150 Years of Brockville History – 1892-1916

In honour of Canada150, the Brockville Museum will be starting a special project. For the 150 days leading up to Canada Day (beginning February 1st), we will post to Facebook something that happened in the Brockville area every year from 1867-2017. These posts will include excerpts from the newspapers, photographs and artifacts from the Brockville Museum’s collection. After they have been posted to Facebook, we will add them to this site in 25-year increments.

Day 51 - 1917

In 1917 the Fulford Home for Indigent Protestant Women was constructed on King Street East. The home was made possible by funds set aside in the will of Senator George T. Fulford (I) and was coordinated by his daughter Dorothy Hardy (wife of Senator A.C. Hardy). The home operated until around 2000. In 2002, the building became Fulford Academy.

This is the china tea set from the West Sunroom of the home.

Day 52 - 1918

In 1918, John Tait purchased the bakery once owned by C.H. Buell & Son.

Tait’s Bakery, and the present variation ‘Tait’s Fresh Start’, continues to operate on King Street. They are known not only for their fresh bread, but their sweet bakery offerings have been a mainstay of social gatherings and weddings for generations.

Shared here is an Tait’s ad from 1918 to send fruitcake to the soldiers serving overseas.

Day 53 - 1919

Royalty visited Brockville in 1919 (again). In October, Edward the Prince of Wales (who would go one to reign briefly as Edward VIII in 1936) met with WWI veterans while on his visit here. By all accounts, the visit would be a short one. He would make another visit to Brockville in 1927.

Pictured is a photo of Edward, Prince of Wales’ visit in 1919.

Day 54 - 1920

Undoubtedly some really neat things happened in 1920, but we have an information gap for that year. So, shared here is an aerial view of the west end c1920.

Day 55 - 1921

On May 1, 1921 Brockville organised its first Rotary Club. (There are now 2 clubs- Brockville and 1000 Islands- as well as affiliate clubs like Rotaract and PROBUS).

Shared here are the Rotarians celebrating Charter Day in 1955 (Recorder and Times Collection).

Day 56 - 1922

In 1922, the Eugene F. Phillips Electrical Works became the first hot copper rod rolling mill in Canada. Located on the west end of Brockville, the company would eventually become known by the more familiar name: Phillips Cables. The last buildings of the vacant Phillips Cables factory were demolished in 2008.

Pictured: loading reels for export, 1961

Day 57 - 1923

Pictured here is an ad found in a 1923 cookbook for Laing Produce & Storage Company.

By 1917, there was a local need for cold storage facilities for farmers and grocers. To fill that need, Laing Produce & Storage Company opened. Business boomed and an expansion was needed in 1919. By the early 1920s, Laing was Canada’s largest exporter of condensed milk.

Day 58 - 1924

The Brockville Humane Society was officially organised in March 1924. Almost at once it was a busy group: one of its early inspectors travelled more than 281 miles in a single year as part of his duties! Over the years, the organisation has gone through a number of name changes, mergers and addresses but remained focused on the welfare of animals.

Day 59 - 1925

On May 22, 1925, Governor General Sir Julien Byng visited Brockville. The town celebrated with a huge gathering on Court House Green with dignitaries and a dance around the maypole.

Governor General Byng served in that post from 1921 – 1926. He was an accomplished military leader during the First World War. Byng Avenue in Brockville is named in his honour (formerly South Avenue).

Day 60 - 1926

Something new came to Brockville in 1926: radio! CFLC 1010 relocated from Prescott to Brockville that year.

In 1942, the station (now CFBR) moved into the Revere House. The familiar call sign of CFJR (830 on the AM dial) came into use in 1950. On July 14, 2003 the station moved to 104.9 on the FM scale and became JR fm.

Day 61 - 1927

On January 5, 1927 a special meeting was held in Victoria Hall. It was decided that the Board of Trade (established in 1906) would become The Brockville Chamber of Commerce.

Shared here is a photograph of the Chamber’s welcome sign (Recorder and Times Collection, 1962)

Day 62 - 1928

On November 16, 1928 the cornerstone for the Hotel Manitonna was laid. The construction of the Manitonna was a true community project – people bought shares in ‘The Brockville Hotel Company Ltd’ to get the hotel built. It was officially opened on May 27, 1929.

