Preston North, 1939

He wrote:

Deseronto
Sept 14th 1939

Dear Alice and all at home,

The war has started

I was glad to get your letter on sept 12th and I did not get any other letters you sent before Christmas. It is a fight to the finish Canada has gone to a finish no fooling this time.

Returning men are going up by the thousands and no turning back. They have got into Warsaw and the women are fighting like tigers.

I am very well but I don’t work much only at my own clothes. 3 years war if not more. Hoping to hear from you at any time. Give my best wishes to all.

From your father Preston North

Deseronto Canada xxxx Bye bye

The story in the North family in England is that Preston started another family here in Canada and never returned to England. They don’t know where or when he died, or when precisely he came to Canada.

On September 12, 1944 an old man called John North was buried in the Deseronto cemetery. Could this have been the man formerly known as Preston? (The name of the North’s second son was Preston John North, so it’s possible that his father shared his middle name as well as his first name. Or just borrowed it!)

UPDATE, January 23, 2013

Some new information about John Preston North has emerged. On June 19th, 1915 he married Chloe Anne Lalond in Kingston, Ontario. He claimed to be 42 years old (he was actually 52) and a bachelor who had been living in Kingston since 1910. This would explain his absence from the 1911 UK census. There was a family story that this man was a bigamist, and this evidence seems to confirm that this was the case. In 1916 John Preston North was living in Napanee when he signed up to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. By this stage his real age was 57, but he claimed to have been born in 1872 and to be 44. So not only was North apparently a bigamist, but he also seems to have been a habitual liar!

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Rev. Creeggan's communion set

In August the Archives was contacted by Avril Sullivan of Cranbrook, British Columbia, who had found an interesting item at a local garage sale. It was a boxed portable communion set engraved with the words “To Rev. J. Creeggan from the Guild Tyendinaga June 26, 1927”. Avril was willing to send the  box back to this area and wanted to know if it would be of value to the Archives.

Alfred Henry Creeggan was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1871 and was ordained as a deacon in the Anglican church in 1894. He was appointed to the Mission of Tyendinaga in 1903 and stayed there until 1927, with the exception of the period between 1914 and 1919, when he served as chaplain for the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. He was appointed as the Rector of Gananoque in May 1927 and died there on July 16th, 1933. It seems that this set was a gift from the women of the Tyendinaga Guild (now the Mohawk Guild) on his departure from the parish.

Rev. Alfred Henry Creeggan

Photograph of Rev. Creeggan from the Journal of the Provincial Synod, 1919

We do hold some objects like this in the Deseronto Archives: notably some materials from the former Anglican church of St. Mark’s in Deseronto, but generally we collect written and photographic items rather than museum-type objects and our policy is only to collect materials relating to Deseronto. As the connection with the Parish of Tyendinaga was so strong in this case, we contacted The Venerable Bradley D. Smith, the current Rector, to see if the box might be better placed there.

Father Brad was able to explain the ‘J’ in the inscription: the Rector was known as ‘Jack’ when he lived around here. [It should be noted that Creeggan’s son was called Jack – and was also a clergyman, so perhaps the set is connected to him.] He also suggested that as the communion set was still in good condition, it could be used in the parish by those people who are licensed to administer Communion to parishioners who are unable to leave their homes. None of these licensed individuals currently own their own communion sets.

Avril Sullivan, the owner of the set, was delighted with this planned use of Rev. Jack Creeggan’s gift from the Guild and is sending it back to the parish where it was presented to him. Now the only mystery is how it ended up in British Columbia!

Inscription 'To Rev. J. Creeggan from the Guild Tyendinaga, June 26, 1927'

The Archives here in Deseronto has a rather patchy selection of local newspapers for the twentieth century. There’s a good run of The Quinte Scanner from 1968 to 1982 but apart from that we really only have lucky survivals of The Deseronto Post and a few editions of the Daily Intelligencer, Belleville’s newspaper. Finding out what newspaper we have for a particular year or decade involved consulting two different lists, the contents of which are not easy to absorb.

We’ve now combined the information from those lists into a single online resource. It’s a Google Calendar into which each newspaper edition has been entered as an event. If you have a Google account, you can view the newspaper calendar, which we’ve made public. From the calendar page, click on the small Add to Google Calendar symbol at the bottom right. This will add the newspaper calendar to your Google calendar page.

In order to see what we have for a particular year, you need to install the ‘Year View’ feature for your calendar (in Google Calendar, go to the ‘Settings’ page, then ‘Labs’ to do this). Once you have the Year View, you can use it to get to a particular year, then click on any month to see if we hold any local papers for that particular time period. The picture below is of the month of October 1925, where we have two issues of the Deseronto Post and three of the Daily Intelligencer. Click on the image for a closer look.

