Digital Exhibits

There are millions of stories that can be found in the Archives & Special Collections.  Every now and then, we get to dive a little deeper into such topics and create digital exhibits using the records in this department. Enjoy these glimpses into our history.  And come visit us to find even more.

In 1860, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to England’s throne, embarked on a goodwill tour to Canada and the United States. Historically, this would become the first royal visit to British North America.

They left Plymouth Sound, England on July 10 on the ship the HMS Hero. The first stop of the tour was in St. John’s, Newfoundland. From there, the party made its way west towards Ontario. At most stops, the 18 year old Prince was met with great enthusiasm. Each city welcomed Albert Edward with elaborate speeches and presentations.  By September 14, the Prince had made his way to Niagara.

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Seymour's diary entry in 1860

Alexander Hamilton managed to get involved in just about everything in his 49 years of life.  His formal schooling was in Scotland.  He returned to Niagara to assume his father’s mercantile and shipping empire that tied him closely with the Canadian fur trade.  He was an officer in the Niagara Light Dragoons during the War of 1812 seeing action at Detroit, Queenston and throughout the Niagara Peninsula.  When business failed after the war, Alexander obtained a number of civic offices such as Justice of the Peace, Sheriff, Steward, Judge, and Postmaster.  All based out of Queenston, Ontario.  His work placed him right in the middle of a number of key events in Canada’s early history.

This exhibit details the varied careers and experiences of this ambitious figure.

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Broadside - St. Catharines Fair

Anne Adams created an online exhibit looking at shopping in downtown St. Catharines from 1876 to 1888. The Woodruff family lived and worked near the downtown core and they did not throw away their receipts. The family preserved these little bits of paper for generations.

Anne details the products that were purchased and linked these to what is known about the Woodruffs. She also delves into the histories of the store owners – from food to medicine, jewelry to hardware, even an undertaker’s bill makes an appearance. This illustrated exhibit covers 38 businesses.

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A cobbler's receipt 1876

A pattern emerged…

The records of a project to document 19th century tombstones in Niagara are held in the Brock University Archives. While working with these materials, Edie Williams noticed something interesting. Many women in the 1800s spelled the name Catharine like that of the city of St. Catharines which is unique compared to the common spelling today – Catherine.

With this inspiration, Edie created an online exhibit highlighting the lives of eighteen of these Catharines. These women came from all parts of the Western world and settled throughout the Niagara area. For some, it may have been a long time since their stories have been told.

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Tombstone of Catharine Simpson

Dorothy Rungeling (1911-2018) managed to pack a lot into her 106 years on Earth.  Raised by Canadian poet Ethelwyn Wetherald in Fonthill, Dorothy embraced every opportunity presented to her – family, music, horsemanship, working during WWII, local government, writing, and more.  She is most noted for her pioneering career as a pilot – her accomplishments led to her being on a Canadian postage stamp and having a local airport named after her.

This exhibit will look at the varied career of this incredible woman.

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Dorothy Rungeling standing beside her first airplane

Local boy does good… Very good.

Born and raised in St. Catharines, Terry O’Malley, known as ‘The Legend’ by his peers, had a successful 40-year career in marketing and advertising. Starting as a copywriter, Terry made his way up to President and Executive Creative Director of Vickers & Benson – one of the largest ad agencies in Canada at the time.

In 2003, Terry donated his professional records to the Brock University Archives. Terry’s work is filled with a clientele that runs the gamut of the commercial world from ales to zippers – McDonald’s, Hockey Canada, Ford, Carling Red Cap, Loblaws, Tourism Ontario, Gulf Oil, Nabisco, and so much more. If you watched any television from the 1960s through the 1990s, you will recognize Terry’s work.

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Terry O'Malley with archives

Was there virtual reality equipment 150 years ago?  No.  But the closest you could get was a stereoscope.

A stereoscope is a device through which two nearly identical images on a card can be viewed through a lens to create a three-dimensional image. They were popular from the 1850s to the 1930s as home entertainment devices and often depicted famous tourist destinations.  It is said that of all of the locations in the world, Niagara Falls was the most photographed for stereo cards.

These are some of the stereo cards in the Brock University Archives’ collection.

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Glass stereo card of Niagara Falls

In the mid-1980s, Rick Bell, a professional firefighter, went to his mother’s house in St. Catharines to look through some old boxes in her attic that were destined for the trash. What he found still amazes us today. Within the boxes were approximately 120 items that chronicle his ancestors back to the 1850s. The Bell, Tyrell and Sloman families descended from former slaves who came to Niagara and other parts of Southwest Ontario around the time of the Civil War.

These records offer a glimpse into how these families kept their familial networks alive while building a new, productive life in Canada.

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Bell Family Archives

In 1837, William Lyon Mackenzie organized a ragtag mob, led an armed occupation of an American island, created rumour and chaos everywhere, caused an international incident, inflicted damages that took more than a decade to rectify, and saw his captured compatriots executed or sent to the prison colony of Van Diemen’s Land / Australia. Tough year.

Much of the action of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 and 1838 took place in the Niagara area. The impact was widespread and intense – even presidents and British foreign ministers got involved.

This digital exhibit retells the history of the Rebellions in Niagara through primary records found in the Brock University Archives.

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Arthur’s accomplishments include: World War I veteran; husband, father, grandfather; CEO / Chairman of the Ontario Paper Company; helped establish a new town Baie Comeau in Quebec; Chairman of the Founding Committee of Brock University; Chairman of Board of Governors for the St. Catharines Hospital; Governor of Ridley College; Citizen of the Year for St. Catharines in 1964; and much more.

This exhibit looks at the life of one of modern Niagara’s exceptional people.

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Arthur Schmon with the Brock Bill.

Laura Blackwell was born in St. Catharines in 1875.  Her talents as an opera singer allowed her to travel all over Canada, the United States, and the world.  She met her husband, Count Stanislas De Turczynowicz of Poland, when performing in Europe.  During World War I, the Prussian army invaded Poland.  Stanislas was taken prisoner and Laura and her family were made to serve Prussian officers at the family home.  Laura and her children were among the first to escape occupied Poland for the United States.  There, she wrote a book about their ordeal and used her singing talents and artistic connections to raise funds for the relief of the people of Poland.  Her humanitarian organization was called the Grey Samaritans.

After the war, Laura continued to work in the arts setting up opera companies and writing in California, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver.

Using archival materials in the Brock University Archives and other repositories, this exhibit highlights the life of a woman who always used her voice – artistically and charitably – for the benefit of others.

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Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1940) is a well-known Canadian poet who used her surroundings as her inspiration and focused on nature. She has been acclaimed for her contributions to both her poetry and journalism.  She wrote numerous articles for the Toronto Globe, held a position as Women’s editor of the Globe and later she was part of the Advertiser’s editorial staff in London, Ontario. Wetherald continued writing after she was finished with the papers and published six volumes of poetry between 1895 and 1931.

Her work was known and admired by many, but also attracted the attention of Earl Grey, Governor-General of Canada in 1907 and Sir Wilfred Laurier, Prime Minster of Canada in 1911.

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Ethelwyn Wetherald

A great way to stay connected to your alma mater and your university friends has been through Surgite! – the official publication of the Brock Alumni Relations Office.  There have been two versions of this periodical: Brock 1-12 for the years 1977 through 1984, and the Surgite from years 1985 through 2021. Come reminisce with us in this wonderful piece of Brock history.

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Surgite Masthead

Grape growing and wine making in the Niagara area has a long tradition of progressive work that had led to the area being the wine capital of Canada and being highly regarded worldwide.  What we know today is based on the solid research done in the past.  George Hostetter was a research pioneer in this field.  This collection contains a wealth of information and records about viticulture in the Niagara region from the late 1930s until the mid-1980s.

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Brights Wines

Loretto Academy was established in 1861 on land obtained from the owner of the Canada House Tavern overlooking Niagara Falls. The school was run by Catholic nuns and taught a predominantly female student population from the community, through Ontario, and across the river for over 140 years.  Anne Adams, a graduate from Loretto, put together a digital exhibit chronicling the history of this special school.

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Sean O’Sullivan (1952-1989), a Brock University alum, was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1972. He was twenty years old at the time, making him the youngest Member of Parliament in Canada. A chance meeting with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1963, when Sean was just eleven years old, marked the beginning of his involvement with the Progressive Conservative Party.

Sean’s political career began shortly after his meeting with Diefenbaker. He quickly rose to prominence when appointed as Diefenbaker’s Executive Assistant in 1971, followed by his election to the House of Commons for Hamilton-Wentworth in 1972. Many people thought that he was certain to be a Canadian politician of great prominence, perhaps even Prime Minister. However, he abruptly left politics in 1977 to pursue another career – a Catholic priest.

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Sean O'Sullivan brochure

The Brock University Archives are filled with millions of stories.  Some are epic, some are short. All of them are fascinating. This is an ongoing collection of brief histories based on materials found in the Brock University Archives.

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From 1896 to 1933, Lake Lodge School on the shores of Lake Ontario in Grimsby prepared young men and one girl for secondary and post-secondary education.  The school drew students from all over Canada, the United States and beyond. The learning was well-rounded including academics, morality, athletics, and patriotism.  The school’s motto was “Industria Omnia Vincit” meaning “Work Conquers All.”

Built on the historic lands of the Nelles family and connected to the War of 1812, Lake Lodge school was a pillar of the community during its short existence.  This exhibit will provide a glimpse into the school life at Lake Lodge.

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The Welland Canal cuts right through the Niagara Peninsula and allows ships to bypass Niagara Falls and deliver goods throughout the Great Lakes.  Without the varied bridges and tunnels crossing the Canal, cars and trucks would be waiting twenty minutes or more for these large vessels to pass.  The local traffic would be horrendous.

This exhibit details a number of the bridges and tunnels built during the 20th century from Port Colbourne to St. Catharines.

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The Brock University newspaper shared stories of development, change, adaption, and achievement from 1964 to 2009. Now it is a fully digital publication. Starting out as the Blue Badger, then the Campus News, and finally the Brock News, the paper documented the engaging evolutionary history of the University over several decades.

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Brock News Logo

Samuel Jarvis was a notable figure in Niagara and Upper Canada. He held several important political posts, served in many battles during the War of 1812, and was involved in some historically notable events. His duel with John Ridout and raid on William Lyon Mackenzie’s print shop illustrate a tendency to act rashly which likely hurt his career prospects. He remains an important and interesting person in the history of Upper Canada.

This exhibit explores some of the highlights of Samuel Jarvis’ life using material primarily found in the Jarvis Family fonds in the Brock University Archives.

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Samuel Jarvis' military promotion 1825

Niagara is renowned for its natural beauty. During the cold winter months, ice and snow alter the landscape. Mist from the Falls drifts and settles in surrounding parks coating trees and bridges in ice. With the right weather conditions, an ice bridge would form below the Falls when enough ice accumulated between the American and Canadian shores. This winter wonderland would attract tourists who wanted to see the spectacle of the Falls transformed by winter.

While beautiful, the ice and snow would also prove to be dangerous and destructive. The solid blocks of ice were not always as stable as they appeared. Ice in the Niagara River could wreak havoc on bridges and hydroelectric power plants. As people became more aware of these hazards, more caution was exercised and better engineering practices developed. This exhibit reveals the beauty and the burden of winter in Niagara Falls.

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Ice Bridge at Niagara Falls

This one has everything – industry, engineering, World War II, women in the factory, sports, social groups, and feline employees. This is the story of the English Electric Company of St. Catharines.

Using information from English Electric’s employee magazine “Highlights,” Anne Adams retells the story of the company from its earliest beginnings as a 15 person shop to a major industrial factory through the 1950s.

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Women working at English Electric

Nature has provided us with good arable land, significant waterways, and impressive landscapes that give the Niagara area its unique character. It is also steeped in human history filled with triumphs and tragedies.

For generations, organizations and individuals have worked hard to protect and maintain the elements that make Niagara special. In further acts of preservation, they donated their records to the Brock University Archives so that their work will not be forgotten.

This exhibit/guide introduces some of the collections in the Brock University Archives that chronicle such preservation efforts from the distant past to the present. These materials touch every part of the region including:
• Niagara Falls and the Niagara River
• The Niagara Escarpment
• Agricultural Lands
• Welland Canals
• Local Heritage and Architecture

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The history of the War of 1812 is deep and rich especially here in the Niagara area. To retell these stories properly, you need both primary and secondary source materials. The Brock University Archives & Special Collections have thousands of 1812 related resources that are available to anyone.

Chantal Cameron has created a detailed and illustrated War of 1812 guide to these materials. The guide includes links, examples, and some of the history of this significant conflict. And the collection keeps growing.

