Remembrance

Remembering Dieppe

Allied ships in the English Channel headed for Dieppe, France on August 19, 1942.
Allied ships in the English Channel heading for Dieppe on 19 Aug 1942 (Library and Archives Canada)

As we remember the sacrifice of others for our freedoms and home on this Remembrance Day, I have been thinking of the local service persons who took part in the Dieppe Raid, which happened 80 years ago this year. The Dieppe Raid took place on 19 August 1942 and proved to be Canada’s bloodiest day in the entire Second World War. Code-named “Operation Jubilee”, the Dieppe landing envisioned Allied forces storming the shores of occupied French towns of Dieppe, Puys, and Pouville in an effort to bolster Allied fortunes against the Germans.

Operation Jubilee sought to test German defenses with a large scale amphibious landing and damage enemy shipping and port facilities. The operation also sought to gather intelligence on German technology and secret military codes, and ultimately force the Germans to shift military resources from the Eastern front. The Dieppe Raid was launched from southern England across the English Channel. The operation involved more than 6,000 soldiers — 4,963 Canadians, 1,075 British commandos, 15 French nationals and hundreds of airmen and sailors from Canada, Britain and the United States.

Running behind schedule, the main forces going ashore at Dieppe landed as daylight was breaking. German troops, alerted to raid, attacked Canadian soldiers as they waded in the surf. Soldiers, who were able to make shore, had to fight their way across the cobblestone beach to the relative protection of the seawall. Allied tank movement was hindered by the beach stones and fierce enemy fire, which hampered engineering efforts to clear a path into town. Canadian and British troops who were able to fight their way into the bullet-swept streets of Dieppe or were trapped on the beach under heavy enemy fire found themselves left behind as the decision to retreat was made in the early afternoon. Faced by insurmountable odds, Canadian troops left behind in Dieppe were forced to surrender and were taken prisoner by German forces. Canadian losses at Dieppe included 907 deaths, and 1,946 men taken prisoner. Approximately, 2,460 Canadians were wounded.

Despite the losses, Allied and Canadian forces showed much heroism and the landing gave hope to the French that they had not been forgotten. Lessons learned at Dieppe were important in the success of subsequent beach assaults, like D-Day in 1944 at Normandy, France.

Based on a search of our World War 2 Soldier Information Card Collection, we have identified the following soldiers who served in the Dieppe Raid:

Gordon Fennell, who was born in Preston, was honoured by the town of Dieppe for the 80th anniversary of the raid in August 2022. He can be seen in this video clip from the CBC talking about his wartime experiences.

I also wanted to give my thanks to Joseph and Bridget for their research on these soldiers. We are continually building our database of soldiers and if you have information to share, please contact us at digitalcollections@kpl.org

Cheers, Karen

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Grace Schmidt Room

Sundays in the Grace Schmidt Room

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

After a long break, the Grace Schmidt Room is again open on Sundays! Central Library is open on Sundays from 1pm to 5pm, from October 16 – December 11, 2022, and that means that the GSR is too. The Library’s hours and openings can be found here.

While the GSR is open to researchers, here are some important things that you should know:

Available Sunday collections:

  • Books listed in online catalogue: MGSR, MOGS, MRARE
  • Vertical files – KPL & WHS
  • Online databases: Ancestry & Find My Past
  • Microfilm

Available Sunday Digitization Equipment:

  • Photograph scanning (Epson FastFoto and flatbed scanner)
  • VHS conversion
  • Photograph printing
  • Book scanner (can use as digital photocopier)
  • Microfilm scanners/readers
  • Magnifier (Optelec) unit
  • Digital Research computer (read only)

Not Available On Sundays:

  • In-depth consultations with GSR staff
  • Photographs/aerial images
  • Slides
  • Negatives
  • Maps (incl. fire insurance)
  • Archival collections
  • Deeds
  • Broadsides
  • Blueprints
  • Oral History Tapes
  • WHS books (listed in card catalogue)
  • Waterloo Region Record back issues 2018-2022 (paper copies)
  • Newspapers (paper – loose editions & bound copies)

The Library’s Sunday team at Level 2 is available to help you with locating resources and using the digital equipment. Please feel free to reach out to the GSR team at gsr@kpl.org or call 519-743-0271, ext. 212 for additional assistance with collections and research. We will get back to you as soon as possible the week following.

Cheers, Karen

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Community Events, Programs

Are You Ready to Rock?

I am ecstatic to announce that, as part of our Culture Days celebration, that we’ll be having a screening of the documentary, Rock This Town, on Wednesday September 21, 2022 @ 7pm.  

Chronicling the live music scene in Kitchener-Waterloo of the late 1960s and 1970s, Rock This Town is an ode to our musical past and a clarion call for support of the arts and creatives in the community.

Look back on performances by Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Emerson Lake and Palmer and more! Betty Anne Keller, Paul Campsall, and Tom Knowlton will be joining us for a post screening conversation about local music history and the creative process behind the project.

Here are the details:

Wednesday September 21, 2022

Central Library – Theatre @ 7-9pm

Register here!

Rock on!

Cheers, Karen

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People and places

Royal Reflections

Queen Eliabeth II, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, ca. 1973 – personal collection

While my fascination with the monarchy has waxed and waned over the years, the death of Queen Elizabeth gave me pause. For someone who I thought that I had outgrown, her death brought back memories and some nostalgia for the excitement of a Royal visit. For many of us, she was the only monarch that we ever knew, having reigned over the United Kingdom and Commonwealth for over seventy years.

My early memories of Christmas morning were of the Queen giving her annual holiday message on television. She became a holiday tradition, although as we grew older, the Queen’s message became a background to our family celebrations. As a teenager, I caught sight of the Queen and the gloved hand doing the ‘wave’ as her motorcade travelled swiftly down the main street of Brampton. I am sure that Prince Philip was there, but, alas, he was not the star of the show. For the 25th anniversary of her coronation, I remember, as a student, receiving a commemorative medallion. A great-uncle of mine served as a Press Secretary to the Queen during her Canadian visits in the 1970s and 1980s – much of our interest in following media coverage of the Royal visits was to see if we could see Uncle Jim on television.

While I lost much of my monarchist zeal as I grew older, questioning the value and role of the Royal Family in modern society, I still had an enduring respect for the Queen and her lifelong dedication to public service. She was the constant, stable, and enduring icon in a turbulent world. But she, too, had to adapt and evolve with changing social norms, expectations, and realities and she did it with grace, dignity, and honour.

What are your favourite memories of the Queen?

Cheers, Karen

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GSR Resources, New GSR

Doors Open in the Grace Schmidt Room

Doors Open Waterloo Region
Doors Open Waterloo Region

In June, we welcomed Doors Open Waterloo Region into the Grace Schmidt Room to film an episode for this year’s event. The True North Communications team, led by Kelly Spencer, were true professionals. Their infectious enthusiasm made the experience fun and enjoyable. I wanted to thank them for inviting the Grace Schmidt Room to take part in Doors Open – it truly has been an honour.

A big tip of the hat and thank you goes to my colleague, Lauren, for her creative and playful #ArchivesAtoZ selections on Twitter which caught the eye of Kelly and her team. Bridget, Trevor, Ingrid and Valerie also worked diligently behind the scenes to get the archives and collections ready for filming.

Be sure to follow Doors Open Waterloo Region as the new 2022 episodes are released in September. Our episode will be released on Saturday September 10, 2022 at 10am.

Here’s a list of this season’s episodes:

Episode #1     Premiered online: Sept. 3 at 10:00 am EST 

Title: River Monsters of Waterloo Region

Episode #2     Premiered online: Sept. 3 at 10:00 am EST      

Title: Death As Life’s Work in Waterloo Region

Episode #3     Premieres online: Sept. 10 at 10:00 am EST

Title: Beauty & Ruin In Waterloo Region

Episode #4     Premieres online: Sept. 10 at 10:00 am EST

Title: Top 10 List – Grace Schmidt Local History Room

Episode #5     Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST

Title: Crow Shield Lodge         

Episode #6     Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST

Title: Willowcreek Typewriters

Episode #7     Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST

Title: Vault Tour – Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery   

Episode #8     Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST

Title: Historic Blair Sheave Tower       

Episode #9     Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST

Title: Galt Arena Gardens 

Lights, camera, action! Enjoy!

Cheers, Karen

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Buildings, Grace Schmidt Room

Celebrating 60 Years of Kitchener Public Library’s Central Branch

On May 23rd KPL’s Central branch celebrated its sixtieth year at 85 Queen Street North, and what better opportunity to dig in to the Grace Schmidt Room’s archival collections and explore the evolution of our home in downtown Kitchener since 1962. 

