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Estella Burkett was a teacher at the Deseronto Public School. She was born in Maynooth, Ontario in 1913 to Agnes Shields and Patrick Burkett. The picture below shows her with her class of children in 1949, outside the old Public School building. Estella retired in 1974 and lived in Belleville until her death in 2010 at the age of 97.

2010.27(6)

Estella did a considerable amount of travelling in her vacations and she donated some of her photographic materials and notes about her excursions to the Deseronto Archives in 2004. These materials include some photographs taken on a trip to Berlin in 1955, ten years after the end of World War II and six years before the city was divided by the construction of the Berlin Wall. Estella took photographs of the monuments her tour group visited, including this image of a statue of Joseph Stalin, which was removed in 1961 and melted down.

Statue of Stalin

She also photographed the Brandenburg Gate, which would be isolated by the Berlin Wall six years later and impassable until the Wall’s destruction in 1989. The damage caused to the Gate during the Second World War is visible in this image.

Brandenburg Gate 1955

These photos are good examples of the way that small local collections can be unexpected sources of information about entirely different parts of the world. It’s not until we dig into the boxes and do the work of describing the materials, that it becomes possible for everyone else to see what is in them.

A couple of Flickr-related news items today, one local, one not-so-local.

This morning we passed one million views on the Deseronto Archives Flickr account, according to the statistics generated by that service:

Graph showing one million views on the Deseronto Archives Flickr account

And in the not-so-local news, the British Library has just released a million illustrations from digitized versions of 65,000 17th, 18th and 19th century books. Like the Deseronto images, these are in the Flickr Commons, which means they are freely available for re-use in whatever way you choose. Sadly, Deseronto doesn’t feature in any of these images, but there are a number of drawings of other Canadian towns and cities, including this image of Toronto, showing “a bird’s eye view of Toronto industrial exhibition, 1899”.
Bird's eye view of Toronto Industrial Exhibition, 1899
This is from page 22 of an 1899 book called Toronto, historical, descriptive, and pictorial, etc by Alexander Fraser. Its reference number at the British Library is HMNTS 10470.ff.24.

And here’s a reproduction of Guy Johnson’s 1771 map showing the territories of the Six Nations in what is now New York state:

Map of Six Nations territories

This is from A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English times; being contributions toward a history of the lower Mohawk Valley, by Jonathan Pearson, published in 1883 (HMNTS 10409.cc.2).

You can search over all the images that the British Library has shared.

A recent enquiry by a researcher who is studying the region’s lighthouses has revealed some interesting facts about Deseronto’s own lighthouse. Some of its history can be traced through federal government publications, beginning with the report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries for 1884 (published in the Sessional Papers for the Dominion of Canada, Volume 6,1885), where the Ontario Lighthouse Division reported that:

Agreement to build a lighthouse in Deseronto

Unsurprisingly, it was the Rathbun Company who were contracted to build the lighthouse, for the reassuringly precise estimate of $437.49. Construction of the light had been completed by the time of the Department’s report.

We next hear of the lighthouse in the Departmental report for 1885 (Sessional Papers for the Dominion of Canada, Volume 9,1886).

Deseronto light - 1886 report

Here we learn that the Rathbun Company supplied the gas to the light and that the light was constructed on the roof of the freight shed of the Bay of Quinte Railway at the Rathbun Company’s wharf. It’s interesting to see that the Rathbun Company went a little over their budget, spending a total of $455.55.

A search on our Flickr images reveals several photographs which show the light in place on that building.

Steam wharf at Deseronto

A notice in the Canada Gazette of September 19th, 1885 announced the light to the maritime community:

Gazette notice about Deseronto light

This detail of photograph RATHCO-06-48.4 shows how the light would have appeared to the ships approaching it from the Bay:

Deseronto wharf from the Bay of Quinte

In the background on the left, you can see the brick head office building of the Rathbun Company, from where its owners could keep a close eye on the activities of the wharf. None of these buildings survive today.

Library and Archives Canada have made the 1921 census available through Ancestry.ca. The census has not yet been indexed (which means it can’t be searched by name at present), but it is available to browse. You need to sign up for a free Ancestry account in order to see this, or you can get access without having to sign up if you use Ancestry from a public library which has a subscription to the Ancestry service (most libraries in Ontario do).

To see the entries for Deseronto, you’ll need to select ‘Ontario’ from the menu on the left of the Ancestry 1921 page, then go to the ‘Hastings East’ district. You’ll find that Deseronto is covered by three sub-districts: 44 (Centre Ward), 45 (East Ward) and 46 (West Ward of the town). This census was taken on June 1st, 1921.

And speaking of libraries and 1921, we’ve just digitized the first ten pages of Deseronto Public Library’s register of books borrowed in March, April and May 1921. This volume was maintained by Deseronto’s fourth librarian, Flossie Hall.1 So if you do find a Deseronto relative in the 1921 census, you can also check the borrowing register and see what they were reading!

Register of books issued in 1921

The books aren’t available in the library itself these days, but you can find scanned copies of many of them online through Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive and the Open Library, to get a taste of what people were enjoying back in 1921.


1 There’s a photograph of Flossie featured in this earlier post.

It’s not every day that a small municipal archives is featured alongside a national institution, but today is one of those days. We are delighted to be able to share the news that Deseronto Archives is now part of the Flickr Commons, a place for institutions to share their photographic collections and a place where people can add tags and comments to the photographs to help describe and interpret them.

Flickr Commons participating instutions

Some of the institutions participating in Flickr Commons

We’re already seeing new comments and tags being added to the Flickr photographs, such as this one of Lieutenant Ned E. Ballough, ‘the wing-walker’ performing a daring stunt during the First World War:

Man standing behind the cockpit of a Curtiss JN-4 training aircraft

Ned Ballough, ‘wing-walking’ 2012.10(05)

And the usage statistics on the account have also taken a dizzying skyward trajectory in the 16 hours since we officially joined the Commons!

Usage statistics from Flickr

A month ago, we received a new accession of photographs  from Dave Stapley, whose family once owned a farm on the Boundary Road, at the eastern side of Deseronto. The farm was close to the World War One pilot training site, Camp Rathbun, and many of the 33 photos depict men, buildings, and aircraft of the camp.

As usual, there are pictures of crashes on the ground (look closely at the trees on this one in relation to the aircraft):

Crashed aircraft

Crashes into hangar buildings at the camp:

Aircraft crashed into hangar door

And into water (you can see the Foresters’ Island Orphanage in the background of this shot):

There are also several photographs of (mainly) unidentified individuals, including this lovely shot of a man crossing the finishing line of a race:

Man crossing finishing line

The skull-and-crossbones motif seen on the aircraft and on the tops of the runners here is a symbol used by the men of 90 C.T.S. (Canadian Training Squadron), which was based at Camp Rathbun. We know nothing about the creator of these photographs, but we can  surmise that he was a member of 90 C.T.S. who left his photographs behind him after he left the area.

Circle Six Orchestra

Accession 2012.07(6): The Circle Six Orchestra

Here is a brief numerical summary of our activities in Deseronto Archives over the course of 2012.

New accessions received: 16

These included a photograph of the Circle Six Orchestra, a scrapbook relating to the Deseronto United Church, a photograph album from an airman who trained at Camp Mohawk in World War One and a list of Deseronto voters from 1914.

Email queries answered: 63

Telephone queries answered: 25

Visits to the archives by researchers: 101

Images uploaded to www.flickr.com/deserontoarchives: 105

Visitors to the blog in 2012:15,293 (13,058 in 2011)

Blog posts written : 17

Our thanks to all our patrons and donors and best wishes to you for 2013!

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