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The Way We Were

As the old map of Kingston we posted about last week demonstrates, our city has changed substantially throughout its history. While these changes are often recorded in maps, they are also recorded through photographs after the 1860s. The museum contains many original photos and reproductions in our collection. Here is a small sample of historic Kingston as seen through the camera.

Kingston celebrates the firsst Dominion Day (later called Canada Day) in 1867

Kingston celebrates the firsst Dominion Day (later called Canada Day) in 1867

Princess Street always was the most happening street in town. Even in the 1890s!

Princess Street always was the most happening street in town. Even in the 1890s!

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The museum not only houses artifacts from Frontenac County schools but also a variety of ephemra from the early part of the 20th century. In 1995 the museum aquired a set of prints depicting British leaders during World War Two. The complete set of prints includes ones of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Sir Arthur Tedder and Sir Bernard Law Montgomery. The only identifying features on any of the prints is the letters G.P.D in the lower left hand corner.

We have been unable to find out any additional information about these prints.  I have posted them below for two reasons. The first is that they are interesting photographs of some of the mos famous people of the 20th century. The second is to see if any of our readers can help us in identifying the source of these prints. Please leave any additional information you have in the comments section.

King George VI

King George VI

Queen Elizabeth (AKA The Queen Mom)

Queen Elizabeth (AKA The Queen Mother)

Sir Arthur Tedder

Sir Arthur Tedder

Sir Bernard Law Montgomery

Sir Bernard Law Montgomery

Sir Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill

The City of Kingston

The City of Kingston

Kingston has changed substantially in the past 130 years. Gone are the docks and dry docks of a Great Lakes shipping hub, replaced with condos, marinas and tourists. There are many ways of learning what 19th century Kingston was like, from the directors we posted about earlier in the week to preserved photographs and documents, many different sources can be combined to tell the story of our city. However one of the most useful sources for reconstructing the past comes from something unexpected; old maps.

Maps freeze time at a particular moment. Once printed the street names, buildings and parks on the map stay the same, regardless of how much they may change in the world. So while the map may become useless for finding the location of particular house or street, it preserves a record of how the city look at that particular moment. In many instances important events are reflected by changing street and landmark names. Similarly the shape and use of a towns waterfront and green-space can reflect how economic conditions shift over the years.

The Frontenac County Schools Museum is home to a map of Kingston dating back to the 1880s. The map, as seen in the picture above, features woodcuts of famous Kingston buildings as well as the pictures of then current Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and the Kingston area Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) W. Robinson. The map was originally housed in the office of Kingston MP W.F. Nickle, who served in the government of Conservative Robert Borden between 1911 and 1919. Mr. Nickle donated the map to Macdonald Public School in Kingston and when the school closed, their extensive collection of John A. Macdonald and Kingston artifacts came to the Frontenac County Schools Museum.

Downtown Kingston

Downtown Kingston

It becomes immediately evident that Kingston has grown substantially over the past 130 years. Both the Kingston General Hospital on Stuart Street and Hotel Dieu Hospital on Brock Street have expanded greatly to meet the increasing health care needs of Kingston’s population. As well the density of housing in Downtown Kingston has greatly increased. Try and find a large backyard or vacant lot in downtown now.

The Kingston waterfront reflects the city’s important as a transportation hub on Lake Ontario. Notice the size and number of wharfs on the shoreline, extending all the way into the Cataraqui River. Kingston was both an important lumber centre with operations on nearby Garden Island and a stopping point for Great Lakes shipping. As such, the city needed the infrastructure (wharves, dry-docks etc) to both build and maintain its ships. However slowly Kingston ceased to be a port of importance and in 1964 the Kingston dry-docks closed for good.  The waterfront slowly changed from the shipping industry to the tourism industry as hotels and marinas replaced wharves.

However maps also reveal what stays the same as well. While the Lasalle Causeway was completed in 1964, a bridge across the Cataraqui River has been an important part of Kingston for years. Similarly City Park and the Court House are still important landmarks by Queens University although I’m not sure if part of City Park is still referred to as the cricket grounds anymore.

Observation

A dervis[h] was journeying alone in the desert, whent wo merchants suddenly met him.  ‘You have lost a camel,’ said he to the merchants.  ‘Indeed we have,’ they replied.  ‘Was he not blind in the right eye, and lame in the left leg?’ inquired the dervis[h].  ‘He was,’ replied the merchants. ‘Had he not lost a front tooh?’ asked the dervis[h].  ‘He had,’ answered the merchants.  ‘And was he not loaded with honey on one side and wheat on the other?’ continued the dervis[h].  ‘Most certainly he was,’ they replied; ‘and as you have seen him so lately, and marked him so particularly, you can, in all probability, conduct us to him.’  The dervis[h] answered: ‘My friends, I have never seen your camel, nor ever heard of him but from you.’ ‘A pretty story, truly,’ answered the merchants; ‘but where are the jewels that formed a part of his burden?’ ‘I have neither seen your camel nor your jewels,’ repeated the dervis[h].  On this they seized his person, and forthwith hurried him before the cadi, where on the strictest search, nothing could be found upon him, nor could any evidence whatever be adduced to convict him, either of falsehood or of theft.  They were then about to proceed against him as a sorcerer, when the dervis[h], which great calmness, thus addressed the court: ‘I have been much amused with your surprise, and own that there has been some ground for your suspicions; but I have lived long and lone, and I can find ample scope for observation even in a desert.  I knew that I had crossed the track of a camel that had strayed from its owner, because I saw no mark of any human footstep on the same route; I knew that the animal was blind in one eye, because it had cropped the herbage only on one side of its path; and I perceived that it was lame in one leg from the faint impression which that particular foot had produced upon the sand; I concluded that the animal had lost one tooth, because, wherever it had grazed, a small tuft of herbage was left uninjured in the center of its bite.  As to that which formed the burden of the beast, the busy ants informed me that it was corn on the one side, and the clustering flies, that it was honey on the other.’

