THE MAGAZINE ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY
special anniversar y edition
Welcome CITY OF BELLEVILLE 169 Front Street Belleville, Ontario K8N 2Y8 Tel: (613) 968-6481 TTY: (613) 967-3768 Belleville.ca MAYOR Taso A. Christopher COUNCIL Egerton Boyce, Paul Carr, Jackie Denyes, Mike Graham, Kelly McCaw, Jack Miller, Mitch Panciuk, Garnet Thompson EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT TEAM CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER Rick Kester DIRECTOR, ENGINEERING & DEVELOPMENT SERVICES Rod Bovay DIRECTOR, FINANCE Brian Cousins MANAGER, HUMAN RESOURCES Tim Osborne DIRECTOR, RECREATION, CULTURE & COMMUNITY SERVICES Mark Fluhrer ACTING DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE SERVICES/CLERK Matt MacDonald DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY SERVICES/ FIRE CHIEF Mark MacDonald MANAGER, ECONOMIC & STRATEGIC INITIATIVES Karen Poste
On behalf of my colleagues on City Council, Executive Management and all of the staff at the City of Belleville, it is my profound pleasure to welcome you to a special anniversary edition of the 2017 Summer BELLEVILLE magazine. In this special edition, we are thrilled to showcase pictures of past dignitaries who have helped create and shape this great City we live in. The following pages emphasize important points in our history as we celebrate 200 years of the beginning of what we now call the City of Belleville. During the summer months, the City of Belleville features many events and festivals that provide enjoyment for members of the entire family. This is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the many outdoor activities and community events we have to offer. This is the time of the year when our beautiful City comes to life! Please enjoy this summer edition of the BELLEVILLE magazine and I kindly welcome your feedback and look forward to our continued work together in making the City of Belleville a great place to live, work and play. Enjoy your summer! Warm Regards,
BELLEVILLE Magazine is published quarterly by the City of Belleville. A very special thank you to Hastings County Historical Society: Bill Kennedy, Doug Knutson, Laurel Bishop, Lois Foster, Orland French, and Richard Hughes, and Archivist Amanda Hill. We value the contributions by Vern Whalen (6/9/1948 – 5/28/2017), a respected member of our community who will be sincerely missed by many. Editor - Marilyn Warren email@example.com BELLEVILLE Magazine is available online and in an accessible text-only format at Belleville.ca Printed in Canada All information ©2017, City of Belleville. No use is permitted without written consent.
Taso A. Christopher, Mayor
WATCH FOR THE EXCITING UPCOMING FALL EDITION
‘THE ROOTS OF BELLEVILLE HOCKEY’ Belleville.ca
contents 10-11 THE RAILWAY WAS
City’s largest employer
27-28 THE GOLDEN DAYS
Aerial view of Belleville in 1919.
2 - 3
CITY HALL FOYER
13-21 THE BIRTH OF BELLEVILLE in the beginning
dance of the rum-runner
29-30 LOCAL CHILDREN during first world war 31
founder of the Intelligencer
from paper to politics
LIBRARY AND GALLERY
THE YARDMEN ARENA
33-34 POINT ANNE
10,000 British children
STEP BACK IN TIME
GRIFFIN OPERA HOUSE
Mayor A. McLean Haig, 1952-1953 Mayor Allan McFee, 1908 Mayor W.W. Chown, 1904 Mayor Dr. Richard T. Potter, 1951 Mayor Taso Christopher, 2014-2018 Mayor A.G. Vermilyea, 1912 Mayor W. C. Mikel, 1924-1925 Mayor J. Ben Corke, 1975-1980 Mayor Reuben S. Patterson, 1880-1881 Mayor Robin Jeffrey, 1973-1975 Mayor R.J.E. Graham, 1926 Mayor Dr. E.O. Platt, 1918-1919 Mayor George A. Zegouras, 1980-1991 Mayor M.P. Duff, 1928 Mayor Frank S. Follwell, 1945-1947 Mayor Dr. B.S. Wilson, 1888 Mayor Ross L. McDougall, 1994-2000 Mayor H. Jack Allin, 1950 Mayor George A. Bennett, 1923 Mayor Robert J. Graham, 1901-1903 Mayor Neil R. Ellis, 2006 - 2014 Mayor William H. Ponton, 1851-1853 Mayor H. McIninch, 1886
