Dundas County Archives welcomes input . . .

The above photo of Morrisburg's Main Street back in the day was originally captured on black and white film, taken by George Smith in the early to mid 1950's. It is one of a collection we were provided by Mr. Smith some years ago following an afternoon of camera talk and photo gizmos that were just beginning to flood the market. We recently took the liberty of adding the color to this one, most of it from memory, although the cars are correct according to original color swatches made available on various web sites. However, this is what the pre-St. Lawrence Seaway, Morrisburg Main Street looked like in the mid-1950's.

     We recall quite vividly being awe struck every time we walked by the bank on the left. Our age then found those columns so impressive, and the walk was always perfectly clean in front of that building. Since posting this photo we've been reminded that Allie Prunner was the caretaker and sidewalk sweeper at the bank, and he and his wife, Mary, lived on the second floor of the building. Mary was a seamstress in those days, and while the bank was open for business,  Allie would regularly sit on the cement squares out front and greet customers, more as people in rural communities tended to do.

     The folks  at the emerging Dundas County Archives location in Iroquois, are interested in gathering photos, papers and anecdotes as in the above paragraph. And Mr. Smith's extensive collection of timely photographs do evoke such memories. The very reason we added colored to this one is to test if, in fact, it would help to produce more information. And it did almost immediately, with the name of the bank caretaker. That from a source who was a youngish businessman at the time, and who is nearing 90 years of age today.

     These photos, and these accompanying anecdotes are of great interest to the folks at Dundas County Archives, and more would be welcomed, hopefully becoming part of a growing collection of historic information.  The good news is that you can email them your information, anecdotes, facts.      

Sunday picnics at Broder Island . . .

Almost every spring since returning to South Dundas we enjoy the opportunity to occasionally walk along Lakeshore Drive on the west side of Morrisburg. And as the winter season loses her bone-chilling cold along those walks, the river too loses it's bitter wind and stubborn spring temperatures slowly add a new color pallett to everything that is foliage. The water too turns a softer color of blue-green, especially on a calm, lightly overcast day.

     Slowing along the causeway that crosses Steward's Creek we are drawn to the view of Broder Island, immediately south of the community's west end, quietly splitting the relentless current in her near centred position of the St. Lawrence River. And we remember when she looked like the photo above. This is Broder Island in the mid 1950's. To the kids, Wonderland!

     The photograph is one of George Smith's black and white captures that we've colorized, hopefully providing viewers a little push in reminiscing the wonderful day-trips the local population so enjoyed. A close look can point out the central bandstand and covered pavilion just above the center of the 1955-57 ChrisCraft cruiser parked at the dock. The boat's colors were applied using a period Chris Craft color swatch searched out on the internet.

     Visible too on the forefront of the island are the picnic tables and the stone built barbecues. That swing set on the left side where older sibling attempted to push you hard enough that everyone watching imagined you would eventually master a loop d'loop, all the way around. And surviving it.

Broder Island as it appears today seems to be giving in to the river currents and getting smaller each year . . .
Broder Island as it appears today seems to be giving in to the river currents and getting smaller each year . . .

     The leg of the teeter-totter is barely visible on the left edge, and we remember it well. It is our recollection that we experienced our first, air-borne flight on that teeter-totter. We were convinced to sit, instructed to 'hang on tight', while a brother at the opposite end, larger and heavier - you know where this is going - lifted his feet as his end of the balance was about to finish it's down turn. Slamming on the ground had an immediate reaction to our not minding instructions, and we went airborne, to near dizzying heights for our age, arcing over the center bar immediately prior to a terribly fast descent, and slamming our face, top lip first, into the well worn pits created by riders who did, in fact, put their feet down. We wear the scar to this day in the form of a tiny cross immediately under our nose. Our grandmother was convinced the shape was a sign that we were good Catholics and had attended mass before going to the island.

     We recall our Mother and sisters in the kitchen on the Saturday afternoons, previous to our gang taking part in the trip on Alec Hamilton's Picnic Special, the ferry to the island, the following Sunday. Egg sandwiches, ham sandwiches, pies and cake, jello-salads, packages of Freshie (I know, you forgot that thirst quencher eh!), packing instructions, gathering bathing suits and that elusive shared towel. And our parents, with nine of us in tow, would head out right after Sunday mass, to the municipal dock at the east end of town, pay the minuscule fee of the day and take up more seats than Mr. Hamilton thought profitable, and we were off.

