A recent transfer to the Archives from the Oshawa Community Museum and Archives includes a series of photographs of a collapsed bridge, without any information as to the location of it. I’m sharing it here to see if anyone can help us pinpoint it. The other photographs in the album mainly show scenes from Royal Flying Corps training camps in Ontario (Camps Borden and Mohawk) and Texas (Camp Taliaferro, Fort Worth) and were taken during the First World War in 1917 and 1918. The bridge could be somewhere near one of these camps, or perhaps somewhere else entirely!

This photograph shows an overview of the bridge site. There are no buildings on the side of the bridge nearest the camera, but there are several houses on the other side of the river:

Site of mystery bridge

This one shows a Coast to Coast bus in the water at the side of the bridge:

‘Coast to Coast’ bus next to the bridge

And this one is a close-up view of the bridge itself:

Collapsed bridge

Collapsed bridge

Please leave a comment if you can help.


Waterfront Festival, July

Here are some facts and figures relating to the work of Deseronto Archives over the course of 2011.

New accessions received: 28

Email queries answered: 47

Telephone queries answered: 12

Visits to the archives by researchers: 73

Images uploaded to 109

Events organized/attended:

Doors Open, Napanee/Deseronto/Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory May 28th
Archives Association of Ontario conference, Thunder Bay June 17nd
Inter-agency Service Fair, Deseronto June 22nd
Waterfront Festival, Deseronto July 2nd
Deseronto Public Library 125th anniversary events October

Blog posts written : 17

Visitors to the blog in 2011:13,058 (8,097 in 2010)

Top ten

As regular readers of this blog will know, the Archives has been gradually digitizing its photographic collection over recent years and putting them online through the Flickr photo-sharing website. This week, we passed a significant milestone, with over 100,000 online views of those photographs.

To mark this achievement, here are a few more Flickr-related statistics:

Number of photographs: 1,189
Number of sets: 42
Number of collections: 5
Number of tags: 341
Views of most popular image: 545
Views of least popular image: 7*
Number of times photos have been ‘favorited’: 222
Number of comments on photos: 87

The collage at the top of this post is a compilation of the ten most popular photographs on Flickr, which between them have been viewed over 3,500 times.

It’s also interesting to see the geographical spread of the Archives’ photographs: the image below shows how far across the globe the subject matter of our photographs is scattered.

Geographic range of Deseronto Archives photos

The ‘most interesting’ photograph (by Flickr’s measure) is one of these far-flung ones – a picture of the Eaton’s store in a very quiet Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba, taken in 1907 by Harold McMurrich Rathbun.


Four years ago, the only way of seeing most of these photographs was by coming to visit Deseronto Archives in person. Some of them belong to individuals and were not available to public view at all. We’re delighted that they are now accessible to a much larger public.

*It should be pointed out that this image has only been on Flickr for a week or two. It’s not unpopular because it’s spectacularly unattractive or boring. Go on, go and have a look at it, just to give it a boost…

Detail of Sambro Island Lighthouse lens from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

The annual conference of the Association of Canadian Archivists has just come to an end. It has been an excellent event, with many stimulating papers. One of Thursday’s sessions was particularly relevant to Deseronto, as the speaker, Ian Richards, did his Masters thesis on the topic of the contribution that archives can make to the development of their local communities. His particular focus is on the City of Brandon in Manitoba, but the general points he made are relevant to many other municipalities, including Deseronto. His thesis is available from the University of Manitoba’s electronic thesis collection.

Other sessions covered issues such as Access to Information and Privacy laws, measuring the impact of an archival program and the role of outreach in a networked world.

I gave a talk on the Saturday about the work we’ve been doing in Deseronto, including this blog and our Flickr and Twitter accounts. This dovetailed quite well with Ian’s talk and with the talks on outreach and impact, as I was trying to show what the effects of our engagement with these Web 2.0 technologies have been.* My main arguments were that people need direct access to online cultural materials from search engines, that they have to be able to share those materials with other people and that if they are experts on a particular item, they need to be able to contribute to improving its description.

