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Category Archives: Portraits

Victoria Hall and East Ward Market House – Part One

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1 King Street, Brockville

Built 1862-1864

now

Brockville City Hall

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Along with the Court House, I would place this building at the top of interesting and treasured building designs in Brockville.

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Victoria Hall tower 1

The most distinctive feature of Brockville’s Victoria Hall is the 8-sided Clock and Bell Tower.

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The First Market Building on this site

Although it has functioned for more than a hundred years as the Brockville Town Hall, prior to the mid-1880s, it served as the place to house indoor butchers’ stalls at the rear, and the concert hall and ballroom known as Victoria Hall on the second floor at the front. The town government offices were still located in the west end in the building at the corner of King St. W. and St. Paul St. which we now call the Brockville Arts Centre.

Victoria Hall is located in the middle of the East Ward Market Square which dates from the years 1832-33 when it was established by a special Act of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada. This establishment was controversial and took months of political debate in the Parliament at York. The land from the Main Street down to the river’s edge was donated by the Hon. Charles Jones who held title to most of the land in the east central area of Brockville, and was prominent as a local and provincial conservative politician.

A small stone building was erected in the middle of the square in 1835 to provide space for local butchers to sell their meat products indoors. Masonry work was carried out by Alexander Spalding, and John Thompson and James Elliott were the carpenters.

They rented the first four butcher stalls in January 1836 to John Cowan, Joseph Cowan, John Harrison and Patrick Murray. The Board of Police charged them 3 pounds, 10 shillings for the first year. Later Charles Dickinson and Richard Baker joined them. All the other market products were offered outdoors.

A Fancy Concert Hall and a new Market House is considered in 1859

This was the situation which existed until 1859 when the town was anticipating the completion of the B&O Railway Tunnel which had to some degree changed the landscape of the middle of the market area. It was during the spring of 1859 that the Town Council led by Mayor William Fitzsimmons felt a need for larger indoor facilities for the East Ward Market. This scheme was overwhelmingly approved by the electors in a plebiscite held on May 30, 1859.

It was then decided to hire someone to draw up plans and specifications for this building. A building committee, headed by Alonzo B. Dana, councillor for the West Ward, set about to determine their requirements, and chose to give the job to a Mr. A.S. Brown, about whom we know nothing.

It was not until almost a year later that Brown’s drawings were submitted to Council for approval. Tenders for construction were called for May 22, 1860. It appears from records of Council deliberations at this time that some dissatisfaction and squabbling in Council meetings started to hamper further progress on the scheme.

Brockville Town Council in 1860 was split into two rival factions whose members zealously stuck together on most issues. Few decisions were arrived at in Council meetings, and as a result it became impossible to proceed with building the new Market Hall.

Two tenders had been received; one from William Holmes and Thomas Price for $9,797 in currency, and one from Messrs. Pidgeon and Gallena for $12,000 in Town debentures. The issue seemed to be centred on how they would pay for the building, and whether the first design allowed for enough space.

Neither tender was acceptable to the opponents of the faction led by A.B. Dana. Councillors McCullough, Poulton, Easton, R. Fitzsimmons and Mayor Wm. Fitzsimmons were determined to have their opinions decide the course of events. Time after time, Dana and his supporters, Donaldson, Manley, Brooks and Beecher found their motions defeated for lack of a majority. The debating in those council meetings of 1860 must have been heated, but we only have the dry council minutes which recorded the words and outcome of each resolution.

A New Council Elected in 1861

The question of the new East Ward Market building remained unresolved into the new year of 1861. A new mayor, Dr. Robert Edmondson, was in the chair along with four new councillors.

The previous factionalism was still present but with a significant difference. The group who had successfully killed the previous proposal had gained the upper hand, and the new mayor seemed determined to remain neutral if he could. This group, now composed of McCullough, Carron, Taylor, Poulton and Price believed that Council should go to the people to ask for permission to raise additional funds to enlarge the size of the proposed new market hall. This was done on July 1, 1861, and the electors of Brockville again voted yes to go ahead.

By August of 1861, it appears that Council agreed to proceed again with plans. The composition of the building committee was altered to allow the dominant faction to control its deliberations without opposition. It was Alonzo B. Dana himself who cleared the way for this to happen when he proposed that he and two of his colleagues be replaced on the building committee.

