Saturday, 6 April 2019

Fatal derailment at Trainor's Cut, Guelph, 1907

On 26 February 1907, the 2.50 p.m. train from Toronto for Chicago did not pull into the Grand Trunk station in Guelph at the expected time. A few minutes later, word arrived in the city that there had been a derailment—a bad one involving many injuries and several deaths. How many was uncertain but it was clear that Trainor's Cut had once again lived up to its unfortunate reputation.

Located not far east of Guelph, Trainor's Cut had been a trouble spot since the Grand Trunk Railway (G.T.R.) was laid from Rockwood to Guelph in 1855–56. In 1864, a freight train ran off the rails at the site. More recently, two freight trains had collided there in 1904, resulting in a pile up of cars over 30 high and the deaths of two employees. The latest derailment, though, seemed to be the worst yet.

Injured passengers were brought to town and began to tell concerned Guelphites what had happened (Evening Mercury, 26 Feb.):

The first passenger to reach the city was Mr. Arch. Priest, machinist of the Canadian-American Linotype Co., who was on his way to Guelph to put in a day or two at work in the Mercury office. He was driven into the city, his face covered with blood and complaining of pain in the abdomen. The extent of his injuries are not yet known. He said it was the second railway accident he had ever been in, and it was the last he ever wanted to experience. He was in the passenger coach following the baggage car, and stated that when it left the track it rolled over once before reaching the bottom of the forty foot embankment. The worst experience came with the final jar when it stopped at the bottom. Seats were wrenched from their places, the car wrecked and passengers thrown forcibly downwards, and the wreckage precipitated on top of them. Mr. Priest found himself stretched prostrate with two or three others piled on top of him, one of whom must have bled profusely, as the blood which covered his face did not come from himself.
Police and town doctors were summoned and sent to the wreckage. As passengers, officials, and bodies were brought to the city, details of the event began to emerge.

Train No. 5 was on its way from Rockwood to Guelph on its regular run (Evening Mercury, 27 Feb.). It consisted of engine 955 plus its coal tender followed by a baggage car, a combination baggage and smoker car, two passenger coaches and a Pullman parlor car. It appeared that a break occurred in a rail while the train was passing over it. Under the weight of the train, the tracks began to come apart, causing the combination car and three rear coaches to derail. These skipped over the ties for a short distance and then broke off and fell over the embankment. The coaches slid down the icy slope and then rolled over violently at the bottom. The combination car rolled to a right angle with the track and was struck by the passenger car following it, forming an "L". The cars came to rest perhaps 200 yards from the initial breakage.

The engine, tender and baggage car continued down the track. The baggage car, having skipped over the ties to this point, broke loose and dragged the tender away with it. At this point, driver William Thompson became aware of the situation and applied the emergency brake, bringing the locomotive to a stop.

The violence of the derailment was confirmed by survivors (Evening Mercury, 27 Feb.):

Mr. Anderson a foundryman, of Guelph, who was slightly injured, says that he plainly felt the jar when the car struck the broken rail. A moment later the passengers were flying through the air, grasping at anything that offered support. He was certain that the car he was on in the combination baggage and smoker turned over to or three times and he could not understand how so few were killed.
Albert Rogers, whose home is in Oshawa, thought that the car had turned over at least a couple of times before coming to a standstill at the bottom of the declivity. He was surprised that the coolness of the passengers when they had been extricated from the coaches, but said that there were some wild scenes before its windows were broken open. Some persons endeavored to escape by making a footstool of the bodies of others.
Of course, there were many serious injuries as well as three deaths: John O'Donohue and Charles Rankin, both of Stratford, and Ennis Walker, of Peterborough. Mr. O'Donohue, an ex-Mayor of Stratford and Ennis Walker were in the last passenger coach. R.J. Waite, employee of the G.T.R. who was on the car, related the scene:
Ex-Mayor O’Donohue, of Stratford, was sitting on the side of the car opposite to me, and was shot across the car, landing with his head on the clothes rack above the windows. His neck seemed to be broken, and he never moved, being instantly killed.
The child killed was seated beside her little brother. They were accompanied by their mother. They were seated on the same side as myself, and immediately ahead of me. The little girl seemed to disappear at once, and must have gone through the window and under the car. We were looking for her inside, when they got her from under the wreck. The little boy was not much hurt, apparently. The mother was dazed and distracted with grief and suffering from shock and bruises.
The fate of Charles Rankin, a hockey player, was described by Rev. R.E. Knowles of Knox Church, Galt. Rankin was sitting next to Knowles in the parlor car when the derailment occurred. Rankin had been sleeping and was hurled through a window and instantly killed. He had been married only 10 days earlier.

The bodies of the dead were taken to Tovell's undertaking house on Quebec Street. The badly injured were taken to the General Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital. Those who sustained lesser injures or had access to their own physicians made their way home as best they could, often with the help of friends and family. The Rev. Knowles, for example, made it home to Galt that afternoon:

Rev. Mr. Knowles reached his home in Galt at 4.30, and was met by Dr. Varden. His injuries consist of a broken left shoulder blade, a sprained elbow and severe cuts on the hand. His back is also hurt. The injured clergyman said on being interviewed: “I am more a sufferer from shock than physical wounds. The awful experiences were enough to drive one mad. I scarcely think I shall have nerve enough to board another railway train."
Guelph police arrived on the scene to secure the site and any physical evidence for the Coroner's inquiry that was sure to follow.

In addition, disasters like this always drew the curious public, some of whom took pictures. Among these are the following real-photo postcards.


The caption accurately describes the scene as "Wreck near Guelph." Taken from near the top of the embankment, the picture shows the prostrate passenger cars, with many men standing both in front of and and on top of one of them. Since the car was on its side, the only way in or out was through the windows exposed on the top.

In the foreground, a man can be seen with his back to the camera who also appears to be taking a picture of the scene. So, this card is also a piece of meta-photography: a picture of someone taking a picture. Inadvertently, perhaps, it serves to remind the viewer that the scene on the card was chosen for a particular purpose In this case, the purpose seems to be to gratify an urge to gawk at disasters, suggesting that postcards could serve a purpose not unlike some images communicated through social media today.

Above second car from the right is drawn an "X". This is explained by the message on the back:

Received your card and I am sure that if you cannot get any small photo a large one will be quite acceptable. So send one along and I will await its arrival with interest. This is a photo of the place where Charlie Rankins was killed last winter the cross marks the car which crushed him. Well so long send photo soon // Earl K
The card was sent to Miss Verna Jeffrey of Saskatoon on 17 June 1907. This card is another example of senders using mark-ups to personalize postcards for their recipients. (See my earlier post, "Personalizing postcards: X marks the spot" on this device.) It also reflects the off-handedness with which disaster postcards could be selected for use.

A second car shows an image of the same scene from the east.


This image must be from somewhat later as the crash scene has been further processed. The car that the men were standing on in the first image has been flipped upright and placed on a temporary track that the G.T.R. installed to remove their assets. Damaged trucks and other parts are lined up next to the embankment on the left. Wires attached to the car can be seen overhead, leading to a derrick out of sight on the right brought to tow the cars back to the main line and on to a repair facility. The car that crushed Charles Rankin remains on its side in the foreground.

The caption confirms that the scene depicted is indeed a wreck east of Guelph and the postmark of 4 March 1907 confirms that it is the same wreck.

Between them, these images also confirm the site of the wreck. Both show the wreck on the bottom of a steep embankment. The first also shows a fairly flat landscape in the background with a couple of farm buildings in the middle distance. The second shows a dramatic upslope immediately to the west with a barn only a short distance away.

Interestingly, the Daily Mercury (10 Apr 1907) refers to postcard pictures of the wreck:

An excellent photograph, showing the position fo the coaches at the bottom of the bank east of Trainor's Cut after the recent wreck there, has been developed by Mr. Geo. Stiven, of the local Bank of Commerce staff, in post card form, and is being circulated amongst his friends.
Perhaps at least one of the postcards above was among those taken by Mr. Stiven.

Along the G.T.R. (now Canadian National) track east of Guelph, superposition of a Google Maps terrain map on top of the 1908 Wellington County Atlas shows that a site just east of Jones Baseline matches the one shown in the image. The Atlas shows the farm building of Thomas Gilfillan, shown in the first image. To the northwest and up the nearby slope is the building belonging to Joseph Fletcher, whose property fence the derailed carriages have dislodged. The site of the derailment is marked with a star.


This conclusion suggests that Trainor's Cut refers to the point where the G.T.R. tracks curve around the southern slope of the moraine beneath Jones Baseline where it intersects York Road (now Highway 7), and not a Cityview Drive, which I suggested in my post about the wreck of the Royal City hay train.

The site of the wreck can be discerned from the bridge over the tracks at the baseline, looking east towards Rockwood, just at the point where track curves out of sight.



The immediate cause of the derailment seemed clear enough: The broken rail found at the site had bounced the train from the tracks. The real issue was whether or not the G.T.R. had been negligent in its practices (Evening Mercury, 28 Feb). Coroner Dr. W.J. Robinson began an inquiry into the death of Charles Rankin, immediately empanelling a jury and arranging viewings of the bodies, the scene, and the physical evidence. In subsequent meetings, evidence was presented and the opinions of experts solicited.

The weight of the rail taken from the scene was a cause for concern. It was found to weigh about 69 lbs. per yard, considerably less than the 79 lbs. per yard that was supposed to be in place (Evening Mercury, 6 March). In addition, the railway had recently begun to use heavier engines for its trains. The engine pulling the wrecked train, No. 955, weighed about 91 tons, in contrast to earlier engines, which weighed about 80 tons. Bigger engines could pull larger loads and do it more quickly, but they might also damage rails that were not heavy enough to support them.

Similarly, the speed of the train was considered. Witnesses testified that the train was traveling fast. Its speed was eventually ascertained to be around 60 miles per hour (over 95 kph). Could this speed and the weight of the engine account for the wreck? It suggested that the engine may have broken the rail while passing over it, leaving the following cars to derail when they encountered it.

Officials of the G.T.R. argued that the rail was heavy enough for the trains and that the speed was not excessive. Yet, their arguments struck Robinson as confused and evasive. As to the rails, officials argued that the old rails were made in Britain of better steel than the new, Canadian-made, heavy rails, and so were adequate for the heavier engines. Even if true, this answer was hardly reassuring.

Robinson noted that the G.T.R. had been reinforcing the bridges along its routes in view of the bigger locomotives. So, why not reinforce the rails and roadbeds as well? Railway officials replied that it was hard to say, as bridges, roadbeds, and locomotives were under different authorities at the corporation (Evening Mercury, 13 March). Frustrated, Robinson threatened to subpoena every senior executive at the railway until he found one who could give him a straightforward answer.

G.T.R. Superintendent Brownlee appeared at the inquest a few days later (23 March). His answers struck the Mercury reporter as unenlightening. He asserted that the rails were adequate to bear the weight of the new trains. As to the condition of the roadbed, Brownlee said that:

... although the roadbed on this section was not as good as the best in the States, it was better than the 70% of them; but none used schedules of 60 miles per hour, although some ran a good deal faster, at times, to make their schedules of 50 miles per hour.
He acknowledged that a speed of 60 miles per hour was not safe for the Toronto-Sarnia run in general. Nevertheless, it was acceptable for the Rockwood-Guelph section because that section was, he claimed, unusually well adapted to high speeds. In any event, the G.T.R. had no fast rules regarding speed, which was up to the crew to decide depending on circumstances. Of course, those circumstances included the schedules defined by management, which seemed to necessitate a high speed in this section.

There was also the matter of inspection of the rails. Daily inspections were untaken by a man on a hand cart and weekly inspections by a man on foot. No inspection had taken place on the day of the wreck because the section men had been taken to Toronto for other work. Could the accident have been prevented had the daily inspection taken place? No one could say for sure but Robinson was clearly unhappy that the G.T.R. did not have enough personnel to carry out its regular safety inspections reliably.

After all the evidence and various opinions were heard and taken into account, the jury determined that the G.T.R. had been negligent in the events leading up to the death of Charles Rankin (26 March 1907, Evening Mercury):

From a careful perusal of the evidence we are of the opinion that the train was traveling at a dangerous rate of speed considering the season of the year. The weight of the rail, and engine, and we further believe were, the direct cause of the accident, that caused the death of Chas. R. Rankin.
Of course, a Coroner's jury could not lay legal blame but it could make recommendations. Hoping to prompt the G.T.R. to change its ways, Coroner Robinson communicated the result of the inquiry to the Dominion Railway Commission and the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board (Evening Mercury, 27 March). However, the signs were not good. The last piece of evidence submitted to the jury was the observation that trains from Rockwood to Guelph, featuring the heavier locomotives, were still running through Trainor's Cut at 60 miles per hour after the derailment.


In the early 20th century, the Grand Trunk Railway went on an aggressive program of expansion. There were several reasons. One was that finances were more available as the economy had finally recovered from the Panic of 1893. The G.T.R. had also hired a gung-ho, American railroad man, Charles Melville Hays, to lead the company into better times (MacKay 1993, pp. 8ff). Among his initiatives were the formation of the Grand Trunk Pacific, another transcontinental railway to compete with the Canadian Pacific, and the purchase of new locomotives and track upgrades. Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier magnified these plans to better serve his political interests in Quebec.

The plan set the railway on a collision course with insolvency. Even in this prosperous era, the economy could not support the amount of track being laid. Also, the government had considerable control over the railway, which it heavily subsidized, and did not permit increases in fees sufficient to defray costs. Also, the economic boom did not last long enough for the G.T.R. to recoup its debts.

The Grand Trunk Railway went bankrupt in 1919 and was folded into the Canadian National Railway, along with several other insolvent companies.

Charles Hays did not live to see the foundering of the railway. He was on killed on 14 April 1912 in the sinking of the Titanic while returning from a trip to London to solicit investment in the Grand Trunk Pacific. On the eve of the collision, Hays is supposed to have had a premonition of the consequences of the steamship lines' headlong adoption of bigger, faster ships, "The time will come soon when this trend will be checked by some appalling disaster."

It is curious to note that this period was one of the deadliest in the history of the railway. Nearly 600 people were killed in incidents on the Grand Trunk Railway in 1907, about half of them employees (MacKay 1993, p. 161). The account of the wreck at Trainor's Cut conveys the sense that G.T.R. employees had plenty of experience of train wrecks (Evening Mercury, 27 Feb 1907):

One passenger tells of a wise move on the part of the negro porter, who as soon as he felt that the car was off the track lay flat on his stomach in the aisles and clung to the legs of the seats. The narrator of the incident saw the wisdom of his action and followed his example, and both escaped without injury. The porter afterwards stated that he had adopted this plan of action in about 25 wrecks, and had only a rib broken on one occasion, but he added that this was the worst wreck he had experienced.
The reporter considers the number of wrecks experienced to be an exaggeration, yet the statistics suggest it should not be dismissed out of hand.


Brian Skerrett points out that the name "Trainor's Cut" apparently refers to J. Traynor, the owner of the property near where several derailments occurred. From the 1861 local atlas:


Brian also points out that Clythe's Creek runs through a culvert under the railway tracks on Traynor's property. Thus, "Trainor's Cut" may refer to that culvert.

This attribution is quite plausible. Yet, it would put Trainor's Cut west of Watson Road rather than east of Jones Baseline, a difference of some 3km (2mi). References to "Trainor's Cut" in the newspapers are maddeningly imprecise, placing it anywhere from 1 to 4 miles east of Guelph, leaving it unclear whether that means east of the city centre or the eastern boundary of the time at Victoria Road. Perhaps the term came to refer broadly to the stretch of GTR track in the vicinity of Guelph to its east.


There are a number of further photos of the wreck:


(Courtesy of Guelph Public Library F38-0-10-0-0-10.)


(Courtesy of Guelph Public Library F38-0-10-0-0-11.)


(Courtesy of Guelph Civic Museums 1980.77.1.)


(Courtesy of Guelph Civic Museums 2000.6.1.)


(Courtesy of Guelph Civic Museums 2000.6.2.)


(Courtesy of Guelph Civic Museums 2014.63.1.)

This image looks very much as though it was taken by the photographer seen in the foreground of the first postcard image shown above.



Locomotive 955 was apparently a ten-wheel locomotive built by the Locomotive and Machine Co. of Montreal (later Montreal Locomotive Works—MLW) in 1904 and belongs to 4-6-0 subclass 1-7-a. If so, then it would have looked like this:


(Courtesy of Old Time Trains.)

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Oran Turnbull and the first picture postcards of Guelph

The turn of the 20th Century was an exciting time in Canada for meany reasons. Telephones were becoming increasingly common. Electricity was starting to light up cities and drive their streetcar systems. Automobiles were beginning to appear on city streets. Advances in printing technology brought a new communication technology within the reach of consumers, the picture postcard, or "postal." Thanks to Oran Turnbull, the new craze come early to the Royal City.

By 1900, Guelphites began to find items like the following for sale in their fair city's bookstores and shops:


The card shows a picture of the Guelph Collegiate Institute, built in 1879 and demolished in 1959. Text to the right of the image notes that the card is "private," that is, produced by a private company and not a government agency. Also noted is the name of the product line, "Turnbull's Private Postals."

Here are some additional cards in Turnbull's series:


(From the John Keleher collection; courtesy of Bob Keleher.)

Here, the empty space around the image was put to good use. In the early days of picture postcards, the back was reserved entirely for the destination address, so messages were confined to the front.

Note also that the picture shows the old Post Office/Customs House, on the right margin of the image, before its third storey and clock tower were added in 1903.


This image shows the original Heffernan Street footbridge, built in 1881 and replaced by the current one in 1914.


The final image shows a view of Guelph from Horseman's Hill (usually spelled Horsman, after an important local businessman of the 19th Century), from near the top of Grange Street.

The earliest, mass-produced picture postcards of Guelph were made by Oran Edgar Turnbull. Turnbull was born on 11 March 1870 in the vicinity of Peterborough. Sometime in the 1880s, he had moved to Brussels, Ontario and, perhaps, became interested in the printing trade, among other things. The 1891 Ontario Census shows Turnbull residing in Galt.

By 1894, he had changed his situation, as described in the Huron Expositor (15 Feb):

Oran Turnbull, an old Brusselite, now of Guelph, returned to Brussels on Tuesday, and on Wednesday evening, at 7.30 p.m., he claimed May, youngest daughter of Rev. J.L. Kerr, as his wife. Both the bride and groom are printers by trade, having learned in the same office, and it now turns out that they were learning more than printing. Anyway, it ended in the happy wedding of this week.
Rosetta May Kerr was the niece of W.H. Kerr, producer of the Brussels Post newspaper, where she and Oran may have learned the trade and gotten to know each other. In 1894, Oran Turnbull was working in the Mercury Job Room in Guelph. The Job Room was the part of the Mercury business dedicated to printing items for third parties, rather than the Mercury itself. For example, if a Guelphite wanted to print a pamphlet, then they could visit the Job Room and obtain a quote.

It seems that Turnbull had ambitions for himself. In 1899, he set up his own printing business, called "O.E. Turnbull, Printer and Binder." The company began to do work for various people in town, such as a program for the Canadian Wheelman's Association Provincial Bicycle Racing Meet held in at Petrie's Athletic Park in Guelph (Guelph Civic Museums 1986.17.1).

This program is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it shows some images of Guelph that subsequently appear on Turnbull's postcards, e.g.,


This image is identical to that shown on Turnbull's postcard of the Guelph Collegiate Institute, shown above. It seems that Turnbull reused these images for several publications. There are a number of images of places in Guelph in the program that do not appear in any Turnbull postcards that I have yet seen, suggesting that there may be more out there still to be located.

Second, the pamphlet contains an ad for O.E. Turnbull's printing services (see the lower-left page):


The ad gives the office address at 19 Wyndham Street, which puts it just north of the Petrie Building, and on an upper floor.



By far, the best advertisement for O.E. Turnbull is found in the “Farmers’ and Business Directory for the Counties of Halton, Waterloo and Wellington,” v. 12, 1899. The first page of the ad is as follows:


Behold the sorry state of the fellow who does not contract with O.E. Turnbull for his printing work. He is shown beaten up, not by Turnbull but by the competition! O.E. Turnbull and the Good Luck Printery to the rescue!

Also, Turnbull's business was not limited to printing but extended to customized rubber stamps, described as "The greatest labor-saver of the age" on the next page.

Turnbull also printed at least two books. One was "Concession Road" by Thomas Laidlaw, which provides misty recollections of early life in Guelph township. The other is "Short notes on veterinary anatomy for the use of students at the O.A.C. Guelph" a textbook by Professor Hugo Reed.

In 1901, Turnbull entered a partnership with A.W. Wright of Mount Forest to form Turnbull-Wright Co. Printers. The most noted product of this partnership was the production of "The Canadian Boy" magazine. This publication was aimed at the youth market, specializing in tales of manly adventure, the royal family, plus information on camping, photography, sports, and natural history.

Government records also show that Turnbull and Turnbull-Wright did business with the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) just south of town. Ontario government records show that Turnbull did $24 of business with the OAC in 1899, in stationary, rubber stamps, and printing. The figures were $116.30 in 1900, $108.30 in 1901, $80.30 in 1902, and $18.63 in 1903. Some of that figure was with Turnbull-Wright in the latter two years. The 1902 accounts show that the OAC purchased $3.60 of postcards from Turnbull. Which ones were they, I wonder?

It is interesting to consider what factors got Turnbull into the picture postcard business at its inception in Canada. Partly, it may have been simple enthusiasm upon setting up his own printing business, wanting to feature the latest technologies and products.

Although I suspect timing had something to do with it, Turnbull may also have been inspired by his experience at the Epworth League Convention held in Toronto in 1897. The Epworth League was a youth association of the Methodist Church, set up in 1889. The Jubilee Souvenir of the Norfolk St. Methodist Church (Guelph Civic Museums 1985.82.121) of 1905 lists O.E. Turnbull as the League President for the Guelph Church in 1897 and 1899. As such, it seems likely that Turnbull attended the League convention in Toronto on 15–18 July 1897.

One of the features of the convention was the issue of a commemorative picture postcard:


(Courtesy of VintagePostcards.ca.)

The postcard features a collection of small images of Toronto, above text supplied by the sender. As noted in my discussion of William Bell's trade cards, this sort of card was popularized by the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The Epworth League Convention in Toronto was likely just following this trend. I suspect that Turnbull made note of these postcards and recalled their popular reception when he was setting up his new printing business in Guelph two years later.

Thus, the Turnbull Private Postal was born.

A receipt issued in 1901 by the Turnbull-Wright Co. notes its two special distinctions: that it publishes The Canadian Boy magazine and that it publishes Turnbull's Illustrated Postals of the City of Guelph (Civic Museums 2002.27.90).


Altogether, it seems as though things were looking up for Oran Turnbull at the turn of the 20th Century. However, things had gone wrong in his personal life. Rosetta May and Oran had their first child on 5 May 1900, a daughter they named Elva Margaret. For reasons unknown, little Elva died two months later on 6 July (Brussels Post, 12 July 1900). I suspect that this event is centrally involved in the changes that Turnbull made in his life over the next couple of years.

In 1903, Turnbull sold out his business in Guelph and moved to Toronto, where the city directory lists him as a foreman in the press room at the T. Eaton Co., where he would have overseen the printing of catalogs and advertising. It also shows that he was rooming at Gerrard Street in Toronto, apparently by himself.

It is difficult to trace Rosetta May, although the 1911 Ontario census lists her as living with her mother in Brussels, her marital status given as "widow." I have been unable to locate a divorce record. It may be just missing or it could be that the couple simply separated in 1903. Rosetta May died in 1917, whereupon her obituary notes that she had spent several years taking care of her mother in Brussels prior the latter's death two years earlier (Brussels Post, 10 May 1917).

Turnbull moved on. In 1905, he moved to Michigan with Florence Simmons, who is listed as a clerk at the T. Eaton Co., suggesting they met there. They were married in Detroit on 1 January 1906, with the place of residence given as Grand Rapids. However, neither appears in any directory of that city.

Turnbull next turns up in the Detroit city directory in 1909 with his occupation listed as optician. He appears to have remained in that city for the rest of his life, changing occupation to optometrist in 1921. The Michigan Blue Book of optometrists & opticians for 1914 makes a note of his qualifications as an optician as "N.I.C. 1902." This appears to refer to the Northern Illinois College of Ophthalmology and Otology, in Chicago, which offered, among other things, correspondence courses for opticians. Here is an advertisement in The Canadian Druggist (April 1900):


It appears that Turnbull was looking around for a new occupation in 1902, saw the ad, and paid the $25 fee for the course.

Oran and Florence had two children, a daughter Wayne Louise in 1908 and a son William E.J. in 1911. Unfortunately, Florence died in 1927. Turnbull married Fannie G. Gordon in 1928 but the couple divorced two years later.

The only picture of Oran Turnbull that I have come across dates from this period. It is a government Record of Registry from 1931, which lists his official entry into the United States as 1911.


Oran Turnbull died in Detroit on 14 September 1934.

It would be interesting to know what he would have said about his experience as the one who introduced the picture postcard into Guelph so many years earlier.



Of special note is the fact that cover art and several illustrations for The Canadian Boy magazine were executed by David Milne, who went on to become one of Canada's foremost artists of his era, whose works were recently exhibited at the McMichael Gallery.

Here is the cover of the January 1903 edition, courtesy of the Guelph Civic Museums (1976.19.8):


Milne drew the beavers and maple leaves for the cover, as well as two illustrations inside. Although the work is clearly juvenilia, it bears some resemblance to his later work and his noteworthy on that account.

Two letters from Turnbull to David Milne about his work for the magazine are located in the archives of the Art Gallery of Ontario.



Thanks to Roger Miller for help with background research for this post.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

William Philp and The Guelph Musical Society Band, 1910

In 1910, as it had been for many years, the season began with concerts on the occasion of the old Queen's birthday, May 24th, known better as Victoria Day. As usual, the Guelph Musical Society (GMS) Band put on a good show (Mercury, 25 May 1910):
The G.M.S. Band as usual made its first outdoor appearance for the summer season on Victoria Day with its new conductor, Prof. Philp in the lead. An hour’s performance was given on the Trafalgar Square stand from 10 to 11 and a forty-five minute programme in front of the City Hall steps. There was a large turn-out of players and, seldom, if ever, has the band appeared to better advantage at a start of the season.
The report noted the particular distinction of the brass section, one of the best in the nation, in the view of the reporter. The reed section was not so strong but this issue could be rectified if some better musicians could be hired for this purpose. Not that being in the band paid all the bills. Band members were paid for their performances but this income was not enough to live on. When the band found someone they wanted to induct, a job in a local factory under music-friendly management could usually be secured for him.

Perhaps just prior to its performance on the old City Hall steps, the band posed for a group photo, as was apparently its custom. Some copies were printed up as postcards ("real-photo" postcards), one of which is shown below.


This card was sent by "Earnie" to Miss Sarah Cartledge at 37 Glouster St. in Toronto on 10 October 1910. It shows the band arrayed across the steps of the old City Hall, uniforms on and instruments at the ready. It was taken no earlier than May 1910 as it shows bandleader William Philp on the right-hand edge, who joined the GMS in that month. Also, the windows on either side of the doorway have Union Jacks hung in their upper reaches, with the middles cinched up, a decoration normally reserved for civic holidays, especially Victoria Day, Dominion Day, and Labor Day. My guess is that the photo was taken at the first opportunity, namely Victoria Day.

In "Bands of music in Guelph," Ross Irwin explains that Guelph has had musical bands since about 1845. In 1847, on the occasion of obtaining its first fire engine, the Guelph Fire Company laid on a concert featuring George Sunley's Brass Band. Its efforts were much appreciated, reported the Guelph Herald (30 Sep. 1847):

Many of the toasts were accompanied with appropriate Airs, by the very efficient band of Mr. George Sunley, which were in attendance and discoursed most excellent music, greatly to the delight and amusement of the evening.
Through the ensuing years, music for special occasions or just general entertainment was provided by private groups, military bands, or some combination. In 1878, the City Band was formed when the City Council started contributing money to the effort. After the Guelph Musical Society was formed in 1898, the City Band was renamed the Guelph Musical Society Band, a name that lasted until 1968.

We have a pretty decent record of the GMS Band activities in that era due to the diary kept by Arthur Parker, the bass drum player who joined in 1904 and quoted extensively in Irwin (1993). Mr. Parker is likely the young man squatting to the right of the bass drum in the front row of the photo above.

The year 1910 did not begin on a high note, according to Mr. Parker. The bandmaster, Frederick Stares, was "lost" in January of that year due to "bad conduct." Unfortunately, Mr. Parker does not elaborate and newspaper records of that time are also lost, so it is not clear what conduct he is referring to. In any event, bad conduct is no good in a conductor, so Mr. Stares returned to Hamilton and the Band managed to entice William Philp to take on the role.

Hiring William Philp had to be considered a coup for the Band. Born in 1842 in Cobourg, Philp started his musical career early (Daily Mercury, 14 July 1923). He began violin lessons at the age of eight and was teaching that instrument by the age of seventeen. He also learned to play the piano and organ.

He was still a teenager when appointed as the bandmaster of the 57th Rangers of Peterborough. In this capacity, his band and the band of the 60th Rifles performed for the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, at Cobourg in 1862. He later moved to Port Hope, where he continued to be a bandmaster, while also giving piano and violin lessons. In addition, he joined the Rochester Conservatory of Music. In those days, two steamboat companies laid on trips between Port Hope and Rochester, three times a week. Passengers on each trip were entertained by live bands, so there was certainly a demand for good musicians.


Above is a photo of William Philp, date and provenance unknown, reproduced by kind permission of John Philp. (Cf. Guelph Civic Museums 1986.33.16) This picture may show William Philp in the uniform of the 13th Hussar Regiment, which he joined in 1872 upon their arrival in Ontario in response to the Fenian Raids (Mercury, 14 July 1923):
At the time of their arrival the Professor was taking a course at the Toronto Military School, and as he had always been fond of horses, he couldn't resist the temptation to enlist, so joined up with the English regiment, and was with them until they disbanded in 1875, when he was given his discharge.
In 1877, Philp visited Guelph to judge a band competition sponsored by William Bell, the organ and piano manufacturer. Showing sound judgement, Philp took a liking to the Royal City and solicited the position of choirmaster at the Dublin Street Church. In addition, he became bandmaster of the Wellington Field Battery band.

Philp was enticed away to Winnipeg in 1882, then moving on to Sarnia, Chatham, London, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Waterloo. Upon Fred Stares' departure, Philp (now styled "Professor Philp") was recruited back to Guelph through the good offices of Billy Jones and George Sleeman. The hiring of such an accomplished and reputable bandmaster was a "red letter day" for the Royal City.


("Bandmaster Philp," looking forward to his return to Guelph; Daily Mercury, 2 May 1910. Cf. Guelph Civic Museums 1992.8.1)

The year 1910 was a good one for the GMS Band. It played many engagements and acquitted itself well. Arthur Parker notes that he made $50 playing for the Band that year, about $5 more than previous years, which suggests that Prof. Philp got off to a good start.

Prof. Philp led the GMS Band until 1923, when he took a leave of absence for his health. His second wife, Mary, died later that year. He passed away on 30 June 1925, having devoted so many of his 83 years to music, about 15 of those in Guelph. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.



In 1910, the members of the GMS Band were:
Conductor Prof Wm Philp
Solo cornet Herbert Philp
Solo cornet George Walton
1st cornet John Johnson
2nd cornet Hugh Taylor
3rd cornet Wm McKen
Solo clarinet Ben Greybill
Solo clarinet Fred Sherlock
1st clarinet Gerald Garland
1st clarinet Bert Horrison
2nd clarinet Wm Hunter
2nd clarinet Norman Philp
Piccolo Alex Rundle
Bass clarinet Enoch Wisswell
Tenor saxophone Durward McGimsie
Solo horn Charles Metcalf
Solo horn Wm Wiley
Solo horn John Eby
3rd horn Edward Foster
4th horn Alfred Palmer
Solo trombone Alex Wilson
2nd trombone Fred Lynch
3rd trombone John Wildgast
Euphonium Chas Withington
Baritone HarryPalmer
Tenor horn J.B. Collins
BBb bass John Ziegler
BBb bass Sidney Cronk
Eb bass Charles Edwards
Eh bass Enoch Hazelwood
Snare drum Harold Gerrard
Bass drum Arthur Parker

The Guelph Civic Museums archives hold other group photos of the GMS Band from around the same time as the postcard above.


(From about 1907, in front of the Bank of Montreal building on St. George's Square; 2014.84.95)


(From about 1910, location uncertain; 1986.33.20.1)

Herbert William Philp, one of Prof. Philp's sons, fought in the Great War and died of the consequences in 1920.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Xmas at Tiffany's, 1910

The Xmas season is upon us once again and memories of times past return to mind. Some of these glances back are prompted by ephemera like postcards. Below is picture of an Xmas message printed on a festive greeting card:


In some ways, the card is easy to understand. It conveys a common message, wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, accompanied by picture of candles and festive plants in the shape of a wreath. It also gives the names "Mr. and Mrs. Thomas R. Logan," who are presumably the senders of the good wishes, and the address 12 Tiffany St. East in Guelph. Although it is not a postcard nor a folding Christmas card of the common type, it seems straightforward enough.

The location of 12 Tiffany Street East is easy enough to find with Google Street View:



The house is an example of the Queen Anne revival style, built in the late 1800s, likely at about the same time as its two neighbours closer to Woolwich Street.

However, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas R. Logan remain something of an enigma. No Guelph address book that I have consulted lists them, and their name never appears as residents of 12 Tiffany Street East. The card does have the text "$1.00 per dozen" written in the bottom right corner, suggesting that it may be a salesman's sample. Perhaps Mr. & Mrs. Logan were printers and this card is an advertisement.

So, instead of discussing the Logans, we can discuss Tiffany Street. According to Irwin (2008), the street was named after George Tiffany, the man who carried out the first survey of the Guelph town plot in 1827 at the direction of its founder, John Galt.

George Sylvester Tiffany was born in 1805 in Schohaire, New York and moved with his family to Upper Canada in 1812. He studied to become a land surveyor and the job with the Canada Company in Guelph must have been one of his first gigs (Tiffany 1901, pp. 45–46). Apparently not satisfied with this profession, he studied law and became a lawyer and relocated to Ancaster in 1836. During the Upper Canada rebellion of 1837, Tiffany went to Toronto under the command of Sir Allan Napier McNab to put down the revolt. He later became a reeve and then the second mayor of Hamilton.

A.E. Byerly (1935, p. 73) points out that, in 1836, Tiffany married Eliza Ann Strange, daughter of Henry Strange, a former governor of Demerera, West Indies, and who was an important figure in early Guelph history and an occupant of the Priory for a time. He went on to found Strange's Mills, now Rockwood, near Guelph.

Both men were immortalized in Guelph's street names. As with with their namesakes, Tiffany street and Strange street intersected. Strange street was the segment of what is now Dufferin Street, reaching from Kerr Street to Clarence Street, parallel to the river. Tiffany Street East spanned the block from Woolwich to Strange Streets. See the map below.


(The intersection of Tiffany Street East and Strange Street, inside the oval, Wellington County Atlas 1877.)

Both streets have since been changed. As Irwin (2008) notes, street names were not much regulated in Guelph's early years, resulting in some peculiarities. For example, Strange Street continued Mill Street from the south and was itself continued by Dufferin Street to the north, making three streets out of one continuous roadway that spanned only a few blocks. In 1907, the Post Office Department threatened to delay door-to-door delivery until confusing street names and numberings were sorted out. Several streets were rationalized in 1910. At this time, Mary Street, which continued Tiffany Street from Strange Street to the Speed River, was eliminated in favor of more Tiffany Street East.

However, it was not until 1956 that Strange Street was eliminated in favour of Dufferin Street. The name Strange Street can still be seen engraved in the sidewalk at the intersection of Dufferin and Powell Streets.


In view of the extension of Tiffany Street East in 1910, it seemed appropriate to look into what was happening in Guelph during Christmas time of that year.

The year 1910 was an important one for several Guelph institutions. The Armouries on Huskisson Street (now Wyndham Street South) were completed. Construction began on the Ontario Reformatory, then commonly known as the Prison Farm, on York Road just east of town. Today, its is known as the York Lands Green Hub.

However, perhaps the biggest change was the arrival of Niagara power.

Before its adoption, electricity in Ontario was typically provided by small, local outfits, either local utilities or generators purchased by companies to run their factories. However, with the development of large hydropower generating stations such as those at Niagara Falls, there was a considerable push to establish what later became known as "the Grid", that is, a publicly-owned, province-wide system of electricity generation and distribution. This effort was led by Adam Beck, a graduate of Rockwood Academy, who was later knighted for his efforts. The chief advantage of this system was to provide electricity broadly across the province, in abundance, and cheaply.


(Sir Adam Beck, as Mayor of London, 1902; Courtesy London Room Photograph Archives - PG F191.)

Niagara power was first connected to Guelph's electricity grid in September of 1910, and adopted industrially by the Taylor-Forbes plant in November. The transition did not go smoothly at first. On 4 December, a generator at the City's Light and Heat Commission (L&HC) blew out, leaving the residential area of Guelph in darkness. Manager John Heeg explained that the strain of serving the extra demand for lighting at the annual Winter Fair had proved too much for the Commission's ancient generators (Mercury, 5 December). For some years, in anticipation of Niagara power, the City had ceased to upgrade its own equipment and was now paying the piper.

The residential lights went out again the next night as another old generator bit the dust (Mercury, 6 December). Manager Heeg repeated his previous explanation. Also, he promised to expedite work on getting the new power substation up and running, which would allow the city to access enough Niagara power to make up for the shortfall in expired generators.

Of course, this work was tricky, as the substation had to transform electricity transmitted at 2,200 volts to 100 volts and 60 Hz, which was the new standard for domestic use. Furthermore, the new power configuration would mean that many people's old fans and other equipment would no longer function, since they were designed for the 125 Hz power previously provided by the city. Still, some power would be better than no power in mid-December.

Manager Heeg also urged the good citizens of Guelph to moderate their demand for electricity so that the remaining equipment might survive until Niagara power could be brought fully to bear.

Unfortunately, the Royal City's power woes continued to mount. On 8 December, the lights went out again although this time on Wyndham Street and in many of the city's factories. Blackouts continued each evening. On 10 December, the lights went out three times!

Complaints were beginning to mount and Samuel Carter, Commissioner of the L&HC, gave a statement to the press (Mercury, 12 December): The City continued to experience difficulties with its ancient generators. Furthermore, Guelphites had not moderated their demand for electricity. If anything, demand continued to increase.

The LH&C had pressed its new substation into service to meet the emergency. However, the new equipment had not been properly checked out and broken in, and so failed after only a few hours of operation. The LH&C pressed its reserve generators into service. Alas, these also failed to perform. These generators had been exposed to a lot of dust as a result of an earlier fire in the substation and their bearings quickly seized up. Five out of the city's six generators were now out of commission.

Then, for the coup de grâce, the power feed from Niagara failed. The cause of this disconnection was not entirely clear, although speculation was that high winds in the Niagara region were playing havoc with the power lines there (Mercury, 14 December 1910). Adam Beck assured Ontarians that these glitches would be worked out and, after a few days, the juice did seem to flow consistently (Mercury, 19 December 1910). The Royal City's factories continued to hum and its businesses were able to carry out their Christmas trade even after dark.

Many seasonal items were available for the delectation of Guelph shoppers. The D.E. Macdonald store on Macdonnell Street featured "everything in Xmas presents for everybody," especially Christmas furs. C.W. Kelly's music store had a deal on Victor & Berliner's "Victrola" gram-o-phone record players plus many records to play on them. The Bond Hardware store offered a wide selection of sleighs.

Perhaps the best gift notion was proposed by the Gowdy Bros. company on the Market Square, which placed the ad below in the Mercury's Christmas extra issue:


Who wouldn't want a ton of coal for Christmas? In an era when houses were often heated by coal stoves and furnaces, the connotation of receiving Lehigh and Scranton's anthracite from St. Nick would have been different than it is today. (In fact, coal was only just becoming a punitive gift at the time.)

Of course, there remained the problem of what to get for the person who has everything. In this case, the Guelph School of Telegraphy in St. George's Square had the perfect suggestion (Mercury, 21 December 1910):

Give your son or daughter a course in telegraph operating for Xmas. It will be an everlasting reminder and benefit to them.
If the gift card were spelled out in Morse code, the recipient would have to take the course to truly appreciate it.

For provident souls who had done their shopping, Griffin's Opera House on Wyndham street had a special entertainment treat in store (Mercury, 19 December 1910). For a warm up, they had three great reels of moving pictures straight from the Edison, Essanay & Selig factories. After that came the Thaten Duo, featuring real Holland wooden shoe dancing and singing, straight from Rotterdam! For versimilitude, the act featured backdrops of quaint scenes from old Holland, presumably including dykes and windmills.

I like to think that the act looked something like this:



Finally, patrons would be amazed at the Kols Brothers, vaudeville contortionists widely known as the Human Serpents!

As today, turkey featured prominently in plans for the holiday season. Perhaps mindful of what happened to Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickins' "A Christmas Carol," J.W. Lyon, then President of the Board of the Radial Railway (the streetcar) gave each married man among its employees a turkey for Christmas (Mercury, 22 December 1910). The single men each received a box of cigars instead. Clearly, cooking a turkey was more than could be expected of any bachelor.

The Mercury also contained some more surprising, turkey-related news (22 December 1910):

Jarvis, Ont., Dec. 22—The body found in a barrel in Montreal yesterday labelled "turkeys" was that of Matthew Johnston, caretaker of the Presbyterian church here. He was buried November 18th, and when the grave was opened this morning, the body was found missing. The casket had been cut and the corpse dragged out. John McSorley, formerly a medical student and eccentric character, is held here by the police.
Apparently, Mr. McSorley's eccentricities included resurrectionism, that is, digging up fresh corpses to sell to medical schools for doctor training. Montreal was a frequent destination for the proceeds of this practice (Belyea, 2016), although shipping "turkeys" all the way from Jarvis seems exceptional.

What Guelphites of the day or you, dear reader, should make of these two, turkey-related tales I leave for you to determine.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Bee-coming a college: Beekeeping and the Apiculture Building at the OAC

On 27 June 2018, Guelph officially became a "bee city". The distinction is applied by Bee City Canada to cities that make specific efforts to offer refuge to bees. Amongst items bestowed on the insects is a bee condo now placed on the green roof of the new City Hall.

This designation does not mean that the Royal City has no previous history with bees. Quite the contrary, they have always been an important part of the local fauna, although not always to the comfort of the citizens, as illustrated by this incident described in the Mercury (25 August 1932):

Swarm of bees caused plenty of excitement for citizens on downtown streets yesterday
Rampaging insects settle on motor car and battle with owner
Cause traffic trouble


Excitement galore was provided for shoppers on the lower Wyndham Street section of the city yesterday afternoon, at about four o’clock, when a swarm of bees, escaped from a hive in the city, made matters rather interesting for well on toward an hour before the rampaging insects were finally subdued.
The swarm materialized literally out of a blue sky and was first noticed at the Wyndham-Macdonnell Street intersection at the south-east corner. The bees were apparently without their queen leader and appeared to be headed for nowhere in particular.
Citizens tried to wave the bees away with their hats but to no avail and were forced into retreat.
The bees then commenced to mill about in the centre of the street and as they kept buzzing around in circle, at about a height of four or five feet from the pavement, they caused no little consternation among motorists.

Some amusing sights were witnessed as automobiles drove along the street and headed into the bees, before the drivers realized the trouble ahead. Then, there was wild ducking, sudden swerves of the machines and made twisting of handles to close the windows. Traffic was more or less demoralized for a time.

Finally, the swarm settled on a hydrant on the south side of the street and the excitement quieted down. Some one sent for help from the Apiary Department of the O.A.C., and Dr. E. J. Drew came down to clear up the situation.

No queen bee was available to lure the insects back to their hive so it was finally necessary to put them to sleep and so ended about an hour of interesting amusement.
How fortunate for Guelphites that they had an apiarist they could call in for just such an emergency!

In fact, it was not just good fortune. The Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) just up the hill had been closely connected to bees since before its inception. Indeed, the OAC was the only school in Canada to have an entire building dedicated the bees, namely the Apiculture Building. This building can be seen in the postcard below, mailed in 1945:


The postcard was produced by the F.H. Leslie company of Niagara Falls, and features a correction to the caption, which mistakenly read "Horticulture" when first printed.

The Apiculture Building was constructed in 1919–1920. In spite of its post-war date, I would say it belongs to the Edwardian Classical style of architecture, with a simplified, boxy shape, hipped roof, olde-tyme 6-over-9 windows, all decorated with a strong Flemish bond brick pattern, arches and keystones over the first-floor windows, and a projecting entranceway. I wonder if the arches over the windows, particularly on the front face, are meant to evoke beehives.


(The newly opened Apiculture Building, O.A.C. Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library, TS-2-125-GO-254.)

The OAC Review (Jan. 1920; v. 32, n. 5, p. 228): provides some physical details:

It is built of red brick, two storeys high with stone basement. The dimensions are 64 ft. 6 in. x 47 ft. 3 in. The basement will be specially insulated for wintering bees. Laboratories for practical and scientific work and class-rooms will occupy the two main floors. ... The sum of $40,000 was voted for its erection.
The new structure was apparently the first one in North America to be dedicated to the study of beekeeping (Stead 2002, p. 23). It certainly speaks to the importance that the OAC attached to the subject.

Still, the new structure did not impress the pants off of everybody. Morley Pettit, who had been head of the Apiculture Department at the OAC from 1908 until 1917, praised it as "fairly presentable" and noted the trouble he had experienced in trying to get an Apiculture Building for the campus on his watch (OAC Review 1921, v. 35. n. 4, pp. 125–126):

When the federal grant to agriculture first began to loosen the purse strings of the Ontario Department of Agriculture, I was naturally one of the first ones to ask for a building, having a rapidly growing department and no building at all. We were voted the magnificent sum of $8,000.00. When the most modest plans I could draw called for $16,000.00 the whole project fell flat, and the Apiculture Department had to struggle on until a little later it cost four times that amount to put up a building and then some.
However, Pettit did allow that the new building was much better than the basement of the Macdonald Institute, where the Apiculture Department was previously housed.

As noted above, the College's association with beekeeping went back to its foundation—even earlier, in fact. The notion of establishing an agricultural college in Canada had been kicking around for a number of years but received new impetus with Confederation in 1867. In 1868, John Carling, the the Commissioner of Agriculture in the Macdonald government of Ontario, called for a report about establishing such a college in Ontario ("The Agricultural College," Toronto Globe, 2 July 1904). The task of making the report was given to Reverend William F. Clarke, then the pastor of the Congregational Church of Guelph.

Rev. Clarke was an obvious choice to do the job. Born in Coventry, England in 1824, the son of a Congregationalist minister, he emigrated to Canada by 1837 and attended the Congregational College of British North America in Toronto (Cochrane 1893, p. 337). He was the pastor of the Guelph church from 1860–1872 and must have liked it since he later retired to the Royal City.


(Reverend William F. Clarke, from Cochrane 1893, p. 337.)

Moreover, he was very involved in regional agriculture. He founded and worked for several agricultural journals, including the Canada Farmer, Ontario Farmer, and the Rural Canadian. He was particularly interested in beekeeping: he was editor of The American Bee Journal of Chicago for two years and was a founder of the Guelph Central Bee-Keepers’ Association in 1886. That same year, he published the monograph "A Bird's-Eye View of Bee-Keeping."

To fulfill his errand, Rev. Clarke visited two state agricultural colleges, in Massachusetts and Michigan. His report was submitted in 1870 and recommended the establishment of an Agricultural College in Ontario, along similar lines to the American institutions with some local adjustments. A site in Mimico was selected initially, apparently for political reasons as conditions there were not suited the needs of an agriculture institute. As fortune would have it, a timely change in government brought about a change of heart and Frederick Stone's farm south of Guelph was purchased in 1873.

Rev. Clarke was appointed rector of the College while one Henry McCandless was hired from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, as President. Classes began on 1 May 1874. However, McCandless proved inadequate to the task and a salacious scandal soon broke out. McCandless was accused of being an out-of-touch tyrant, unable to discipline unruly students and issuing foolish directives from his ivory tower office. For his part, McCandless complained of politically motivated staff appointments and impugned the honour of some of the female staff. He accused Rev. Clarke of flogging rhubarb roots to the College at an “exorbitant price” and of playing cards with the students. The details aside, the scandal caused Rev. Clarke to resign in protest. An investigation cleared Rev. Clarke and the staff of the College, whereupon McCandless left his position. Affairs were afterwards placed on a more even keel.

In any event, Rev. Clarke gave the College lectures in apiculture until 1895 (OAC Review; June 1928, v. 40. n. 10 p. 378). What these lectures were like is not clear, although a later account gives a cryptic hint as to the "many humorous incidents" associated with them (OAC Review; Nov. 1921, v. 34. n. 3 p. 90). Perhaps students were nervous about handling the insects. Perhaps Rev. Clarke demonstrated the notorious "beard of bees." Whatever the case, the lectures seem to have been memorable.

Subsequent apiculturalists developed the beekeeping program. In particular, Morley Pettit, quoted above, built the program and made a serious case for a dedicated building. Although he left before his intention was realized, it seems that the stature of apiculture and the presence of the Apiculture Building on campus owed much to his efforts.

As Sejpesteijn (1987, p. 118) points out, the Apiculture Building also helped to define a new space on the campus. Previously, campus buildings had been sited around what is now Johnston Green. Now, the Apiculture Building, the Field Husbandry Building (now Zavitz Hall) and the Raithby House began to define another common, open space to the south, now known as Branion Plaza.

The former location of the Apiculture Building can be ascertained by overlapping a campus map from ca. 1963 (the "Federated Colleges Visitors' Guide") with a satellite photo of Branion Plaza from Google Maps. See below.


In this image, a semi-transparent detail from the campus map is superimposed on the colour satellite image. The maps were aligned by superimposing buildings common to both, including Zavitz Hall, the Hutt Building, the Bullring, and the Richards Building. The location of the Apiculture Building is picked out with a white diamond just right of the "University Centre" label. The comparison reveals that the Apiculture Building stood at the northern corner of what is now the entrance to the University Centre from Branion Plaza.

The little Apiculture Building was eventually doomed by progress. The formation of the University of Guelph in 1964 brought with it a push to enlarge and modernize the campus. With many new departments and colleges, it needed bigger facilities. In keeping with its new, university status, it was to look less rural and more urban and up-to-date.

As part of this development, the main entrance to the University was to be located away from the Gordon and College streets to a "mall" leading north from Stone Road (Mercury, 10 July 1972). This mall would cross the South Ring Road and end at an imposing University Centre, the fulcrum of the new institution. The Apiculture Building stood in the way and was demolished in June 1972. University President William Winegard regarded the demolition as unfortunate but necessary:

University President W.C. Winegard admits that of the 13 buildings originally selected for oblivion 10 years ago, loss of the Apiculture Building alone can be lamented. “It was a functional building serving a purpose, but to leave it would have changed our plans for the campus entrance off Stone Rd.” Dr. Winegard said.
Zavitz Hall, also slated for demolition, was later saved.

Though the Apiculture Building is no more, apiculture lives on at the University of Guelph in the Honey Bee Research Centre. There, you can find bees, as well as University of Guelph honey and related products for sale.

Perhaps, if a swarm of bees every menaces the fire hydrants of Guelph again, instructors and staff could be called upon to save the day once more.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The early days of Guelph Bay

Have you never heard of Guelph Bay? In spite of delving into the history of the city of Guelph for a number of years, neither had I. Yet, there in front of me was a photo of that very place, with four smart, gabled cottages whose generous verandahs overlooked Ahmic Lake, near Magnetawan, Ontario.


The picture is the front of a real-photo postcard (RPPC), a photograph printed on postcard stock to be sent through the mail. Unfortunately, there is no message, address, cancellation stamp, or other specific dating information on the back, so it is hard to say when this picture was printed.

Adding to the mystery, although Ahmic Lake is easily to be found in online maps, "Guelph Bay" is not. Even so, a connection seemed likely just because "Guelph" is not a common place name and all the other "Guelphs" in North America are closely connected with the Royal City.

To make a long story short, there is indeed a close connection between Guelph and Guelph Bay and it takes us back to the early days of settlement of the Parry Sound district.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the district was inhabited by Algonkian-speaking peoples later identified largely with the Ottawa, though the area was a confluence of Objibwa, Huron, and other indigenous groups (Lovisek 1991). It afforded opportunities for fishing, trapping, and passage between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River by canoe.

Early in the 19th Century, there was some official notion of recognizing the region as a reservation for indigenous peoples. However, the region was opened for settlement in 1868 with the Free Grants and Homestead Act, providing free land to would-be farmers while the Crown retained lumber and mineral rights. Soil conditions did not favour agriculture but the lumber trade prospered and train and steamboat travel were established in the Magnetawan river system by 1880. By 1886, a series of locks on the river had made it straightforward for people to take the Grand Trunk Railway to Burk's Falls and then ride a steamboat to any number of locations on Ahmic Lake. As a result, the region experienced a boom in the tourist trade.

Along with other southern Ontarions, several Guelphites took an interest in the district. In Looking Back with the Magnetawan Women's Institute (1997), we get the following information:

Thomas Gowdy and two friends first came to Ahmic Lake in the summer of 1889. They found some crown land in the area now known as Guelph Bay. His patent was issued in 1893.
The identity of the two friends is suggested by a notice in the Guelph Mercury the next year (24 July 1890):
Mayor Gowdy and family, comprising eleven members, and Mr. C.W. Kelly and family left this afternoon for Guelph Bay, Parry Sound. Rev. Mr. Turk intends to join them this week, if he is sufficiently recovered.
It appears that the three amigos who founded Guelph Bay were Thomas Gowdy, Charles. W. Kelly, and the Reverend George Turk.

Thomas Gowdy was then the Mayor of Guelph. Born in Toronto in 1831, he located to Guelph in 1853. Young Thomas had a good head for business and became a wealthy and important member of the community. Gowdy started out as a plasterer in the building trade and entered into a partnership with builder John Stewart. He got into the building materials business, becoming president of the Toronto Lime Co., a position he held until his death in 1913 (Mercury, 11 Dec. 1913). He was also on the board of directors of many Guelph concerns, such as the General Hospital, the Dominion Life Co. and the Guelph Junction Railway. He was perhaps best known as the owner of Thomas Gowdy & Co., Agricultural Works. Gowdy took over Cossitt's factory at Suffolk and Yorkshire streets in 1880 and ran a tight ship, described as follows (Industries of Canada 1886, p. 108):

The works contain the latest and most approved machinery, which is turned by a 50-horse power engine. Over 40 skilled workmen are employed, all under competent foremen. The firm manufacture all kinds of reapers, mowers, sulky rakes, fanning mills, land rollers, root cutters, turnip sowers, straw cutters, sulky ploughs, gang ploughs, single ploughs of all kinds, harrows, lawn mowers, etc.
He served as an alderman (councillor) for many years and was mayor in 1889 and 1890.


(Thomas Gowdy, ca. 1890, courtesy of the Guelph Public Library, F38-0-4-0-0-6)

Gowdy's mayoral ambitions were nearly derailed when his opponents reminded voters of some unfortunate comments Gowdy had made about Irish people after returning from a visit to the Emerald Isle in 1881 (Nash-Chambers 1988, p. 101):

The Irish were a lazy, drunken lot who if they did more work and drank less whiskey would never need to come as beggars to the civilized world.
Having reconsidered his views of the Irish en masse, Gowdy apologized and was successful in his electoral bid.

Charles Wesley Kelly (always "C.W. Kelly") was born in Guelph in 1856. His father John (always "J.W.B. Kelly") was a successful cabinet maker who had located to town in 1842. According to the Wellington County Historical Atlas (1906), the Kelly family was for a time owners of the Priory, where C.W. probably lived as a boy. A Methodist family, they hosted Methodist services there prior to the construction of the Methodist church (now Dublin Street United).

J.W.B. had a store/factory at the west bank of the Speed River near the Eramosa bridge. The firm diversified into selling and repairing the contents of cabinets, such as sewing machines, melodeons, organs, and pianos (Mercury, 8 Apr. 1947). Although he tried his hand at agriculture, young C.W. was drawn back into the music business. In 1877, he founded the firm of "C.W. Kelly" on Quebec Street, where the Masonic building now stands. The store sold a variety of musical instruments and accessories. The Atlas states that Kelly was one of the first dealers to sell Guelph-made Bell pianos and organs and eventually controlled Bell's whole retail piano and organ trade for Guelph, South Wellington and Halton. As sales of Bell pianos and organs were brisk in the 1880s, Kelly's local monopoly was undoubtedly lucrative for him.

Although not a politician, C.W. was active in running of Guelph in other ways. For example, he was a long-time member of the Board of Education. He was also Chairman of the Light and Heat commission when the incandescent system was installed in 1911. He had the honor of pushing the button in Trafalgar Square that turned on all the new lights downtown simultaneously (Mercury, 15 Jan. 1948).

Here is a picture of C.W. from the Historical Atlas of 1908:


Although the Rev. George Richard Turk plays only a brief role in the story of Guelph Bay, his appearance does confirm the ties that bound him, Thomas Gowdy and C.W. Kelly together. Rev. Turk was born in Vienna, Ont. in 1857, and took an early interest in the Methodist church. By 1888, he had been the pastor of a number of Methodist churches in Ontario, moving in that year from Galt to the Dublin Street Methodist (now United) church in Guelph.

Both Thomas Gowdy and C.W. Kelly were members of the church. In fact, J.W.B. Kelly had been on the local Methodist Church board when the Dublin Street church was founded in 1874. Thomas Gowdy's daughter Isabella was married there to James Talbot on 24 Aug. 1889 by Rev. Turk himself. So, the three of them had much in common.

By 1891, Rev. Turk had moved on to Owen Sound, one of the many positions he held on his way to the prestigious pastorates of Grace Church in Winnipeg in 1892 and Carleton Street in Toronto in 1897. Upon his move to the Queen City, the Toronto Globe observed (1 July 1897):

He is noted for the eloquence and effectiveness of his preaching, and for the indefatigable and successful character of his pastoral work.
In addition, the Globe published the following drawing.


So it was that Thomas Gowdy, C.W. Kelly, and George R. Turk travelled to the Parry Sound district in the summer of 1889 to enjoy its sights and amenities and to bring a little bit of Guelph with them.

At this point, the matter of the location of Guelph Bay comes back into focus. Happily, Margaret Welliver pointed me in the right direction. Mrs. Welliver is a great grand-daughter of Thomas Gowdy, and met her husband at the Gowdy cottage in the 1950s. Guelph Bay is still labelled on the Ahmic Lake Cottagers Association map, which places it at the location below:



Guelph Bay is the horseshoe-shaped bay lying between the main shore along the bottom and Kelly's Point sticking northwestward into Ahmic Lake. If you zoom in, you can make out the cottages in the postcard at the end of the bay. Zoom out for more context.

It appears that the three men established camps on the spot and obtained a patent on the land from the Crown. Land title was purchased in 1908, with taxes imposed back to 1893, suggesting that the cottages may have been built at that point.

The early appearance of these cottages is shown by an early photo taken from the southwest, courtesy of Margaret Welliver.


Each cottage is a simple, two-storey, gabled wooden structure, apparently finished with board-and-batten siding. No verandahs are yet present. Stumps are visible in the foreground, suggesting the newness of the clearing in which the cottages sit. The cottage on the right-hand side belonged to Rev. Turk, the middle one to Thomas Gowdy, and the left-hand one to C.W. Kelly. At the left-hand edge of the photo is a tent, perhaps suggesting what the original encampments would have looked like.

Later photos show two more structures, one on either side of the original three cottages, along with lawns, paths, and extensive docks. For example, here is a postcard issued A.J. Collins of Burks Falls, issued around 1910. (Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library, PC-ON 1693.)


Guelph Bay became a hot spot for summering for well-to-do Guelph families, where they enjoyed fishing, boating, hunting and, no doubt, beautiful sunsets. For example, the social page of the Toronto Globe records the following item (19 Aug 1901):

A big pickerel.
Rhoad’s Island, Aug. 17.—Mrs. D. Young while trawling to-day with her husband, the Principal of the Guelph Public Schools, caught an enormous pickerel, the largest caught here. It weighed six pounds, measured 27 ¼ inches in length and 13 inches around, and was weighed and measured by Mr. Sam Gowdy of Guelph and Mr. McCalum, Bursar O.A.C., and afterwards photographed by Mr. Gowdy at Guelph Bay. It was caught in Ahmic Lake, near Rhoad’s Island where Mr. Young and his family are spending the vacation.
A propos of fishing, there is a photo of C.W. Kelly with a fine catch from Ahmic lake, taken at the steamer dock at Kelly's Point (to which Kelly relocated in 1908), courtesy of Nora Kelly, great granddaughter of C.W.:


Another pickerel?

Of course, socializing was also a central occupation. Visitors could be entertained and the cottages were rented out from time to time. For example, there was this notice in Acta Victoriana, the yearbook of Victoria University in Toronto (Oct. 1905):

Mr. C.B. Kelly was summering at Guelph Bay during July and August. In that vicinity there were upwards of twenty young ladies, while C.B. was the only man. He claims to have had his hands full. Only your hands, Belfry?
Charles Belfry was a son of C.W. Kelly.

Visitors to Guelph Bay included the formidable J.B. Reynolds, president of the Ontario Agricultural College from 1920 to 1928, after whom the Reynolds Building was named. Sir William Hearst, Ontario Premier 1910–1919, and his wife spent July of 1928 at Guelph Bay, according to the Globe (5 July 1928).

Perhaps the visitor best known today was John McCrae, author of "In Flanders Fields." In his reminiscences about McCrae (The Torch 1940, pp. 7–17), Henry Hewitt recalls time he spent with McCrae at Guelph Bay around 1890:

One summer father sent the family to Lake Ahmic. Accompanying me was a young friend of mine who with myself had collected an arsenal, which we proposed to use in the north country. Jack McCrae who was spending the summer with us was sent along to keep us out of danger. We lived together, fished together and hunted together for nearly three months, and when we returned, all of us in the pink of condition, he had endeared himself to everyone, especially to my friend and myself.
At Lake Ahmic one night the weather suddenly became cold and my friend and I went out to get wood. It was rather a tedious job to cut down a tree, as we returned with a supply of wood we had taken without permission from a neighboring site. I remember he laughed and apparently suspected where we obtained the wood. On attempting to use it, the logs were found to be too long for our fireplace, so they had to be cut. A saw was borrowed and we were about to use it when Jack asked, “Where did you get the saw?” We told him. “Where did you get the wood?” We told him. It happened to be the same place.
Then he said, “I don’t mind you stealing his wood, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let you borrow his saw to cut it with.” That decision was final.
During this visit, John McCrae drew a pencil sketch "From the Pier Guelph Bay Magnetawan", in a sketchbook in the possession of the Guelph Civic Museums (M1968X.449.1, p. 38):


The cottage on the left appears to be that built for Rev. Turk.

Though Guelph Bay continues to be a favored summer residence for people from Ontario and the Midwest, its connection with the Royal City has faded from the memory of Guelphites, though the link remains yet in the captions of photos and postcards of former years.



Thank you to Margaret Welliver, Nora Kelly, John Macfie, and Andy Hauser for sharing their knowledge and photographs of Guelph Bay and its cast of characters. I hope that much more of the history of this charming place will be told soon (including perhaps in the comments below)!



How did Gowdy, Kelly, Turk and others get from Guelph to Guelph Bay? The short answer is by train and steamship. Smiley's Canadian Summer Resort Guide (1907) reveals that one could get to Guelph Bay by first taking the Grand Trunk train to Burk's Falls. From there, travelers could ride a small steamboat along the Magnetewan and get off at a variety of docks along the route to Ahmic Harbor. The fare to Guelph Bay from Hamilton was $10.35, the same as to the neighboring sites of "Cedar Croft," "Camp Kentuck," and "Forest Nook."

A lovely show of what it was like to travel this way along the Magnetewan is provided in the slideshow "Sailing along the Magnetewan", by the Almaguin Highlands Digital Collection. Do have a look at the exhibit, which features many period postcards. Click on the image below and pay special attention to the Wanita (shown):