ION Central: One Man’s Castle

Canadian Goodrich Company Office, Kitchener, ON, 1925

P000284 Canadian Goodrich Company Office, ca. 1925 (WHS Collection)

Who would have thought that a once stately home would be the front office of a rubber factory? ION’s Central station location – and its past – have the clue.

On the corner of King Street West and Victoria Street South, where the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy stands, you would have found the Canadian Goodrich Company. The front offices were in a house called “Bowhill” which was the former home of Ward Hamilton (W.H.) Bowlby, a Berlin lawyer, politician, and Waterloo County Crown attorney for 50 years before his death in 1917.

At this expansive plant, Goodrich, later known as BF Goodrich Canada, produced a wide array of products – from tires, car parts, and shoes to golf balls.

How did Bowlby’s house become the front office of the Goodrich plant? It was once a quiet 11-acre estate at King and Victoria (then Wilmot) Street, near the CNR railway line. After Bowlby’s death in 1917, his wife sold the property to the Ames-Holden Tire Co. The company made tires and shoes in a new building on the property, but used the Bowlby home, built in 1861, as its office. Ames-Holden was acquired by B.F. Goodrich of Akron, Ohio in 1922. The name was then changed to Canadian Goodrich as seen in the photo. The Bowlby home was used until 1929, when it was torn down.

In its heyday in the early 1950’s, this B.F. Goodrich plant employed 1200 people. In the late 1950s, Goodrich built facilities at 409 Weber St. West and a large tire plant in south Kitchener in the 1960s.

In 1983, the King and Victoria plant, which was B.F. Goodrich’s engineered products division, was sold to Epton Industries.  Epton was demolished in 1997, after the company went bankrupt.

Cheers, Karen

This is post 10 of 19 in the Stories That Move You series.

Stories that Move You is a Kitchener Public Library project that celebrates the launch of ION service with curated collections of reads, music, audio, learning resources, and local history to help people make the most of an unique window of time during their public transit ride.



Calling all GRCI grads and staff!

GRCI crest from 1968 yearbook

Grand River Collegiate Institute crest from the 1968 yearbook

Grand River Collegiate Institute will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in week’s time and we are on the hunt for any photographs of the ground breaking ceremony, construction of the building or its opening day. If you have any photographs that you would be willing to share, please contact Susan Letkeman, Grand River -Stanley Park Branch Manager at 519-896-1736 or by email susan.letkeman@kpl.org

Thanks and cheers, Karen.


Rural Diaries – Help to “Write” History

Fountain pen on paper

Fountain pen on paper – Source: Pixabay.com

Recently, I learnt about a new heritage project that seeks to unlock the lives of rural Ontario diarists. They are seeking volunteers to help transcribe rural diaries held at the University of Guelph. Why not join them in the work of transcribing the diaries and learn more about rural life in Ontario?

Below is the information about the project:

Come and escape into the past! Delve into the lives of real people who lived between 1800 and 1960. Learn about stories of love and loss, joy and hardship, all in Southern Ontario. Have you ever wanted to peak into someone’s diary? Now you can!

The Rural Diary Archive lets you explore 130 diaries of the young and old, male and female. You may even find one of your ancestors or their neighbours in a diary. It is simple to filter through the diaries to find different religions, counties and occupations. The Rural Diary Archive honours the daily lives of rural people. Please consider transcribing these diaries; it’s easy to do, with clear instructions provided. All you need is a computer and internet access. Transcribing these diaries online will let you immerse yourself in true rural Ontario history, fill you with a sense of accomplishment, and provide a rich resource for future researchers.

For more information visit: Rural Diary Archive at the University of Guelph

Thanks to Janice H. for the information!

Cheers, Karen.


Valentine’s Day Greetings

Valentines postcard

P009646 KPL Valentine’s Day postcard 1914

In the sea of red hearts and flowers that Valentines Day has become, I came across this lovely postcard, postmarked 20 February 1914, in the KPL collection. It was sent to Minnetta Stolz,  likely of  Galt, by Irene Schieckoff of Heidelberg. The short verse, bluebirds, hearts and grapes provide a very romanticized idea of friendship and companionship.

Reverse side of P009646 Valentines postcard

Reverse of P009646 Valentine’s Day postcard, KPL collection

It appears as if the postcard was originally sent to Waterloo, but may have been forwarded onto Galt.  I have not been able to locate either Irene or Minnetta (who I suspect was known as Minnie) in my travels, but will keep an eye out for them and update everyone if they are found.

If you happen to know who the two correspondents are, please let me know!

The postcard can be found here in Our Digital World, the GSR’s online photograph collection.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cheers, Karen


Like a kid before Christmas…

I can’t believe that it is almost here.. the KPL Genealogy Fair that is! The programs are printed and we are busily gearing up to welcome everybody to our new Central Library.

KPL Genealogy Fair

Poster for KPL Genealogy Fair being held on 25 April 2015

The new GSR is ready and awaiting visitors and will be offering attendees use of the Ancestry and Find My Past databases. If you have research to do or just want to check out what our genealogy databases have to offer, please come up to Level 2 and staff will be available to give you a hand. I’m pleased to announce that FindMyPast.com has kindly given us a 6 month and 12 month subscription to give away as door prizes at the fair, so please remember to fill out a ballot when you get to the Library.

Doors open at 9am and our keynote speaker, Lynn Palermo, the Armchair Genealogist, will give her presentation at 10am in the Theatre. And this is just the start to a great day of learning, sharing and discovery!

Just a note to everyone that we are currently without a cafe at the Central Library, so grab some coffee on your way down to the Library and be sure to bring your lunch too.

Check out the Fair webpage for complete details here.

See you on Saturday!

Cheers, Karen


Remembering Pat Kauk – GSR Volunteer

P010335 KPL -  GSR First Anniversary, 14 October 1985

P010335 – KPL Chief Librarian, Lynn Matthews, far right, and GSR staff marking the 1st Anniversary of the Grace Schmidt Room, 14 October 1985. Pat Kauk is third person from the left.

I am saddened to let everyone know that long-time GSR volunteer, Pat Kauk, has passed away.  Pat was our transcriber of the Berliner Journal birth, marriage and death entries.  Over many years, since her retirement nearly 15 years ago, she diligently worked away on translating the birth, marriage and death notices, along with other articles of interest, from the Berliner Journal.  I cannot count the number of researchers, family historians and genealogists who have been helped by Pat’s translations – her work has been invaluable to understanding local families, businesses, events and people.

I have very fond memories of my conversations with Pat – of her love of local history, pride and joy in her family and her fond memories of working with Susan Hoffman in the GSR.  She was always happy to help people with their research and to let them know that she had worked in the GSR for many years.  Staff in Information Services will also miss Pat and her frequent visits to the workroom to say ‘hello’ and to catch up on the latest news about happenings in the Library.

Pat’s love of and passion for local history will be missed. She was a truly dedicated volunteer and I will miss her.

You can find information about Pat’s memorial service here.

Information about the photo above can be found here.


Movember Moustache

P420 - David Forsyth

Studio portrait of David Forsyth (P420 WHS)

It’s that time of the year again. Movember – a November month long campaign to raise awareness of men’s health.  And this is my new favourite ‘stache sported by the one and only, dapper David Forsyth.

David Forsyth was born in 1852 in Perthshire, Scotland. He came with his parents to Canada at the age of one year old. He attended Dundas High School and later graduated from Galt Collegiate. In 1875, Forsyth completed his studies at the University of Toronto with a silver medal standing in mathematics.

Forsyth, in the following year, joined the staff of the Berlin High School as a teacher of mathematics and science. In 1901, he succeeded James W. Connor as Principal. As an educator, Forsyth was the first in Ontario to introduce practical laboratory work for science students in high school. Under his leadership, the Berlin High School grew in staff, attendance and equipment, putting it in the front ranks of Ontario schools. Prominent graduates included future Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King and W.D. Euler, North Waterloo Member of Parliament and Minster of Trade and Commerce. Forsyth also served on a Royal Commission on Industrial Training and Technical Education, which travelled around the world gathering information for its report.

