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2012 PHS News & Events Archive

For King, Country — and Czar: James Garvey, Hugh Nolan, and the Canadian SiberianExpeditionary Force, 1918-19

Over 60 people crowded into the basement of the Public Library on Tuesday, November 20th for the monthly meeting of the society.  The guest speaker was local historian and PHS Board member Don Willcock who spoke about the little-known Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force.  James Garvey and Hugh Nolan of Lakefield were two men from this area that were ordered to be on this mission.  They joined a 4000-man strong contingent, comprised predominately of soldiers conscripted at the end of the War.  This Siberian Expeditionary Force was stationed at Vladivostok, a key military post at the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway, as reinforcements to aid the Czarist White Army.

Always underscoring the local connections of the story, Willcock told of the arduous train journey the men made across the country and their mustering in Victoria, British Columbia.  He highlighted the various troop transports that were taken across the Pacific and the conditions experienced by the Canadians soldiers upon arrival in Russia.  Unlike other Canadian contingents in engaged in the violent of the Western theatre of war, the men at Vladivostok saw no military action and returned to Canada in May 1919 after spending a Russian winter away from home.  The lively presentation was accompanied by numerous contemporary photographs, colourful war art and copies of regimental records and personnel files.  Following the talk, Don answered various questions from the appreciative audience.

In Memoriam

Barbara Irene Earle,1928-2012

There have been more than a few tears shed since on September 5 we learned that Barbara Earle had succumbed to the illness, the outcome of which she accepted with grace and dignity.

Those of us who knew her as good friends, acquaintances or associates remember her as such a cheerful, positive person; someone who willingly volunteered for any task that was asked of her.

We will miss her talents at Hutchison House Museum. We remember her love of gardening; she astounded us with her vast knowledge of flowers, including the Latin names! She gently but firmly reminded us gardeners that the plants and flowers must accurately portray of 1860s period gardens. She was our plant consultant for our annual plant sales. The physical challenges of gardening never daunted her – she could be found digging and transplanting even in the pouring rain!

We remember her skill as a seamstress; she designed and sewed innumberable costumes and men’s frock coats, insisting that all details and accessories represented accurately the 1830s and 1840s period. Barbara also served for many  years on the Acquisitions Committee helping to research the history of any furnishings that were donated or purchased. Barbara helped to decorate the House at Christmas with greenery, berries and bows. Luncheons and the bake table at the Festive Sale were the recipient of her delicious culinary creations. Barbara also served the Peterborough community. As a graduate physiotherapist she worked at both the Peterborough Clinic and the Civic Hospital. For many years she helped organize Garden Tours for the Art Gallery of Peterborough, a major fundraiser.

Quietly offering her time and talent over the years in these many endeavours, Barbara never sought recognition for  herself.

Barbara, her husband Don and their children have enjoyed many happy summers at their island cottage on Stony Lake.

We offer our condolences at this sad time to Don, Jamie, Susan, Peter and their families.
By Betty Hinton

Commemorating the Gravesites of Ontario’s Premiers

Kathryn McLeod

The second monthly meeting of the Peterborough Historical Society’s 2012-2013 season featured a lively and informative presentation by Kathryn McLeod who spoke about the Premiers’ Gravesite Program. From the Honourable John Sandfield Macdonald to the Honourable Frank Miller, Kathryn traced the stories of 18 former Ontario premiers.

Kathryn first talked about the origins of the program and its objectives in commemorating Ontario’s past. She then shared several of her fascinating first-hand experiences while working on this program for the Ontario Heritage Trust.

In more than one case, for example, the final resting place of some of our greatest premiers was not as final as had been originally believed! Only after lots of hard work, historical research and genealogical inquiry were some of these mysteries solved. There was never a dull moment for Kathryn as she was brought into constant contact with cemetery administrators, local politicians and historians as well as the remaining relatives and friends of the province’s premiers.

More than a history project, Kathryn remarked that the Gravesites Program was also an exercise in community building. It brought together different groups of Ontarians for a common goal: to remember the life and achievements of some the province’s greatest political leaders.

Each gravesite is marked with a bronze plaque bearing the name of the premier, term of office and the provincial coat of arms. In most cases, this plaque was mounted on a granite plinth and accompanied by a new flagpole flying the provincial flag.

In conclusion, Kathryn urged us all to visit the premiers’ gravesites.   One near and dear site for the Trent graduate is that of Leslie Frost who was the first chancellor of the University. One of the final images that she showed was that of Professor Tom Symons, Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust, and a young relative of Premier Frost.  The two raised the provincial flag together over the premier’s gravesite and in so doing, Kathryn observed, illustrated the value that this project has in connecting future generations of Ontarians with their rich heritage.

