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 been 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 the first three years of its existence 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 yar 1917 to which they are enttitled…

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.

George Fraser Kerr's signature

George Fraser Kerr was born in Deseronto on June 8th, 1895, the son of John James Kerr and Isabel (née Fraser). He joined the 3rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on this day in 1914 in Valcartier, with the regimental number 9570.

During the course of the war, Kerr was awarded the Military Medal, the Military Cross and bar and the Victoria Cross. Below are the citations for the Victoria Cross and bar to Military Cross:

George Fraser Kerr VC and MC-bar citation

Military Medal citation card, Library and Archives Canada 2004-01505-5

His medals are held at the Canadian Museum of History.

George Fraser Kerr ended the war with the rank of Captain. He married Mary Beeman on March 16th, 1924 in Toronto. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning on December 8th, 1929. He was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto.

Cuthbert Beaubien's signature

On this day in 1914, Cuthbert Beaubien, an electrician, enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec. He was born on Amherst Island on August 16th, 1891, the son of William Beaubien and Jane McCormick. By 1911 the family were living in Deseronto and Bert is named in a list of Deseronto High School students who fought in the war.

On his attestation paper, Bert is described as being five feet eight and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, grey eyes and black hair. He joined the Canadian Field Artillery with a regimental number of 40597.

Beaubien survived the war and married Dorothy Conger on April 25th, 1921 in Kingston, Ontario.

Arthur Markle's signature

On this day in 1914 Arthur Arrison Markle signed up in Valcartier, Quebec. He gave his next of kin as Mary Markle, of 1863 3rd Avenue East, Owen Sound and stated that he was born in Deseronto on 20 September 1891. There was a Markle family in Deseronto in the 1891 census: James and Mary, with five children, Ann, James, Minnie, Fred and Stalia. That family were Catholics, though, and Arthur described himself as a Methodist when he enlisted.

Markle joined the 5th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His regimental number was 13776. He was five feet six and a half inches tall, with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and dark hair.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers