Blog On Hiatus

April 1, 2014

To all of our regular followers, we must apologize for our absence over the past year.  The opportunity to present quick posts on new finds in the Archives has been far and few between.  We hope to return with new posts someday in the future, but until then, we will not be actively adding any new content.

For regular updates on activities at Queen’s Archives, follow us on Twitter at


D-Day on a Canadian Destroyer

June 6, 2013
Front cover of "D" Day on a Canadian Destroyer

Front cover of “D” Day on a Canadian Destroyer, from the Leonard Brockington fonds (;rad)

On the 69th Anniversary of the Allied offensive into German-occupied Europe, Queen’s Archives is pleased to present a small sample of a transcript from a CBC radio broadcast by Leonard W. Brockington, who had served as chairman of the CBC in 1936, was special assistant to Mackenzie King from 1939-42, and served as an adviser to the British Ministry of Information in 1942-43.  Brockington spent nearly one week aboard the Destroyer “Sioux,” providing an account of the D-Day invasion:

The duty of the fleet destroyers was to protect the minesweepers from any surface or underwater attack and to see that they were not hampered in any way from carrying out their task.


We saw the coast shattered from end to end by the pattern bombing of hundreds of Flying Fortresses.


At 5.30 it was daylight and what a sight met our gaze. A great semi-circle of hundreds of ships lay off the enemy’s coast.

Brockington continued with a minute-by-minute account of when the Sioux and surrounding ships started to open fire:

At 6.40 the ship anchored and at 7.10 with a target of 10,700 yards the captain ordered our gunners to engage the enemy.  At 7.34 we were still bombarding and had obliterated our direct target.

Thunder answered thunder, tanks were ashore; guns went ashore; men went ashore; fires broke out; the coast was enveloped in smoke which cleared away and returned in changing phases.


By five minutes past eight everybody was standing around watching the planes overhead.  As those of us who were able to do so breakfasted on bacon and beans, we listened to the B.B.C. announcing the landing.

Brockington concluded his broadcast recollecting his conversation with the Chief Engineer that evening:

“Chief,” I said, “many fleets of ships have crossed these waters to bring destruction to innocent people and slavery to the free.  This armada is different.  It is the first that ever set out to bring freedom to all men.”


“Yes, sir,” he said,” and that’s what makes everybody feel good – and every Canadian glad to be here.”

Kingston Pride – KLGBTQ Archives Summer Student Update

June 4, 2013

One of the projects Queen’s University Archives (QUA) will be focusing on this summer is the Kingston Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*-identified (transgender, transsexual) and Queer (LGBTQ) Archives Project, headed by Public Services and Private Records Archivist Heather Home and Dr. Mary Louise Adams, under the direction of the Kingston LGBTQ Archives Project Advisory Board. Dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of Kingston’s LGBTQ communities, the project aims to compile an oral history by conducting interviews with community members who can bear witness to the culture and community between the years 1970 and 2000.

For the past three weeks, as the interviewer for this exciting project, I’ve been busy researching in order to better familiarize myself with both the practice of compiling an oral history and with the existing knowledge of Kingston’s queer history that has already been shared/collected.

I kicked off my research with Marney McDiarmid’s 1999 MA thesis From Mouth to Mouth: An Oral History of Lesbians and Gays in Kingston from World War II to 1980, which is a well-written documentation of Kingston’s queer scene over the thirty-year period preceding our current project’s starting point. From there I moved on to Boyd and Ramirez’s Bodies of Evidence: The Practice of Queer Oral History (2012), wherein multiple interviewers have published interviews with members of queer communities, each followed up by a commentary/analysis of the interview process – a recommended read for anyone with an interest in this area. This, along with Ritchie’s Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide (2003), has proven invaluable to my research regarding the practice of conducting and transcribing queer oral histories.

As for elements of Kingston’s queer history that have already been shared/collected, I’ve had the pleasure of delving into materials already deposited at QUA, along with a folder of news clippings and event notices passed on from Marney McDiarmid’s research. The archival material I’ve gone over thus far have included copies of the D.C.-based women’s journal Off Our Backs and Toronto’s Rites of Lesbian and Gay Liberation, as well as operations and event records from both the Queens Homophile Association (QHA) and the Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP).