So, they started the lengthy procedure of obtaining new drawings. The first firm to be approached was Messrs. Fuller and Jones, Architects, the designers of the first Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. The committee received their proposed plans on September 25, 1861.

What took place then is unrecorded. Possibly the building committee was not satisfied with what they saw. Fuller & Jones eventually received $475.00 for their efforts, but their design was not used. They, in fact, had to sue the town in the courts to receive a settlement.

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This early photograph taken about 1866 shows the new Victoria Hall on King Street. The nearby streetscape includes the earlier Willson House hotel in the centre and other stores on the right.

 

 

A New Architect is Engaged

Kingston architect, Henry H. Horsey was also invited to submit a design scheme for the market hall. It was at this time that the essence of the building which now stands on King St. was decided on. Not only was this project to include space for butcher’s stalls, but a large concert hall was proposed, along with office space which could be rented out.

Horsey estimated the cost of the entire building to be $26,000. It was July 25, 1862 when Town Council finally approved H.H. Horsey’s plans and moved to call tenders for its erection. The 1862 mayor, William Fitzsimmons, an experienced builder himself, was appointed to represent the town as Superintendent of Construction. By September 15th the tender of John Steacy, Jr. of Brockville, and David Booth, his partner had been accepted, and work was started without delay on the new foundations.

By October 18, 1862, the contractors had expended $3,125 in labour and materials. By November, the foundations were completed and backfilled, and the stone walls were beginning to rise. On December 24, 1862, they paid H.H. Horsey $553.70 in full for his architectural services. Construction of the new market hall continued through most of 1863. The records of the town treasurer show that insurance for $15,000 was first taken out in October of that year, but there still must have been many details to be completed even then.

To be continued……

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Victoria Hall engraving ca1879

The Canadian Illustrated News, published out of Montreal, devoted two pictorial feature pages to Brockville in April and May of 1879. This was one of the drawings included and shows Victoria Hall in its early days.

 

 

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The Wheelmen of Brockville

Members of the first Brockville Cycling Club

1883

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Alex. L. Murray  and  Crawford McClean

This is a studio photograph of two of the founding members of the Brockville Cycling Club posed on their new “High-Wheel Bicycles.” Alex Murray was the junior partner with his father, George B. Murray in the company, Murray & Son, photographers. Crawford McClean was the son of the late Judge Worship B. McClean, and lived at 35 Hartley St. in his father’s brick home.  Besides taking part in country tours, the racers of the local clubs were known to race around the track at the Driving Park, near Ormond St. and Central Ave. where the annual Agricultural Fair was held.


Bicycle development led to further improvements, including a high-wheel tricycle, and placing the small wheel in the front, but soon chain-drives, triangular configured frames and equal sized pneumatic-tired wheels arrived on the scene. This was when young women abandoned their bustles and corsets, and joined the bicycle revolution which forced women to adapt to more “common sense dressing.”

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Young sportsmen around the world were quick to embrace the new sport of cycling in the early 1880s. Brockville was no exception. The new “High-Wheel” bicycles were being built of metal because of the advance of steel metallurgy in the late 1870s. With a large front wheel, solid-rubber tires, a high saddle and handle bars, followed by a smaller trailing wheel, it required a new kind of skill and athleticism to peddle these cycles.


Because the motive power on these cycles was a pair of peddles connected directly to the front wheel, the oversized wheel contributed to more distance traveled and speed with one rotation of the peddles.


The high-wheelers cost a small fortune to purchase. They could cost an average worker six month’s pay, but gained a great popularity among young men of means. In towns like Brockville, Lyn, Prescott, and Cardinal, small groups of bicyclists formed clubs to share their passion for riding. According to records kept by the Canadian Cycling Association, the Brockville Cycling Club was the first registered club in Canada.


The roads of the day were rough, often causing accidental falls and tumbles. Any small rut or stone could send a balanced rider over the handlebars and down to the ground in what was known as “taking a header.”


The local bicycle clubs took part in touring and racing in the 1890s, at times working toward building special cinder-paved bike trails alongside the existing roads. Periodically articles found in the local newspapers reported on efforts to raise money for these bicycle tracks such as one from Brockville to Lyn (1896), or from the “Dew Drop Inn” (on the Kingston Rd at Lyn Road) westwardly (1898).


Other Brockville wheelmen mentioned in local reports, in addition to the two in the photo, included: Capt. Ernie Bissett, Dr. Robert A. Bowie, brothers, Charles S. and Fremont B. Cossitt, Edwin Weatherhead, and Harry Going, the secretary of the club.


In May of 1897 a small item in the newspaper reported that a locally-made bicycle could be purchased at Dobbie’s Hardware Store for $60. It was the product of a young mechanic named Fred Ruetsch, who previously had worked at Stearn’s Bicycle Co. in Syracuse

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Sources: Most of the bits of information about the local bicycle club has been collected by the Brockville Museum, but no detailed history of the Brockville Bicycle Club has been found yet. This photograph was one of two given to the museum 1981 by W. Stanley Adams, who owned a jewellery store on King Street.

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St. Alban’s School for Boys in Brockville (1896-1949)

40-50 Crawford St.

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Until about 58 years ago the presence of St. Alban’s School for Boys was an integral part of east-end Brockville. It was a private boarding school for young men patterned after the style of English public schools which emphasized traditional British values of sportsmanship, fair play and character building.

It’s history goes back to the story of it’s founder Rev. Dr. Charles J. Boulden D.D. (1857-1909). Dr. Boulden first came to Canada in 1883, a year after his graduation in 1882 from Cambridge, to be the mathematics master at Lincoln College in Sorel, Quebec. After a return to England between 1886 and 1888 when he became headmaster at Dana Hill School in Margate, he returned to Canada in 1893 to be curate at St. James Cathedral of Toronto, and then was appointed rector of Berthier, Que., across the St. Lawrence from Sorel. In 1896 he decided to started his own school in Berthier which he named St. Alban’s, after the first British martyr.

Five years later in 1901 he moved St. Alban’s to Brockville where he had acquired the former John Page property on the eastern outskirts of the town on Crawford St. which contained the large brick house built by William H. Willson in 18xx. He also arranged to rent the neighbouring property, owned by the Chaffey family which was known as “Somerset”. Both of these buildings still exist.

about 1903

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The largest building at St. Albans was the Willson-Page House built by William H. Willson in 185x for his family. Before being acquired in 1900 for the school it had been the home of John Page, the chief engineer of canals for Canada. This photograph shows the staff and students in front of the building. As part of the school, it contained some classrooms and the bedchambers for the junior students. It still exists as a family home in this location on Crawford St.

    

In its new location St. Alban’s became exclusively a boarding school, with accommodation for a maximum of sixty boys. Classes were small allowing each a opportunity of individual attention. Enrollment was encouraged at an early age, boys of 8 or 9 being outfitted in the cap and blazer sporting the orange and black crest and staying until they completed their secondary education at sixteen or seventeen.

The school changed hands in 1906, when Dr. Boulden accepted an appointment as Headmaster to King’s College in Windsor, Nova Scotia. The property in Brockville was leased to the new senior headmaster, Rev. Francis Graham Orchard, M.A. (Camb.) (1873-1943). Rev. Orchard came direct from the position of Chaplain and Assistant Master of Bromsgrove School in England. In his tenure he worked hard to improve all aspects of the school and introduced a number of customs which became cherished traditions. In 1913 Rev. Orchard moved to Port Hope to accept the post of headmaster at Trinity College School.

The lease to St. Alban’s was then taken over by A. G. M. (”Max”) Mainwaring, M.A. [1884-1958], the senior Mathematics Master. Mainwaring had joined the staff in 1909, and had with him a capable staff of Assistant Masters, highly educated graduates of English Universities. In 1913,-0 it is known that the teaching staff included J.J. Stephens, M.A (1851-1925), E.M. Sutton, B.A., Glynne L.B. James, B.A. (1892-1917) as well as Max Mainwaring as Headmaster.

about 1913

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Here is a typical group of 31 St. Alban’s students, juniors in the front and seniors in the rear. They are dressed mostly in their blazers and caps. The photograph was taken somewhere on the school grounds.

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about 1913

em-sutton-glynne-james-jj-stephens-max-mainwaring-1913In 1913 the teaching masters at St. Albans were (left to right) E.M. Sutton, Gwynne L.B. James, J.J. Stephens, House Master, and A.G. Max Mainwaring, Headmaster.

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The flat grounds in front were used as tennis courts in the warm weather, and for skating rinks in the winter. The school grounds contained approx.18 acres with large playing fields in the rear for running and team sports like rugby.

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st-albans-small-stone-buildingsThese are the auxiliary buildings in the middle of the school grounds. On the right is the handsome chapel where short services were held each morning and evening on weekdays, and full services on Sunday, conducted by the Headmaster. This building was converted from a coach house on the former Chaffey property. The chapel windows were of stained glass and depicted in the troubadour style a number of mediaeval figures holding the implements of their professions.

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The later history of St. Albans remains to be researched and written.

St. Alban’s School for Boys closed it’s doors in 1949. Principal Max Mainwaring died in 1958.

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Source: The material for this story of the early days of St. Albans was pieced together from important material that was loaned to me by the son of Max Mainwaring, the late Robert G.L. “Bertie” Mainwaring. Bertie Mainwaring was very proud of the history of the property which he inherited from his father, and kept a large collection of documents and memories of the history of St. Alban’s School. He died more than 3 years ago, aged 88 on 21 September 2005. In his collection was a small but very unique photographic album, originally owned by Gynne Lewis Broadhurst James, one of the young teaching masters at the school before World War One. These small snapshots have provided some of the illustrations used here.

Gwynne James, born at Warmersley, Yorkshire, England about 1891 or 1892, came to Brockville in about 1909 or 1910 to teach at St. Alban’s. After the war broke out he returned to England in 1915 and secured a commission as a lieutenant in the Irish Guards. He was wounded in July 1916, and was for a year at his home suffering from “shell-shock”. He returned to the trenches in July 1917, and on the 18th of that month was instantly killed by the explosion of a shell. That obviously ended his career as a teacher, but his photographs somehow remained in Brockville.

James L. James, joined his brother in Brockville in 1912. He then secured a job at the Brockville branch of the Bank of Montreal. James was known as the husband of Eleanor M. (REYNOLDS) James, who some Brockvillians may remember because of her family stories.

Other photos and notes came from other various sources.

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Gwynne L.B. James, taken on the porch of the Headmasters House at 50 Crawford St, while he was a teacher at St. Albans. This photograph was one of a number that were found in his personal album of snapshots, and saved by the Mainwaring family.

 


Copyright: January 2009, Doug Grant, Brockville.

“Woodlawn”, the Susan & James Crawford House

25 Woodlawn Place., Brockville

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The earliest picture of Woodlawn is this engraving printed on the edge of the 1853 map of Brockville. It was based on a daguerreotype taken by E. Spencer.

The central part of this house is the old stone farm house built by the Jessup/Covell families, around 1800. The property was part of the Crown grant (E1/2 lot 8, 1st conc.) received by Edward Jessup Jr. and his wife Susannah Covell in 1801. They would have been in possession of the land from the 1780s. This 100 acre parcel of land was turned over to her brother James Covell in 1806.

The house, along with fifty acres surrounding it, was next the farm of Jonas Jones (1791-1848), who purchased it in 1822. He was a Brockville lawyer who first practiced here, represented this area in the Legislative Assembly,and later was elevated to a judgeship and moved to the provincial capital of York. Jonas and his wife Mary (Ford) lived in their town house at the corner of King & Bethune Sts. The Jones had a large family of 8 sons and 3 daughters. They retained ownership of the farm for the next thirty-three years.

It was in 1845 that this property first became connected with the Crawford family. It was purchased at that time by the Hon. George Crawford (1792-1870), who acquired a total of 150 acres from Judge Jones. Crawford was a wealthy and successful canal contractor who came to Brockville in the 1830s. He sold the farm house and fifty acres to his eldest son James, two years later for $5000. James Crawford (1815-1878) had just married Susan Harris in 1847.

He, like his father, was a contractor, and later was elected a Member of Parliament (1867-68) in the first Dominion Parliament for one term. He was a long-standing officer in the local volunteer militia, being in command of the Brockville Rifle Company during the Fenian threats of the 1860s. In 1866, Major James Crawford was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel of the re-established 41st Battalion, Brockville Rifles.

crawford-jamesLt.-Col. James Crawford

James and his wife Susan, shortly after moving in, may have decided to expand their small stone house. An addition in the latest neo-Gothic style was added to the front or south side of the existing house. This new brick part seems to have been built about 1850. The ground floor of the original house behind is now used as the dining room. Another brick addition was added to the rear.

The James and Susan Crawford House stood as one of the new east-end estates which made their appearance on the eastern outskirts of Brockville in the 1850s. “Woodlawn,” the name used by the Crawfords, was located on the north side of the King’s Highway, set back at the end of a long entrance driveway.
After the death of James Crawford in 1878, his widow sold Woodlawn, the next year, to Judge Herbert S. McDonald. McDonald a former Brockville attorney-at-law was then judge of the County Court, when he moved in with his wife “Tillie” (Emma Matilda Jones). Their living children were Katharine and John McDonald.

25-woodlawn-pl-brockville-on-woodlawn-crawford-house-ca1920This photograph was taken sometime in the 1920s by Doris (Jackson) Arthur (1893-1978) of her family on the front porch of Woodlawn. Standing is her husband, William F. Arthur, their infant son Desmond Arthur was in the pram, and her parents, Dr. W. Fred Jackson (1852-1935) and Katharine H. (McDonald) Jackson were seated in the chairs.

Judge McDonald (1842-1921) was active in the life of Brockville serving a time on Town Council (1870-71) and MPP for South Leeds in 1871. He was appointed junior judge of County Court in 1873. Herbert S. McDonald was an active member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, acting for a time as the Chancellor of the diocese of Ontario. He served as a member of the Dominion Royal Commission on the Liquor Traffic in 1892. His wife died in 1908.

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Judge Herbert Stone McDonald

The Woodlawn property was bequeathed to his only living daughter, Katharine Henrietta Jackson, the second wife of Brockville physician Dr. W. Fred Jackson (1852-1935). The Jacksons became the residents of this house upon Judge McDonald’s death in 1921.

Katharine Jackson, in turn, left Woodlawn to her two daughters, Doris and Athol, after her death in 1927. They sold the property to George T. Fulford, Jr. who had grown up in Fulford Place across the street.

This then became the Brockville residence of George and Josephine Fulford during the years that he was the provincial and federal representative in Toronto and Ottawa. Following his mother Mary’s death in 1946, the Fulfords moved back into Fulford Place.

Woodlawn was sold in 1947 to Arthur J. Soper (1883-1970), then living in Montreal, and he and his wife Ethel, and their son Arthur moved into the house. A second son was Allan J. Soper who worked at Dupont. Arthur, Sr., a retired official with Northern Electric Co., was returning to Brockville, where he had spent his youth, the son of John Soper. He and Ethel lived out their last years here, she dying in 1969 and he in 1970.

The next five families to call Woodlawn their home were: Natalie & Fred Hampton 1971-74, Jane & Peter Clarke 1974-1979, Heather & Bob Carson 1979-1985, and Mary & John Quigley 1985-1997. Later owners were Ann & Peter Bevan-Baker who continued to appreciate the charm and history of one of Brockville’s most interesting houses.

Sources: The pictures used here have been published previously in various forms. The photograph of Woodlawn was credited to the late Frank J.E. Rogers in The Pictorial History of Brockville (1972) edited by Adrian G. Ten Cate. The coloured painting of James Crawford is in the collection of the Brockville Museum. The source material used in this story was collected over a number of years. The records on the Woodlawn property were originally researched at the Leeds County Registry Office.

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O.T.C. Sergeants’ Mess

Brockville  ca.1942


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There were hundreds of young men who came to Brockville for part of their military training. Some with recognized leadership skills were made sergeants and did their courses as non-commissioned officers at the Officers Training Centre here during the war years.

One of the numerous buildings at the camp was the Sergeants’ Mess which served as the social and recreational centre for this body of sergeants who were continually moving in and going out. This was their “home on the road” and was located in the north-west side of the large camp, building number A14 according to a map of the OTC grounds.

The Sergeants’ Mess was a means of organizing social activities for the off-hours, and they enjoyed special dances and picnics where members guests and family were invited to help relieve the monotony of camp life. These events were conducted under the auspices of the Regimental Sergeant-Major.

A few of the local Brockville sergeants who were trained here that we are aware of were: Harold E. Monger, Stan J. Leslie, Melvin J. Ladouceur, Chester L. Roode, and Jack Tye.

[click on any photograph to enlarge it]

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Among photographs kept after WWII by Jack Tye of Brockville is this picture of about ninety-six sergeants awaiting their evening meal. The location is assumed to be the dining room in the Sergeant’s Mess at the Brockville Officers Training Centre. The year appears to be 1942, before the majority of these non-commissioned officers were transferred to England.

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Brockville’s Sgt. Jack Tye, March 1942

Source: All of the pictorial materials and details for this page have been loaned to me by Florence (Tye) Boisvert of Brockville. These were collected and saved by her father, John “Jack” Tye (1911-1983) who trained here at the Officers Training Centre, and served his country in Europe during World War Two. Following the war, he returned to Brockville, and with his wife Lillian, bought a farm property on the old California Rd., north of the present day Laurier Ave. This is where Florence Tye grew up, before marrying John P. Boisvert in 1957.

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Brockville Lacrosse Team – 1886

July 28, 1886

Here are the members of the winning Brockville Lacrosse Club for 1886 who defeated the Ottawa Capitals for the Intermediate Championship of the National Amateur Lacrosse Association, as described by O.K Fraser in the article below.

Back row: Donald Brouse, Jack Bennett, O.K. Fraser (president), Myles Bourke (captain), Jack O’Keefe, Alex. J. Murray.

Second row: George E Smart, Alex. Patterson, Dave Lowe, Mike McBrearty, Frank Bisonette, Charlie Ellard.

Front row: William Anderson (goalie), Jim Lacey.

Oliver K. Fraser of Brockville, the Clerk of the High Court, gave the following interview to a reporter from the Montreal Star in 1907:

That group photo you see hanging on the wall recalls what was to me the most interesting and exciting sporting event I can remember. It is a picture of the Brockville Lacrosse Club of that year, taken on the 28th of July 1886, the Monday following their famous match at Brockville with the all-star Capital team of that day.
The battle was for the intermediate championship which had been won by Brockville from the Young Shamrocks the preceding year, and the winning of it by the Capitals would be followed by their almost immediate admission to senior championship ranks. This meant much to them. That they had reason to expect to take the banner home with them is manifest from a perusal of the names of the men comprising their team, which, starting from goal, were: Aylward, Billy McKay, Burns, Droohan, Kemp, Myles, Ditchburn, O’Brien, Burke, Pete Green, Dailey and Joe Kent, and F.L. Daniels, captain.
Long before the match, the Brockvilles realized the work cut out for them, but determined not to lie down. No team ever did more faithful training, with the result that when the ball was faced that day, in the opinion of those who knew them, there was not in existence a more evenly balanced or better trained team playing the great game.
For three days of the week preceding the match the Cornwall Island Indian team was brought to play matches with the Brockvilles in order that their condition might be perfect.
Commencing again at goal, they were Bill Anderson, Alex. Patterson, Don Brouse, “Fogey” Smart, Jack Bennett, Jim Leacy, Frank Bisonette, Charlie Ellard, Aleck Murray, Jack O’Keefe, Dave Low and Mike McBrearty, with Myles Bourke, captain.
It was a perfect day, and the people gathered from all round — Ottawa sending in carloads of it’s best sports. And they had their money with them — barrels of it — more than our sports could or cared to handle. The odds were two to one on Capitals. They were confident, while we were content with being hopeful.
Best three out of five games was the rule in those days. The favorite referee of that time — John Lewis of Montreal — was in charge. The excitement before and during the game was intense, but the job was not long in the doing of it, for in fourteen minutes actual play, Brockville scored three games and the match.
The pandemonium broke loose. Every Brockville sympathizer, from the toothless old man to the babe in arms, proceeded to yell himself hoarse, and the ladies were not far behind them in the demonstration. Bands played, horns blew, and every ear rending instrument known to the small boy was introduced to swell the tumult, and only the arrival of Sunday morning put an end to the jubilation.
The game was the cleanest I ever witnessed, and there could be no doubt that this cleanliness of play and the success of the Brockville team was due to their faithful training and perfect condition upon entering the field. Those were great days for sport in Brockville.”

Sources: The memories recalled by O.K. Fraser, ex-president of the N.A.L.A., about his team, was found reprinted in The Evening Recorder of January 16, 1907. The next issue showed this team photograph which had originally been printed in the 1906 souvenir magazine, Brockville, Canada, The City of the Thousand Islands printed by the Brockville Recorder for the Old Boys’ Reunion held in Brockville from July 28 to Aug. 3, 1906.

The General Isaac Brock Monument

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unveiled, August 19, 1912

The monument to the memory of Maj.-General Sir Isaac Brock which stands on the edge of Court House Green in Brockville was erected in 1912 as a centenary project by the local Gen. Brock Chapter, Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire.

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This group of Brockville women had worked for over seven years to bring about the erection of a suitable bronze bust surmounted on a granite monument. Their efforts at fund raising collected a significant amount of money and enthusiasm to get the job done. The sculpture of the head of Brock was the work of Ottawa sculptor, Hamilton MacCarthy, whose fame was wide-spread in Canada.

Guests of honour attending the ceremonies in Brockville the day of the unveiling included, Colonel Sir Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence; Mrs. Albert E, Gooderham, of Toronto, National President of the I.O.D.E.; Sen. Daniel Derbyshire; John Webster, MP; A.E. Donovan, MPP; Mayor Charles W. MacLean and the members of Council; Counties Warden Nelson Webster of Landsdowne, and other members of Counties Council.

Events for the afternoon centred around a specially-erected platform to the left of the draped monument. Hundreds of people arrived in the early afternoon to find the best vantage points. Col. Hughes accompanied by a guard of honour arrived from the Armouries about 3:00 pm and joined the party on the platform. The event was chaired by Mayor MacLean and he was accompanied by Mrs. G. Crawford McClean, Regent of the Brock Chapter, along with her executive, Col. Biggar, A.D.C. to the Minister, Judge H.S. McDonald, Lieut. Col. William S. Buell of the 41st Regiment,, Police Magistrate Joseph Deacon and others.

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[These photographs can be viewed full size in a separate window by double clicking on the picture on this page until you reach the enlarged version further in the system]

Brock Monument Unveiling

Mrs. Ida McClean, the Regent of the General Brock Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.) and Brockville mayor Charles W. MacLean are seen on the platform in this photograph taken during the events related to the unveiling of the new monument erected to the memory and celebration of the life of General Sir Isaac Brock.

Sources: This interesting photo was sent to the editor of the Brockville Recorder & Times in 1975 by Doris L. Rankin of Syracuse, N.Y.. It was first published in “Out of the Past” on December 20, 1975.

Following a short introductory speech by the mayor, Col. Hughes approached the flag covering the new monument and from a position on the platform pulled the rope to reveal the work of art to the public who cheered and applauded for several minutes. He then addressed the audience and in his speech touched on various patriotic themes, and complimented the ladies whose efforts resulted in the handsome stature now in their midst.

Then, while the regimental band played “Rule Britannia,” young Nora Wilgress presented Mrs. Gooderham with a large bouquet of white roses. Next, Mrs. McClean officially presented the monument to the Town of Brockville with the reading of a written proclamation. Rising in acceptance, Alderman C.W. MacLaren recounted the hard work and success of the local chapter of the Daughters of the Empire in this endeavor and in other charity work. He also spoke amidst the cheers of the crowd about the military accomplishments of General Isaac Brock and other historical references from the past.

The sculptor, Hamilton MacCarthy was also asked to speak, which he did, mentioning that his maternal grandfather was wounded while serving in the War of 1812 under Brock, along with his father’s uncle who lost his life in one of the battles.

Hamilton MacCarthy, sculptor

The sculptor of the bust was Hamilton MacCarthy of Ottawa

The last speaker was local historian, Judge Herbert Stone McDonald who entertained the audience with a recounting of the cross-border events of the War of 1812 which took place in this area of Upper Canada.

A late afternoon tea at the Brockville Armouries for all the platform guests was held to end the day’s events.

This new plaque was placed near the monument to General Brock in November 2007. It points out how Brockville came to be named after Brock the leading British officer in Canada and the hero of the War of 1812-14. The re-naming of Brockville from Elizabethtown came about shortly after the general was slain in the Battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812.

Copyright, June 2008, Doug Grant, Brockville, ON

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