Archive for the ‘Snapshot of History’ Category

First Capital

June 14, 2011

June 15 marks the beginning of the First Capital Day celebrations. Kingston served as the first capital of the Province of Canada from February 1841 until June 1844 when the capital was moved to Montreal. The first Parliament was held in the new Kingston General Hospital building, as shown in this photograph by Henry Henderson, circa 1875. For a complete list of events to celebrate First Capital Day, please go to

Kingston General Hospital, circa 1875

Kingston General Hospital, circa 1875


2011 is the Year of the Rabbit

February 9, 2011

The Rabbit is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.  According to Chinese Calendar, the Year of the Rabbit starts on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011.  It is said that people born in the year of the rabbit have grace, are cultured and have beautiful manners, so they make ideal diplomats.

A Buddhist legend tells us that Buddha summoned all of the animals of the earth to come before as he was preparing for his departure from this earth.  But only thirteen animals came to bid him farewell. To reward these faithful animals he named a year after each of them.

This image is from the George Lilley fonds (V25.5-19-127)  and was taken in 1952.

Ice Road

January 21, 2011

Ice road vehicle # 1

Ice roads or bridges are legendary in Canada’s North and are often used in winter when ferries cannot run. In past years, even residents of the Kingston area (and in particular those who lived on the islands across the water) would be waiting at this time of the year for the freeze-up, so that they could use the ice across the harbour.  Even though the channel froze right across more regularly than it does nowadays, it was still a hazardous trip, and there were sometimes mishaps or sadly even tragic accidents.  This vehicle looks designed well enough to tackle the hazards of the journey.

From the George Lilley fonds 25.5, 8-381.

Ice road vehicle # 2

Hockey anyone?

January 21, 2011
Outdoor Rink

Outdoor rink



On a bright clear cold day there is nothing like a friendly game of ice hockey outdoors to generate warmth.  All you need is a stick, a puck, a pair of skates (hand-me-downs, too tight, too big, no matter!) and a few buddies.  Of course it needs a dedicated family or community effort to build and maintain the rink.  But it provides two precious commodities – ice-time and fun. No wonder it has been a favourite winter pastime through the ages in Kingston.  This photograph is from the Hillier Collection V062 in Queen’s University Archives.

Championship Ski Jumping, Montreal, Quebec.

January 21, 2011
Ski Jump

Ski jump


This image from the A.A.Chesterfield collection likely dates from the 1910’s and is said to be of “an international contestant mid-air at the Montreal Ski Club jump.” The album in which this photograph resides is titled “Notables” and was compiled as a depiction of Canadian life, and includes images of other quintessential Canadian activities and events such as maple syrup making, bronco-riding, sledding, hunting, canoeing and fishing.
Citation: V007-Album3-69

Snapshot of History

December 8, 2010


Kingston City Hall after fire in 1908.

This photograph of a fire ravaged City Hall is likely the result of the July 24th, 1908 blaze. Although undated and untitled, all internal evidence – such as vehicles, clothing, and damage, point to that particular fire. The blaze was the result of a tinsmith’s soldering pot which was being used in the dome. A stiff breeze blew sparks onto the floor of the Clock Tower, and despite the tinsmith’s attempt to put it out with his hat, the fire quickly took light in the wooden structure. The fire department responded quickly, but their best engine was in for repairs, and the wagon they were using was not able to create the pressure needed to reach the blaze which was 80 to 85 feet above ground. Within the year, the City hired Joseph Power to undertake the restoration.  Citation: Queen’s University Archives, Kingston Picture Collection, V23-PuB-CityHall-65

Snapshot of History

December 8, 2010

Wellington and Ordnance Street, Kingston, in earlier times.

This photo comes out of the City of Kingston Planning Department records. It is one of a series of photographs which were taken to reflect two road maintenance issues: firstly, the state of “levelness” at road crossings of the traintracks that snaked throughout the industrial waterfront on that edge of town, and secondly, the general condition of the roads. Part of the seredipitous nature of working with archival material is that the original intention behind the taking of a photograph may not be the reason we are interested in the subject matter at a later date. Looking at this photograph today, we see the intersection of Wellington and Ordnance as occupying avery different role in the Kingston landscape of 50 years ago than it does in our current one

Snapshot of history

December 8, 2010

The Domino Theatre group.

In 1953, Valerie and Gordon Robertson founded a group interested in bringing drama and live theatre to Kingston. At first the group was known as the Domino Players, then later as the Domino Theatre of Kingston, and finally as Domino Theatre Incorporated. This picture shows a group of amateur actors and directors filling the windows of what was their onstage home in April 1964, the Domino Theatre (8 Princess Street) .

Snapshot of History: aerial of Barriefield village

November 15, 2010

Aerial photograph of Barriefield village by George Lilley

Queen’s University Archives is privileged to hold the work of photographer George E.O. Lilley.  Mr. Lilley worked as a commercial and newspaper photographer in the city of Kingston for many, many years, beginning in the late 1940s.  He was also contracted to provide photos by more than a few of the leading newspapers and wire services in the country.  He operated a studio for a considerable length of time at 38 Clarence Street.  One of his favourite “beats” was to load his camera equipment into an airplane, and fly over Kingston and region, taking aerial photographs of the city and outlying communities. One such image was captured in the mid 1950s, as he flew east over the Cataraqui River, and focused in on the village of Barriefield.  By taking St. Mark’s Anglican Church, located slightly off-centre, as a point of reference, it is easy to see how much has changed over the intervening years, especially in terms of both growth, and the arterial network of roads that now lead into and out of, and around Barriefield itself.

Snapshot of History: Monarch Battery

November 4, 2010

Kingston Picture Collection V23 Ind_b_ Monarch


In the 1920’s the business known as Monarch Battery Company in Kingston, Ontario, was taking advantage of the new automobile fad producing electricity-generating batteries for the early cars of the Kingston area. Batteries had been around since 1800, albeit in more primitive forms, and had first found widespread use as part of the telegraph system.  In 1925, the thriving Monarch company expanded into another brand new field, that of radio transmission.  One of Canada’s earliest radio stations with the call code CFMC was started by the company but lasted only three short years.

City of Kingston Records - Box 502, 1922