Skating on the Bay at sunset

Skating on the Bay at sunset

There were many people enjoying the ice on the Bay of Quinte today: the photo shows some youngsters skating on what was once the log pond beside Mill Street in Deseronto. It brought to mind an advertisement from The Tribune of December 9th, 1892, which was encouraging parents to buy skates from the Anderson and Miller store on Main Street as a Christmas gift for their children.

The Bay is Frozen

I’m not sure how thrilled their mothers would be at getting “the latest improved Washer and Wringer”, though.


On this day in 1892 a concert was held at the Deseronto Opera House[1] by the Edith Ross Scottish Concert Company, who were invited to perform by the St. Andrew’s Society which had recently been formed in the town. According to the Tribune which was published on the next day:

The following lines, composed by Mr. A. D. McIntyre, the talented secretary of St. Andrew’s Society, as a welcome to the Edith Ross Scottish Concert Company, were read by him with great effect at their entertainment in the opera house last night:

Miss Edith Ross and Company,
We kindly welcome you,
And hope our hearts you will engross
With song and music too;
We trust that ye will feel at ease,
Just as you would at home,
And may our toes and fingers freeze
If we give cause to blame.

We hope that you will soon again
Revisit our good town,
Which surely in a year or so
Will be a city grown;
For we have here the energy
And everything beside
To make Deseronto go ahead
At ebb or flood of tide.

I’m sure if you took twa’ three days
To look our works around,
That you would wonder where on earth
Their likes could e’er be found;
With basswood, pine and oaken logs
Your brain would sure be tossed,
And round great piles of every kind
Of lumber you’d get lost.

You’d see the logs a rolling up
The runway from the dam,
Sliced into lumber instantly;
I tell you it is gran’
To see the slabs thrown, lightning speed,
From sound and healthy pine,
And in the finer part that’s left
Behold a nine by nine.

The Factory you’d visit too,
Where they make sash and door,
And ship them to Australia
And other countless shores;
Then you would ramble to the wharf,
Where ends the B. of Q,[2]
Its rails and solid bed stops short
When Jamie Stokes[3] they view.

And now you jump upon the train,
No trouble in the least,
And step off on the platform
At Deseronto East;
Blacksmith, Machine and Loco Shops
Are now left far behind
With Car Works and the Shipyard, full
Of crafts of every kind.

The Cedar Mill you’ve also passed,
Where ties are made and shipped,
And where the Shipyard’s sturdy oak
Is often sawn and ripped;
Another mill you have sped by,
Where shingles are the ware,
And now from off this platform,
Behold the Grist Mill there!

Here you can buy the purest flour
That ever yet was made,
And Oh! you’d open wide your eyes
Surprised at Richard’s[4] trade;
The wheat is brought by great shiploads
And by the Railway too;
But come a little farther down,
The Burners we will view.

Here’s where the refuse is all burned,
The sawdust and the dross
To wondrous chemicals are turned
That nothing go to loss;
And if you look away beyond
The Refuse Docks appear,
Which, in the summer, are filled up
For winter work and cheer.

And still a little farther down
The Secret Works you see,
Where one of Scotland’s honored sons[5]
Practises chemistry;
And right behind, encircled neat,
The Gas Works you espy,
From whence our streets and ilka house
Receive their light supply.

And yet a wee bit farther on
Red Terra Cotta stands
In its artistic excellence
Pourtrayed by Hynes’[6] hand,
Who pounds and moulds it with his fist
This and the other way,
And then brings forth a matchless bust
In Terra Cotta clay.

But what’s the use in trying thus
Our industries to name,
For it would take a week or more
To numerate the same:
Imagination needs must fly
Far North, South, East and West,
In town and city, bush and plain,
You see the Rathbuns’ Crest.

Again, a welcome please accept
From old St. Andrew’s boys,
Who wish ye “Merry Christmas”
And many earthly joys;
And as you travel through this world
Do not forget, we pray,
The thriving town and leal hearts
On Quinte’s famous bay.

This poem is a wonderful snapshot of the industries along the Deseronto waterfront in 1892. According to the 1901 census, Archibald Duncan Macintyre was an accountant who was born in Scotland on 3 March 1859. We can surmise from the contents of his poem that he worked for the Rathbun Company. He came to Canada in 1876. In an account of the first annual St. Andrew’s Day dinner (November 30th, 1892), the Tribune described Macintyre as “a true and loyal Highlander” and a man of “poetic genius”. A few years later, he had become the Chief of the Sons of Scotland and the Archives holds this photograph of him:

Photograph of Archibald D. Macintyre, c.1902

Photograph of A. D. Macintyre, c.1902

Macintyre died in William Street, Trenton, on December 13th, 1921. His occupation was given as “Filing Clerk, C.N.Ry [Canadian National Railway] Stores”. He had been living at that address for three years before his death. He was, however, buried in Deseronto’s cemetery: an event that also took place, coincidentally, on December the 15th.

[1] At this date the Opera House was on the upper floor of the Baker Block on Main Street
[2] The Bay of Quinte Railway
[3] James Stokes was listed in the 1891 census for Deseronto as ‘wharfinger’: the man in charge of the day-to-day business of the wharf. He was 42 at the time of the census. He died in Toronto on April 4, 1913, aged 64.
[4] This was presumably Richard Rayburn, the flour mill manager, according to the 1891 census.
[5] The 1891 census lists 41 year-old William D. McRae as “Superintendent, Gas and Chemical Works”. McRae was born in Scotland.
[6] Michael J. Hynes, artist and manager of the Terra Cotta works

The Santa Claus Parade will be taking place on Saturday evening (November 28th) at 6.30 in Deseronto’s Main Street and Rathbun Park.