It was demolition in 1996, but a 1928 time capsule was retrieved from the cornerstone.

Pictured is a share certificate in The Brockville Hotel Company Limited.

Day 63 - 1929

Ford Electric was started by Charles Ford after returning home from the WWI in 1919. In 1929 the store moved to King Street. Ford’s home on Jessie St. was the first in Brockville to use electric heat and was used as a demo house by Ontario Hyrdo in 1959.

The company has had several owners since Ford’s retirement, and in its almost hundred year history has changed locations a few times.

Shared here is a photo of the Ford Electric trade show display, 1960.

Day 64 - 1930

Disaster struck on June 26, 1930. The JB King, a drill boat working on the channel near Cockburn Island, was struck by lightning. The strike caused the entire vessel to explode. Of the 41 people on board, 30 were killed. 13 of their bodies were never recovered.

Photo of the JB King.

Day 65 - 1931

Founded by Thomas “Tommy” Marshall in 1931, the Brockville Pipes and Drums is one of Canada’s oldest pipe bands. Clad in the Royal Stewart tartan, they are officially known as The City of Brockville Pipe Band and can be seen in parades, events and competitions throughout the area.

Shared here is the uniform of Ken Larocque who joined the band in 1969 and served as Pipe Major from 1998-2009

Day 66 - 1932

In 1932, the first incorporated self-governing town in Upper Canada (Ontario) turned 100 years old! That town, of course, was Brockville.

Picture is a photo of a float used in the 100th anniversary parade in 1932.

Day 67 - 1933

A superstar schooner came to town in 1933: the pride of the North Atlantic Fleet and rarely beaten in a race, the Bluenose has long graced the Canadian dime. She was towed up to the CPR Wharf by the Grenville where an anxious crowd was waiting.

Day 68 - 1934

On December 19, 1934 John W. Ker bought out S.A. Jackson and another long-running downtown business began. Ker’s Men’s Wear included the familiar King Street store, but also catered to customers across the country. Following John, the store was run by Bruce Ker.

The sign that long hung above the door of Ker’s Men’s Wear is now part of the collection at the Brockville Museum.

Shared here is an exterior photo of the store on King St.

Day 69 - 1935

From the Recorder and Times ‘On this date’ January 11, 1985:

“1935 – Brockville’s ancient and celebrated railway tunnel is to be immortalized on the screen. A cameraman from Montreal is set to arrive to film a CPR train going through the tunnel. The film is to be shown all over Canada.”

To see the clip, visit the Museum’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOHzhunfg0c&feature=youtu.be

Day 70 - 1936

On July 11, 1936 the Steamer Kingston had an accident at the CPR Wharf. It rammed the shore, causing severe damage to the ship and the decking along the wharf. It took many weeks before she was able to set sail and carry out her trips along the St. Lawrence.

Shared here is a photo of the accident in 1936 and a close up of the damage done to the wharf.

Day 71 - 1937

In 1937 George T. Fulford (II) was defeated in the election (he was re-elected in the 1940’s federal election). However, the project that he had proposed in his last term still got underway.

Pitched as a way to create work for those affected by the Depression and as a way to bring business to Brockville, the construction of a “scenic highway” (now the Thousand Islands Parkway) began in 1937.

Day 72 - 1938

Construction of the 1000 Islands Bridge was underway in 1938. By the time it opened on August 18, it was the talk of both sides of the river. Not only was is completed on time, but it was under budget! Much credit was given to Brockville-born James Arthur for coming up with the Ivy Lea location for the bridge. Although the bridge was completed in 1938, the official opening happened in 1939.

Day 73 - 1939

In 1939 Canada – and Brockville – welcomed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This was a historic tour: the first by a reigning monarch. 25,000 people gathered at the Brockville station to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

The Cossitt family recorded the event on a home video camera. To watch the clip, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP3SPbXk4wU

Day 74 - 1939

The Shriners, as we know them, began in 1940. However, there have been other Masonic groups that pre-date this year.

Their meeting spaces have moved to different buildings around town, but they continue to operate in Brockville and support many community projects, including the Shriner’s Hospital for Children (Montreal).

Here they are in a 1962 parade.

Day 75 - 1941

In 1941 Brockville got another service club: The Kiwanis.

Pictured here are kids taking part in Kiwanis-led activities at Victoria Park (1955).