     The river current was faster then, and stories about it's awesome and potentially terrifying power were only whispered while on shore. Most, once the boat edged out of her slip, kept their eyes glued to the floor until the familiar bump against the landing dock at the island sent a shuttering tremble through the hull structure.

     Everyone was at these picnics. At least everyone we'd ever heard of. And everyone joined in the fun. The elders enjoying a day to relax, greet friends and acquaintances, steal a reasonably well hidden cool one, a picnic dinner and games in the huge open space of freshly cut grass. At the end of the day we'd all board the Picnic Special again, in turns determined by capacity numbers, and start back to the dock and home. 

     Broder Island's park status was lost to our population as part of the cost of the St. Lawrence Seaway construction. The river would change many aspects of our community forever, which over the long run, compared to some of our neighboring communities today, has been far from a detriment. Iroquois and Morrisburg were spared disappearance and did get a fresh start. Others went the way of Broder Island.

     If you have memories of the way life was before the St. Lawrence Seaway was constructed you are invited to send them along in an email to dundascountyarchives@gmail.com


Demolition did take our playground . . .

The Windsor House, Lock St., 1956-57 . . .

The building above, suffering the final stages of demolition, circa 1957, in preparation for the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway, was originally a store and Post Office constructed on Lock Street by the Bradfield family. It was converted to a hotel in 1862. Harvey Ouderkirk purchased the building in 1917 and  turned the property over to his son Percy who operated a 'beverage room' until its closing and demolition. The tiny sign a the top-right of the 'Windsor House' sign indicates the 'Men's Entrance' at the front of the building. There is no like signage for the women of the day, although we did know it to be the brown side door. The driveway going over the sidewalk was between the Windsor House and Art Flynn's brick building that housed The Leader office. Many hours of our youth were spent around these buildings in heated Cowboys and Indians challenges, rock throwing, making sling-shots, and running nickel errands from which chocolate bars and pops were earned.          

      - Above information gleaned from James Jordan's exceptional "Morrisburg - A History - c. 1784-1958 "          

 

Sorting around the George Smith photos in our collection tends to drag us through the cob-webbed opening to memories of those times, the establishments, both commercial and other. We grew up, 5 to 10 years old, at the peak of the St. Lawrence Seaway development and the mammoth changes along the St. Lawrence River waterfront. We didn't know about Aultsville or Iroquois. We knew a dam being built somewhere meant 'they' were demolishing our town and in turn, our playground, the streets where we spent so many of our childhood hours. 

     In those days we'd create our own games in wonderlands far impossible to imagine in the disciplined minds of today's eight-year-olds. We were encouraged to run well before we were ten years old. 

     "Run and play," we were told as we scooted out the door into a cool, early morning summer sun. And we were off for the day to the sound of "be home for supper".

     The ritual for us, every Saturday morning, and some mornings during the summer months, was to leave the corner of First and Augusta Streets and walk to The Leader office, then located on Lock Street. That walk some times required many hours of adventure, numerous stops, side trips through short-cuts, keeping an eye out for our grandmother just after turning right onto St. Lawrence Street, a left past Borden Clark's Old Author's Farm and the Falcon Inn and we'd be peeking through the glass at the Texaco gas station to see if Hubert Duvall was going to offer us a pop from the gas station's drink machine or a chocolate bar. Because that's what Hubert did on occasion.

     Climbing around the war-time canons in the park just east of today's public dock, lobbing imaginary volley after volley of canon balls at Southern Rebels was a "for-sure!" We almost convinced ourselves that Earl Casselman, driving his horse team with a garbage wagon in tow past the war memorial monument, was a Southern Rebel back to wipe out us blue-coats. Although we came away from these scenarios imagining ourselves battle-weary and drier than a pecker-wood (as they said in the movies), in reality our weekly Saturday morning wars lasted the two-minutes required for the aptly-named equine-team, Silver and Betty, to drag the garbage wagon piloted by Old Earl, along Main Street. None of the Saturday morning shoppers moving store to store even noticed they were walking across a battlefield.        