Many of the premiers’ gravesites, however, are not as easy to visit, so members are encouraged to visit them virtually at:
By, Michael Eamon, Program Committee Chair

Stone House Tour Cheque

Stewart Hamilton presents cheque to Mary Lavery for the funds from the Stone House Tour

The Artist as “Accidental” Historian

On September 18, at our monthly general meeting, members and guests of the Society were treated to a thoughtful and engaging presentation by local artist Peer Christensen. Using a selection from some of his paintings, Peer talked about his career as a budding art student that matured through training and practice into a highly successful professional artist. Using some of his early Peterborough paintings, Peer described the creative process that inspired his works. Daily walks around town armed with his trusty camera, led him to what he felt to be striking or evocative scenes or landscapes that were later transferred to canvas. Many of the images are of simple, often gritty industrial landscapes that he has managed to infuse with a distinctive charm and beauty. Many of these scenes are now obsolete or obscure because of demolition or changes to the streetscape. Peer referred to himself as an “accidental historian” capturing in oils a significant piece of  Peterborough’s built past. His unique style of luminous paintings, achieved through careful build up of layers of paint, have become a signature for a Christensen piece of art. The Society is grateful for Peer’s striking painting of Hutchison House which he generously donated for our raffle and for his delightful presentation at our September meeting.

PHS Raffle in support of Hutchison House

Florence Skelhorn with ticket #9, has won the PHS Raffle for the original painting “A Winter Afternoon, Brock Street 2011” by esteemed local artists, Peer Christensen. Florence is a long-time volunteer at Hutchison house, helping with cooking, luncheons and special events. Peer Christensen drew the winning ticket during the PHS General Meeting at the Peterborough Public Library on September 18th. Thanks to everyone for participating and making this fundraising event successful. We raised nearly $5000 which will go towards capital repairs to the Hutchison House.

Historical Stone House Tour

The Historical Stone House tour, sponsored by the Peterborough Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, and supported by many PHS volunteers was a big success. Thanks to all for making this a successful event. The event took place on September 15 showcasing old stone houses built in Peterborough between 1837 and 1851 and included 
• Hutchison House Museum
• City Hall, Recreation Reception, Carnegie Wing
• Peterborough Museum and Archives
• Sport & Wellness Centre, and
• The Avant-Garden Shop

All of the proceeds from this tour went towards the on-going maintenance of the museum.

Gwenneth Helen Morawetz

After a sudden stroke our beloved Gwen Morawetz died peacefully at BaptisteLake on her 85th Birthday. Gwen, the cherished wife of Bruno Morawetz and founder, along with Bruno, of Camp Ponacka for boys on BaptisteLake. Gwen was a dedicated Board Member of Peterborough Historical Society – always eager to support the Society’s committee and fund raising efforts. Gwen was one member who initiated the location and funding of the Sextant for Hutchison House. Gwen faithfully attended the monthly public lectures presented by the Peterborough Historical Society. We are missing her dazzling smile and her cheery support. A public celebration of her life will be held at Trinity United Church, Peterborough on Saturday September 22 at 2 PM.

Gwen Morawtz

Upcoming Speaker Series

Tuesday, September 18: Peer Christensen will be give a talk entitled “Historical Peterborough as Inspiration.”

Peer Christensen 
Tuesday, October 16: Kathryn McLeod from the Ontario Heritage Trust will be speaking about the successful Premiers’ Gravesite Programme.
Tuesday, November 20: Don Willcock will talk about the often forgotten Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force that fought in Russia right after the end of the First World War.
Please check the calendar of events for details.

2012 Heritage Awards

The F.H.Dobbin Award acknowledges exceptional coverage of historical events, articles, photos or videos.  The 2012 winner is Ken Brown for his book “The Canadian Canoe Company”.
The Samuel ArmourAward recognizing the involvement and exposure of students to local historical opportunities, programs and/or development of curriculum based on local history. The 2012 winner is Karen Taylor of the Education Department of the Canadian Canoe Museum for her work in presenting school programs to students in the Peterborough area.

The Charlotte Nicholls Award is given in recognition of substantial financial donations towards the preservation and/or recognition of historic sites, artifacts etc. The 2012 is given to Ed Arnold for the donation of the Peterborough Examiner Collection to the Trent Valley Archives. 
The J. Hampden Burnham Award is given to individuals, groups or organizations who establish a venue for public awareness of historical events, places or people. The 2012 winner is Gordon Young for his work in establishing a memorial for the victims of the Quaker Oats Fire.
All the winners with Dennis Carter-Edwards and Graham Hart

Photos from the AGM

PHS Board for 2012. Click for list of board members.President Dennis Carter-Edwards presenting Ken Trevelyan speaker with a thank you gift.
President and Catherine Dibben autographing her newly published Occasional Paper.