Horace Thompson's signature

Horace Alexander Thompson signed up at Camp Barriefield on this day in 1915. He had been born on April 14, 1896 in Deseronto, the son of Elizabeth (née McCormack) and David Thompson.

On enlisting, Thompson gave his occupation as student. He was five feet five and three-quarter inches tall, with a light complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.  His regimental number was 510085.

Thompson survived the war and is found living with his parents at the time of the 1921 census in Thomas Street, Deseronto, working as a mechanic. John Boyd, Thompson’s grandson, tells us that he worked for Bell Canada and worked in Chicago for a time and that he served in the Second World War. He retired to Green Point, Prince Edward County and later lived in Ottawa, where he died in around 1971.

Edward Bissell's signature

Edward Arthur Bissell was born in Trenton, Ontario to Isabella (née Coulter) and William Bissell on July 2nd, 1882. He signed up in Camp Barriefield, Kingston on this day in 1915, under the assumed name of Edward Griswould, claiming to have been born in Deseronto in 1893 (although it appears he had always lived in Trenton). He gave his next of kin as Mrs James L. Wright of Rochester, New York – this was his older sister, Minnie, who was born in 1871.

When he enlisted, Bissell was described as five feet eight and a half inches tall, with a fair complexion, brown eyes and fair hair. He joined the 2nd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was given the regimental number 455218.

From the week beginning August 10th, the Deseronto Archives will be open on Mondays, instead of Wednesdays, between 10am and 4pm.

Opening hours

Garnet Hopper's signature

On this day in 1915 Garnet Hopper tried to enlist in Toronto. He had been born in Deseronto on December 31st, 1893, the son of Mary (née Sexsmith) and John Hopper, a miller.

Garnet Hopper was a student, five feet seven inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. ‘Medically unfit’ has been written across the top of his attestation paper.

Medically unfit

Hopper married Daisy Catherine Jenner in Toronto on May 17th, 1921 and was living with her in Stamford, Ontario, at the time of the 1921 census. His occupation then was civil engineer. He died on June 27th, 1952.

Quinte Scanner banner

Archives volunteer Dyan Bonter has been working for three years on a project to transcribe obituary notices from The Quinte Scanner, the newspaper published in Deseronto between 1968 and 1982. This project is now complete, and all the obituaries are now available on this site.

Obituaries can be useful sources for making family history links, for identifying friend and family connections, or as a way of remembering former residents of the town. We hope that they will prove useful – and thank you, Dyan, for all your hard work!

Charles Arthur Stevens signature

On this day in 1915 Charles Arthur Stevens, a refrigeration engineer, signed up in Smiths Falls. He was born in Deseronto on September 25th, 1895, the son of Charles Stevens and Teresa (née Hunt). They were living in Toronto when he enlisted.

Stevens joined the 59th Battalion with the regimental number 454715. He was five feet five inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. He served for a year before being discharged as medically unfit (weak lungs). He enlisted again in Toronto on January 9th, 1918 and was accepted. He survived the war and was back with his parents in Toronto in 1921, living at 1 Audley Avenue. He left Canada for Detroit, Michigan on August 2nd, 1925.

A recent accession to the Archives gives us an insight into what life was like for the men who worked in the lumber shanties which supplied firms like the Rathbun Company with their raw materials.

James R. Hill was born in Tyendinaga in around 1863, the son of Isaac and Lucinda Hill. Isaac died before 1871. The photograph below shows James with his mother and two sisters, Susan (on the left) and Elizabeth Josephine (standing), and Elizabeth’s daughter, Elsie. The picture was taken by Herbert Osborne, a Deseronto photographer who was active in the early 1890s.

Members of the HIll family in around 1892

The Hill family, c.1892 2015.19 (1)

James married Lucretia Hill on October 14th, 1896 and the couple had two children: Ruth, born in 1898 and Selma, born in 1900. In the 1901 census, James and Lucretia were living next door to Lucinda, Elizabeth and Elsie. Susan had married a Maracle and in 1902 was living in Rochester, New York.

In October 1902 James was working in Collins Inlet, near Manitoulin Island, in a lumber camp. He wrote a letter to his sister, Susan, talking about his life in the camp and his feelings about his distant family members in Deseronto.

Letter from James Hill to Susan Maracle, 2015.19 (13)

Letter from James Hill to Susan Maracle, 2015.19 (13)

Collins Inlet Nov 30th 1902
Camp No. 1
Dear Sister Susan
I must write a few lines to you to-day, its almost six weeks since I have been at this camp. I like this place very much nearly all that are working here are from Deseronto and Reserve, we are getting good board, nice clean Camp. The Weather is fine to-day, it snowed yesterday for a little while, but it turned into rain, I got a letter from home last Friday. I am very glad to hear that Elsie likes the school so well and its also a good thing that the officers all think so much of her. I intend to go and see her before I go home and I must write to her before Christmas. I wrote to Lucretia the second Sunday I was here but she never answered me yet, and perhaps is’nt going to. Charlie Claus is here with me and we are going to stay all winter and drive the river in the Spring if we keep our health, there was about forty Indians here from our Reserve, and about sixteen Chippewa Indians from Manitoulan Island, but most of our Indians have left here for some other Camps. I suppose you see Ruth & Selma some times. If I can draw some money some time before Christmas I will send the children some money for presents, and you try and get their picture together and send it to me I think if I even had their picture I wouldn’t get so lonesom after them some times, tell them I cannot go to see them until Spring. I hope the poor children are both well kiss them both for me. This will be all Good Bye
From Your Brother
James R. Hill
Collins Inlet
Algoma District
Camp No. 1

It is not clear what happened to James after this. His wife moved to Rochester in 1906 and was working as a servant for the Babcock family in 1910. In 1911 Lucretia married William Charles Holley, with whom she had another three children. She died in Brighton, New York on September 2nd, 1957.

Perhaps the reason this letter survives is because James died young and it was kept as a memento of his life and his affection for his family. It was found in a house in Main Street, where Lucinda Hill, James’s mother died in 1933.

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