24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
then and now
a tribute to railway workers
how it came to be
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
the last of his line
via the tracks
HARRY THE FIRE HORSE
to Thurlow long ago
put us on entertainment map
Mayor Shirley A. Langer, 1991-1994 Mayor Jane Forrester, 1956 - 1957 Mayor Glencoe E. Thompson, 1940 - 1942 Mayor E. Guss Porter, 1891 Mayor George S. Tickell, 1890 Mayor George E. Henderson, 1874 Mayor Jamieson Bone, 1938-1939 Mayor Henry Corby, 1867-1868 Mayor John Both, 1954-1955 Mayor George O. Tice, 1932-1935 Mayor J. F. Wills, 1913-1914 Mayor Gerald B. Hyde, 1958-1959 Mayor Curtis Bogart, 1892 Mayor William H. Panter, 1915 Mayor Harry Hill, 1936 Mayor J.J.B. Flint, 1872 Mayor Jack R. Ellis, 1964-1967 Mayor Charles N. Sulman, 1905-1907 Mayor Benjamin F. Davy, 1850 & 1854 Mayor F.S. Wallbridge, 1893 Mayor H.F. Ketcheson, 1916-1917 Mayor Nelson Lingham, 1882-1883 Mayor Mary-Anne Sills, 2003-2006
HOUSE THAT BILLA BUILT
how they came to be artists and athletes FLOOD WATERS
create community strength
47 Mayor Peter D. Conger, 1869 48 Mayor W.B. Riggs, 1920 49 Mayor W. Harry Rollins, 1943-1944 50 Mayor Charles Hanna, 1921-1922 51 Mayor George A. Zegouras, 2000-2003 52 Mayor W. Jeffers Diamond, 1889 53 Mayor Dr. J. Russell Scott, 1968-1972 54 Mayor William Alfred Foster, 1875-1877 55 Mayor H.W. Greenleaf, 1929 56 Mayor A. McLean Haig, 1960-1963 57 Mayor Alexander Robertson, 1870, 1878 - 1879 58 Mayor J.E. Walmsley, 1894-1896 59 Mayor J.W. Johnson, 1897-1900 60 Mayor H.W. Ackerman, 1911 61 Mayor Denzil L. Storey, 1948-1949 62 Mayor W.H. Biggar, 1887 63 Mayor C.E. Wilmot, 1927 64. Mayor James Brown, 1862-1863 65 Mayor Lorne W. Marsh, 1909-1910 66 Mayor George A. Reid, 1930-1931 67 Mayor Richard D. Arnott, 1937 68 Mayor Billa Flint, 1866
Photos Missing: Mayor John O’Hare, 1855-1856, Mayor F. McAnnany, 1857-1859, Mayor Dr. Wm. Hope, 1860, Mayor F. McAnnany, 1861, Mayor R. Holden, 1864-1865, Mayor Thomas Holden, 1871 & 1873, Mayor J.W. Dunnet, 1884-1885
HISTORY AND ACCESSIBILITY gracefully merge in newly renovated
CITY HALL FOYER
The City of Belleville was pleased to host an official reopening ceremony for the newly renovated front foyer of City Hall on March 30th. The construction work, which began in October 2016, is complete and the result is a beautiful transformation which has not only made the entryway compliant with accessibility requirements, but it has struck an esthetic balance which compliments the historical features of the building while aligning with the convenience of modern design.
The elevator now extends from the lobby to the fourth floor and height adjustable counter tops are installed in Finance and Corporate Service areas on the first floor. The foyer features displays of historical artifacts and video information for residents and tourists alike. The public is encouraged to visit City Hall to see this beautiful new gateway.
WILLIAM WHITE (ARCHITECT) AND MAYOR CHRISTOPHER AT REOPENING CEREMONY.
“The result of this renovation is truly amazing. Residents and visitors now enter City Hall and are greeted with facilities which are welcoming and accessible to all. The ease of modern technology has been applied without compromising the historical integrity of Mayor Taso Christopher this beautiful building.”
