Programs

The Long and Winding Road from Berlin to Kitchener

P000361 WHS

P000361 WHS Rescue of Kaiser’s Bust from Victoria Park Lake – August 1914

In the political, social and economic turmoil of the early years of World War One, our community changed. Bitter debates over loyalty and patriotism,  vandalism and theft of the Kaiser’s bust, unruly recruits from the 118th Battalion, and fears of economic loss over a “Made in Berlin” manufacturing identity, helped propel a name change few wanted, and for which only a handful voted. When the dust settled on September 1, 1916, we were no longer ‘Berlin’, but ‘Kitchener’. The city’s name change marked a defining moment in our history and identity – or did it? It has been said that “words have meaning and names have power” (author unknown). In this context, did the name change from Berlin to Kitchener hold historical significance or was it merely a casualty of wartime economics? Did we change as a community as a result of the name change or are we still Berlin at heart?

Join us at the Central Library on Thursday 15 September 2016 at 7pm in the Theatre to hear University of Waterloo professors, Geoff Hayes (History) and Mat Schulze (German Studies) and local historian, rych mills, discuss the nationalist divides, local stories, and how the bilingual nature of Berlin/Kitchener affected the controversy. Carl Zehr, former mayor of Kitchener, will be the moderator of this panel discussion entitled, Von Berlin to Kitchener, Connotations and Cultures. It’s a free event and no registration is required. Click here for more information on the event.

I’m looking forward to this discussion and I’m sure that you will too.

Cheers, Karen

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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

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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Uncategorized

Waterloo County World War I Soldiers on the Move

Soldier Information Card for Thomas Alison

Soldier Information Card for Thomas Alison

The World War One soldiers of Waterloo County are on the move! In preparation for the start of the Soldier Information Card (SIC) Project, we’ve been sending our World War One Soldier Information Cards off-site to be digitized. If you are planning to come down to the Grace Schmidt Room to have a look at a World War One Soldier Information Card, please contact me in advance of your planned visit and I can let you know if your soldier is in the building or offsite.

Stay tuned for more information on this project. Volunteers are welcome!

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