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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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William Buell’s 1816 Map of Brockville

This is one of the earliest maps of the Village of Brockville and shows many of the early details upon which the later Town, and then the City of Brockville have been superimposed.

The War of 1812-15 has just been over for a short time. The area around the first Court House shows the wartime accommodations for soldiers, with barracks, cook house, and hospital still in place.

The waterfront shows the original shoreline characterized by “Oak Point” on the left, a natural landmark known by Indians and French voyageurs. Here, where we stand, is the small bay and beach where landings were common. This is the origin of the possible early name of the settlement, “Buell’s Bay.”

William Buell (1751-1832), a disbanded Ensign in the Loyalist regiment, the “King’s Rangers,” arrived here in 1785 and took up his Crown Grant of land. He took advantage of the situation, and developed his land into a town site for the settlers who arrived in subsequent years.

From this location northward runs the present Apple Street, which was opened through the middle of Buell’s early apple orchard.

Reference to initials and abreviations on the map:

P.C. – Presbyterian Church
C.H. – Court House
A.S. – Adiel Sherwood
S.F. – Sabina Flynn
E.H. – Elnathan Hubbell
A&W M. – Alexander & William Morris
W.B j. – William Buell Junior
R.E. – Roderick Easton
B.F. – Billa Flint
L.P.S. – Levius P. Sherwood

S.C. – Stephen Cromwell

P.W. – Parker Webster
C.J. – Charles Jones
H.S. – Hiram Spafford
S.B. Sabina Buell
A.P. – Andrew Prevost
W.C. – Hon. William Campbell

C.D. – Charles Dunham
A.Sm. – Anna Smyth
S.R. – Stephen Richards
N&D – Northrop & Dean
A&D McD. – Alexander & Donald McDonell
J. McD. – John McDonell
S.S. – Stephen Skinner
A.C. – Allan Curtis
R.S. – Ruben Sherwood
A.K. – Archibald Kincaid
C.C. – Cesar Congo

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B.Y. – Barrack Yard
H. – Hospital
c. – Cook House
b. – Barracks
m. – Meadow
O’d – Orchard
o.p. – Oak Point
R.Isl. – Refuge Island

Brockville’s Canada Carriage Company 1879 – 1930

Carriage and Sleigh Manufacturers

Park St., just north of the Grand Trunk Rail Line

[now demolished, and the site of the Brockville Legion and youth softball grounds]

This company was originally started in 1879 in Gananoque, Ont., by C.W. Taylor and his brother George Taylor, M.P. , where it was known as the Gananoque Carriage Co. They were the first company in Canada to issue an illustrated catalogue and to furnish the wholesale trade.

About 1887, Grant H. Burrows, involved in carriage building in Cincinnati, Ohio, as president of the Standard Carriage Co. and the Davis Carriage Co., bought into the Gananoque business to overcome the problems of importing his products into Canada. Canadian law forbad the importation of goods which were produced in any way by prison labour. In 1892, Burrows was also involved, in his home country, in the Union Axle Co. and the Carthage Wheel Co. in Carthage, north of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 1891, being constrained by capacity and space problems,, it was decided to move the business to Brockville, where a substantial bonus was offered by the town. A large 4-storey brick plant was built in 1892 on Park St., on the north side of the mainline of the Grand Trunk Railway. Just to the west was the line the north-south of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. This made for much better and more convenient receiving of raw materials and shipping of the finished vehicles by rail.

At first in Brockville, they used the name Brockville Carriage Co., but soon incorporation of the new Canada Carriage Co. was granted on March 28, 1892. Grant H. Burrows became the president of the newly formed company. C.W. Taylor was the vice-president and general manager, and Thomas J. Shorey of Gananoque became the mechanical superintendent.

This engraving was probably created by the Toronto Engraving Co. for the new owners in their first year in Brockville. Upon incorporation in March 1892, the name Canada Carriage Co. was used from that time on.

By 1895 this plant was possibly the largest of its kind in the Dominion of Canada. The company manufactured carriages, surreys, traps, phaetons, wagons and sleighs. These were shipped throughout Canada and the United States, as well as foreign countries. About 300 to 400 men worked in the factory, and the payroll amounted to $3,500 each week.

In 1898, an experimental automobile, designed by William J. Still for the Canadian Motor Syndicate used a carriage built by the Canada Carriage Co. as a chassis, and added his engine and controls to it.

A fire occurred at the plant on February, 26, 1901, but it was not serious.

Canada Carriage Company

View looking north-east from rail line. Photo taken about 1900

On Jan 4th, in the winter of 1905, in the late afternoon, the plant again caught fire, and within three hours the entire structure was in ruins. At the time, they had 4,000 orders on file and no place to build the merchandise.

The morning after the blaze, work started in a temporary building, and within a week every man who chose to work under difficult circumstances, was again on the payroll. Within a month, goods were being shipped by the car-load throughout Canada.

