17 December 2012

Volunteer's Christmas Get Together

Since it's inception the Society has relied on volunteers and this year sixty invitations were sent out for the Christmas celebration.  And we managed to capture twenty-nine of them in this picture.  Others were captured in this album but unfortunately a few either were away or arrived after the pictures were taken.

The volunteers create and run the displays we take to events (I think there were seven this year), manage the Society's eight monthly meetings - very popular this last year  and, of course, they work at the Community Archives (it's still at the Heritage Centre).

Always a great event with lots of good company and food!

Standing: Mike Shaw, Al Cleary, Nick White, Bill Kennedy, Peter Ross, Annis Ross, Mary Wilson, Kieren Delaney, Mary Jane Troop, Jeanne Delaney, George Pearce, Sylvia French, Bev Kennedy, Doug Wilson, Lindi Pierce, Mary-Lynne Morgan, Bruce Bedell Orland French, Marilyn Hughes, Dick Hughes.

Seated: Sharon White, Elizabeth Mitchell, Lorna Garbutt, Donna Fano, Katharine Mills, Laurel Bishop, Adele Dibben, Lois Foster and Breanna Brethour.

Didn't make it into the group picture: Dianne Sule, Gerry Boyce, John Lowry, Bobby-Jo Morris, Peter Newman, Doug Knutson, Beth Green, Marney Black, Ruth Boyce and Geoff Green.

Pictures Nick White

20 November 2012

The Longest Battle

Roger Litwiller
Roger Litwiller held the audience spellbound with his stories of the Quinte region's involvement in what may arguably be called the longest single battle in the history of mankind.

The Battle of the Atlantic.

Within three hours of WWII being declared, the first casualty, the British passenger ship SS Athenia on a voyage to Canada, was sunk.  An estimated 3,674 Allied vessels would share her fate; the last ships being lost just hours before the end of the war. It is estimated that 72,200 Allied sailors died in the battle.

The battle extended right into the St. Lawrence River and by war's end, the Royal Canadian Navy was the third largest naval power in the world, with 100,000 men and women and 400 vessels.

Among the ships that served were three corvettes, one frigate and two minesweepers that had names drawn from this part of Ontario. They were HMCS Napanee, HMCS Belleville, HMCS Hallowell, HMCS Quinte, HMCS Quinte II and HMCS Trentonian.  Together these ships span almost twenty-five years of history in the Royal Canadian Navy. You can read about these ships in Roger Litwiller’s book Warships of the Bay of Quinte.

But it was the stories of the young men that held the audience. Years of painstaking research and interviews with survivors of the battles has given Roger a rich and often frightening understanding of life and the young men aboard the ships. 

In his new book White Ensign Flying, scheduled for publication in the summer of 2013, Litwiller tells the story of HMCS Trentonian, much of it through his personal interviews with thirty of the men who served aboard her. Marc Magee's painting of HMCS Trentonian (shown below) for White Ensign Flying will be displayed permanently in the Trenton Public Library after the release of Roger's book.
HMCS Trentonian on her way to Normandy
A more detailed article about the meeting will be published in the January edition of the Society's newsletter Outlook. Additional information on Roger's books and contact information can be found on his Facebook page and web site.

Story Bill Kennedy/Nick White, pictures Nick White.

Dr. Pearce and Dr. Collip

George Pearce is relentless. These were the admiring words of one of the speakers at the podium for today’s proclamation of November 20 as Dr. James Bertram Collip Day in Belleville.

Dr. George Pearce, a long time Society member, has devoted years of personal research, including a trip to Western Canada, to document the accomplishments of James Bertram Collip born in Thurlow Township (now part of Belleville), co-discoverer of insulin.

He has been persistent in championing the cause of this remarkable scientist and his contribution to the work of the team credited with the discovery of insulin.
Bruce Bedell, cried the news

Today marked the beginning of the public recognition in Belleville that Dr. Pearce has long sought for this important Canadian.

His Worship Mayor Neil Ellis
extends his congratulations
After years of painstaking research, things have moved quickly. In October, a delegation from the Society met with Heritage Belleville to plan a joint project to recognize Dr. Collip.