To start getting you into the seasonal spirit, here is an advertisement for the Bay of Quinte Meat Company which appeared in Deseronto’s local newspaper, The Tribune on December 9th, 1892. This store was located in the Baker Block on Main Street, on the route of Saturday’s Parade.

Advertisement for the Bay of Quinte Meat Company, 1892

The advertisement reads:

We intend making the finest display of
Beef, Pork, Lamb, Mutton, Veal, Game, Poultry, Vegetables, and every variety of
This Christmas that has ever been seen in Deseronto, or in fact, in Ontario.
We are already booking orders for Turkeys. “Now is your time to do likewise,” and thus be sure of your Christmas dinner before the turkeys see this ad. and strike.

Our store on Christmas Eve will be far more worth seeing than any Christmas Tree. Arrange to bring your families to see it, no matter whether you require anything or not. Just come along and have a look, and if it does not make you hungry to see so many nice things ready for the oven it won’t be our fault. Owing to our increased trade, and anticipating an immense rush of thousands of new customers during Christmas week, we are now trying to make arrangements with Mr. Baker to add another hundred feet on to his already fine block.

Some of our customers are buying their turkeys now, and eating them too, so that they will not be left when the rush comes.

Do not be afraid – we will have enough for all. Only give us your order now and not have to wait, as we were only able to secure the services of a few less than fifteen men to serve you on Dec. 24th. So come one and all and see the great Christmas Fair.



Baker Block, Deseronto

A good illustration of the fact that the use of humour in advertising was not a twentieth century invention!

Deseronto map We’ve got a group of Women’s Institute members coming to visit Deseronto next week. The Archives won’t be open, as they are coming on a Tuesday, but we have put together a small exhibition for the group to see. They will also be having a look around the town, so we have also made a brief tour guide which pinpoints some of the significant buildings, past and present, including photographs and descriptions. It seems that this might be of interest to other visitors to Deseronto and it is now available to download.

Metcalfe Foods had canning factories in Deseronto from 1912, according to a Deseronto Post article published in 1948. The archives has three copies of this photograph of the staff of the firm, taken in the 1930s (either 1932 or 1938, according to notes on the photos).

Staff of Metcalfe Foods, 1930s

Staff of Metcalfe Foods, 1930s

One of the employees pictured here, Floyd Marlin, wrote down many of the names of those pictured and his list is reproduced below. If you are able to fill in any of the gaps, please post a comment or drop the Archives an email. Some of the spellings here are possibly wrong, so please let us know if you spot one that needs correcting.

Front row, left to right:
Pansy Lindsay
Mrs McCabe
Muriel Cole
Gerty Toppings
Mrs Ed Martin
Mrs McLaughlin
Mrs Herb Histed
Lila Histed
Lizzy Marlin
Mrs Wager
Mrs Harv Scriver
Mrs Norm Davis
? Smith
Marion Clause
Mrs Scyler Smith

Second row:
Ruby Maracle
Mrs Herb Maracle
Barbara Rennolds
Jean Cronk
Mrs E. [Ernie] Crisp
Bessie Young
Mrs Cat Young
Mrs Bill Miller
Lola Brooks
Violet Cole
Mrs Bessy O’Ray
Annie Johndrew
Meta Clause
Mrs Hoppings
Mrs De Mille
Susan Maracle
Audrey Maracle
Mrs Fred Laurence

Third row:
Mrs A. Joyce
Mrs Bill Purvis
Vera Dawson
Mrs Abe Cronk
Alice Leafe
Mrs Morley Gault
Mrs Arney Cole
Mrs Alport
Mrs Nellie Tompkins
Maude Covert
Elsie Maracle
Verda Maracle
Muriel Cole
? Gault
Lou Green

Back row:
Fred Powell
Tom Jackson
Jim Sharpe
Bert Richardson
Art Howard
Abe Cronk
Ed. Chambers
Dixie [?] Green
Jim Sager
Evert Martin
Claborn Tompkins
Norm Davis
Floyd Marlin
Walter Joyce
Jack Barber
Joe Clare
Fred Hoppings
Phil ‘Cribby’ Blake

Maude Covert, who also appears in this photograph, lived at the house we featured in an earlier post.

Maude Covert

Maude Covert

The earliest minutes for the town council of Deseronto (in the days when it was known as Mill Point) show the names of the Reeve and four town councillors. One of the names is that of Florence Donoghue, which was intriguing, as it seemed highly unlikely that a woman could have been a councillor in 1872. The mystery was soon cleared up, as later minutes in the same volume referred to this councillor as “Mr. Donoghue”.

A check on the 1901 census shows Florence Donoghue as a male who was born on 28 January 1832. Directories of the time show Donoghue and Bro. as dry goods merchants on the south side of Main Street, at its junction with Prince Street. Donoghue and his partner, James Oliver, were still in business in 1911, when Donoghue was 79 years of age. The shop would have been one of those in the picture below:

Florence, it transpires, was fairly common as a boy’s name in Ireland in the late nineteenth century. In the 1881 census of Canada there were 64 Florences whose place of birth was Ireland. 24 of those were men. Florence Donoghue was born in Ontario, but (as his name suggests) he is listed as being of Irish descent.

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