This tale illustrates what we mean by OBSERVATION; and we ought not to wonder that the dervis[h] was arrested for being a sorcerer; for it is all of a piece with that blind infatuation of to-day that often ascribes success to “luck,” and failture to unavoidable “misfortune.”  Successful men are like the dervis[h], sharp observers of men and things.

From Tact, Push, and Principle, by William M. Thayer, Author of “The Bobbin Boy,” “Pioneer Boy,” etc.  William Briggs, Toronto. 1886

1893 Block Party

In 1931, Mrs. James McCulla discovered a copy of the Canada Directory for 1851-2, which had belonged to her father, David Anderson.  An article recalling this directory ran on page two of the Final Edition (as papers back then were published more than once a day) of the Kingston Whig Standard (No. 194).  According to this article, transportation by stage coach could be had to Toronto for fourty-five shillings. To take the steamboat Montreal would cost an interested traveller twenty-five shillings.

At this time, Kingston was still divided into wards (Sydenham ward, Ontario ward, Frontenac ward, Rideau ward, Victoria ward, Cataraqui ward, and St. Lawrence ward).  The mayor of Kingston for 1851 was Francis M. Hill and the superintendent of schools was R. S. Henderson.  Listed among the Public Officers of the City of Kingston is our most notable resident: Sir John A. Macdonald.  He was the then M. P. P. for Kingston, back when the City had only one returning member to the Provincial Parliament.

This clipping was discovered when three copies of the Kingston directory from 1893-4, 1901-2, and 1905-6 were unearthed early last week.  The front page of the 1893 directory advertises that it includes the residents of the townships of Barriefield, Garden Island, and Portsmouth and that it was available for the rather tidy sum of $2.00, the equivalent of $47.34 today.

Kingston Directory 1893-94 b

The directory was divided into Street and Alphabetical listings, so that you could look up an address and see who lived there as well as  learn about their professions and marital status).  For instance, Robert A. Davy, who lived at 115 Bagot street (in between Ragland and Corrigan streets, was a “shoveler.”  I. Mendall, of 102 Barrack Street, was listed as a “traveler.”

Brock Street, nearest to the harbour, was populated and occupied by millers, public houses, barbers, hotels, bookbinders, barristers, grocers, and tailors.    Further up Brock lived carpenters, collectors, mariners, and other merchants.

The face of Princess Street has changed greatly over the years, but having three successive directories allows us to be able to trace these changes.  If we look at the block of Princess Street between King and Wellington, which now features downtown Kingston favourites such as ‘The Sleepless Goat,’ ‘Vandervoort’s Hardware,’ and ‘Tara Natural Foods,’ we can learn that in 1893-4, 81 Princess was occupied by Mrs. R. Whyte, a dyer; 83 Princess was occupied by D. A. Waddell, a harnessmaker; 85-7 Princess was rented by E. W. Cox, who sold hardware; S. Oberndorffer made cigars at 89 Princess, and 95 Princes housed John Corbett’s hardware store.  In 1901-2, 81 Princess became home to Charles R. Webster, barrister; 83 Princess was occupied by both J. R. C. Dobbs & Co, merchant of typewriters, and S. Roughton, the district agent of the Mutual Life Assurace Company of Canada; 85-7 Princess changed hands to W. A. Mitchell, but remained a hardware store; 89-91 Princess was rented by Nugent & Taylor, plumbers; and 95 Princess remained home to John Corbett’s hardware store.  By 1905-6, 81 Princess was shared by Charles R. Webster, barrister,  Benjamin E. Webster, physician, and Clark W. Wright, insurance agent and license inspector; 83 Princess was vacant, 85-7 Princess remained W. A. Mitchell’s hardware store; 89-91 Princess was rented by Taylor & Hamilton, tinsmiths; and 95 Princess ocontiued to house John Corbett’s hardware store.