DURING RENOVATION 3
Holton Lumber Mill at the mouth of the Moira River
Once an industrial hub for shipping and receiving goods, Belleville’s waterfront has now been transformed into a beautiful recreational destination for residents and tourists alike. The broad, sheltered waters of the Bay of Quinte make Belleville one of the top destinations for boating, kayaking and windsurfing. The City’s waterfront trails are perfect for walking, cycling, running and rollerblading – the playground, plus benches to rest and enjoy the scenery, are a testiment to the City’s commitment to creating a stunning oasis to be enjoyed by all. 4
take a trip down MEMORY LANE
This beautiful section of waterfront at the south end of Foster Avenue is a tribute to the Belleville area Railway Workers and their families. We remember and honour the contributions and dedication of these individuals and encourage you to walk the trail, read the memorial bricks along the path, relax in the gazebo and take time to reflect on the important role they played in our community. 6
raise funds for new are na During the late 60s the Belleville Yardmen decided to raise money for a co-worker’s retirement party. They filled a wheelbarrel full of ‘beverages’, tied it up with a pretty bow and sold tickets. The Belleville Yardmen Benefit Fund was born.
GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY FOR YARDMEN ARENA
OVERHEAD VIEW OF YARDMEN ARENA BY TED MARECAK
The success of the fund prompted the group to hold a draw once a month. The first batch of tickets sold for 25 cents each and were bought amongst themselves and their families. This quickly escalated to $1.00 per ticket and the Yardmen soon realized they were limiting themselves - they had an amazing opportunity at their fingertips - they could sell their tickets anywhere the railway went. Their draw was now barreling full speed down the tracks. Packets of 100+ tickets were distributed up and down the line. Ticket prices increased to $100 and the demand continued to grow. “When we realized we could sell the tickets anywhere the train went, we knew we were really on to something,” said Albert Lentini, one of the initial six Yardmen who started the lottery. “We had a ‘built in’ distribution system with contacts in other cities who often took hundreds of tickets at a time.” As their profits grew, the Yardmen looked for ways to invest their funds in the community and the decision was made to build a new arena. The Provincial Government then started Wintario and its success led to them agreeing to match the funds raised by the Yardmen to build the arena. Each contributed approximately three million dollars. It could be said – the Belleville Yardmen were the Wintario founders and our community, with its wonderful new arena, a tribute to their success.
RENDERING OF OUR SOON-TO-BE SPORTS CENTRE
THE ABOVE INFORMATION IS TAKEN FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH ALBERT LENTINI.
through the years in THURLOW TOWNSHIP
TRANSIT OF THE PAST - THE STAGECOACH
HEADING TO MARKET
H. CORBY DISTILLERY LIMITED STAFF PHOTO, CORBYVILLE, ONTARIO, JUNE 1954
H. CORBY DISTILLERY LIMITED
H. CORBY DISTILLERY CATTLE BARNS
AFTER FIRE AT H. CORBY DISTILLERY
THURLOW BARN RAISING
WORKING AT CORBYVILLE HOP FIELDS
A THURLOW CHEESE FACTORY
SKATING AT CORBYVILLE
AERIAL VIEW OF THE BAKELITE PLANT 9
our stor y is not complete without the
BELLEVILLE RAIL LINES
The Grand Trunk was incorporated in 1853 to run from Sarnia to Portland, Maine. Although it took over existing lines, new ones were also built, including sections of the Toronto to Montréal line completed in 1856. The Belleville station is representative of the larger stations erected for the Grand Trunk Railway. The station was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1973 and has been protected under the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act since 1992, an enduring monument to early Canadian railway enterprise. Belleville’s Grand Trunk Station is the oldest of multiple buildings which were once part of Belleville’s GTR station yard, which employed 100 people by 1864 and included one of the first four GTR locomotive shops. A new shop 10
A historical plaque commemorating Pinnacle Street Railway will be unveiled by the Hastings County Historical Society at the Belleville Club, 210 Pinnacle Street at 2 p.m. on August 23.
was built in 1867, which increased the capacity to 24 engines. followed in 1874 by another 22 engine shop. A new round house was built in 1912 to accommodate 42 engines, with a wheel shed and machine shop adjacent. The railway became Belleville’s largest local employer with over a thousand employees during its prime. As a major divisional point on the GTR line between Montréal and Toronto, the Belleville station was a prominent part of a system which improved overland transportation immensely and had a profound impact on the province’s economics. The railway was instrumental in the 19th century growth of the town of Belleville. In 1914, Canadian Pacific Railways came to Belleville, at first sharing a station and facilities with the Canadian Northern Railways crossing the city south of Dundas Street. That very busy line remains CP’s southern main line linking Montréal and Toronto. 11
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
to when the railway connected Belleville
TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY
The railway was what linked our residents to the rest of Canada. It was a social network that carried families to see distant relatives, soldiers to head off to battle, newlyweds to their honeymoon destinations and sports teams to championship games. Today we hop in our cars and take to the road. In earlier times the railway was the primary mode of transportation, essential to that eraâ€™s way of life.
THE BIRTH OF BE LLE V ILLE
Margaret Simpsonâ€™s Tavern where Belleville was named in 1816.
Researched and Written by Doug Knutson Edited by Laurel Bishop In association with the Hastings County Historical Society A historical plaque commemorating Simpsonâ€™s Tavern will be unveiled by the Hastings County Historical Society at the corner of Front and Dundas Streets at 2 p.m. on July 12.
in the B E G I N N I N G The first name for this community was Asaukhknosk – Ojibwe for place where the rushes end – an appropriate name for the shallow mouth of the river now named Moira. French explorer Samuel de Champlain traveled through this area in 1615 with a Huron war party on their way to attack the Iroquois in modern New York State. He noted that the Bay of Quinte area had previously been occupied by the Huron and then the Iroquois peoples. Quinte derives its name from a Cayuga village Kentio and subsequent French mission Kente. One possible location for this was the mouth of the Sagonaska or Saganaskion River – meaning choppy, or dancing water. In the early 1700s the Iroquois were supplanted by the Mississauga or Anishinabe people.
LOYALISTS After the American Revolution, thousands of United Empire Loyalists were resettled along the St. Lawrence River and Bay of Quinte. The original planned settlements in 1784 did not extend this far up the Bay of Quinte. However, settlers soon began to trickle farther west in search of land. Around 1785, Captain George Singleton established a trading post at the mouth of the Sagonaska River and the Bay of Quinte. Others also settled here, and the fledgling community became known as Singleton’s Creek. In 1787, the land known as Nuitte Town was surveyed and named the Township of Thurlow, and Lot #4 was designated as a “Burying Ground for the Indians.” Therefore most settlers built close to the Bay but a few began to build on Lot #4 with permission of the Mississaugas.
Map of Thurlow 1787
MEYERS CREEK Another Loyalist war veteran, Captain John Walden Meyers, bought the north half of Lot #5 from John Taylor around 1790. He built the areaâ€™s first dam and mills (grist and saw) the first mills west of Napanee. He also built stores, a brewery, a distillery, a brickyard and he built and operated batteaux. He kick-started the industrial growth of the community and he is often referred to as its founder. Captain Singleton died in 1788 and the community was now known as Meyers Creek â€“ also Moira or Thurlow. Meyers claimed to have a 99-year lease with Mississaugas to allow a road from his mills to the Bay (present-day Front Street) and the construction of some buildings. Meyers repeatedly petitioned the government to officially buy Lot #4 but he was always denied. By 1811, the government determined that the land set aside for Indian burying ground was a preposterous quantity for said purpose, and the time was proper for a Town at the mouth of the now Moira River (named for the Earl of Moira, Sir Francis RawdonHastings). The Surveyor-General made plans to purchase Lot #4 and survey the town site, but the plans were interrupted by war.
Lot #4 in 1816
WAR OF 1812 Captain Meyers’ reputation suffered as a result of the War of 1812. In contrast to his role during the American Revolution as a most active and zealous partisan, his support of this war was seen as somewhat lacking. Meyers may have felt he had already sacrificed enough for King and Country. Meyers also faced stiff competition and rivalry from other prominent citizens – most notably James McNabb, a fellow Justice of the Peace, business competitor and now local Commissary Agent. A feud seems to have developed between these two men. Meyers took very obstinate – and from our standpoint, rather humorous – actions in response to orders from McNabb. He refused to sell his flour at the government’s deflated prices, he hid his sleigh, and he refused to furnish his horses, even threatening to shoot the Constable if he tried to
take them. Finally, after being ordered to join a wagon train taking supplies to York (Toronto), Meyers got as far as Brighton where he unhitched his team and returned home leaving the wagon on the road. A vicious attack on his family and home by billeted British troops cemented his position on the war. James McNabb failed to see any humour in Meyers’ wartime actions, and he proceeded to lay charges of disloyalty against Captain Meyers. This was not a trivial thing to do when the penalty for treason was hanging. However, McNabb’s purpose seems to have been to prevent, as far as possible, such undeserving characters from obtaining further marks of Royal Bounty. McNabb and others went further by pushing to have the Meyers’ name removed from the community.