Newspapers for October 1925

This is just an experiment, really, but it’s already proving useful in making it much quicker to answer questions about whether we have any newspapers for a particular date.

Deseronto has no snow on the ground this December (so far!) but this Christmas card from the 1920s reminds us of what the weather can be like at this time of year:

Christmas card from 1920s

The card was printed by Old Colony Greeting Cards of Toronto. The picture on the front, ‘Winter’, was by ‘Revilo’ and the message inside is from Evelyn ‘Tottie’ Hall (born 1882) who lived in Deseronto in the early part of the twentieth century.

The rhyme reads:

All the things you care for best,
A happy heart, a mind at rest,
Be yours upon this Christmas Day,
And through the Year ne’er fade away.

The same group of records (which we’re currently in the process of cataloguing) holds another Christmas card from Evelyn, this one with a photograph of the sender on the porch of her home at 426 Thomas Street, Deseronto:

Evelyn Hall

As we work through the Hall family materials, there will no doubt be more to share with you in 2012. But for now, we leave you

With Hearty Greetings and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

On July 1, 1927 history was made when Canada’s first nationwide radio programme was broadcast, marking the country’s Diamond Jubilee – 60 years after Confederation. The undertaking was a huge one, involving telephone and telegraph companies and 23 different radio stations.

Events at Parliament Hill in Ottawa were transmitted live across Canada and, via short wave radio from Drummondville, Quebec, to Britain. According to the CN history of the event, “The signal in the western hemisphere was so strong that the broadcast could be heard throughout the United States, in Mexico, and even in parts of South America.” You can hear a brief extract of the broadcast on the CBC Digital Archives site.

William Kenneth Detlor (1903-1930)

The Deseronto connection with this landmark event comes in the person of William Kenneth Detlor, whose photograph we featured in an earlier blog post. Kenneth (as he was known) was born in Deseronto on January 20, 1903 and graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston in 1922 with a Bachelor of Science degree.

He went on to work for the Bell Telephone Company and it is clear that he quickly made a name for himself, as only five years after leaving university he was placed in charge of the Ottawa end of Bell’s Diamond Jubilee engineering work, with overall responsibility for the whole network, at the tender age of only 24.*

Detlor’s promising career was cut short by his untimely death from meningitis in Toronto in 1930.


*This information from an article on the Jubilee transmission in Bell’s publication The Blue Bell, Vol. 6, No. 10 (August 1927)

An interesting collection of materials came to the Archives last week from Robert Detlor. Mr Detlor’s grandfather, Bismarck (Mark) Leroy Detlor (1876-1951) operated a bake shop and confectioner’s in St. George Street, Deseronto, south of the junction with Edmon Street. The collection includes this fine photograph of the interior of the store:

2011.15(5) Interior of Detlor’s Bake Shop

The Detlor shop was in operation for over 30 years. The photograph below shows Bismarck Detlor, his wife, Winnifred (née Moore, 1879-1963) and their eldest son, William Kenneth Detlor (1903-1930). The woman on the left is believed to be Winnifred’s sister, Laura Blake. The family are standing outside the Detlor store, with their car.

2011.15(4) Detlor family with Chevrolet Series F Superior

In this photo, a ‘KODAK’ sign can be seen just behind the car: the store sold camera supplies as well as baked goods and candy. An intriguing combination!

Rainbow Protex Ltd.

This photograph shows a stand at a trade show in the 1920s or 1930s. The company represented is Rainbow Protex, a manufacturer of auto top dressings and boot and shoe polish. At this period, car roofs were usually made of fabric that had been coated with rubber. To keep them looking good and to protect the rubber from the effects of sunlight and cold or wet weather, black oil-based varnishes known as auto top dressings were applied to their surfaces.

This particular company’s head office was in Toronto, but (according to the photograph) the factory that produced the polishes and dressings was in Deseronto. One of the men in the photograph is William Macdonald Mackintosh, a chemist, originally from Liverpool in England (U.S. patent no. 771,257 was issued in 1904 for his ‘Compound for Waterproofing Fabrics’). Mackintosh’s granddaughter got in touch with the Archives recently, asking whether we had any information about the company for which Mackintosh was working.

We don’t have any details about the firm in the Archives, so, with her permission, we are sharing this copy of Martha Mackintosh’s photograph here, in case anyone can tell as more about this particular company. We would like to know exactly where in Deseronto its factory was and when it was in operation. Please comment if you can help!

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