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Brock at Queenston Heights

Samuel DeVeaux Woodruff was the son of Alfred Sanderson Woodruff and Georgina Ross Woodruff of St. Catharines. Samuel worked as a clerk and was engaged to Gladyse Wanita Palling when he was called to serve in World War I.  He was a Lieutenant in the 176th unit of the Queen’s Battalion when he left Canada. Samuel was killed in action on July 13, 1918 as a member of the 116th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment). His grave is in Wailly Orchard Cemetery.

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Samuel Woodruff's burial marker in France

The Brock University Archives holds the George Field fonds and the Field Family fonds. These archival resources contain identified and many unidentified photographs, copied diagrams and war loss claims.

This digital display is an attempt to draw the lines between the individuals identified in the photographs to George Field and his wife Elizabeth Mary Smith and their family.

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Friends of the Field Family

Every city or town has its firsts. In the political arena, Estelle Cuffe Hawley was the first female elected to St. Catharines’ City Council. This was back in 1938. A few years later, she ran for mayor.

Estelle’s professional career was varied, determined, and full of heart. She strived to help the people in her community. As a woman in a male-dominated sphere, she had to work extra hard to succeed. Estelle had to change the opinion of her colleagues to get things done. And she did.

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For over a century, people travelled from all over to visit Crystal Beach during the summer months.  What started as a potential religious camp quickly morphed into a vacation destination. Crystal Beach had it all – an amusement park, beaches, dance hall, cottages and hotels, restaurants, and much more.

This exhibit highlights the origins, peaks, and valleys of legendary Crystal Beach.

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Crystal Beach Amusement Park

James Alexander Gibson, 1912-2003 was the founding president of Brock University. Hired in 1963 by the board of governors chairman Arthur Schmon, Dr. Gibson gave life and breath to the vision of the Allanburg Women’s Institute for a university for the Niagara Region.

His contributions as founding president were enormous and have lingering affects on a well established University in the Niagara Region more than fifty years later.

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James A. Gibson

The Welland Canal not only crosses through the centre of the Niagara Peninsula, but it also is central to much of our history. Transportation, shipbuilding, factories, historical / preservation organizations, much of the livelihood of Niagara residents have been affected by the Canals for centuries.

Chantal Cameron has completed an online exhibit that gives a great overview of this long history using materials that can be found in the Brock University Archives and Library and Archives Canada. There are numerous images, an interactive map, and an illustrated timeline to flip through. It is a lot of fun.

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Massive lock gate

Lachlan McCallum of Stromness / Dunnville began his career as a businessman who built vessels for the Great Lakes and used them for a freight carrying. He was captain of the Dunnville Naval Brigade and as such was involved in defending against the Fenian attack on Fort Erie in June 1866.

McCallum served as a Member of Parliament from 1874 to 1887 and as a Senator from 1889 to his death in 1903. During his political career, McCallum was a vocal advocate for the enlargement of the canals, the building of an all-Canadian railway, and a supporter of the National Policy.

This exhibit will explore some of the highlights of McCallum’s life and some of the political issues of the time as discussed in a series of correspondence between McCallum and Prime Minister John A. Macdonald.

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Lachlan McCallum and family at Stromness

This exhibit looks at the development and history of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) over the years with a particular look at the its impact on the Niagara region. Of course, the Ontario Editorial Bureau, then called the Niagara News Bureau, was involved in promoting the big events surrounding Canada’s first superhighway. Newspaper clippings, photos and other records help bring this exhibit to life.

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The Women’s Literary Club of St. Catharines began in 1892 under the leadership of local author Emma Currie. Meeting monthly for over 100 years, women from St. Catharines and the surrounding area gathered to discuss literature, recite original works, perform music, and ponder the current news. They also organized public events and had an annual pilgrimage to a site of historic or cultural importance.

This digital display outlines the history of this energetic and learned group of women using materials that can be found in the Brock University Archives.

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From 1904 to the present, Shredded Wheat cereal has been produced in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  The food produced inside the plant has not changed much over the years although the packaging has. The residents of Niagara always talk about the aroma coming from the plant – a good aroma, a comforting aroma, and one that continues to stir memories of Niagara and its illustrious past.

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Shredded Wheat recipe book

The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival began in 1952 to celebrate the grape harvest and winemaking. It was intended to engage the public and bring greater awareness to the Niagara grape and wine industry. What began as a modest celebration evolved into a festival spanning ten days, including a grand parade, children’s parade, grape stomp, vineyard and winery tours, dancing, arts and crafts show and more.

Chantal Cameron created an online exhibit highlighting the history and events of this favoured local event.

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Teddy Bear float during the Grape and Wine Parade

Stephens Baker (1791-1883) was a silversmith from Beverly, Massachusetts.  In 1850, he traveled from his home to Canada making stops in many notable places along the way including Niagara.  He kept a travel journal describing his journey and the sightseeing he did at his various stops.  Baker also includes some interesting commentary on his impressions of Canada and some historical events including the War of 1812 and the Upper Canada rebellions of 1837-1838.   This exhibit traces Baker’s journey using maps, descriptions from his journal, and images of the sights he visited to recreate his trip.

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Niagara Suspension Bridge c.1853

The Archives and Special Collections of Brock University contains a plethora of local history as well as information and memorabilia about the University itself. Topics such as the War of 1812, tourism, agriculture, politics, major clubs, and organizations, the Welland Canal are covered in great detail. Through painstaking detail and connections to valued donors, Brock Archives opens the door the past.

But what about the details that might get missed? Some of the treasures in the collection are easily overlooked. Families and businesses have donated unusual items. Magic, spiritualism, hobbies, and medicine are just a few of different topics that are included within the collection. We are offering a few of our more unusual items for display in Archival Oddities.

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A group of about 1000 armed Fenians crossed the Niagara River at night on May 31, 1866.  By morning, this unexpected attack on the Niagara frontier caused fear and chaos throughout Canada.  The attack was initially successful, but the Fenians were ultimately defeated.

Although the Fenian threat in British North America was short-lived, it was important in Canadian history.  It inspired a sense of nationalism and unity in British North America that helped bring about confederation. This exhibit chronicles the details of this event.

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Depiction of the Battle of Ridgeway 1866

In a tidy box in the Brock Archives, there are eleven notebooks that once belonged to the Lincoln County Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. These books are filled with meeting minutes, letters, newspaper clippings, handouts and other materials that detail 70 years of this energetic organization.

No matter how one may feel about their views on alcohol, these women did a lot for the community. They opened Alexandra Hall in St. Catharines as a safe boarding house for young single women, advocated against child labour, provided care packages to soldiers in wartime, promoted healthy lifestyles in schools, and were among the first to push for women’s right to vote in Canada.  This digital exhibit that chronicles the history of the WCTU in Niagara.

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What started as a chance meeting between two people with a shared desire for high quality Canadian wines turned into an agricultural and business renaissance in Niagara.

Under the leadership of Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser, Inniskillin Wines quickly rose to prominence in the local, national and international wine arenas. Quality grapes, continuous innovation, savvy marketing, and a skilled team became the backbone of the winery’s success. And they have not looked back since.

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Inniskillin Winery in winter

Before PowerPoint and 35mm slide projectors, image heavy presentations were done with glass slides and magic lanterns. It is always special when a series of such slides find their way to the Archives even if scratched, chipped, and cracked.

This new online exhibit features 60 glass slides showing the construction of the fourth Welland Canal from 1914 to 1931.

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Stamford Village is a charming neighbourhood just outside of the sprawl of Niagara Falls. Close enough to enjoy the thrill of the Falls, far enough to have its unique identity, businesses, and history.

With loving memories of this community, Anne Adams created a digital exhibit that looks at Stamford Village’s past and present focusing on the businesses and plazas that made the area special. You can see the changes that have occurred over time.

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A photo album of St. Catharines from 1938 provides a glimpse of the city as it appeared just prior to World War II.  The photographs include government buildings, public spaces, schools, industries, businesses, and public transportation.  Some of the landmarks remain largely unchanged while others were demolished many years ago.  The following pages explore the city as it was at that time.   Brief histories of the showcased places are included as well as modern maps pinpointing their locations.

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1938 St. Catharines Billboard

Niagara Falls is a place of fact and fiction. And there is a whole lot of in between… that nebulous grey area.

In 1903, David Young wrote, “Historical Facts and Thrilling Incidents of the Niagara Frontier,” a text heavy book that recounts some of the more well-known tales of Niagara.

In a new digital exhibit, Anne Adams updated some of these and other Niagara based stories while also adding images to bring these accounts to life.

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Standing at the edge of the Falls

Downtown St. Catharines has come a long way since the 19th century.