Moving forward, I will continue to research and explore archival material as I anxiously anticipate starting the interview process, which is now just around the corner! More updates to follow!

Justine Marchand, BA(H) Student, Gender Studies and History

KLGBT Brochure

The future of the Archives is in your hands!!!

January 24, 2013

The future of the Archives is in your hands!!!

To our stakeholders, partners, friends, supporters, and interested parties:

Queen’s University Archives (QUA), in collaboration with Queen’s University Library, is currently engaged in a Library and Archives Master Plan (LAMP) process. Led by the consulting firm, CS&P Architects, Inc., and working in conjunction with the development of a new Campus Master Plan, QUA is engaged in this re-visioning process to address critical space issues facing it within Kathleen Ryan Hall. In order to assist in the guidance of future planning, and to aid the Archives in maintaining sound and responsible stewardship of the records held, your input is sought at this time. You are invited and encouraged to visit in general, and to add input on the strengths and weakness of the current facility and to comment of the future of the Archives. Become engaged in this important process. We look forward to receiving your comments, thoughts, ideas, and welcome the opportunity to include them in the final report, scheduled to be released this coming June.

Thank you.

Paul Banfield, University Archivist

Fortune Telling Expedition, Dec. 1860

December 17, 2012

In flipping through random files through the Archives, it is entirely possible to stumble across even just one letter that fascinates and astonishes. This week, that latter was found in the John McDonald (of Gananoque) fonds. The account, written by John’s son, Herbert Stone McDonald of Brockville, tells of his journey with ten friends by three sleighs to Farmersville, Ontario (now Athens) to visit a fortune teller on 6 December 1860 (Thanksgiving).

After a dinner at Cole’s Hotel, three of them, Miss Tillie Jones, Mrs. Smith and the author, took their sleigh some three miles outside town to meet with the fortune teller. Each met with the lady in turn, and Miss Jones provided the details of her fortune to Mr. McDonald for his account.

After Miss Jones’ fortune had been told she came to the head of the stairs and called to me to come up and she remained present while my fortune was being told. I poured out the tea just as she had done so and before the fortune teller took the cup from me I told her that my birthday was upon the twenty third day of February. I also made my wish as follows “I wish that I may marry the dear girl now beside me in this room – Miss Tillie Jones.” The fortune teller having examined the cup told me in substance as follows

You will have your wish. Every fourth year you will not be so fortunate as on other years but you will always be fortunate. You will marry the woman whom you now love. Your wife will die when you are forty one years of age. I don’t think you will marry a second time. If you do you will separate from your second wife. You’ll hold a high government appointment and office to obtain which you will be elected by the votes of the people. You will never be imprisoned. You will never die a violent death. You will be as honest as any man can be and you will never run away to avoid debt.

There is, of course, far more to the fortune, which we invite you to see for yourself in the pages above (and should anyone care to try their hand at transcribing the contents, feel free to place them in the comments section!).

Upon conducting some of our own research, we were able to track the story of Mr. McDonald. At the end of this week, we will post what we’ve found, and whether his life story matched his fortune. Stay tuned!

Fort Temiscamingue account book

August 13, 2012

This account book was deposited at Queen’s Archives in 1931 by Melville B. Tudhope of Brockville, Ontario. It has remained in our holdings with a minimum desription for many years. The description has read: “Account book relates to fur trade. Contains names of individual aboriginals and their accounts.” The account book came to us without a cover and missing the first two pages as well as perhaps some pages at the end (we are not able to determine this).

Last week the account book was pulled for a researcher and curiosity has had us digging further. Thanks to some cross-referencing and help from Heather Beattie at the Hudson’s Bay Archives in Manitoba, we are almost certain that this account book was from the North West Company post in Fort Temiscamingue. At the HBC archives they have 4 pages of a previous account book for 1809-1810 at the Fort. All names in that book make an appearance in our ledger and the style of accounting is identical. The ledger lists both debits and credits for various Aboriginal individuals and/or their families, listing items purchased and the cost, as well as the credited value of the furs, canoes or services provided (as guide or paddler) in exchange for goods.

