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.

Detail of quilt made by the Steady Gleaners

Detail of quilt made by the Steady Gleaners

The photograph shows a detail of a large signature quilt (sometimes known as friendship quilts) which was made by a group called the Steady Gleaners, members of the Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer in Deseronto. The quilt bears the date of its creation: 1894. The Steady Gleaners seem to have been a fund-raising group, perhaps raising money for missionary activities. This quilt may have been made for such a purpose.

Photographs of the top and bottom halves of the quilt have been put into our Flickr collection and the names of all the women whose names are stitched onto it can be seen there. The president of the society, Mrs Robert John [Fanny Gertrude] Craig, was the wife of the Presbyterian minister of the church and the daughter of Hugo Burghardt Rathbun (1812-1886) and his wife Louise (née Storm). The signature of her daughter, Gertrude, also appears on the quilt. Mrs Craig would have been 41 when this quilt was made; her daughter was 15.

The Archives’ collections on the World War I flying camps have been hugely boosted recently by the acquisition of a series of photographs which belonged to a flight instructor in Camp Mohawk. Sergeant Christopher Paulus Devos (pictured here as a cadet in 1916) was an Englishman who was in No. 84 Canadian Training Squadron throughout its period of operation, in Camp Mohawk and in Camp Taliaferro in Fort Worth, Texas. He was one of only two English airmen of the original squadron to survive and return to England after the war. He compiled two photograph albums recording life in the camps.

Sergeant Devos’s son, Denzil Devos, has kindly scanned in the pages of the Camp Mohawk album and donated them to the Archives. He has also copied some of the Fort Worth album, including photographs of Captain Vernon Castle and some aerial shots of Toronto. We have been able to share all these images through our Flickr account. There are many images of crashed aircraft in the group, but a few show the lighter side of Royal Flying Corps life, such as this group shot of airmen “poshed up” for a night out in Belleville on a bus from the Hotel Quinte:

The Westbury Union were a Trenton-based band formed in the late 1960s. Karen Whaley, the daughter of one of the band members has shared a photo album of the band on her blog, Say It With Pie and also on Flickr. The Deseronto connection? The band were booked through the Dobbin Agency, based at 447 Main Street.

Thanks to Karen for permission to share these photos here. We’d be interested to hear from any local residents who remember dancing to The Westbury Union’s music in the late sixties or early seventies, or anyone who has information about the Dobbin Agency.

One of the (many) very good things about putting the Archives’ photographs onto Flickr is the ability to place the locations onto a map. Often the buildings in the photographs no longer exist (this is particularly true of Deseronto’s industrial heritage), but with the help of old maps it is possible to give the sites an approximate location on a map of present-day Deseronto. Around a third of the images in the Flickr collection are photographs of buildings or details of plans of the town. These have all now been added to the map of the Deseronto area that is associated with our Flickr account.

The screenshot above gives an impression of the way that this map appears. One slightly strange thing about the underlying map software is that it does not show Foresters’ Island, which is situated in the Bay of Quinte just south of Deseronto. As a consequence, the marker on this map for the orphanage photo we featured the other week appears to be in the middle of the water.

It is also possible to search for all the photos that have been associated with the area by all Flickr users, which gives a good selection of more recent views of the town alongside the Archives’ more historic ones.

One of the images we added to the Archives’ Flickr account last week was this view of Deseronto’s waterfront, looking west from Mill Street:

The name of the vessel sitting on the marine railway is tantalisingly almost visible (click on the image for a larger version), but not quite. Are there any experts on Great Lakes vessels out there who can help us to identify this ship? The photograph is not dated, but is likely to have been taken in the first decade of the twentieth century. It is part of the Floyd Marlin collection, which was donated to Deseronto Archives by Sally and Wally Vick.

POSTSCRIPT: The vessel has been identified by Deseronto historian, Ken Brown, as the Armenia, one of the ships belonging to the Deseronto Navigation Company.

The 100th photo in the Archives’ Flickr collection is this shot of the Circle Six Orchestra from 1932.

The only information we have about this band is taken from a cutting that was attached to the back of the photo:

This popular orchestra is composed entirely of Deseronto boys and has been organized for the past five years. Since this photograph was taken the traps player, James McVicker, has added a set of temple blocks to his equipment. Reading from left to right the players are – Reginald Dawson, Roy Woodcock, Clayton John, James McVicker, Marshall Woodcock and Roy Kitchen (now a resident of Tweed).

We’d love to know more about this band and its members.

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