The Brock Archives have recently acquired seven stereo cards featuring the downtown area of St. Catharines from c.1865 to the 1880s. These were taken by professional photographers Chauncy Miller, G.F. Maitland, and Edwin Poole. Subjects include St. Paul and Ontario Streets, the Welland Canal, the Wheel Works and other businesses, and an unidentified train wreck.

We created a digital exhibit featuring these cards including descriptions, maps, and timelines.

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As spring arrives and the days become warmer, many people head outside to their gardens. The residents of Niagara are no exception. Niagara is home to many nurseries and greenhouses, seed suppliers, horticultural societies, and public gardens. This exhibit will look at some of the garden-related material found in the Brock University Archives and may just inspire you to start planning your own garden.

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Stokes Seeds in St. Catharines

Orville James Manson was known to his friends as Jimmy. Jimmy lived in Louth Township and carried his camera seemingly everywhere. He lovingly cornered photos into a black paged album and captioned each with a white pencil through the 1940s.  This exhibit has photos showing the Niagara Glen, Queenston Heights, Merritton, the QEW, downtown St. Catharines, Thorold, Jordan Station, Port Robinson and more.

It certainly captures the nostalgic feel of the 1940s.

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View of St. Paul, Niagara, Queenston and Geneva street corners

Printed on cheap paper, handbills used colourful language and impressive imagery to lure people (and their money) to the best tourist spots.

Chantal Cameron created an online exhibit featuring some of the surviving handbills for Niagara Falls from the mid-19th century. Each page retells the history of the featured tourist attraction.

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General view of Niagara Falls

The Canadian Niagara Power Company was the first business to develop hydroelectric power on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. CNP not only boasted engineering accomplishments like having the largest generators in the world in1905 but the architecture of the station was an attraction in of itself.

The history of the Canadian Niagara Power Company is long, rich, and significant to the Niagara area and also to all of Canada. The Brock University Archives have four archival collections on CNP – one that was designated as nationally important by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

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Canadian Niagara Power

Fifteen years ago, 42 collectible wrestling cards were donated to the Brock University Archives. When researching the names, these pro wrestlers often performed through the Niagara, Golden Horseshoe, and New York region from the 1950s through the 1960s. Some even settled and lived in the Niagara area.

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Wrestling cards

In 1914, the Governor General / Duke of Connaught (Prince Arthur) and his daughter Princess Patricia were given a tour of the early construction of the fourth Welland Canal including stops at Port Dalhousie, Port Weller, St. Catharines, Thorold, and Allanburg.

Surveyor Richard “Ted” Yates saved a copy of the GG’s tour itinerary and history booklet which is the outline of this exhibit. Chantal Cameron found contemporary photos that provide a good idea of what the Canal and the Niagara area would have looked like at the time for this exhibit.

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Linen map of the fourth Welland Canal

An archive is where active and bygone organizations can donate their inactive documents so that their history and legacies can be remembered and studied for years to come. Fortunately for the Brock University Archives, the Niagara Symphony Orchestra entrusted us with their materials.

Anne Adams has pulled together a brief history of the Symphony in an online exhibit. From the earliest beginnings to the present, Anne highlights the people, events, and talents that make the Niagara Symphony Orchestra a vital part of our community.

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After the War of 1812, the people of Upper Canada wanted to honour Isaac Brock.  On March 14, 1815, Parliament passed an act to erect a monument that would honour the General.  This began the long and interesting history of this unique feature at Queenston and a major tourist attraction for the Niagara area.

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The Brock Monument

“We are having a lovely time.”
“Wish you were here.”
“Send money.”

In recent years, postcards have been deemed the social media and text messages of their era. At the peak of its popularity (1900-1915), billions of postcards were mailed globally.

This is an online exhibit featuring Niagara based postcards found in the Brock University Archives. These are organized in themes of tourism, souvenirs, street scenes, news, advertisements, novelty, and special events. Postcards’ uses were so diverse.

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More than the name of the tourist district, Clifton started off as a small village, then progressed to a town with a future as an important city in the Niagara area. But fate has a way of changing things.

Chantal Cameron has created a digital exhibit about the history of the community of Clifton based on materials found in the Brock University Archives. It is the story of highs and lows, potential and reality. Although the village no longer exists and many of its early landmarks are gone, the Clifton Hill tourist district in Niagara Falls still bears the village name and serves as a reminder of the area’s early history.

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Map including Clifton

In 1929, a carload of young women left Massachusetts for a road trip across the northeastern parts of the U.S.  They had an extended stay in Niagara Falls.  When they returned home, one of the friends put together an annotated photo album commemorating the trip.  Her photos provide a glimpse of how Niagara looked at that time and capture some landmarks that no longer exist.

Chantal Cameron created this digital exhibit retracing this trip to Niagara.

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Page from a 1929 photo album

What is the connection between Beethoven, Chopin, Czerny, and Niagara Falls?  Harold Bradley.

At age 20, a young and talented Harold Bradley had to choose to pursue baseball or piano. He chose piano which led him to master teacher Isidor Philipp whose pedigree as a music educator linked back to the masters noted above.

In 1930, Bradley and Philipp established the Bradley Institute for Music Research Ltd. in Paris, France which later was moved to Niagara Falls. The two had, at the time, novel ideas on music education:
– everyone has musical ability if it is nurtured at an early age
– music develops the left and right sides of the brain
– both hands should be trained equally from the beginning
This made their school stand out.

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Louis Shickluna was one of the most important shipbuilders on the Great Lakes during the 19th century. He was known as an innovator – designing ships best suited to sail the interior waterways of Canada and the United States. His shipyard, based on the Twelve Mile Creek along the Welland Canal, was also a place for ships to come to be repaired or modified.

This website displays the documentary records of Louis Shickluna and his shipyard that can be found in the Brock University Archives & Special Collections.

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Shickluna Shipyard 1864

A student archival project

I remember as a child, taking off my shoes and socks, having the waves cleanse my feet. I also would look out into the horizon and see sailboats, embarking on another adventure. Finally, I would take a nickel, hand it to the attendant, and bob up and down on the animals at the carousel listening to the organ in my childhood glory.

This is the story of Port Dalhousie – a history that combines shipping and recreation. Next time you visit , try to imagine the ships bobbing up and down in the horizon, or the silent drone of the long-extinct rides.

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Steamship arriving in Port Dalhousie

To mark the anniversary of the Battle of Queenston Heights, Chantal Cameron has created a digital exhibit about this important historic event using records found primarily from the Archives & Special Collections at Brock University.

Although the story is well known and a pivotal part of the history of the War of 1812, it never ceases to impress and inspire.

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Queenston Heights news clipping

A Niagara road trip idea, visit the various historic houses in the Region… maybe a trip best saved for the Spring or Summer.

Using resources found in the Brock University Archives, Chantal Cameron has created an online exhibit featuring several historic homes in Niagara. Some were built by prominent politicians and officeholders; others were homes to United Empire Loyalists, poets, and merchants. Each house has a unique history. One was part of a dramatic murder mystery.

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Ethelwyn Wetherald's House

One of the prominent, 19th century Niagara photographers was George E. Curtis. Curtis was best known for winter and moonlight views. In 1876, at the American Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, he was named as among the best landscape photographers in the US. By 1880, he was cited as having produced the finest and most popular stereoviews (3D photo cards).

Recently, the Brock University Archives acquired 101 mounted photographs of Niagara Falls taken by Curtis around 1875. Most photos were numbered and captioned by Curtis himself.

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Interior of Suspension Bridge

Using records in the Brock University Archives, Anne Adams has created an online exhibit chronicling the history of the School of Horticulture. Gardening is a combination of art, knowledge, and labour. Since 1936, the Niagara Parks Commission’s Training School for Apprentice Gardeners, now the School of Horticulture, has been expertly managing the gardens and parklands along the Niagara River.

The exhibit rightly closes with a quote from botanist John Pierce, “If the planet Earth could talk, it would say ‘thank you’ to a relatively small number of students who are making a major contribution to the beauty of the world.”

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Niagara Parks School of Horticulture

ArcGIS StoryMaps allows users to combine text, interactive maps, and historic images to create an immersive story about our past.

Chantal Cameron in the Archives made a StoryMap about the Niagara Portage – an efficient way around Niagara Falls in the 19th century. She highlights some of the landmarks that developed along the portage over time.

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Map with Portage Road

A scrapbook is one of the toughest items to deal with in an archive. The paper is acidic, glue and tape can yellow and stain over time, and the books are filled with various record types with different needs – letters, photos, news clippings, hair (?!?), etc. But scrapbooks are always interesting.

