events


On June 10th we were delighted to have our first historical plaque unveiling in Deseronto. As part of a day of activities, Mayor Norm Clark and Major Bill March of the Royal Canadian Air Force revealed this new commemorative part of Deseronto’s town landscape.

Plaque unveiling event

Deseronto Archives Board Chair, Paul Robertson introduced our two guests. This is the first of a planned series of plaques that will be installed around Deseronto, sharing different aspects of our town’s history. The plaque uses images from the Deseronto Archives collection, beautifully arranged by graphic designer Darren Young of youngdesigns and is situated next to the Town Hall, in Rathbun Park.

New plaque in place (photo by Paul Robertson)

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As part of a day of commemorative events on June 10th, Mayor Norman J. Clark will unveil a commemorative plaque in Rathbun Park, Deseronto, to mark the town’s involvement in the First World War.

Some 300 local people served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and more than 50 men lost their lives while they were attached to the two pilot training camps, either side of Deseronto.

The commemorative plaque was funded by the Council of the Town of Deseronto and coordinated by the Deseronto Archives Board. It is the first of a planned series of plaques aimed at bringing Deseronto’s colourful past to life on the present-day streets of the town.

We hope you will be able to join Mayor Clark and the Deseronto Archives Board in Rathbun Park at 3pm on June 10th for the unveiling of the plaque.

Media release – Deseronto plaque unveiling.

The Deseronto Public Library and Deseronto Archives were delighted to welcome Frances Itani back to town to mark the culmination of the Tri-County Reads events for 2015. Tri-County Reads is a joint program of the Public Libraries of Northumberland, Hastings and Prince Edward County and this year the book chosen was Frances Itani’s Deafening, a First World War novel which is partly based in Deseronto.

Guided tour walkers at the Dockside Tavern, Deseronto

The Deseronto event on October 17th began with a guided walk for around 45 people around Mill and Main Streets. The photograph shows the tour group as it passed what is now the Dockside Tavern. This building was originally the Empress Hotel, owned by William Jamieson. Jamieson’s widow sold the lot to John Freeman, Frances Itani’s great-grandfather, who ran it as the Arlington Hotel. Itani’s grandmother, Gertie Freeman,  was born in the house adjoining the hotel in 1898. Gertie became deaf at 18 months and her life experiences formed the inspiration for Grania, the main character in Deafening. Like Grania, Gertie attended the Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb (now the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf) in Belleville.

The house where Gertie Freeman was born can be seen in this late nineteenth century photograph of the property, taken by Herbert A. Osborne:

The Empress (later Arlington) Hotel, c.1895

At the time the Freemans owned the hotel, Deseronto was at its industrial peak. This picture was taken from an upstairs window, and shows the mills and factories of Mill Street:

View from Arlington Hotel, c.1895

The walking tour also stopped outside the Post Office and Naylor’s Theatre, both of which featured in Deafening and its sequel, Tell. Afterwards, the group convened for lunch at the Legion, followed by a fascinating talk from Frances Itani on the inspiration and process of writing the novel Deafening and Tell.

Frances Itani

Frances Itani

Fans of the novelist will be pleased to hear that Frances is currently working on the third novel  in the Deseronto trilogy.  This one will take a particular interest in the experiences of people who are adopted and Frances is keen to interview individuals who are adopted and who are willing to share their thoughts with the author. Please email the Archives at deseronto.archives@gmail.com if you were adopted and would be happy to be interviewed by Frances for her next Deseronto-based book.

If you missed the history talk on the nineteenth century development of Deseronto this weekend, there’s a chance to catch it again on YouTube:

Due to a technical hitch on the day, the visuals weren’t available, but this version includes the slides!

Marlene Brant Castellano and wampum beltsMarlene Brant Castellano got our summer series of local history talks off to a great start with her examination of the local history of the Bay of Quinte from a Mohawk perspective.

Marlene used reproductions of two famous wampum belts to tell the story of the Mohawk people’s interactions with Europeans, beginning with the treaty represented by the Two-Row Wampum in 1613 with the Dutch. The two purple rows of the belt were intended to show the parallel courses of a European ship and a Haudenosaunee canoe, bound together by friendship, peace and respect. The other belt, the Friendship Belt, represents the Covenant Chain connecting the two peoples: a chain of silver which needs to be regularly polished by both groups in order to maintain its shine.

Marlene got the audience involved from the beginning, with questions about the importance of family roots and stories and what they mean to us. Until recently, formal education in Canada paid little or no attention to native people’s own histories, while the use of native languages was actively repressed for many years. Marlene noted that this has now changed and Indigenous children are now able to connect to their stories and language in a way that people of British descent may have taken for granted in the more Anglo-centric teaching of the past.

The stories associated with wampum belts have endured within these communities for hundreds of years, and Marlene explained that a thorough knowledge of their meaning and importance is a key part of being a chief. A chief, she noted, is an archivist, as well as a leader!

History talks poster

 

Tomorrow sees the first in a new series of talks on local history. We are delighted to welcome Marlene Brant Castellano to Deseronto Public Library to talk on the topic of ‘Mohawks and Settlers: neighbours throughout history’.

The talk is free to attend and all are welcome. It starts at 1pm and will be followed by refreshments. We hope to see you there!

Date: May 23rd

Location: Deseronto Public Library

Time: 1pm – 2pm

 

The next talk in the series, ‘The Development of Deseronto’ will take place on June 20th (same time, same place).

It was a full house at Deseronto Public Library this afternoon, as author Frances Itani launched her new novel, Tell, to an appreciative audience of more than fifty people.

Frances Itani talking to a full house at Deseronto Public Library

Tell is a follow-on story to Deafening, the author’s first novel, which was published in 2003. Like Deafening, Tell is based in Deseronto, and it follows the story of four of the characters from the first book. It is set in the period immediately following the end of the First World War. Frances made excellent use of the archives here in Deseronto in her research for the book and we were delighted to host her first stop on the promotional tour.

Frances Itani signing copies of 'Tell'

And we are pleased to report that every copy of Tell was snapped up by the audience!

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