Ernest Denton & Panoramic Photograpy

Picture Perfect Panoramics

Denton Advertisement

Advertisement for Ernest Denton from the 1929 Vernon’s City Directory for Kitchener-Waterloo

With the Central Library project final push looming in early 2014, I received a query from Michel Labrecque, assistant curator at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum, about Ernest Denton, a well-known Kitchener photographer.  His query was a welcome distraction from the construction, temporary work spaces, and packing and unpacking. In fact, Ernest Denton was a familiar name – his photographic work was scattered throughout our collection.

Michel’s query seemed an innocent query enough – did we have any information on Ernest Denton?  Little did I know, I was to embark on a real journey of discovery –  the existence of a possible link between the panoramic camera at Canadian Science and Technology Museum and the Grace Schmidt Room. My interest was hooked from our initial discussions over the phone regarding Denton’s life and work.

Michel’s questions had me elbow deep into a collection that was still on the move.  While I was not able to provide a list of all Denton images as our subject-based paper photo index was not searchable by photographer, I could quickly identify his panoramic images in the collection as they are stored by size.

We had just moved into our new space and were waiting for the completion of the GSR reading room – so I had a small window of time to do some research . As I dove into the oversized boxes, I came across several Denton panoramic images in the Waterloo Historical Society collection in the GSR of the 118th Battalion, a recruiting unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the north part of Waterloo County.

P2683 118th Battalion, A Company

A panoramic of the 118th Battalion, A Company, taken by Denton Photo Studio, May 1916

Given Michel’s specific query about Denton panoramics dated in the 1910s, these images seemed to be a perfect fit for the Cirkut camera that he was researching. Michel had me photograph, describe and measure the images and search for any imprints or markings on the mats (including reverse sides).  With great satisfaction, I received a tweet from Michel in July 2014 that the panoramics looked authentic to the Cirkut camera!

118th Battaliion, C Company, May 1916

Panoramic photo of 118th Battalion, C Company, taken by Denton Photo Studio, May 1916

Given that the Soldier Card Project was in full swing, I felt a great kinship to these images – many of the faces of the soldiers seemed so familiar. In particular, I was able to identify Captain Solon Albright, in the front row, centre, in the B Company portrait.

Solon Albright, 118th Battalion, B Company

Solon Albright , 118th Battalion, B Company, May 1916

Solon Albright, SIC Card (KPL)

KPL Soldier Information Card for Captain Solon Albright

As an unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, the 118th (North Waterloo) Battalion began recruiting in late 1915.  After sailing to England in January 1917, the battalion was absorbed into the 25th Reserve Battalion on February 6, 1917 and dispersed into other units as needed.

Denton photographed the 118th Battalion companies A-D in what seems to be an enclosed field or grandstand – perhaps Victoria Park in the tumultuous months leading up to the name change of Berlin to Kitchener or at the training grounds in London,Ontario.  Three of the four images had horizontal labels, giving the moniker “Denton Studio” below the image, while the B Company photo had no label and was marked “Denton Bros” in the lower left corner.

118th Battalion, B Company

Panoramic photo of 118th Battalion, B Company, taken by Denton Photo Studio, May 1916

On closer examination of the B Company photo,  my eye also caught sight of the dog being held by the young man third from the left  – a touching reminder of the bond between people and animals.

P2682

Lower left corner of P2682 118th Battalion, B Company

I’d love to hear from anyone if they have ideas or suggestions as to where the images were taken, the activities of the 118th Battalion at the time of the photographs or if you recognize any of the soldiers in the images.

118th Battalion, D Company

Panoramic photo of 118th Battalion, D Company, taken by Denton Photo Studio, May 1916

It’s amazing to ponder the convergence of so many factors in these images – young men about to head off to war, a (possibly) smuggled Cirkut panoramic camera, and Ernest Denton, the world traveled photographer all coming together on a spring day in May, 1916, isn’t it?

Part 5 – Canadian Contributions to Panoramic Photography

on Friday 27 March 2015

Collecting and Connecting blog

Canada Science and Technology Museum (CSTM)

@M_Labrecque

References

1. Vernon’s City Directory for Kitchener and Waterloo, 1929 *

2. World War I Soldier Card Project. Kitchener Public Library.

3. rych mills. Kitchener (Berlin) 1880-1960. Charleston, SC : Arcadia Publishing, 2002.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks go to the following for their contributions:

Kim Grimes for her memories of Ernest Denton; Willy Nassau and Dolph Bogad for their visit to the GSR and memories of the Cirkut camera and knowledge of panoramic photography; rych mills for his insight on Denton and the 118th Battalion; and Michel Labrecque for explaining the intricacies of panoramic photography and camera technology.

* For those eagle eyed readers, you may have noticed that the 1929 Denton advertisement claims that they have been in business for 20 years, which would put the start of their business around 1909. While my research places the Denton Brothers in Kitchener around 1912-1914, I will continue researching their early life and post any new findings on the blog. If you have any information on their early years in Kitchener, I’d love to hear from you!

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Soldier Information Card Project

Honouring Our Military Heritage and Volunteers

Gordon Hamblin

Gordon Hamblin, WW1_H_049 Kitchener Public Library Soldier Card Collection

Join us on Tuesday November 18, 2014 at 7:00pm to hear Assistant Professor Geoffrey Hayes of the University of Waterloo speak about Waterloo County’s Great War Heritage. The lecture will be in the Theatre of the Central Library.  It’s free and no registration is required. On Remembrance Day, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Hayes speak at the Global Youth Summit on War and Remembrance at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI).  It was a fascinating lecture which captivated and engaged the youthful participants in CIGI’s auditorium.

We’ll also be honouring the Soldier Information Card volunteers who have brought to life the lives of Waterloo Region/County’s soldiers through their transcriptions and research.  The Soldier Cards are being uploaded daily to the Library’s online site on Our Digital World. Check out the growing Soldier Information Card Collection here.

I look forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday!

Cheers, Karen

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Soldier Information Card Project

We will remember them

Private Nelson Chaplin Clay

Private Nelson Chaplin Clay, P002116, Waterloo County Soldier Portrait Collection, KPL

The haunting words of Laurence Binyon’s poem, For the Fallen, were penned in September 1914 following early British casualties at the outbreak of the Great War. In particular, the stanza:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

always makes me tear up.  There is something deeply profound and compelling about the promise to remember – a duty owed to those who served and continue to serve our country.

It’s been an emotional year working on the Soldier Information Cards, coupled with recent murders of two Canadian servicemen on home soil and Canada’s new military role in Iraq.  I am reminded everyday of the lives, young and old, which were lost, shattered and forever changed by conflict and in the struggle to maintain peace and order.

I don’t come from a military family. However, I have recently discovered a cousin of my Welsh great-grandfather who fought with the Royal West Surrey Regiment in the First World War. Private Robert J. H. Edwards died in battle, at the age of 30, on 22 October 1917, in Belgium, leaving behind a wife and four young children in South Wales.  The details of his military career and life are still sketchy, but I feel compelled to keep digging to find out more – to tell his story, to remember.

Who will you remember?

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Soldier Information Card Project

The Long March Begins – Soldier Information Cards Online

Harold Warren, WW1

Harold Warren, World War One, Soldier Information Card

 

While it may seem like it’s all quiet on the Library front, we have busily been working on uploading Soldier Information Cards to our online site. We are focussing on uploading the transcribed cards first as these can be processed quickly.  As we are working on them, we have discovered that working on them while on a public desk is tricky – so we steal away precious moments off-desk to work on the cards.

My co-workers regularly tell me how the cards, photographs and soldier stories have touched them – just as we have been heard from the Soldier Card Project volunteers as they worked on the cards.  The tragic deaths of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in recent days remind all of the sacrifices that our military personnel make in defending our rights and freedoms.