I summarised the main impacts of sharing Deseronto’s photographs online as:

  • Comments and notes from users
  • Collaboration with users
  • New accessions: virtual, digital and tangible
  • New creative works
  • Funding for new projects

Many of these consequences have been featured in posts on this blog. The difficult thing to measure is the impact that the Archives’ activities have had upon the community of Deseronto as a whole. One of the sessions this week suggested that we need to measure the ‘hard to measure’, over an extended period of time. I look forward to hearing about the best way of achieving that.

*The slides are available on SlideShare.

A recent accession into the archives was this fragile photograph album, dating from the late nineteenth century. It was found in the home of the late Beatrice Boulender of Niagara Falls and was donated to the archives by her great-neice, Aaron Baptiste.

Photo album 2010.06

The album contained 32 ‘cabinet card‘ style photographs of a number of individuals and families. Many of the photos were taken in Napanee at the studio of J. S. Hulett, who was a photographer in the town for over 25 years. One of the pictures was taken in Deseronto and one in Brighton. There are a significant number of photographs that were taken in Watertown, New York and a few in Plainwell, Michigan.

The picture below shows the See family and was taken in Bathgate, North Dakota. John See was born in Ontario in 1854 to Samuel and Mary See, who had both been born in England in around 1809. Samuel was a farmer. Census records show that John was the youngest of seven children, all of whom were born in Canada except the eldest, William. This means that the family must have come to Canada between 1833, when William was born, and 1837, the year of Elizabeth’s birth. Between 1851 and 1881 the family were living in Richmond township, Lennox County (in or close to Napanee).

John and Mary See and family, c.1893

By 1861, John’s father had died and his brother-in-law, Thomas Brown, was living with the remaining members of the See family. The same family grouping is seen in 1871, by which time Thomas and Elizabeth Brown already had five children of their own.

In 1881 John was married and living with his wife, Mary, and their two eldest children, William (4) and Annie (1), still in Richmond township. In 1886 they left Canada and moved to the United States. The 1890 US census was destroyed by fire in 1921, but in 1900 the family were living in North Carlisle, Pembina, North Dakota, by which time they had  seven children: William (23), Annie (20), James (17), Thomas (13), Richard (11), Grace (8) and Allice May (2). In this photograph, the baby is probably Grace and the picture would date from around 1893.

The album clearly has a connection to the Quinte area: it seems to record images of friends, or perhaps family,  who had moved away from the immediate locale and who kept in touch by sending back their photographs. As yet, we don’t know the exact connection of the people in the album to Beatrice Boulender’s family.

All the photographs from the album are now available through our Flickr account. We’d be interested to hear from you if you have any connection with any of the families who are pictured there.

…then the Archives’ Flickr account is now worth a cool one million!

Today we uploaded our one thousandth photograph to Flickr. This milestone means that nearly every photograph held in our small collection is now available to view by anyone with access to the Internet. This is a huge step forward for us, as physical access to our resources is limited to our public opening times of six hours a week. Now they are available every day of the week!

One of the most exciting parts about our Flickr experiment has been the willingness of other people to share their historic photographs and objects through this medium. A fair proportion of the items in our Flickr pages are held outside of the archives. We are very grateful to the owners of those materials for their permission to share them with a wider audience.

Sharing our photographs on Flickr has been beneficial in other ways. Often, Flickr users have been able to add valuable information which has improved our knowledge of the items within our collection. Just yesterday, we received a helpful comment on this image:

HMR1-09-36: 'Tin Can Cathedral' Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Winnipeg

The only information we had about the church originally was a caption written by Harold McMurrich Rathbun, the photographer, which read “Old Greek Church, Winnipeg”. A Flickr user recognised the church as the ‘Tin Can Cathedral’, a Ukrainian Orthodox church which was situated at the junction of King Street and Stella Avenue in Winnipeg. This was North America’s first independent Ukrainian church. Another view of this church can be seen in the collection of the Glenbow Museum. That photograph shows a cupola on the roof of the church, which was missing by 1907 when Rathbun took his photograph.

This is just one example of the power of sharing our images on the Internet. With the help of other people our descriptions become more accurate and more people become aware of the interesting things we hold. Things that would once have required a determined effort (and a trip to Deseronto) to find out about. A million thanks!

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.

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