By fall of the same year, new buildings had been constructed on the same site, which occupied about four and a quarter acres of floor space, and was equipped with the most modern machinery. Within another year, the company had outgrown the new facility and it was necessary to erect another large building nearby.

This engraving shows the new and expanded Canada Carriage Co. buildings that were built after the destructive fire of January 4, 1905.

In 1909, the president and general manager of the company was Thomas J. Storey, and Donald M. Spaidal was vice-president and assistant manager.

In the fall of 1909, James B. Tudhope, owner of the Tudhope Carriage Co. of Orillia, purchased the Canada Carriage Co., along with two others, E.N. Henry Co. Ltd., Montreal, and Munro & McIntosh Carriage Co. Ltd., Alexandria, and organized all his businesses into the Carriage Factories Ltd. This new company became a selling and distributing agent for the vehicles of each factory, but they retained their individual names and identity. Tom Storey of Brockville became the vice-president of the new larger company, while James B. Tudhope was president.

[check out a link to the Orillia Hall of Fame, and the story of James B. Tudhope.]


Sam McLaughlin of Oshawa sold the carriage side of the McLaughlan Carriage Co. to J.B. Tudhope of the Carriage Factories Ltd. in 1915. This was so McLaughlan could devote his full time to making automobiles. The deal gave Tudhope the right to use the “McLaughlan” name for a year. 3000 new McLaughlan sleighs were produced in that following one-year time. Many of them were made in Brockville. A metal badge attached to these vehicles identifies them as such.

Into the Automobile Age

There was also interest in getting involved in the manufacturing of automobiles in Brockville before this time. By 1911 the Canada Carriage Co. had acquired the Canadian rights to build the “Everitt”, an American car. About 80 Brockville 30 autos were assembled in Brockville that year. It appears that they were actually Everitt 30s, built from parts shipped from Tudhope’s plant in Orillia.

A new company, the Brockville Atlas Automobile Co. was formed in 1911 by Brockville businessmen, William H. Comstock, Charles W. MacLean and Thomas J. Storey with about $200,000 capital. A new car was designed for 1912, the Brockville Atlas, model A, priced at $2,000. Bodies and chassis were built by the Canada Carriage Co., an engine was mounted which came from the Atlas Engine Works of Indianapolis, Indians, hence the name. Transmissions were supplied by the Warner Gear Co. of Muncie, Indiana.

Between 1912 and 1915 the Atlas Automobile Co. in Brockville produced models C, D, E, F and G. For example, the model D was a five- or seven-passenger car, with a 40 hp engine, right-hand drive, dual magneto, optional electric starter, headlights, sidelights, tail light, speedometer, licence holder, mohair top with side curtains, electric horn, black with nickel trim and fine striping, multiple disk clutch, and leather upholstery stuffed with horsehair. By 1915, about 300 cars had been built. On view in the Brockville Museum is a 1914 Model G, five-passenger touring car. It was sold for $1,800 when new. 1915 was the last year for the Brockville Atlas, as the pressures of World War I created material shortages and lagging sales, and production was suspended.

The Brockville “Atlas” automobile was built in Brockville at the Canada Carriage Co. from 1912 to 1915


This was not the end of automobile production in Brockville. Tom Storey, then the vice-president of the Canada Carriage Co. branch of Tudhope’s Carriage Factories Ltd. and the president of the Brockville Atlas Automobile Co. embarked on a new enterprise in October of 1915. The Brockville company entered into an agreement with Briscoe Motors of Jackson, Michigan to form a Canadian branch called the Canadian Briscoe Motor Company. New buildings were built on the south side of the main GTR line west of the Waulthausen Hat Works, with an entrance off Hamilton St. This enterprise carried on successfully for the next three years with perhaps as many as 5,000 cars were turned out in the Brockville plant.

A fleet of new Brockville Atlas taxi cabs ready to go to work in Toronto

However, disaster struck at the older Canada Carriage site on Sunday, October 27, 1918 about midnight. An explosion was first heard in the Woodworking Shop’s dry kiln area on the north side of the tracks. The fire department fought the blaze all night, just managing to prevent the spread of flames across the tracks to the buildings of the Whyte Packing Co., the Briscoe Motors buildings and the Wolthausen Hat Co. Only four of the fourteen Carriage Co. buildings were saved. About 200 men were put out of work, just before the winter. Losses were estimated at $500,000, a major blow to the local economy.

Canada Briscoe Motors continued in business after the fire, but the Canada Carriage Co. was not re-built.

Brockville’s ten year experiment in automobile building ended in 1921. That was the year the American Briscoe parent company went bankrupt and its assets were purchased by Clarence Earl of the Willys-Overland Company. The last of the Carriage Company buildings were torn down in 1930. The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 96 purchased the Carriage Co. property in 1963, and the new building which now exists, along with the young people’s ball fields, were built.

