Historical Society of St. Catharines

Celebrating the history of St. Catharines and its vicinity

Archive for April, 2009

Treasures from the Vault – St. Catharines Museum – April 2009

Posted by dsharron on April 28, 2009

Sloop in Port Dalhousie c.1900

This month, the St. Catharines Museum made a collection of glass plate negatives available for viewing to the Society.

These images come from the Bertha Shickluna Collection.  The box of negatives were found in a basement when the Shickluna’s were cleaning up.  The box and photos were not in very good shape.  They were offered to the Museum with the message, “if you do not want it, throw it out.” Fortunately, the Museum immediately recognized the importance of the images and decided to keep the collection.  The photos were sent to the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa.  The CCI stabilized the images, cleaned the glass and made working prints of the photos.  

The bulk of the collection features the Port Dalhousie area around the turn of the 20th century. The collection shows buildings, people and a lifestyle that truly takes you back in time.  This has become one of the more important photo collections at the St. Catharines Museum.

 

Sample image: A sloop and grain elevator in Port Dalhousie, Ontario.  Bertha Shickluna Collection, 1982.223.74, neg. N4848.

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Posted in Meetings, Port Dalhousie, Ships, St. Catharines, Welland Canal | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Meeting Recap: Snapshots of the Home Front – Niagara in 1939 to 1941

Posted by dsharron on April 27, 2009

Using images from the St. Catharines Standard Collection from the St. Catharines Museum, Graham Phair took the Society back to the Niagara area during the early years of World War II.  When Hitler invaded Poland and Great Britain declared war, Canada was quick to support their British allies.  The people of Niagara were equally ready to put their best efforts forward.

One of the major centres of activity was Camp Niagara in Niagara-on-the-Lake where local units trained as well as those from Hamilton and the far west of Canada.  Even professional hockey players such as Turk Broda and Syl Apps spent time in Camp Niagara.  Soldiers practiced such skills as machine gun firing, gas mask use, bayonets, semaphore, rifling and more.  The 2nd/10th Dragoons had to march from St. Catharines to Niagara-on-the Lake to conduct their artillery training.  The St. Catharines Flying Club and similar clubs across Canada, under the direction of Murton Seymour, agreed to start to train pilots for the war.

The First Battalion of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment was fully active at the outbreak of the war.  Both young and old enlisted at the outbreak of the war.  The uniforms and equipment of the Canadian military were still largely based on those from the First World War.  Servicemen had some perks around the cities and towns.  For example, they were allowed free entry into the local YMCA’s as an opportunity for recreation. 

The City of St. Catharines, itself, witnessed a change in its manufacturing sector.  Many of the factories were retooled to make the implements of war.  The Collegiate even changed its programs to focus on factory work.  The Decew Power Station was expanded to provide more energy.  Women began to find jobs in the absence of men.  And wartime houses sprang up all over the city.  One St. Catharine company was indirectly present for a major capture of a Nazi figure.  When Rudolph Hess crash-landed in Scotland, the man who captured him, David McLean, held him at bay with a two-pronged pitchfork made at the Welland Vale Company in St. Catharines.

Everyone did his or her part to support the war.  Individuals collected scrap metal to be recycled for the war effort.  People also rationed their food, gas and other amenities – all as a part of doing their part.  Local companies such as McKinnons made raising money for the war a competition.  Neighbourhoods, schools, social clubs, churches, and ethnic groups all came together to hold dances, parades and other events to raise money for the war.  The Red Cross was a major recipient of these goodwill efforts. 

If there was one thing to take away from the April meeting, it was the fact that all of the Niagara area either directly or indirectly did their part to support the Canadian military during the Second World War.  A fact that we should all be proud and thankful for.

Graham Phair’s book, Snapshots of the Homefront: 1939 – 1941, is available at the St. Catharines Museum.  He is currently working a second book on World War II.  Keep an eye out for it.  

Posted in Historical Society, Meetings, St. Catharines, World War II | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

April Meeting – New Topic – On The Homefront

Posted by dsharron on April 11, 2009

On April 23, Graham Phair will give the Society a glimpse at how the people of Niagara managed during World War II.  Phair is the author of the recent book Snapshots of the Homefront: 1939 – 1941.  The book is filled with photographs from the St. Catharines Standard collection.  The meeting promises to be a wealth of information and imagery.  We hope that you can make it out.

Time / Place: Thursday, 23 April 2009, 7:30 P.M., Burgoyne Room of the St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3 (the Welland Canals Centre), 1932 Welland Canals Parkway (formerly Government Road). Wheelchair accessible. Free admission.  All interested persons welcome.

The Museum’s exhibit gallery will be open for viewing a half hour before the meeting.

Posted in Grantham, Meetings, Niagara, St. Catharines, World War II | Leave a Comment »

Treasures from the Vaults – St. Catharines Museum – March 2009

Posted by dsharron on April 1, 2009

mckee-trophy-seymour1

Curator Arden Phair holding the Trans-Canada / McKee Trophy won by Murton Seymour in 1940.

At every meeting, the St. Catharines Museum brings out one of the interesting artifacts from its collection to share with the Society.

This week Arden Phair selected the McKee / Trans-Canada Trophy.  This trophy was awarded to Murton Seymour in 1940.  Murton Seymour was born in St. Catharines in 1892.  When a young boy, his family moved to British Columbia.  Out west, he learned to fly and helped to start one of the first flying clubs in Canada.  His interest in flight eventually led him to joining the Air Force during World War I.  

After the War, Seymour returned to St. Catharines.  He represented the City as a solicitor for over forty years.  He was also responsible for incorporating the St. Catharines Flying Club in 1928 and became a founding member and director of the Canadian Flying Club Association.  When the Second World War broke, Seymour’s influence was pivotal in converting flying clubs all over Canada into training facilities for war pilots.  For these critical efforts, Seymour was given the McKee / Trans-Canada Trophy in 1940 for his efforts undertaken in 1939. This award was bestowed to the individual who best advanced aviation in Canada.  Seymour was also inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame and was made an officer in the Order of the British Empire.

The Trophy was donated by Elizabeth Seymour – 2002.172.1.

Posted in Special Events, St. Catharines, William Hamilton Merritt, World War I, World War II | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »