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Belmont Star No. 1980

An interesting little piece of horse racing ephemera from 1884. This 4.5″ x 3″ card promotes Belmont Star No. 1980‘s bloodlines and states him to be “one of the richest bred colts in the United States or Canada at the present time“. Belmont Star was “kept for service” by H. McKenzie at the Ashvale Stock Farm located 1.5 miles from Port Perry.

Kapuskasing Internment Camp

Kapuskasing Internment Camp

Note: For an updated version of this story please check out 100 Years Ago Today: Canada enacts the War Measures Act on my First World War blog “Doing Our Bit”.

While most Canadians are aware of the Japanese internment camps established during the Second World War far fewer know of the 24 camps or stations that held 8,579 individuals, the majority of whom were civilians, during the First World War.

Although these “enemy aliens” were classified as having Austro-Hungarian origins many of them were recent Ukrainian immigrants. In addition to those who were incarcerated an estimated 80,000 were forced to report regularly to authorities.

A large number of these camps were located in Canada’s hinterland with a large concentration in Alberta and south-eastern British Columbia. However this series of six images, all mounted on card, are of the Kapuskasing internment camp in northern Ontario. Construction of the camp began on December 14, 1914 and it was the final camp to close when it shut its doors on February 24, 1920.

Clearing the land

The internees were not only forced to work but also to clear the land and construct the camp itself. The camp was built next to the National Transcontinental Railway and not far from an abandoned surveyors’ camp at MacPherson Station. By the end of 1915 over 1200 prisoners were interred at the camp and working to clear 1282 acres of timbered land set aside by the Federal Government as an experimental farm. In the spring of 1916 a serious riot erupted at the camp leaving one dead and eleven seriously injured.

A May 30, 1917 article in the Pembroke Standard recorded the arrival of 400 prisoners of war from Fort Henry:

“The four hundred alien enemies who were transferred from Fort Henry are now safely installed in the new quarters. Kapuskasing Camp is the largest of any of the Canadian detentions camps and is said to be like a band of steel, escape being the next thing to an impossibility. The camp is located on the National Transcontinental line, beyond McPherson, but the train service is for those carrying proper credentials only. As to anyone riding the bumpers that is also impossible and as to anyone walking away there is no place to go, as there are no settlements east, west, north or south for many miles, and a man would have little chance of getting to a far-away settlement. The camp has its schools, stores, home and its own churches, which fact shows the gigantic nature of it.”

For more information I recommend this article on the We Will Remember website and the book In Fear of the Barbed Wire Fence (14.4MB PDF from the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association website) by Lubomyr Luciuk (from which the newspaper quote above was taken).

National Transcontinental Railway

Kapuskasing River

MacPherson Station (?)

The barbed wire

1892 letter from Cordova Bay to Bella Coola

1892 letter from Dora to Peter (page 1)

1892 letter from Dora to Isa

This letter, dated July 8, 1892, was written by Dora B. Peter from her home in Cordova Bay to her older sister Eliza (Isa) Grant in Bella Coola.  In it she relates the sad news that their mother Marianne had passed away. She also reports on the Smallpox outbreak that had broken out in Victoria.  She writes:

“There are nearly 100 cases of small-pox in town, the Empress of Japan brought it over and 150 Chinese were landed before it was found out. Bill and his family and Jim and John have all been vaccinated and Etta and her squad and the rest are all going to be as soon as possible, it is spreading like wild-fire as night before last there were only 69. I only hope it will not get up your length as you will be in a poor way as you cannot be vaccinated. I have been in town every day this week and have got to go tomorrow yet but after that will not go in more than we possibly can.”

The epidemic, which arrived on board the CPR steamship Empress of Japan, forced the closure of the port of Victoria and was a serious blow to the local economy.  The complete letter is provided here: page 2, page 3, page 4.

This letter is one of several items I have that relate to the Peter family who emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1880 and then moved to Victoria in 1890.  Eliza (Isa) A Peter married Saumarez L. Grant and lived in Bella Coola for 40 years before moving to Seattle where she lived to the ripe old age of 104.  In a previous post I featured an 1899 photo of members of the Peter family taking tea in Kirkland, Fife.

The first of the two photos shown below is of Dora Peter (holding the parasol) with her sister Bertha and would likely have been taken within a year or two of this letter being written. The second photo is of Eliza (Isa) Grant (nee Peter) with her second son Eddie, likely taken around 1900.  Two of Isa’s three sons died in the First World War.

Bertha & Dora Peter

Dora Peter on right

Isa and Eddie Grant

Isa Grant (nee Peter) and Eddie

Saskatchewan in the 1930’s?

Somewhere in Saskatchewan in the 1930's?

Somewhere in Saskatchewan in the 1930's?

I picked up this little 2.5″ x 3.5″ snapshot last week as I was intrigued by the long row of cars and trucks neatly lined up on what might be a baseball field. When I did a high resolution scan of the licence plate on the nearest vehicle it appears to be a Saskatchewan plate from the 1930’s.

There’s an advertising sign on a building just above the trucks which looks to read “Stage Park Theatre“. Do you recognize this name or the buildings in the background? Could this be Saskatoon, Regina or Moose Jaw? If you know please add a comment below.

I’ve added a new Mystery Photograph category to my blog.  As I add new mystery photos they will appear on the category page linked to in the “Photograph” menu at the top of the page.

Glass Slides of Victoria in 1903

Inner Harbour 1903

Steaming into Victoria in 1903

I’m fascinated by early views of Victoria, especially those from the 19th and early 20th centuries. These three glass slides, each measuring 3.25″ x 3.25″, offer three unique perspectives of the city. Although they’re not dated I’ve determined they were taken in 1903 or 1904.

I recently pinned one of these slides, a wonderful view of Government Street looking north, on Historypin and included details on how I dated it.

The slide shown in the upper left corner is a rare view of Victoria from the bow of a ship entering the Inner Harbour.  The Customs House Building (1876) and the newly built General Post Office (1898) are both prominent buildings along Wharf Street. The Weiler Building, completed in 1899, can also be seen on Government Street.

Rooftops looking northwest

Victoria, looking northwest from roof of Driard Hotel

The third slide, shown on the right, offers a unique panorama of the city.  I believe it may have been taken from the roof of the Driard Hotel looking north-west with Broad Street immediately below. The building in the foreground is the Williams Building, named after bookbinder R.T. Williams. In 1906 David Spencer purchased this building in order to expand his “Dry Goods Emporium”, then based in the Spencer’s Arcade building on Government Street.  In October 1910, seven years after this photo was taken, a huge fire destroyed an entire city block including the Williams Building.  The domed building in the right foreground, situated on Broad Street to the north of Trounce Alley, escaped the fire and exists to this day.

Train Orders – April 6, 1910

First Ticket & Train Orders

G. Whitehouse Train Orders

On April 6, 1910 a train engineer named G. Whitehouse began his life as an engine driver in Regina, Saskatchewan. 102 years later, while rummaging through a box of bits and bobs, I found a small envelope with the words “First Train Ticket & Train Orders I got April 6th, 1910. G. Whitehouse” written upon it. Tucked inside were four pieces of paper saved from his first day on the job. Now if this isn’t ephemera I don’t know what is.

Hastily scrawled on these scraps of paper are the instructions for G. Whitehouse and his Fireman, H. Norris. Three pieces were issued by the Canadian Pacific Railway (view the third CPR orders) while the fourth set of orders were from the Canadian Northern Railway. The paper used for three of the orders is as thin as tissue paper and it’s a wonder it has survived all these years.

While I haven’t deciphered all of the writing I enjoy them for what they are: a momento from a railwayman’s first day on the job more than a century ago. I know nothing about G. Whitehouse but I suspect he must have loved his life on the rails.