Prince Albert Edward Visited Brockville on September 3 & 4, 1860

[click on any photograph to enlarge it]

Brockville was getting ready for the visit of the Prince of Wales on September 3, 1860. This arch, one of five placed along the route of the planned procession, was built by James Gallena at the intersection of King St. W. and John St. It was designed to resemble an arch in England at an entrance to one of the Royal palaces. Noticeable on the far right is the Commercial Hotel, and just to the left of it, the Clifton House.

It was quite an occasion for the citizens of Brockville who awaited the arrival of their Prince by train from Ottawa on the afternoon of Monday, September 3, 1860. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841-1910), Queen Victoria’s eighteen-year-old son was in the middle of a three-month visit to North America on behalf of his mother.

After a quick 12-day voyage on board the battleship HMS Hero from Plymouth, England, the prince and his official party, headed by the Duke of Newcastle, the British Secretary of State, landed at St. John’s, Newfoundland on July 26, 1860. During an intense tour of the Maritime Colonies, and visits to Quebec City and Montreal, “Bertie,” as he was commonly known, had delighted the crowds wherever he traveled, and had enjoyed dancing with numerous women at the many grand balls that had been set up in the larger centres.

His official duties included opening the new Victoria Railway Bridge at Montreal and the Canadian Parliament Buildings at Ottawa, before he boarded a special train to travel to Brockville. This was meant to be a layover before he and his fifteen-member entourage moved up the St. Lawrence River by steamship to Kingston and Toronto.

Here’s a photograph perhaps taken on the same day as the previous one. The location is further east on King Street looking west from near the intersection with Broad St.  Notice all the flags flying on the buildings. In the background after the road turns you might see the Gallena arch as shown in the previous photograph.

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Thus it was that Brockville prepared to welcome Prince Albert. For weeks prior, preparations were underway. Elaborate arches were constructed on the various streets along the planned parade route set for the afternoon.

The Grand Trunk Railway Company’s arch built just south of the depot at the head of Buell St. would be the first to be encountered by the Prince and his party. The route would lead down Buell to Church St. where it would turn westerly to Perth St. The second arc, located in front of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, was surmounted by a floral crown, a harp, and an Irish wolfhound.

On the main street, near the intersection of John Street, the third arch was the work of James Gallena and Son, the plaster contractors. This is the one pictured here at the right. The fourth and grandest arch was placed near Court House Ave. Its pinnacles were capped by two barge imitation beavers, the Arms of the Royal Family, and a replica of the Prince of Wales’ feathers.

All along the route, many buildings were decorated with numerous flags, floral crowns, bannerettes, and flowers. In the centre of town a wreath of evergreens was extended across the street with a banner inscribed: “Welcome, Prince of Wales, son of the best of Queens, and a nation’s hope.”

The route led to Park St., down to Water St., and back to the Brockville & Ottawa Railway Depot where the final arch erected by the company led onto the steamboat wharf where the SS Kingston would receive the party.

During the afternoon at the Grand Trunk Station, Brockville’s officials and crowds of citizens waited anxiously, but the train’s arrival was delayed beyond its expected time. It finally arrived hours late, but the sun had set, and makeshift locomotive lamps were set up to light the scene.

Mayor William Fitzsimmons delivered a welcoming speech, to which the Prince replied. Similarly the Warden of the Counties spoke. By this time, the crowd was creating a commotion, and amidst much restlessness and shoving the visitors were escorted to the waiting carriages by the hard-pressed police and special constables. It was said that Governor-General Sir Edmund Head was nearly shoved off the platform.

The procession set off down Buell St. escorted by the Militia Company band. Thousands of those in town to see the Prince were disappointed at not get a good look at His Highness with the limited street lighting then available. At the wharf the Royal group stepped out of their carriages, traveled along the carpeted path, under the last arch, and boarded the steamship Kingston. They stayed on board as it anchored off shore for the night.

In the morning, through the encouragement of a prominent Brockville citizen, the Prince’s party decided to land again, taxied to shore by the pleasure steamer “Queen of the Isles,” and again drove through town, allowing both visitors and Brockvillians a better view. Upon the return of the carriages about noon, the SS Kingston hauled up anchor and departed to the cheers of the crowds on the dock.

This is the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s son, Albert Edward [born 1841], whom the family called “Bertie”. This photograph was taken about the year when he was 18 years old and embarked on his extensive Royal Tour of North America.

This is the standing portrait of Bertie taken in Matthew Brady’s photographic studio in New York on October 13, 1860, 10 days after his visit to Brockville ended.

Sources: The street scene photograph has been printed over the years, and was probably taken by the studio of A.C. McIntyre. The Prince of Wales was photographed about the time of his visit to North America. The majority of the details relating the story of Brockville’s welcome to the Prince were taken from an undated article published in the Recorder & Times many years ago. The article related the memories of Charles C. Lyman of 39 Victoria Ave. who was a mere 10 years old when his parents brought him from Toledo to Brockville for the visit of the Prince of Wales.

Reference in WIKIPEDIA about Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII)

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.

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