By 1816, there were roughly 150 people living here and plans to purchase and survey Lot #4 as a town site were revived. It is interesting to note that the final purchase of the land from the Mississaugas did not occur until three days after the decision to name the community. The land where downtown Belleville now sits was purchased for the yearly rent of one pepper corn.
Purchase of Lot #4 from Mississaugas
NEGOTIATIONS FOR LOT #4 WERE NOT FINALIZED UNTIL 2010.
Monument at Jane Forrester Park, Belleville
By April 1816, Surveyor Samuel Wilmot had surveyed the site and laid out a town plot. Now all it needed was a name. According to Dr. William Canniff writing in 1869: The naming of Belleville took place in 1816. The circumstances attending it were as follows: There met one evening at Mrs. Simpson's tavern, Captain McMichael, the two McNabbs, Wallbridge, R. Leavens, and S. Nicholson. These gentlemen, at the suggestion, it is said, of Captain McMichael, determined to invite Lieutenant-Governor Gore, to name the newly surveyed town. The request was complied with, by calling it after his wife Bella... We have it also, on the authority of Mr. Petrie, who could not be ignorant of the facts, that the name is after Lady Bella Gore. (Alexander Oliphant Petrie came to Meyers Creek in 1809 and presumably relayed this story directly to Dr. Canniff.) It will be observed that the name was originally spelled Bellville, instead of Belleville, as at the present time. In all letters and public documents where the town was mentioned, we find it spelled Bellville for many years.
Town Plot â€“ April 24, 1816
An account in the 1864-1865 Directory of the County of Hastings says,
In the year 1816 … Governor Gore and his wife Lady Bella traveled, it is said, through the Province, and stayed a night at M(e)yers Creek. – although this cannot be substantiated – Governor Gore's journals never note a visit here. The account continues:
Shortly after, there was met one evening at Mrs. Simpson's tavern the principal men of the village. Among those present were the two McNabbs. Feeling very loyal, and at the same time the importance of the village, it was suggested by one of them that the place should be named Belleville after the Lady Bella Gore. The happy suggestion received the hearty approval of all present and thereafter the village was so called. Another source says,
according to Dr. Scadding, Governor Gore jocosely suggested the abbreviation of his wife's name, Arabella, as a good name for the village. It may be that the new name was due to the influence of Colonel William Bell, another prominent local citizen, and most certainly there was a desire to remove Captain Meyers' name from the community. However, it would seem that the official reason was to honour the Lieutenant-Governor's wife, Anna Bella: “Bella” or “Belle” for short.
August 24, 1816
September 7, 1816
Letter from the Civil Secretary of Upper Canada – Belleville’s “Birth Certificate”
Lieutenant Governor’s Office York, 3rd August 1816 Sir, In the absence of Mr. Acting Secretary MacMahon I have received the Command of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor to signify to you his pleasure that the new Town laid out at the River Moira shall be called Bellville in compliance with the wishes of the Inhabitants of the Midland District. I have the honour to be B (Benjamin) Geale 19
Who was Belleville named for? Anna Bella Gore was born into the wealthy and influential Wentworth family of New Hampshire. Several of her ancestors were Royal Governors of New Hampshire, and her uncle was Nova Scotia's first Governor. In 1793, Anna Bella married Francis Gore who was Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada from 1806-11 and 1815-17.