Impressed with the work that had been undertaken, Heritage Belleville asked Council to proclaim November 20th  Dr. Collip Day. The motion was made by Councilor Culhane and passed unanimously by Council on November 13th

Pat Culhane, George Pearce
Richard Hughes and Jeremy Davis
Plans were sketched out for a public event to announce the proclamation on the the 120th anniversary of of Dr. Collip's birth and emails and telephones started to hum.
Rosalie Spargo
Canadian Diabetes Association

The happy result was a podium event on the Parrott stage, overlooking the market where the young Belleville lad doubtless assisted his market-gardener parents with their vegetable stall. 

 After 120 years it was heartwarming to hear the accomplishments of Dr. Collip recognized publicly by so many people including His Worship Mayor Neil Ellis,  Councillor Pat Culhane, Heritage Belleville Chair Stanley Jones and Vice-Chair Jeremy Davis, Hastings County Historical Society President Richard Hughes, the Canadian Diabetes Association's Rosalie Spargo and Dr. Bruce Cronk.
Jeremy Davis
Heritage Belleville
And along with the words on the importance of the Canadian pioneers of insulin were words of thanks to Dr. Pearce whose work and persistence brought this together.

Next steps in the recognition of Dr. James Bertram Collip will involve a joint Society/ Heritage Belleville application to Ontario Heritage Trust for one of the familiar blue and gold plaques to be erected in Belleville.

Story Lindi Pierce/Nick White, pictures Nick White and Bill Kennedy.  An album with more pictures can be seen here.  A video of the event by Doug Knutson can be seen here


16 November 2012

From Tragedy Came a Christmas Tradition

When Don and Rita Foster’s son Billy and his friend Art “Sonny” Culloden were killed in a 1958 Christmas Eve Car accident, the Foster’s decided to focus on the joy of Christmas instead of their grief, and the Foster Family Christmas Light Display was launched.
During the last fifty some years, the display has become a tradition in our community enjoyed by young and old alike by several generations now.  It was unique in our community, because in those days, lawn ornaments, outside lights and decorations were not as common as they are today.  Each component was originally built by Don, some powered by washing machine motors to drive all of the moving parts.  

For twenty-two years, the front lawn at the Foster’s home on Emily Street was alive with all manner of moving and dancing ornaments that expanded each year as Don lovingly built more components in his backyard barn workshop.  As the Fosters aged and could no longer look after this, Margery and Bruce Nickle continued the tradition at their home on Marsh Drive for many years.  The Tom Gavey Alemite Park on Pine Street has been the recent home of the display, refurbished courtesy of the Belleville Professional Firefighters Association.

But the old display needed more tender loving care and a permanent home.  The City of Belleville, recognizing the historical importance of this light display in the tradition and culture of our community, initiated a project that culminated in “Christmas at the Pier” and was launched on Friday November 16, 2012 with a Lighting Up Ceremony attended by over five hundred awestruck onlookers.  Fifty-six of my family and close friends were part of that group.
With the City of Belleville financial support for the project, supplemented by generous donations by individuals and businesses in the community, the Foster Family display has been refurbished, and has a special place in the centre of the Jane Forrester Park at Myers Pier, surrounded by several new components which will continue to be expanded each year by the City of Belleville, and featuring a signboard outlining the history of the display. 

The display is dedicated to the memory of Billy Foster and my brother Art “Sonny” Culloden and evokes strong personal memories.

I remember very vividly that Christmas morning in 1958.  As the youngest of six children, I was only six years old and barely remember my brother.  When I awoke that morning, I thought it strange that many of our family and friends were already at our home, as they usually visited in the afternoon of Christmas Day.  Everyone was very sad and crying.  When I opened my Christmas present from Sonny, my mother broke into tears.  It was exactly as I had asked for on my Christmas list – a mauve crinoline.
Thank you everyone in the community that has helped turn this personal tragedy into a community celebration.

Story Annis Ross (Culloden), pictures Nick White.  A more extensive article on the story behind the new display will appear in January edition of the Society's newsletter Outlook.

11 November 2012

The Last Post

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;

They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Stanzas from For The Fallen written by Laurence Binyon in 1914, pictures Nick White.  Additional pictures can be seen in the album here.

27 October 2012

Big Al's Birthday

It was a night of bedlam and comedy as the Hastings County Historical Society hosted its annual banquet and celebration of local history on Saturday, October 27th.   The Travelodge Hotel Ballroom was a sell-out for the comedy murder mystery dinner theatre, “Big Al Capone Celebrates his Birthday with Rumrunner Buddies from the Bay of Quinte”.  Professional actors from “It’s A Mystery To Me Productions” of Hamilton animated the evening.