     Then back across the street and squeezing around the pillars at the bank entrance; watching for a few minutes to see the comings and goings at the Playdium; cupping our hands to the sides of our heads to cut the glare of the sun as we peeked through the window of the New York Cafe trying to catch a glimpse of the mysterious Willy Hoy; or Bradfield's to see if Stan Finney was in residence on any given day; checking out what was on at the Cameo and bragging to all who could hear that we could beat Chum Beckstead in the weekly Coca Cola chugging contests that got you a free pass to next Saturday's Clayton Moore double-bill, (and since you're wondering, he was The Lone Ranger. Not Chum, - Clayton!!!). 

     However, we did a shoulder check just to make sure not too many were listening too closely when we mouthed off, as not only a few of the Beckstead boys, but a number of the "Old Town" boys were  rumored to have an extremely deadly, rock throwing arm capable of an uncanny marksmanship even at great distances. We knew first hand that such rumors had merit. Even at our young age we had, on more than a few occasions, been witness to the bruises and welts on an unfortunate, not quite as nimble and fleet of foot as to have gained the corner building to make a quick right, out of range, and escape from the unfailing aim of these master rock-throwers. 

     Comparatively at the time, our age group being a few years younger, still required several throws of a rock to break the bare bulb dangling from the street lights of the day. And even then you needed the luck of a bank shot off the covering reflector and into the bulb to make good on the throw. Then, of course, you needed to run like hell.

     At the corner of Lock Street, the garage had a drink machine that could be beaten for a pop now and again so we usually checked at every opportunity, or at least until the owner put the run on us. And somewhat sheepishly, after that scolding, we would slink down the street to The Leader office. 


A short story in the history of the South Dundas Municipal Centre . . .

"No value!" can be costly . . .

Art from an original photo by Reverend George Smith, digitally enhanced and colored - billlaurin
Art from an original photo by Reverend George Smith, digitally enhanced and colored - billlaurin

 

                   - by CF 'Mike' McInnis

 

    It has been several years since the Morrisburg Collegiate Institute turned South Dundas Municipal Centre was opened. We thought it might be interesting to some people to learn how the old Morrisburg  High School property came to be owned by the Village of Morrisburg.

     This happened at the end of 1968 and there are not a lot of people around now who know the full story. I am not attempting to claim any special credit or blame in what happened at that time. As you will see a number of people on two councils and a school board acted unanimously to acquire title to the property. Was that a good move; you can be the judge. This short article is just an attempt to report what actually transpired, and preserve a bit of local history.

     The story starts prior to the St. Lawrence Seaway construction. The High School in Iroquois, which I attended from 1942 to 1947 was a very old building on a "back street". lt  was a small school; there were seldom more than one hundred and ten students in those years. When the Village of Iroquois was completely demolished  in the 1950s and relocated to its present site, Ontario Hydro constructed  a new high school building which is now  part of Seaway District High School.

     Morrisburg's  secondary school prior to the 1950s was a Collegiate Institute. I can recall that some of its students suggested to their counterparts in Iroquois that a collegiate  was just a bit better than a high school. The collegiate building was bigger, newer and better­ equipped than the Iroquois High School and attendance was slightly higher. 

     Not all of Morrisburg Village had to be relocated during the seaway project. The Collegiate, by that time a High School, was not affected hence no new building in Morrisburg. When the Seaway was completed Iroquois had the more modern high school.

     At that time there were separate elementary and high school boards. The Villages of  Iroquois and Morrisburg and the Townships, Matilda and Williamsburg each had their own elementary school boards. However these four municipalities had united, for high school purposes, in the late 1940's under one board, which had jurisdiction over Morrisburg and Iroquois High Schools. Membership  on the elementary boards was by public election each November. Members of the high school board were appointed by the four municipal councils.

     In the  late 1950s and early 1960's the Government of Ontario under Premier Leslie Frost and Education Minister John Robarts developed a plan to organize education at the high school level into various streams, occupations, technical and shop, commercial and academic. The Iroquois High School had been built with this in mind. The Morrisburg High School could not as easily accommodate these streams of students. There was some thought at the time of combining the two high schools, but neither Village wanted to give up its local school. The High School Board proceeded, with the approval of the Ministry of Education, to construct an addition on the north side of the Morrisburg  High School to accommodate the new streaming program .

     Shortly after the addition  was finished the Ministry of Education began pressing the local High School Board to combine the two schools. As a fairly new member of the Morrisburg  Village Council I can recall numerous joint meetings of the councils of the four municipalities with the Board to discuss this issue. The Ministry  finally summoned the members of all four councils and the members of the South Dundas High School Board to a meeting in Toronto and applied a great deal of pressure to merge the two high schools.The Ministry's message was clear; they wanted one high school and since the school in Iroquois was much newer they would only approve and finance a new school if it were by way of an addition to the existing Iroquois High School. This was a bitter pill for the people in Morrisburg who were not at all happy to lose their high school.

     Finally the Province forced the issue and since it controlled the purse strings the Board was forced to proceed with expansion of the Iroquois School while the Morrisburg  High School was closed. In the course of exerting pressure on the Board a senior official in the Ministry of Education wrote a letter to the School Board with copies to the local municipalities stating that the Morrisburg High School building had no value.

The South Dundas municipal Centre as it appears today . . .
The South Dundas municipal Centre as it appears today . . .

     In the meantime other provincial changes were afoot. Mr. Robarts replaced  Mr. Frost as Premier and Bill Davis, a rising star in the Progressive Conservative party was appointed Minister of Education. There was a feeling at Queen's Park that there were too many boards of education or school boards in the Province and it enacted legislation that combined public and separate school administration on a county basis. For our area this meant that all public schools in The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and the City of Cornwall were to be administered by one public board effective January 1st,

1969.

     I had been a member of the Morrisburg Council during the 1960s and served as Deputy Reeve in 1967 and 1968, Fred Hill was Reeve and I think the Councillors were Paul Barkley, Arnold "Red" Lawlor and Arnie Payment. In late 1968 Fred Hill announced his intention of retiring as did most of the other councillors. I ran for Reeve and was elected with four newcomers, Eddy Jones as deputy, Earl Baker, Bob Bright and Bruce Tuttle as councillors;  all of whom turned out to be excellent council members. The new council was to be sworn in on the January 1st, 1969; the old High School Board for South Dundas would disappear on December 31st, 1968.

     Fred Hill and I talked about the future of the Morrisburg High School building which had just been vacated. The new  High School in Iroquois had been completed and officially opened. The Morrisburg High school sat idle. We both knew that if any action were to be taken about the vacant building it must occur before the end of the year.

     We came to the conclusion that the Village should have control over the future of the former Morrisburg High School building. We felt that decisions by the new School Board disposing surplus property might conflict with the village's aims for development on Ottawa street, especially  with the arena and elementary school nearby. With this in mind Fred called a meeting of the outgoing council, and I requested the newly elected council members attend. The decision was unanimous; we should ask the South Dundas Board to convey title of the property to the Village prior to the end of the year. Fred and I discussed the matter with Mr. Wm Gorrell, Q.C, solicitor for the Village of Morrisburg; then we contacted Mr. Dale Beckstead, Chair of the South Dundas School Board, and Mrs Jean Notman, the Morrisburg appointee to the Board. Dale called an urgent meeting of the South Dundas Board. The Village submitted that the building had no value, as determined by the Ministry of Education and that the cost of demolition and landscaping probably exceeded the value of the land. The Board unanimously agreed to convey title to the Village for $1.00 and Mr. Gorrell carried out these instructions prior to the year end.

     Several weeks after the new Council took office in 1969 I received a telephone call from Mr. Bryson Comrie. I knew Bryson quite well, he was a good friend. He was in fact my accountant and accountant for my law firm.  Bryson was a very capable businessman and had a very successful accounting practise with offices in Cornwaii, Ottawa and Morrisburg.

     Bryson had been elected a member of the new County Board of Education from the City of Cornwall; he had been Chair of the Cornwall Board of Education before amalgamation and was elected as the first Chair of the new Board. He was an ideal choice to lead the new board in its formative years.

     Bryson  immediately  asked me if the Village of Morrisburg had acquired title to the former High  School property in Morrisburg and I confirmed this to be true. He quite firmly and forcefully demanded that the Village of Morrisburg surrender title to the property to the new County Board of Education, saying that our acquisition was illegal. Bryson could be very forceful at times and apparently felt that a strong stand was necessary. He was very confidant in  his opinion that the Village of Morrisburg and the South Dundas Board had acted illegally.

     I countered with a low key approach; saying that the property in question was presently unused and not needed by the new Board of Education for any purpose as far as I could see. I suggested that the Village was doing everyone a favour by taking this property  off the Board's hands and the new Board would not have to waste time and money maintaining  it. I sympathized with the problem they faced in disposing of many surplus school properties and assured him we were only trying to be helpful.

     I pointed out the property was zoned for public use and the Village would probably oppose any request for a change in zoning. Bryson remained adamant and gave me an ultimatum; surrender title or the County  Board of Education would instruct their solicitor Mr. Stanley Fennell, Q.C., to commence court action to force the Village of Morrisburg to do so. 

     I questioned why the Board would waste public money on a lawsuit over a useless piece of land and buildings. Bryson disagreed with my position and at this stage I referred him to the letter setting out the Ministry's opinion that the property was valueless. I could tell that Bryson was a bit surprised. I suggested that any lawsuit would attract the attention of the provincial press who might question the need for litigation over title to a building the Province had already deemed valueless. Bryson didn't back down; he assured me that I had not heard the last of this issue. He said he would get back to me.

     In fact the Village never did hear anything further about the matter after that. The Council had no immediate plans for the property and subsequent councils found various uses and occupants for the building. The north wing of the building was put to good use when the Village of Morrisburg leased it and later sold it to the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic. Over the years the other parts of the building have been used by the Village for various purposes.  It has rented space to the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, and for a short time  to a dentist. For a period of time it housed the S.D. and G County Library; the Boy Scouts used rooms at times. One room was used as a fitness room; another as a senior drop in centre. Some rooms have been used by charitable and volunteer organizations from time to time. I believe the Province of Ontario was a tenant of part this valueless piece of property on occasion.

     Best of all the Village  rented a couple of rooms to the County Board of Education for several years.

 

Mike McInnis is a life-long resident of Iroquois/Morrisburg. He was born in 1929 (home located on Zeron Road), spent his childhood attending primary school in Matilda Township, secondary school in Iroquois and attended Queen's University before pursuing a law degree in Toronto at Osgoode Hall Law School. Mike returned to his home area, purchased the practise of lawyer Raymond H. Armstrong and practiced law from his office in Morrisburg.  He spent many years involved in municipal government and on community boards prior to retiring and becoming an accomplished wood carver of birds. These days Mike McInnis enjoys a good read, loves scanning the digital information highways and even more, loves good humor and a great story. His memories of historically significant (and some not so significant) events and happenings in and around our community has been an exceptional source of information to many, including the the owners of this web site. Hopefully we'll be able to share more of them . . . 


5 College Street or P.O. Box 58

Iroquois ON  

K0E 1K0

email: dundascountyarchives@gmail.com

 

Web pages

https://southdundas.com/residents/dundas-county-archives/

https://northdundas.com/town-hall/clerk/dundas-county-archives

 

Telephone: 613 669 0719

 

     We are currently open on a part-time schedule. Please drop in on Tuesday 9:00 am  - 4:00 pm

All other times by appointment – please email me when you are looking to come in.

 

Note: We are temporarily closed to public access under the direction of the municipality and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. In the meantime we encourage you to check out any of those family collection boxes you've been wondering about. Go over the items and send us an email. We can help you in choosing your support of the Dundas County Archives collection . . .

 

Do you have an interesting story to tell?

     If you have stories to tell about the history, places, the businesses and the people of Dundas County, we would love to have you share it with us.  We believe it is a perfect way for us to add to the collective history of the region.

     We have binders of local history in the reading room and we would love to build these with more stories.

 

Donations: 

     We do accept donations of photos, documents, books, videos and other materials as long as it pertains to the history of Dundas County.

 

Future Topics for guest lectures or workshops:

 Please let us know what topics would be of interest to you for a “tea and talk” or an invited guest speaker.  What workshops would be of interest?

Possible workshop titles:

The care of heirlooms, such as photos or documents.

How to search  the digitized newspapers.

How to research your home prior to Seaway construction.

How to navigate the land records.

 

 

Who does the Dundas County Archives serve?

     The Dundas County Archives is jointly supported by the Township of North Dundas and the Municipality of South Dundas. Our mission is to collect, arrange, preserve and make available to researchers the records of Dundas County.  While the central focus is to operate as a municipal archive, in compliance with the Municipal Act, we do also collect documentary heritage pertaining to the businesses, community groups, individuals and historical organizations within the region of Dundas County.  This becomes the collective memory of our region.  

     Our clients are municipal staff, as well as individuals who wish to conduct research into their local history. We have many researchers who travel quite a distance in order to research their family history.  

     We share facilities with the separate St Lawrence Branch of the United Empire Loyalists Family Research Centre.  This cooperative association helps to provide researchers with many resources unique to each of our facilities.  

     The objective in this role is to preserve records that enhance our understanding of history, the social fabric, natural and built environment, and the people who lived, worked and made significant contributions to the shaping of Dundas County. 

 

What does the Archives collect?

     Our focus is on collecting materials that pertain to this geographic era.  This includes records of community groups, schools, churches, businesses, individuals etc.  

     We are also building a record of the construction of the Seaway, life in the area prior to and after the St Lawrence Seaway was completed.

     We have records of early cabinet makers in the region.  Thanks to Upper Canada Village we also have census records, farming history, early newspapers, diaries, wills, surrogate court and probate records, Parliament Proceedings, and research reports on 1800’s history all on microfilm.

     We now have in our collections the original land records for Dundas County.  The digitized versions are searchable on the Service Canada web site but we house the originals.

     We have SOME records of men and women who served in the Boer War and the First and Second world wars from the local region.

     We have SOME early records and photos from schools in Morrisburg and Iroquois.

     We have the Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir scrap books for Iroquois, Matilda, South Mountain and Williamsburg

     We also have the types of records that are generated by a municipal government n our collections.  This would include tax assessment and collector rolls, consultant reports, minutes of Municipal councils, building permits, drains, as well as operational and financial files of municipal government.

     The types of materials that we collect does vary.  Many donated collections do come in mixed media, such as paper records, videos and photographs.  We are building a local history book library.  These include books about the region as well as local authors.  

 

What we do not collect?

     We generally do not have any histories of homes in the area.  One would have to come in to the archives to search through assessment rolls or building permits. As the focus of the Lynne Cook - St Lawrence Branch of the United Empire Loyalist is on family research, it is possible if you reach out to them they may be able to help you find information about your house through research into the people who lived in the home.

     We do have county atlases and some early maps, we have some of the original land records and we have other records that can confirm when a person lived in an area. 

     We do not, however, as yet, have histories of homes.

     We also do not collect items that are made of unstable or hazardous materials.  We collect materials that pertain to the area of Dundas County.

 

Thank you to our donors . . .

     I am very thankful to all of our donors.  The Dundas County Archives would not be here without your generosity. Our partners in the development of our facility have included Upper Canada Village who donated a large collection of microfilm newspapers, journals, research papers and census records as well as a microfilm reader, 

     The S D & G County Library has donated the originals of the Dundas County Land records. The Iroquois Branch of the S D & G County Library has donated a large collection of Iroquois local history scrap books, photos and other records.

     Alan Favreau has designed and built custom shelving for the United Empire Loyalists room as well as custom boxes for the archives photograph collection.  

     James Jordan lovingly restored a large collection of local trophies and donated them to the archives along with the cabinet to display them in.  He also donated numerous ledgers, pictures and paintings of historic importance.  

     Randy Vienotte has donated a large collection of ledgers from an early business of Morrisburg. 

     Pam French donated several book shelves and a computer.

     Stephen Law has donated a collection of photos and other materials pertaining to Iroquois history and the Seaway.

     We have received cash donations from individuals such as Tom Kennedy, Donald Kunz as well as donations from the Lions Clubs and Legions of Dundas County.

     Evonne Delegarde has been a volunteer at the archives and has also generously donated many items of local interest over the last year. 

     The list of donors is  too long to report but all these donations are greatly appreciated and do help to preserve the history of Dundas County

Newspaper Digitization Project . . .

     Due to the very generous support of the United Counties Council, we have been funded for our Newspaper Digitization Project. We are also grateful for the financial support of the Iroquois, Morrisburg and Winchester Legions, as well as the Lions Clubs of Iroquois Matilda, Morrisburg and Mountain Township.  These organizations supported the purchase of archival supplies and we are truly indebted to them for assisting us in this preservation project. 

     To date, we have scanned and digitized about 31,000 pages of historic newspapers.  The plan is to digitize the historic newspapers of the county, throughout her history.  We have had access to the back issues of the Chesterville Record from 1902, the Winchester Press from 1918, The Iroquois Post, the Iroquois Chieftain, The Morrisburg Leader, the Morrisburg Banner, and the Dundas Courier and St Lawrence News, both dating into the 1800s.  Through the generous donation of newspapers, we have been able to fill many of the gaps that we had in the record. Unfortunately we only have one issue of the Mountain Herald, in 1905.

     This has been a labour intense project, between collecting, organizing and carefully piecing together the frail and brittle papers.  The end result will be an OCR (optical character Recognition) searchable collection which will give access to hundreds of years of local history.  Most of these papers provide information that is not available anywhere else. 

     Volunteers have assisted in this project.  The Dundas County Archives thanks Sandra Lee and Roger Johnson for saving the 60 odd years of Iroquois publishing history from the dumpster and donating these newspapers to us. Thank you to those who brought in even one or two issues to complete our collection.  Carol Montgomery and Howard and Leslie Kirkby have all been a huge assistance in organizing all of these papers.  These people have all been local history heroes.

     Evonne Delegarde has been very helpful in helping to sort papers. Thank you to the publishers of these local newspapers who have agreed to donate or loan us these historic records. The list is endless but all is appreciated.  This effort proves that it takes a village to complete such a huge project.  

     We have much more work to do to complete the Newspaper Digitization Project.  However, it will all be worth it if we can provide researchers with an invaluable and unique resource.

     Please note that these newspapers are not yet digitized and we do not as yet have access to the digital files.  I will certainly make updates as we get closer to this step of hosting the digital files to a web site. 

 

Showcasing Local History . . .

The "Empress of Ireland". In May 29, 1914 The Canadian Pacific steamship, the Empress of Ireland, collided with a Norwegian freighter near Quebec, sinking in 14 minutes and killing 1,012 people . . .

 

     In an effort to showcase Dundas County history, displays have been set up every few months in the exhibit case in the lobby of the Morrisburg Municipal Centre. To date we have a number of featured displays: 

     •  The Allison Family on the Titanic in April, 

     •  In  June the Royal visit to open the St Lawrence Seaway / 

     •  Dr Locke and his brand name shoes / 

     •  Food rationing in the area during the World Wars / 

     •  Dutch immigration to the area after the second world war 

     •  This month will feature a look at historic hockey teams in the area.

     Future displays will include George Jowett, Ken Carter, St Lawrence Iroquois archaeology sites in Williamsburg and Morrisburg, Lorne Mulloy.

 

     If you have any suggestions on future topics please do share by email.  Again, dundascountyarchives@gmail.com

     We plan to feature a display on the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in May 1914.  If you have any connection to Nettie Beckstead, who was lost in the sinking, we would love to hear from you.

 

     We are planning a display on Dr Marion Hilliard (left), (1902 – 1958) who was born and raised in Morrisburg but then went on to make huge inroads in women’s health on the International sphere.  We are also looking for any Hilliard family members still in the area as we are submitting a proposal to nominate her to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.  If you are in her family, or know someone who is, please contact us.

 

Susan Peters,

Dundas County Archives