Lieutenant-Governor Francis Gore
From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography: With three peerages among their family connections, the Gores offered Upper Canada more social prestige than it had yet seen. They were zealous in the performance of their ceremonial duties. Their ball at Niagara (Niagara-on-the-Lake) on 4 June 1807 to celebrate the King’s birth was hailed by the Upper Canada Gazette for “a splendour and magnificence hitherto unknown in this country”.... She was an undoubted social success, able to maintain lasting friendships with such diverse people.... she was praised more extravagantly than her husband for her poise, kindness and fashionable sensibility. The death in March 1808 of her favourite dog seems to have occasioned more expressions of regret than that six months later of Peter Russell, a member of the Executive Council.... The assembly gave formal recognition of the Gores’ popularity.... it voted £3,000 to present them with a service of plate. 20
Marriage Certificate for Francis Gore and Anna Bella Wentworth
Belleville became a Police village in 1834 and finally a city in 1878. Unfortunately, no images of Anna Bella have survived, but her reputation survives in her namesake, Belleville – Beautiful City. SOURCES 1864-65 Directory of the County of Hastings. Belleville: Mackenzie Bowell, 1865 Boyce, Gerry. Belleville: A Popular History. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2008 ---. Historic Hastings. Belleville: Hastings County Council, 1967 Canniff, William. The Settlement of Upper Canada. Toronto: Dudley & Burns, 1869 Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County Hastings County Historical Society Knutson, Doug, Windswept Productions. Damned Rascal: The Story of Captain John Walden Meyers Library and Archives Canada Mealing, Stanley R. “Francis Gore.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. 8: 1851-1860 Mikel, William Charles. City of Belleville History. Picton: Picton Gazette Publishing Company, 1943 Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Queen’s Park Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Robb, Wallace Havelock. Indian Lore of the Bay of Quinte. Kingston: Kingston Historical Society, 1952 South West Heritage Trust and Parochial Church Council, England Weaver, Emily P. The Story of the Counties of Ontario. Toronto: Bell & Cockburn, 1913 White, Phyllis H. Dr. James Macnab: The Lost Loyalist. Peterborough: The Author, 2007 21
GEORGE BENJAMIN founder of the Intelligencer
BY: BILL KENNEDY
George Benjamin was a prominent Hastings County citizen. Born Moses Cohen in Sussex, England in 1799 he came to Belleville via North Carolina and Toronto in 1834 with his young wife and their first of twelve children. His first business venture that same year was establishing himself as a printer and founding the city’s Intelligencer newspaper. Still in business today it is one of Ontario’s oldest newspapers. As editor and publisher he consistently promoted the conservative political agenda and early on his views saw him burned in effigy at the front entrance to his printing shop. He was by all accounts a well-educated man of firm principles who would go on to become involved in politics both locally and as the first Jewish Member of Parliament for the Province of Canada from 1857 to 1863. One of Benjamin’s first appointments was his election as clerk of Belleville in 1836, a position he held for a decade. It was probably around this time that he joined the Orange Order and received his appointment as a Captain in the Belleville militia. During the Upper Canada rebellion that erupted at this period of the country’s history he was one of a number of volunteers who repelled Canadian rebels and American infiltrators in and around the Gananoque region, an action that enhanced his prestige in the Hastings County political arena. He would eventually become Warden of Hastings County and was Belleville’s first superintendent of schools. By 1846 he was Grand Master of the Orange Order in British North America and in 1847 added to his duties the position of clerk of the Belleville board of police. In this latter role one of his jobs was to print the bylaw posters that lay down the law regarding “immoderate riding or driving” on Belleville streets. Speeding was punishable by a fine from five to thirty shillings and driving over Moira River bridges was to be done at the pace of a walk. The posters also prohibited firing a gun or playing ball on any street in town. Shooting, fishing and skating on Sunday were prohibited. Benjamin was a strong advocate for progress. The Intelligencer promoted the construction of road and rail service between Belleville and towns farther north like Madoc and Marmora, especially with the discovery of gold in that region in the mid nineteenth century. In 1856 he was elected by a substantial majority as a member of the legislature for North Hastings, which marked the beginning of his parliamentary career that would last until 1863. 22
There is an excellent biography on George Benjamin written by Sheldon and Judith Godfrey titled Burn This Gossip. Benjamin had a close working association with Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and supported him throughout their years together in Government. Toward the end of his life when he was facing financial difficulties and unable to secure a viable government position he advised Macdonald that he was leaving politics. Macdonald wouldn’t hear of it. Benjamin was a valuable ally and he convinced him to stay on until the next election. In a letter to Benjamin, Macdonald promised to help his colleague, suggesting there were irons in the fire that could be to his benefit. Macdonald signed off his letter with the words “Burn This Gossip.” Benjamin, however, kept the letter and used it later to remind Macdonald of his promise. Macdonald did endeavor to help Benjamin for his years of service but nothing ever came of it. Ironically it was the leader of what was then the Liberal Conservatives, John Sandfield Macdonald, who offered Benjamin the post of Minister of Finance in his government. Considering the financial straits he faced we can imagine that it was a tempting offer, but Benjamin was after all a man of steadfast convictions and simply could not switch allegiances. Following a lengthy illness he died in 1864.