Individual family names mentioned in the book are as follows: Chingigan, Quéquétashitch, Sagaqueshcawa, Endianoy, Kishabick, Saganackishkam, Mitassogone (alias Ten Nights), Wabanangay, Awassikigick, Eguiniwina, Monjackipinacy, Eniwishcowa, Misinabigan, Poutchonce, Ogotchitch, Weyouse, Meyawabenwey, Camisquabenokee, Nabikitawa, Oguimanwanaquit, Nawaqueshkam, Nikickoboam, Misigwabe, Seyqueweshitch, Espasawetch, Heniwabenokee, Miscoutiquane, Enénne, Weyassigay, Shwassowiné, Keloweshcawa, Coucatchie, Piquaghkoshtiquanagan, Macatai Ininie, Piquitchinini, Canangiwetch, Wabichinigish, Wabacon, Ochiboy, Omisoe, Wacakigick, Boeref, Oguimankigisk, Misinangay, Capaykigickonce, Neyabinawa, Minawanikigick, Canisawetch, and Sagatap. (transcription errors are likely)

Healey Willan – “O Lord Our Governour” handwritten sheet music for Queen Elizabeth II Coronation 1953

June 1, 2012

In June 1954, Queen’s University Archives became the pleased recipient of the handwritten sheet music of Healey Willan’s homage anthem “O Lord, Our Governour”, written and performed for Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation on June 2 1953.  It came courtesy of Queen’s University’s Rector at the time, Dr. L.W Brockington, who apparently convinced Healey Willan to donate the sheet music to Queen’s Archives. (location #2055 Box 18)

Dr. L.W Brockington had the sheet music bound and received permission from the Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Alan Don, to place the Arms of Westminster Abbey on its cover.

Willan wrote a letter to the University Librarian, Dr. Gundy (to whom the Archives reported to at the time), expressing his pleasure that his sheet music was in “such goodly and honoured company” at Queen’s. His letter goes on to describe how he undertook the writing of the anthem.  Willan letter to Gundy June 1954

The sheet music to “O Lord, Our Governour” is six pages long and is handwritten showing both the choral and instrumental parts. O Lord Our Governour handwritten sheet music by Healey Willan

Healey Willan (1880-1968) was the first non-resident of Britain to be commissioned to write a coronation anthem.

Kingston Penitentiary photographs circa 1890

April 24, 2012

We are fortunate to have many fantastic photographs in our collection of Kingston Penitentiary. Here are some of our favourites circa 1890.

Irish emigrants to Kingston 1847

March 17, 2012

On this St. Patrick’s Day, we’re featuring a set of letters describing the situation of the Irish emigrants coming to Canada in 1847.

The letters, dated April 1892, were written by John Wilson who was a steamboat owner on the St. Lawrence at the time of the Irish emigration. In them, he describes his memories of the sufferings of the Irish as they arrived in Quebec after a disease-ridden voyage during the epidemic of 1847. Mr. Wilson wrote these letters to James M. O’Leary, who was in the middle of writing a series of articles for the “Catholic Record” about the Irish emigration.  O’Leary quoted Wilson in his later articles, and O’Leary’s articles were eventually widely used for study by numerous scholars.

This excerpt (seen below), from the April 20 1892 letter, refers to the Irish emigrants coming to Kingston:
“…and as soon as the bulk of the emigrants were disposed of employed some small boats to carry the people direct to Kingston without stopping at Montreal and the result was as I told Mr. Buchanan a heavy loss of life by confining the people for days in passing through the Canals whereas the changing of the people into a clean Boat at short intervals was their very life, …”

The estimated number of Irish people who were admitted into the hospitals at Kingston was 4,326.

Canadian Women Suffragettes

March 8, 2012

March 8th is International Women’s Day. In honour of this day, we are featuring some Canadian women suffragette material from Flora MacDonald Denison, which is part of the Merrill Denison fonds (her son). Flora MacDonald Denison was President of the Canadian Suffrage Association from 1911-1914, and her home served as its headquarters at the time.The Canadian Suffrage Association often hosted speakers from the U.S to speak on the suffrage movement.

As president of the CSA, Flora MacDonald Denision attended the annual women conventions including the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance in Budapest in 1913.

Denison was also an active supporter of the National American Women Suffrage Association, and helped out in their campaigns.