As the evening began, one of Big Al’s gangster buddies, recently released from prison, showed up by surprise at the party.  However, he was electrocuted  as he took the microphone to make a speech.  For the rest of the evening, Big Al Capone and four of his gangsters were pursued by Detective Karumba, who bore a striking resemblance to TV’s Detective Colombo.  

Many of the audience dressed in 1920 costumes,
shady gangsters, sparkling molls, stylish
flappers delighted the audience and
added to the atmosphere of the 1920s.
The audience was fully drawn into the action, with loud “ohs” and “ahs” as the mobsters moved through the crowd avoiding the questions of the Detective.  As dessert was served, the decision on the guilty party was turned over to be voted on by the audience.  These votes were reviewed by Detective Karumba with hilarious results.  The final winner was . . .

The best male costume prize went
to John Lowry, a particularly sharp
underworld figure with his own
tommy gun in hand.
The best female costume went
to flapper, Judy Cleary.




The styles and times of the 1920s were also brought to life in a
display of historical photos and a video show of local scenes.

This evening was an important fund raising event for the Historical Society.  Twenty-five local businesses and individuals sponsored the event, raising funds for the new Community Archives.  

Door prizes were donated by several Prince Edward County wineries, brewery and cider maker.   Many thanks go to these generous local businesses. 

Story Donna Fano, pictures by various. . .

An album of pictures can be viewed at the link here. Thanks to Marney and Diane for all their work on this.

25 October 2012

History Fair at St. Theresa's

The Society together with the Community Archives again participated in the History Fair organised by the Renaissance Society at St.Theresa Catholic Secondary School.

Seen here are Al Cleary and Lindi Pierce setting up the new display "Hastings County at War 1812 to 1814".

And of course, talking to the students.



But the stars of the show were definitely the redcoats.


Especially when you got to try on the uniforms.


After a very fine lunch provided by the school it was back to the classroom. Pictured below is Bill Kennedy talking to a history class on the Society's project "People of Hastings County in the Great War 1914 - 1918".

Pictures and story Bill Kennedy and Nick White, you can view more pictures in the album here.

16 October 2012

A Royal Evening

Featuring Jane Ann Thompson McCaw (pictured right) as the guest speaker, the Society's October meeting was another "they're still coming, we'd better put out some more chairs" event.

One empty seat visible

The evening was opened by by our colourful and poetic Crier, Bruce Bedell (pictured in full cry to the left).

Followed by Sylvia French who took the attendees on an excursion back to times 100 (with a dash of 200) years ago.

Jane Ann Thompson McCaw holding a royal standard
with Katharine Mills on the right  

With the stage firmly set in the past, Jane Ann took the stage and entertained the crowd with stories and displays of memorabilia about our Queen and her family.

A lot of stories, some amusing, all interesting and a reminder of the Royal Family's connections with Canada and our area.

If you want to hear about those stories, like the one about the royal standard (being held by Jane Ann to the right) you will have to ask Jane Ann.

Perusing one of the the displays

Jane Ann and our Crier in the autumn leaves

Pictures and story Nick White an album of pictures from the evening can be viewed here

29 September 2012

The Flavours of Fall

Celebrating the harvest has always been a feature of agricultural societies and Hastings County is no exception.

This year Belleville held it's "Flavours of Fall" festival with tasty $2 apple-themed snacks at many downtown restaurants, as well as pumpkin carving in Market Square, horse drawn wagon rides, free movies, balloon art, a hot dog and chili cook out, live music, street dancing and a lot more.

And the Society opened it's storefront office at 208 Front Street to visitors.

As usual, it got very busy and we lost track of how many visitors came in to look at the displays.  Our estimate is about 150, and we enjoyed meeting you all.

Some of the volunteers who helped at the storefront office on Saturday:

Pictured from left to right are Bill Kennedy (Outlook editor), Sharon White (Archivist for the Society, City, and Hastings County), Dick Hughes (President) and John Lowry (Director).

A "hay ride" passing in front of the Society's storefront office.

Exhibit panels and a few of the many visitors.

Looking north up front street towards the Main stage.  And the Quinte Twirlers showing their stuff.

Pictures and story Nick White an album of pictures can be viewed here