Kitchener Public Library’s Main branch reading room, 1962

1962: “Bright, Spacious, Adaptable” 

After seventeen years of campaigning for new library facilities, on May 4th, 1961 ground was broken on the site of what would become the Kitchener Public Library’s Main branch at 85 Queen St. North.  Just over a year later, 15,000 members of the public toured the new building on opening day, May 23rd, 1962. The new library, lauded in that day’s Kitchener Record as “air conditioned, bright, spacious, adaptable, soundproofed, and colorful,” was four times the size of KPL’s former home, the old Carnegie library at Weber and Queen streets, and featured an expansive reading room, 221-seat auditorium, teen room, three bookmobiles, nighttime book depository, washrooms, public telephones, and children’s story room, complete with a cozy fireplace.   

In November of the same year, after nine months of working through the night to complete the work during the library’s closed hours, Jack Bechtel’s 560 square foot mural Enlightenment was unveiled in the reading room.  Although our library has undergone many changes over the last 60 years, this piece has remained, and can still be found overlooking the reading lounge today.   

Jack Bechtel created the mural Enlightenment over nine months in 1962. It can still be found in Central’s reading lounge today.

1979: Growing with the Community 

A 12,000 square foot extension to our flagship branch was unveiled on March 31st, 1979.  This renovation allowed for significant growth of library collections, particularly audiovisual materials like films, records, and talking books, an improved lounge and study areas, and an elevator.  The library’s Heritage Room was also introduced, recreating a classic library atmosphere with repurposed tables and shelves saved from the old Carnegie library. 

Children’s Department, 1980s.

1994: Technology and Accessibility 

In 1994, the Main branch was again updated with special emphasis on improving access to technology, community spaces, and services.  The renovation facilitated the expansion of video, music, foreign language, large print, and talking book collections, and included a revamped teen zone and basement café. 

Children’s Department, 1990s.

2014: A Library for a New Era 

Today’s beautiful Central library was the product of an extensive four-year renovation project that began in 2010. This not only allowed for the growth of existing collections and services, but for the development of new resources as well. The result was a space that fit with a today’s information environment and community needs. A place where you could record music, digitize photos, build language skills, connect with community resources, meet friends for coffee, explore an art exhibition, unearth your family history, help care for a vegetable garden, or, of course, find a quiet spot with a good book.      

The new library, described by the Record as “a triumph,” was awarded both the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the Green Building Council and the OLA Library Building Award for Library Architectural and Design Transformation.   

Want to learn more about our history at KPL Central? Come visit the display of archival photos documenting our journey from 1962 to the present at the entrance to the Grace Schmidt Room. 

KPL Central’s Queen Street entrance, 2016.

Lauren Simon, Senior Library Assistant, Grace Schmidt Room

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GSR Resources

Your Black Heritage Month Reading List

During Black Heritage Month, each February, we recognise the lived experiences of Black Canadians and celebrate the contributions that they have made – and continue to make – to Canada. The theme for 2022 is February and Forever: Celebrating Black History Today and Every Day.

In keeping with this year’s theme, here are four titles from the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History’s extensive reference collection that celebrate the role that Black Canadians played in Waterloo Region’s early history. Unless otherwise noted, Kitchener Public Library has circulating copies of each of these titles as well as one copy that can only be used in the GSR – click on the book title below each image to find them in our catalogue.

The Queen’s Bush Settlement: Black Pioneers, 1839-1865 (2004)

Linda Brown-Kubisch

In the mid-nineteenth century, one of the largest Black communities in Ontario was located in the wilderness, just 18 miles north of the village of Waterloo, near present-day Hawkesville. In The Queen’s Bush Settlement: Black Pioneers, 1839-1865, Linda Brown-Kubisch (1956-2003), a former Grace Schmidt Room staff member, explores the development and eventual disappearance of this once thriving pioneer community using a range of genealogical sources such as the census, land grants, vital records and obituaries as well as the letters of American missionaries who lived in the community. In doing so, she offers a glimpse into the lives and experiences of those who made this remote settlement their home.

Note: Only available in the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History.

Waterloo You Never Knew: Life on the Margins (2019)

Joanna Rickert-Hall

A firm favourite here in the GSR, Waterloo You Never Knew: Life on the Margins explores the experiences of those who were left out of mainstream society and traditional narratives. In this fascinating read, Joanna Rickert-Hall highlights the stories of several influential members of the region’s Black community including the first barber in Berlin, Peter Edward Susand; Canada’s first Black lawyer, Robert Sutherland; schoolmaster John Frederick Augustus Sykes Fayette; and Levi Carroll, who was reputed to be more than 100 years old when he died in 1897. In doing so, she reveals a side of our region’s history which has often been overlooked.