Homesteading circa 1900

Homestead 1

A family poses in front of their homestead

I picked up a pair of very intriguing b&w real photo postcards today.  Both show a small family posing for the camera, one in front of what appears to be a turn of the century homestead and the other around a small stream.  Although there are no clues as to the location my instincts tell me it could be somewhere in the BC interior, or possibly in the foothills of Alberta.

The odd thing (to me at least) is that the reverse of the postcard features a stamp box with the words “Half-Penny Stamp for Inland, One Penny Foreign” which would imply that the postcard is British.  The statement “The address only to be written on this side” dates the card to before 1902.  Could the photos have been taken in Canada and then developed and printed as postcards when the photographer returned to the UK?

Homestead 3

There's snow in them thar hills!

There is a chance the cards could be Australian but the presence of snow in the hills on the second postcard would seem to indicate the photo was taken in Canada (not to mention the fact that the card was found in BC).  If anyone has a theory on these postcards I would certainly appreciate it if you could leave a comment.

A Soldier of the Great War

An Unknown Soldier

A weary looking Sergeant of the Great War

One of the unfortunate consequences of searching for vintage photographs is the discovery of hundreds, if not thousands, of images of someone’s forgotten relatives.

It’s particularly sad to see a soldier’s photograph, knowing that nearly a century ago they held pride of place in homes across the country. If I’m fortunate enough to find a name or number I do my best to keep their memory alive by publishing their story online. Unfortunately sometimes there is no information to follow up.

I can’t afford to buy all of the photographs of unknown soldiers but I do rescue as many as I can.  I’ve created a photo set on Flickr as a tribute to, as tens of thousands of headstones so eloquently state, “A Soldier of the Great War, Known unto God“.

The postcard featured here is of a British [Edit: Private with a Horse Artillery Unit] with two wound stripes on his left forearm. This dates the postcard to 1916 or later. He looks tired and in need of that cigarette.

A Streetcar named Desire

Streetcar 235 on Douglas Street

Streetcar #235 on Douglas Street

This 6″ x 8″ photograph of Streetcar #235 is easily my favourite find in the past few weeks.  The detail in this image, captured by photographer Gus Maves, is truly wonderful.

In the photo this BC Electric Railway streetcar, plying route #6, pauses on Douglas Street to pick up passengers in front of the Hudson’s Bay Department Store. Car #235 was built in 1911 and remained in service until Victoria’s streetcar era ended in 1948.

The Hudson’s Bay Company, incorporated in 1670, is the oldest company in North America.  This particular HBC Department store remained in this location for well over 80 years and only recently moved a few blocks closer to the centre of town.  This fine old 1920’s building is now “The Hudson“, a high-end condo development.

I’ve also pinned this photo in Streetview on Historypin.

Intercolonial Railway

Intercolonial Railway

A Billhead for the Intercolonial Railway

This attractive billhead from the Intercolonial Railway is dated January 27, 1888 and contains a list of goods shipped to the McNair Brothers General Store in Eel Crossing, New Brunswick.

The McNair Brothers, James, William, Robert and David were 4 of 10 children born in New Brunswick to Scottish immigrants. In addition to the General Store the brothers also operated a lumber mill which burnt to the ground in 1889. By 1892 James and his brother Robert were on the west coast and had constructed a small shingle mill at Hastings. Ten years later they constructed a new shingle mill – the largest in the world – and went on to become significant figures in BC lumbering history.

The Intercolonial Railway ran from Montreal to Halifax and officially began operation in 1872 but it’s name implies its’ origins are much older, and indeed they were. Connecting the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada with those on the Atlantic Coast were top of mind after the War of 1812 and security concerns were raised again during the US Civil War. The name stuck despite the company beginning operations five years after Confederation and remained intact until the railway was taken over by the Canadian National Railway in 1918.

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