Adopted soldiers who have been researched will be the second set uploaded.  We have been discovering some of the unanswered questions about our little known and difficult to research soldiers may lie in the recently digitized WWI military service files now online at Library and Archives Canada. So it’s one step forward and a sometimes a couple steps back as new information comes to light.  There are still those soldiers for whom nothing exists and we’ll be posting those online for anyone to comment or provide information.

You may not be hearing regularly from Ingrid and Meghan about WWI adoptions and Becky and Karen T. about WW2 transcriptions as they are now primarily focused on card uploading until Christmas. The database will not be completely uploaded by our November 11, 2014 target date, but we are hoping to be able to share a good selection of them by mid-November. When we get closer to Remembrance Day, I’ll post the link to the collection in our online database.

I do hope that all of our Soldier Card Project volunteers will be able to join us on Tuesday November 18th for a special event that will happen prior to Geoff Hayes’ talk on Waterloo County Soldiers in World War 1. An invitation will be going out to SIC project volunteers by email later this week.

Cheers, Karen

 

 

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Soldier Information Card Project

Update on the Soldier Card Project

 

Alvin Wilbert Gingrich

Soldier Information Card for Alvin Wilbert Gingrich of Hespeler, Ont.

As the summer reaches its midpoint, I wanted to update everyone on the Soldier Card Project. It’s been bit of a roller-coaster ride for the past 6 months with the closure, move and re-opening of the Central Library.  Although the blog has been quiet for a while, we are still plugging away on the Soldier Card Project while unpacking and shelving books and almost 50 skids of archival boxes and newspapers, answering reference questions and learning how to operate our new digital microfilm scanner in the Grace Schmidt Room.

Currently, all of the WWI cards that required transcription have been completed. Volunteers are still researching and writing biographies and it looks like this process will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. Ingrid and Meg are looking after the circulation of cards for research.

I have been working on finalizing instructions for staff to begin the upload of transcribed and researched WWI soldier cards to our online site, Our Digital World  (formerly Our Ontario.ca). As luck would have it, Our Digital World started a major software upgrade and record indexing project during the last week of July, which should finish by Wednesday this week. Once the dust has settled on the updates to the service, we’ll begin uploading the cards, transcriptions and biographies. I’ll post a link to the collection to let everyone know where they can find the records.

We are still circulating WWII soldier cards for transcription. Karen T. and Becky are looking after the circulation of these cards.  We are approaching the alphabetical midpoint of the list, but the thick letters (M, P, S, T) are on the horizon.

Another Karen, in this case, Karen S., has been rehousing the Soldier Cards in acid-free folders and boxes, carefully interleaving acid-free tissue between the cards to prevent damage.  The original cards will be kept in our Archives and access to the collection will be made via the digital images and the online collection.

There have also been a lot of work going on with the Waterloo Region Record.  I am sure that you have been reading their fascinating WWI retrospective and soldier profiles – the photos for which are coming from the collections of the Grace Schmidt Room.   It’s been an honour assisting Jeff Outhit, Luisa D’Amato and Rod Frketich at the Record with their research and photograph requests.

So onward and upward (in a software kind of way) with the Soldier Card Project! We really do appreciate all that you have been doing.  If you have a question, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Cheers, K.

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Soldier Information Card Project

Soldier Card Project – An Update and Salute to our Volunteers

WWI Soldier Card for Denis J. Alison

World War One Soldier Information Card for Denis J. Alison

This week, the Kitchener Public Library is celebrating National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014, a time to recognize and cherish Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers.    I wanted to give a shout-out to our nearly 120 Soldier Card Project volunteers, without whom this project would not be possible.

Our SIC volunteers are a truly amazing group – full of passion, enthusiasm and commitment. To date, they have completed the following:

WWI transcriptions: 2,124

WWI biographies: 115

WWII transcriptions: 577

and counting!

To our amazing volunteers, thank you!

Your stories of  connection and resourcefulness continue to enrich the project. Everyday, your endeavours bring us closer to a fuller understanding of Waterloo County’s contribution to Canada’s military actions in the world wars.

Cheers, Karen

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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.

Cheers,

Karen

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