The Refugee: Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada (2008)

Benjamin Drew

Originally published in 1856, The Refugee: Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada tells the stories of more than 100 former slaves who escaped to Canada West (now known as Ontario) in their own words. In the early 1850s, Benjamin Drew, an abolitionist from Boston, visited towns from Windsor to Toronto, interviewing Black men and women about their experiences with slavery in the USA and their journeys to Canada. Among those he interviewed were a number of people who settled nearby in Galt and the Queen’s Bush Settlement, as well as notable figures like Harriet Tubman. This engaging read, therefore, provides an invaluable insight into the experiences of early Black Canadians.

Waterloo Historical Society Annual Volumes (1913-present)

Various Authors

Published every Spring/Summer since 1913, the annual volumes of the Waterloo Historical Society contain a number of references to prominent members of the Black community in Kitchener-Waterloo including Levi Carroll, Peter Edward Susand, Robert Sutherland and John Frederick Augustus Sykes Fayette as well as the Queen’s Bush Settlement. There are also full articles exploring the experiences of early Black settlers in this area such as In Search of Freedom: Early Blacks in Waterloo County by Linda Brown-Kubisch (WHS Vol. 80, 1992). While many of these references are brief, they provide an excellent starting point for further research.

Inspired to read more? Check out our other Black Heritage Month reads on display in the GSR throughout February. Enjoy!

Chiara Fallone, Senior Library Assistant, Grace Schmidt Room

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GSR Resources

Your Holiday Local History Reading List

Local history may seem intimidating, particularly if you didn’t grow up in the area, don’t have a focus, or don’t know where to begin. However, there is much to gain, especially when it encourages you to look at your community in new ways. It might also just be nice to know what that downtown storefront housed fifty years ago, or when your neighbourhood was established.  

From the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History ‘s extensive collection, here are five engaging titles that collectively provide an excellent introduction to the rich history of Waterloo Region. While the GSR’s collection is non-circulating, the Kitchener Public Library has circulating copies of all five titles – click on the book title link, below the cover image, to find them in the KPL catalogue:

Overtime : Portraits of a Vanishing Canada (2018) 

Karl Kessler & Sunshine Chen

In this quick read, Kessler and Chen highlight fifty workers and artisans who shared their experiences practicing vanishing trades, professions and cultural traditions in Waterloo Region. Those interviewed include a tailor, shoemaker, small-appliance repairer, sign painter, typewriter mechanic and even a town clock keeper. As automation and modernization continue to alter the look of employment and consumption, Overtime offers a captivating window into the region’s blue-collar past.

Flash From the Past: 140 Photographs From the Waterloo Region Record (2018) 

Jon Fear & Chris Masterman

Created by former Waterloo Region Record employees Jon Fear & Chris Masterman, Flash from the Past: 140 Photographs from the Waterloo Region Record consists of articles from the paper’s long running “Flash From the Past” column dedicated to preserving the region’s past. The photos, which have been unearthed from the Record’s archives, tell many stories of personal and historical significance which shine a new light on the fascinating history of Waterloo Region. I guarantee that this book will ensure that you will not look at our community the same way after reading it, especially with regards to our built environments and how they have changed and, in some cases, how they haven’t. 

BlackBerry Town: How High Tech Success Has Played Out For Canada’s Kitchener-Waterloo (2019) 

Chuck Howitt

BlackBerry Town tells the story of how the region developed into the tech hub it is today. The focus is on the unexpected rise and fall of Blackberry, and especially how the local community supported and benefited from the company. However, Howitt also weaves in the interesting stories behind the local tech scene, including those of prominent start-ups such as Clearpath Robotics, Shopify and Open Text. I found it particularly fascinating how some innovative thinking and collaboration at the University of Waterloo laid the foundation for all of this, many decades ago.  

A Waterloo County Album: Glimpses of the Way We Were (2002) 

Stephanie Kirkwood Walker

Walker’s photographic history of Waterloo Region contains 130 black and white images and period illustrations from as early as 1880, of buildings, parks, markets, fairs, parades and the changing cultural landscape. Organized by themed chapters, images are accompanied by some valuable context provided by the local historian and documentary maker. It may not be overly comprehensive, but A Waterloo County Album provides some captivating snapshots that make it a great and accessible introduction to the history of our region.  