Kingston Directory from 1893-1894
A concerned principal writes to the school board for direction regarding students wearing their hair long

A concerned principal writes to the school board for direction regarding students wearing their hair long

The struggle for long hair may seem decades old; however, this letter reminds us that the generational conflicts of the right to individuation are as powerful then as they are today.  As the principal writes, he is seeking advice from the Director of Education to deal with, what he considers, “extremes in hairstyle.”  He fears that “in schools are now dyeing their hair.  This may or may not be acceptable behaviour.”  While he is clear that he is uncomfortable with these expressions of individualism, he requests direction and support from the School Board so that he may control the situation.

The Principal is worried that  “the next step [for these boys would be] to coloured slacks and further extremes in dress” because, as he says, the “dress and appearance of students influence[s] the opinion the public holds of a school.”  While by today’s standards, shaggy, mop top, Beatles-inspired hair is far from extreme, in 1966, hair that in anyway obscured the ears was considered “too long.”  This Principal, a long serving member of the Kingston Board of Education, is remembered  by his students as a disciplinarian, who fondly referred to him as “A-Squared.”

“A-Squared” was from a generation at whom the following advertisement for Brylcreem would have been targeted.  Brylcreem, invented in the 1920s, claimed to tame combed hair and give it a shiny, glossy look.  Advertisements appealed to the idea that women like men with “disturbingly healthy” hair and naturalized a preference for wet, controlled hair.  This preference dates back to at least the early period, as is evident from Lord Byron’s reference to Macassar Oil (made from Coconut and Ylang-Ylang) in the First Canto of his famous poem Don Juan.  After the “hair revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s, Brylcreem and other gels and wax products disappeared, only to become popular again in the 1990s.

In 1967, the anti-Vietnam musical Hair debuted off-Broadway.  One of the first “Rock Musicals” of the Age, it features long-haired hippie-activist characters living in non-conformist situations.  One of the best ways to express a rejection of their parents’ values was to be bearded, shaggy and wearing patched, ill-fitting pants and tie-dyed t-shirts — an affront to the clean-cut suit wearing style of the 1950s.  This hit-musical became a popular film in 1979.

Also from this period, we remember CSNY’s “Almost Cut My Hair,” written by David Crosby.  This song represents the paranoia and fear associated with authority figures.  “Almost cut my hair/It happened just the other day/It’s gettin’ kind of long/I could’ve said it was in my way/But I didn’t and I wonder why/I feel like letting my freak flag fly.”  The band played this song, considered a hippie anthem, fourty years ago at Woodstock, where the majority of the audience could likely related to the song’s message.

Released as a single in 1971, “Signs,” the most popular song by Canadian rock group Five Man Electrical Band, describes long hair in a way that suggests it had become commercially acceptable.  The anti-establishment ethos of  hippie generation, though it had largely faded away, was considered cute by mainstream consumer culture.  Long hair was de rigure for aspire rock musicians–just look at Robert Plant from Led Zepplin.

Today, hairstyles represent many different subcultures, from hippies to punks, emos to preps.  Not everyone from the 1960s had the perspectivence to understand the importance of the struggle for individuation, since it continues to be a defining generational conflict.  Some schools are back school uniforms in an attempt to regulate individuality and many issues extreme expressions of individuality can raise.

All Aboard

Prior to the introduction of heavy semi-trailer trucks and widespread commercial airline flights, the railroad was how people and goods moved around Canada. Currently, Canada has two large rail companies, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National, as well as a government owned passenger rail service operated under the moniker of VIA Rail. However, 100 years ago, The Canadian Pacific Railway was the only link through the Rockey Mountains, connecting Vancouver with the Canadian Prairies and beyond.

This national rail line was constructed between 1881 and 1885 by connecting existing rail lines in Eastern Canada to CPR’s newly built main line which ran from Vancouver to Winnipeg. With the completion of the International Maine Railway in 1889 the CPR became the first trans-continental railroad in North America. This meant you could leave Vancouver, BC on the Pacific Ocean and finish your journey in Saint John, New Brunswick situated on the Atlantic Ocean.

While building and operating a railroad in the prairies was relatively simple, the section of railway between Calgary and Alberta was treacherous. Trains had to traverse three mountain ranges, The Gold Mountains, The Slekirks and the famous Rockey Mountains. Having accurate measurements of the altitude and incline of these dangerous peaks was key to ensuring the trains ran on time.

The cross section below comes from a survey done by James White, a Geographer for the Department of the Interior. It shows the drastic changes in elevation between a low of 13 feet above sea level at Port Moody, BC. and a high of 5329 feet above sea level at Stephen, Alberta.  The tracks bridge four major rivers on the journey to Winnipeg, these being The Fraiser, The Columbia (twice!) and the South Saskatchewan River. Finally the river crosses two provinces (British Columbia and Manitoba) and two territories (Alberta and Assinaboia). The later two territories would later, thanks in large part to their connection to the CP railway, becomes the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

British Columbia section of the CPR Main line

British Columbia section of the CPR Main line

Alberta Section of the CPR Main Line

Alberta Section of the CPR Main Line

Assinaboia (Saskatchewan) Section of the CPR Main Line

Assinaboia (Saskatchewan) Section of the CPR Main Line

Manitoba Section of the CPR Main Line

Manitoba Section of the CPR Main Line