Fred Huntley Cole signature

Fred Huntley Cole signed up in Kingston on this day in 1914. He was born in Deseronto on July 22nd, 1889, the son of George Arthur Cole and Mary Amelia (née Huntley).

Fred joined the 6th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery with the regimental number 85599. He was five feet five and a half inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair.

Cole survived the war and married Florence Merle Flood in Harrow, Ontario on February 19th, 1921.

Andrew Markle signature

On this day in 1914, Andrew Alfred Markle, a fireman, signed up in Toronto. He stated that he was born on September 25th, 1887 in Deseronto. He was the son of Alfred Markle and Margaret Ann (née Cranson) and they and their four children were living in North Fredericksburgh at the time of 1891 census. By 1898 they were living in Main Street, Deseronto: in May of that year Andrew’s father died of pneumonia and in the November his mother drowned. Andrew was adopted by Miles and Emma Lucas and was living with them in Richmond Township at the time of the 1901 census. By 1911 he had moved to Owen Sound and was lodging there with his older brother, William. William was named on his attestation paper as his next of kin.

Andrew joined the 20th Battalion with the regimental number 57455. He was described as five feet five and three quarter inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

Markle survived the war and on October 17th, 1922 he married Priscilla Winnifred Munns in Owen Sound. (Andrew was described as a widower, so there may have been a previous marriage.)

Sidney Ridgwell signature

On this day in 1914, Sidney Charles Ridgwell (sometimes Redgwell) signed up in Kingston, Ontario. He was born in Walthamstow, England on February 9th, 1897 to Charles Redgwell and Alice (née Jaggard). The family (Charles, Alice, their four sons: Beniah, Sidney, Frederick and John and their daughter, Lilly [Lillian]) left Liverpool, England for Canada on the S.S. Dominion which arrived in Montreal on July 14th, 1907.

Sidney’s attestation paper describes him as of fair complexion, with blue eyes and light hair . He was five feet, two inches tall. He said he was 18 on enlisting when he was really 17 – his medical examination certificate notes that he was ‘fit as driver’. He joined the 22nd Battery of the 6th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery with the regimental number 85420. Sidney gave his next of kin as his father, Charles, who was living in Deseronto.

Sidney survived the war and is found in the 1921 census as a farmer in Carbon, Alberta. He died in Vancouver on September 8th, 1973.

A recent accession from Edward Wright (2014.18) has added considerably to the Archives’ stock of information relating to the match companies which used to exist in the town. Mr Wright is a collector of matchboxes (a phillumenist) and has done a lot of research into the matches made in Deseronto in the first half of the twentieth century.

The Rathbun Match Company was only in operation for a short time between 1915, when this advertisement appeared on the front of the Canadian Grocer, to 1916, when the Town Council minutes note that it ceased operations in June.

Canadian Grocer - Rathbun Match Company advertisement

Canadian Grocer, August 20th, 1915

The Dominion Match Company seems to have taken over from the Rathbun concern, and it is clear from the Council minutes that the firm was offered tax exemptions for its site in Deseronto. The factory was on the northwest corner of Mechanic Street and Main Street, as shown in this extract from the town’s fire insurance map:

Detail of fire insurance plan showing the Dominion Match Company

By 1917 the Dominion Match Company was looking to expand. At a Council meeting on July 17th of that year the firm asked:

…the Council to provide for the closing of Quinte Street [the road immediately to the west of the factory] and the diverting and altering of Mechanic Street…and for both portions of said streets to be conveyed to the Dominion Match Company for use in their business and as the enlargement of their premises will necessitate the employing of a great many more hands than they have at present, it will enduce to the prosperity of the town. If the request is granted the company will waive its right to exemption from municipal taxes for the year 1917 to which they are entitled…

The Council approved the request, effectively wiping Quinte Street off the map of Deseronto, and giving Mechanic Street the shape it has today.

The postcard below shows the factory at the height of its operations.

Postcard of the Dominion Match Company, from the collection of R.N. Goodfellow

Mr Wright has a collection of boxes which were manufactured at the Dominion Match Company, including this one of the Dominion Silent Match:

Dominion Silent Match box

A third firm called the Beacon Match Company began operations in Deseronto in September 1919, but it is not clear where this factory was located. It may have used one of the vacated Rathbun Company sites.

Today, the Deseronto Community Recreation Centre occupies the site of the Dominion Match Company’s factory and Mechanic Street still has a kink in it: the only visible evidence of Deseronto’s match-manufacturing history and the only curving road in the whole town.

Mechanic Street in 2014

Thomas Mungo's signature

On this day in 1914 Thomas Mungo enlisted in Valcartier, Quebec. He was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1877 according to his attestation paper. He and his wife, Caroline (maiden name Calhoun), were living in Tyendinaga at the time of the 1911 census, with their three children. When he signed up, the family were in Hamilton.

Mungo worked as a teamster before the war and was a Mohawk. He joined the 16th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the regimental number 28537. On his attestation paper he is described as being five feet seven inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

Ernest Mesley's signature

On this day in 1914 Ernest Mesley joined up in Valcartier, Quebec. He was born in Deseronto on January 30th, 1892 to William Henry Mesley and Emmeline (née Jones). He gave his profession as ‘armature winder’.

Mesley was five feet nine inches tall, with grey eyes and dark brown hair. He joined the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the regimental number 7663.

Mesley survived the war and married Jessie Hannah Stevens in Peterborough, Ontario, on December 26th, 1921.

Harold Charles Marsden's signature

Harold Charles Marsden joined up on this day in 1914. He was born on November 16th, 1897 (he gave 1896 on his attestation paper) in Deseronto, the son of Charles Marsden and Carrie (née Hagadorn). Marsden’s occupation when he enlisted in Valcartier was jeweller.

He was five feet six and a half inches tall, with blue eyes and dark hair. He joined the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery with the regimental number 40458.

Harold survived the war and moved to California with his mother, his sister Jane and his brother-in-law, George Mark. Between 1920 and 1930 he married Mary Rose Alumbaugh. The couple had two children.


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