Waterloo You Never Knew: Life on the Margins (2019)  

Joanna Rickert-Hall

In any community’s history, there are important perspectives and stories that remain overlooked. Waterloo You Never Knew reveals a different side to our community, by focusing on forgotten and little-known tales that differ from those typically told. Individuals featured include a rumrunner, former slaves, victims of the 1834 cholera outbreak in Galt, a grave-digging physician and a sorcery-practicing healer. Many of these fascinating lives were lived apart from the mainstream, sometimes even intentionally. Waterloo You Never Knew collects these stories and adds some important historical context to help us look beyond more common narratives.

Enjoy!

Scott Clark, Senior Library Assistant – Grace Schmidt Room of Local History

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GSR Resources, History in the Making, Online Resources

History in the Making: Photograph Collection

GSR photograph index drawers and cards – each card represents one or more images

This is the second post in a six-part series exploring the different types of historic materials that you can find on our new website, History in the Making. To read the other posts in this series, please click here. In this post, we will be looking in more detail at our collection of historic photographs and postcards.

Here, in the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History, we have a vast collection of photographs and postcards that capture the rich history of Kitchener and the surrounding areas. From photographs and postcards of buildings or other well-known locations to family portraits and school photographs, our collection encompasses not only the milestone moments that shaped our city but also daily life in Waterloo Region.

These photographs and postcards date from the late 19th century to the present day and can provide us with an invaluable, visual insight into the past. They capture significant events like the departure of local soldiers during the world wars, and the arrival of hydroelectric power in Berlin, as well as, opening ceremonies for area buildings, heritage plaque unveilings, and reunions for regional schools and societies.

In addition, the photographs in our collection capture more everyday moments such as people working on farms or in factories and streetscapes showing how much Kitchener has changed over the last hundred years. We also have a large number of studio photographs of local men, women and children that can help us to humanise our ancestors by showing us what they looked like, how they dressed or styled their hair and even what props they chose to be photographed with.

Our postcard collection, on the other hand, features notable locations in the area like Victoria Park, King Street or City Hall. There are even a number which show Kitchener Public Library over the years! While many of our late 19th and early 20th century photographs are in black-and-white, the postcards dating from this same era have often been coloured and can help us more clearly visualise the city as it would have looked back then.

P000488 118th North Waterloo Battalion leaving Berlin train station for training in London, ON, dated 22 May 1916

We have already digitized and uploaded approximately 1,000 of these photographs and postcards to HITM but we have thousands more in the GSR that we will be uploading in the future! If you are looking for an image of a person, place or event in Kitchener or Waterloo Region but can’t find it online, why not visit us in person to check out our photo index?

Quick Tips

  • Looking for images of a relative or other person? Make sure to search for them by their last name. You could also try searching for group photographs taken by schools, churches, employers or even societies and clubs that they were associated with.
  • Looking for images of a building or other location? Try searching our database for the names of previous owners, businesses associated with the address or the street name. You could even try looking for other nearby businesses or landmarks.
  • Do you want a copy of a photo in our collection? We offer high-quality digital or physical reproductions for personal use or research purposes for $10.00 + HST per image!

Questions?

If you have any questions or just want to learn more about our photograph collection, please feel free to send us an email at gsr@kpl.org, give us a call at 519-743-0271 ext. 212 or visit us in person the next time you are in the library! Check back next week to learn more about our archival collections!

Chiara Fallone, Senior Library Assistant, Grace Schmidt Room

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Remembrance

Remembering Gunner Roy Ludwig through His Letters

Source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial: Roy Frank Ludwig

The Grace Schmidt Room has recently been honoured with the donation of the letters of Roy Frank Ludwig of Kitchener by Doreen Motz and family.

The son of Edward Ludwig and Emma Fischer, Roy was born 25 March 1913 in Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario. He was educated at St. Jerome’s College and worked at J.M. Schneider’s Ltd as a shipper, prior to enlisting.on 27 Jun 1940 and going overseas on 29 Jul 1941. Roy was married to Lorraine Schlosser. They had three children, Doreen, Garry and Rita. Their home was located at 148 Church Street in Kitchener. A member of the Royal Canadian Artillery, 12th Field Regiment, Roy was killed in action on 9 June 1944 during D-Day operations in Normandy, France. A telegram received by his wife on 17 June 1944, confirmed the grim news.

The collection of 320 letters from Roy to Loretta document their love story and Roy’s unbound affection for his children, family, and home. While Roy wrote little about the war going on around him, his letters show us that war has a very human side – of love, homesickness, longing, and connection. The collection has been lovingly curated by his daughter, Doreen.

Airmail letter from Roy Ludwig, dated 25 April 1944

You can see Roy’s Soldier Information Card here.

We will remember them.

Sincerely,

Karen

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