Remembrance

When Time Stands Still

Remembrance Day wreath - view from back

Remembrance Day. Image credit: Jeff Wallace (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wherezjeff/). Used under Creative Commons License.

I’ve always loved the poignant moment when the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th occurs, marking the beginning of the end of the First World War. We become still to remember those who have served our country in war and peace, unharnessed of all the busy-ness of modern life, alone with our thoughts and remembrances. It is a quiet moment of reflection, gratitude and respect for all those who have served us in war and in peace.

Conversely, sound can evoke many emotions. I, for one, always choke up when the Last Post is played at Remembrance Day ceremonies. Voices of the past take us back in time too. This year, the Grace Schmidt Room is honoured to have worked with Joe Pavia of 570 News on a Remembrance Day project to help bring the voices of “Women in War” to life. Using the oral history tapes of military personnel and war subjects in our collection, Joe has produced a series of audio clips being aired up to and including Remembrance Day. Be sure to be tuned to 570 News to hear the voices of Margaret Schreiter, Ann Schreiber, Dr. Deborah Glaister-Hannay, Darlene McClennan, and Catherine Wilkes Thomson as they talk about their war experiences. As the links go live, I’ll update them in this post. Joe’s feature will air every 30 minutes on Remembrance Day. Joe, by the way, is our oral history volunteer in the GSR, and is helping us to digitize the cassette collection. It’s been a real pleasure to work with him.

In conjunction with Joe’s project, the Library has uploaded the full oral history tape interviews for the women noted above. The link to our oral history page is here. Each interview has two parts, about a hour’s length each.

Please feel free to browse our Soldier Information Card collection indexes for both wars. You can view our online Soldier Information Card Collection for World War One here. We welcome your comments, stories and information for our soldier card collection.

I’ll be talking about the Soldier Information Card Project at the Grand River – Stanley Park branch on Wednesday evening at 7pm. Join me if you can. No registration is required and details can be found here.

If you are in the Grace Schmidt Room, please stop by to see our exhibits – one honouring the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Kitchener-Waterloo Branch of the Red Cross Society and their work in war and at home, and the other looking back at nursing sisters from World War One.

We will remember them.

Cheers, Karen.

Standard
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!

Standard
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

Standard
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

 

 

Standard
Soldier Information Card Project

Soldier Information Card Project Update

Private Ernest Keffer - World War I Soldier Card

Thanks for everyone’s response to the call for virtual volunteers for the Soldier Information Card Project.  We have been overwhelmed by the response and generous outpouring of help and support for the project.  Now that things are starting to roll, I’d like to keep you in the loop about what’s happening behind the scenes…

GSR staff are preparing the last set of Soldier Information Cards to be digitized. We’ve been finding that our work has slowed down considerably due to the need to sort World War II cards by type (single, double sided and multiple card sets), and to prepare the lists accordingly.

The cards are being sent out to a local company to be digitized. All World War I and II cards will be scanned by the end of the year or early January 2014.  Our goal is to have the World War I cards uploaded and available to the public by the end of August 2014 to commemorate the centennial of the start of the Great War.  Work on the World War II cards will proceed once the World War I cards have been uploaded and catalogued.

Once each scanned shipment of cards is returned to the Library, we are copying the scanned files to our servers for safekeeping. The original cards are being rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes too. Once all cards are scanned and safely stored, we’ll start the uploading of images to Our Digital World.  There’s lots to learn and do, so we are keeping busy!

Hopefully, all of our volunteers have received their first set of soldier cards to transcribe. There are close to 90 transcription volunteers to connect with, so please be patient as the files are being sent out over the coming weeks. I will be taking some time off between Christmas and New Year’s too – so turnaround time for file requests will be longer.

Soldier adoptions will be begin the week of 20 January 2014. Stay tuned for more information on this opportunity!

Standard