Shauna Ribaric has created a digital exhibit featuring nine unique Niagara-based scrapbooks preserved in the Brock University Archives. These cover a variety of subjects including the Welland Canal, air flight, youth hockey, writing, hydroelectric power, and much more. These books offer us a glimpse of what was important to keep and remember for those who made them.

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Page from a photo scrapbook of the building of the Welland Canal

George Tremaine compiled large wall maps of most of the counties of southern Ontario in the 1850s and 1860s. The maps identify owners’ or tenants’ names, their occupations, and featured vignettes/sketches of prominent buildings and landmarks within the area.

Chantal Cameron created a StoryMap highlighting many of the vignettes on the Tremaine map for Lincoln and Welland Counties within the Niagara peninsula. Not only will you see the location of these historical buildings, but there are also informative write-ups about them too.

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Lincoln and Welland Canal Mills T R Merritt

Shortly after Confederation, a military reserve for the defence of Canada was established in Niagara. Niagara Camp in Niagara-on-the-Lake was used as a summer training ground for infantry, cavalry, and artillery. At the start of World War I, the Camp was used to train the Second Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Postcards of Niagara Camp were common. Residents of the camp would keep postcards as souvenirs or write to their family and friends providing them with a glimpse of their experience. Chantal Cameron created an online exhibit featuring 39 postcards of Niagara Camp found in the Brock University Archives.

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Postcard of Niagara Camp

A few years ago, Brock alum Daniel Livermore donated his collection of antique maps and illustrated plates to the Brock University Archives. Dating as early as 1683, these maps predominantly feature the eastern side of Canada – Ontario to the Atlantic.

Chantal Cameron has created an online exhibit displaying 36 selections from Daniel’s collection. It is always interesting to see what is included on these early maps – what is documented, what is missing, old names of modern landmarks, where indigenous groups were known to have been, what was still unknown.

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Carte De La Baye Hudson 1757

The Welland Canal changed the landscape, economy, and culture of the Niagara area.  Some of these effects can be seen on the maps and details captured during the surveys done between the 1820s and 1860s.

Chantal Cameron created a collection of 128 digitized maps about the early Welland Canals.  The maps in this collection are taken from books of survey maps of the second Welland canal (1826-1860s) and a book of lands appropriated to the use of the Welland Canal Company (1826-1837). They are part of the Welland Canal/St. Lawrence Seaway Authority fonds, RG 422, Brock University Archives.

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Welland Canal Survey Map c1860

When the Rankine Generating Station was completed in 1905, it boasted the largest generators in the world.  Another special feature was the tailrace tunnel.  The tunnel is 2,200 feet long, beginning at the powerhouse and ending at a portal in the gorge near the base of the Horseshoe Falls.  It was here that water diverted to the powerhouse from the Niagara River was discharged and rejoined the river.

Excavation for the tunnel began in 1901. The tunnel surface needed to be as smooth as possible.  Water would be flowing through it at a rate of 30 feet per second.  Any irregularities on the surface would erode the tunnel prematurely. The tunnel was completed in 1904.

In 1957, Canada Niagara Power temporarily shut down operations so that the discharge tunnel could be inspected and any necessary repairs made.  The Brock University Archives has several glass slides that document this inspection along with other CNP tunnel records.  Chantal Cameron created an online exhibit featuring these slides.

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CNP Tailrace Image

On 25 July 1814, a hard fought and pivotal battle during the War of 1812 took place at Lundy’s Lane. It became the final defence of the Niagara peninsula for the British, Canadian and Indigenous peoples.

Chantal Cameron has created an online exhibit about this battle using records found in the Brock University Archives. It is a history that cannot be told without mentioning the Battle of Chippawa and the Seige of Fort Erie. So this is a three-for-one retelling.

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Battle of Niagara - Lundy's Lane

During the War of 1812 many battles were fought on the Niagara frontier. Numerous forts spanned the border, from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fort Erie, to aid in the defence of Canada and the United States. The Canadian shore featured four forts along this stretch of land.

Chantal Cameron created a digital exhibit highlight the history of these and one American fort during the war.

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Fort George

As time passes, change is constant. People come and go, technology advances, and economics necessitate new ideas. This is particularly evident when you look at the history of the Welland Canal from 1829 to the present.

In this digital exhibit, Chantal Cameron used maps from Archives & Special Collections and the Maps, Data, and GIS Library to trace the evolution of the Welland Canal in a StoryMap.

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West side of Lock 1