His connection to the Kitchener Public Library was as a board member for over 30 years, many of which were spent as Secretary and four terms as Chairman.  He was also instrumental in securing land for the Carnegie Library building at Queen and Weber Streets.  Additionally, he was a member of the Berlin Board of Health, Waterloo Historical Society and Mathematical Association of Canada, American Association of Science and the National Geographic Society.

David Forsyth was also well known in sporting circles as a member of the Berlin football (soccer) team, which later became the Rangers.  He was responsible for organizing the Western Ontario Football Association in 1880, serving as secretary, president and honorary president. Forsyth was a captain of the Berlin lacrosse team, a prominent member of the Berlin Cricket Club, an avid cyclist, enthusiastic canoeist, lawn bowler, and curler.

He was married to Augusta Mylius in 1882, who died in 1912. Upon his retirement from the Berlin High School in 1921, Forsyth went to live in Beamsville, ON  where his son, Otto, resided. He died on 13 September 1936 in Beamsville and was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Kitchener.

A classy man and moustache, don’t you agree?

Cheers, K.


Celebrating 30 Years of KPL’s Local History

Birthday Cake by Will Clayton

Birthday Cake – photographer Will Clayton   http://www.flickr.com/photos/spool32/

On Tuesday October 14, 2014, the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History will turn 30 years old. While not a monumental milestone, 30 years of local history preservation, research, reference and access is something to celebrate! The vision of the Library, Waterloo Historical Society and the then-named Waterloo-Wellington (now Waterloo Region) Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society helped to forge a partnership in the Grace Schmidt Room that has seen the local history and genealogy collections and services grow over the years. We have been very fortunate in having such wonderful partners and supporters in the GSR. Thank you!

If you are at the Central Library on Tuesday October 14th between 1pm and 3pm, please stop by the Grace Schmidt Room for a piece of cake.  We’d love to hear about your favourite moments and finds in the GSR.  If you can’t join us, please feel free to comment on the blog.

Cheers, Karen.


Local History Courses at Conestoga College

Local History Course Brochure - Conestoga College

Local History Course Brochure – Conestoga College – May-June 2014

Conestoga College is again offering their Waterloo County history courses, starting in May 5th and 6th, at their Waterloo Campus.

LIBS1750 History of Waterloo Region 1 covers the County’s early years from 1800 to 1920.

LIBS1760 History of Waterloo Region 2 explores regional history starting in 1920 to the present.

For more information and registration details, visit the Conestoga College Continuing Education website.

Soldier Information Card Project, Uncategorized

The GSR is on the move again… into our final location!

GSR moving

The GSR is getting ready to move!

It’s official! – the Main Branch of the Kitchener Public Library will be closed on or about March 24, 2014 for approximately 2 months for the move into our newly renovated building.  The Grace Schmidt Room will not be open to the public during the Main Branch’s 2 months closure. While I’ll miss seeing our researchers, I’ll be busy with the move of the GSR into its final location.  The closure of the library will allow for the completion of renovations and removal of our temporary offices and work spaces.  I look forward to being reunited with the archival collection, which has been off-site since our move into the addition back in February 2013.

If you have information that you are seeking from the GSR during this time, you can email me, but I cannot guarantee a prompt reply as collections may become inaccessible due to the work being carried out and the move of furniture, equipment and people.  I’ll do my best to reply, but the move will take precedence as we are working to have the building open as soon as possible.

Our archival collections will be returning in stages, so we may not have everything back by the time of the Main Branch re-opening. If there is something specific that you are seeking, please email me after the re-opening so we can verify the item of interest is available.

Please note that the KPL Soldier Card Project will continue during the closure. We will be doing our best to get cards distributed for research and transcription.