1950s


Estella Burkett was a teacher at the Deseronto Public School. She was born in Maynooth, Ontario in 1913 to Agnes Shields and Patrick Burkett. The picture below shows her with her class of children in 1949, outside the old Public School building. Estella retired in 1974 and lived in Belleville until her death in 2010 at the age of 97.

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Estella did a considerable amount of travelling in her vacations and she donated some of her photographic materials and notes about her excursions to the Deseronto Archives in 2004. These materials include some photographs taken on a trip to Berlin in 1955, ten years after the end of World War II and six years before the city was divided by the construction of the Berlin Wall. Estella took photographs of the monuments her tour group visited, including this image of a statue of Joseph Stalin, which was removed in 1961 and melted down.

Statue of Stalin

She also photographed the Brandenburg Gate, which would be isolated by the Berlin Wall six years later and impassable until the Wall’s destruction in 1989. The damage caused to the Gate during the Second World War is visible in this image.

Brandenburg Gate 1955

These photos are good examples of the way that small local collections can be unexpected sources of information about entirely different parts of the world. It’s not until we dig into the boxes and do the work of describing the materials, that it becomes possible for everyone else to see what is in them.

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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.

An interesting article was sent to the Archives this year by Jim McVicker of Vancouver. It was published in the Napanee Beaver on July 1, 1959 and records a key event in the history of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory: the issuing of the first cheque by the Band Council. Up to this point, as the article explains, bills had been paid by the Federal Government’s Indian Affairs Branch, through the local Indian Agents (based at the Deseronto Post Office). According to this article, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte were the first Band to gain control of their finances in this way.

The cheque was for fire services and is being presented by Treasurer Mrs Donald (Phyllis) Green to James McVicker (Jim’s grandfather) in the photograph. James was Deseronto’s postmaster and fire chief for many years. The Deseronto Fire Department covered the town and the Territory until the establishment of the Mohawk Fire Department in the early 1970s.

Postscript, December 3, 2013: Phyllis Green was the first employee of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. She died on December 2, 2013.

The Kimmett family donated this photograph to Deseronto Archives today, in memory of Don Kimmett. It depicts the manager, coach and team members of the Deseronto Baseball Club, who were Bay of Quinte League champions in 1950.

The team, from left to right and back to front were:
Kenny Brant, catcher; Don Kimmett, coach; Charlie Tinney, pitcher; Jimmy Rodgers, centre field; Fred Smith, catcher; William Wood, manager; Gord Jackson, third base; Don Armitage, second base; Kenny Brennan, first base; George Knight, right field; Bill Doreen, pitcher; Doug Sexsmith, short stop; P. Martin, left field

The caption on the photo only has first initials, so if you can help us with the full first names of the team, we’ll be happy to fill those in. [Thanks to all who have helped with names!]