MACKENZIE BOWELL fr om paper to politics
BY: BILL KENNEDY
Mackenzie Bowell emigrated to Canada from England with his family in 1832 when he was nine years old. Belleville became the family’s home and at the age of eleven he was hired on as an apprentice by George Benjamin, the owner of the town’s newspaper, The Intelligencer. It was the beginning of a long and accomplished career that eventually would lead him into politics and the role of Canada’s fifth Prime Minister. By 1848 the twenty-five year old Bowell had earned his teaching diploma and advanced from apprentice to the newspaper’s publisher. He took an active role in his community. He became a school trustee where for several years he was chairman of the board. He called on parents to help their schools by supporting the teachers and supplying the children with books, paper and writing slates. He and his wife Harriet Moore, who he married in 1847, would have nine children of their own, four sons and five daughters. In 1858 Bowell joined the Belleville Rifle Company where he served with the militia guarding the border of what was then Upper Canada during the American Civil War. A decade later he was a major with the 49th Hastings Battalion and Grandmaster of the Orange Order of British North America. In 1860 he had been one of the leading Orangemen to lobby the Prince of Wales to reconsider bypassing his planned stopover in Belleville. It seems there had been a breach of protocol when local rowdy Orangemen marched in town with banners flying and other Orange paraphernalia contrary to Her Majesty’s wishes not to do anything that might offend any group of her subjects. The prince, who had fully intended to disembark from his ship in the Bay of Quinte, sailed off without setting foot on Belleville’s shore. Bowell and other leading Orangemen followed him to Toronto with entreaties to return but to no avail. In 1863 Bowell ran as a Conservative in Hastings County North. The Liberals had mounted a campaign against Roman Catholic rights and as it was a position he refused to take it cost him the election. Four years later he ran again and this time won, holding his seat in the House of Commons through 1874 despite the Pacific Scandal at that time, which cost the Conservatives the government. From 1878 to 1892 he served as Minister of Customs, followed by appointments as Minister of Militia and Defence and Minister of Trade and Commerce. In 1894 he was President of the Privy Council. Bowell’s elevation to the nation’s top job came in December 1894 when, on the sudden death of Prime Minister Sir
John Thompson, he was appointed to the position by the Governor General. Unfortunately for Bowell this happened at a time when Canada and its government were implacably divided over the Manitoba Schools Question concerning Catholic education rights. His efforts to resolve the issue failed and events came to a head for him when he lost the confidence of his cabinet, several members of whom had conspired against him and resigned. In April 1896 he submitted his resignation and was replaced by Charles Tupper. Bowell would stay on with government where he served as Senate Leader of the Opposition after the Conservative loss in 1896. He would continue to serve his country in the Senate for another decade. He died in 1917 at the age of 94. In his book Belleville, A Popular History Gerry Boyce says this of Mackenzie Bowell: “Had Bowell taken office in the prime of his life, rather than in his early seventies, he might have become one of Canada’s outstanding political leaders. Honest and conciliatory, he was a man of steadfast character, courage and integrity. He recognized his own short comings as a national leader and did his utmost to put honour and the country’s welfare above his personal, religious and racial sympathies.”
the MARCHMONT distribution home BY: VERN WHALEN
Between 1870 and 1925 approximately 10,000 British children, between the ages of three and 15 years, were brought to the Marchmont Home in Belleville for placement in Ontario farms and homes. These children, often orphaned, abandoned or from impoverished families were gathered from the crowded streets of the newly industrialized cities where literally thousands of homeless children lived in desperate poverty. In 1870, Belleville Mayor Billa Flint and Hastings County Warden A.F. Wood arranged for Annie MacPherson to have a home in Belleville through which these desperately poor children could be matched with families, the boys mostly becoming farm hands and the girls domestic workers. The first house, named Marchmont, was situated at 30 Commercial Street (now Highland Ave); however, it burned in 1872. Through the intervention of Mayor Billa
Flint and many supporters across the city, a new house was promptly found at 193 Moira Street West. This speedy recovery after the fire illustrated the support and commitment of the entire Belleville and Hastings County community to this home. Over the 55 years, Marchmont homes received 10,000 children and resettled them with new families. Many of the boys, raised in the tumultuous city streets, found it difficult to adjust to the heavy labour of farm work, with hard masters and demands beyond their training or physical capability. Conditions of life on many farms were primitive, often with little pay or appreciation. Many of the young girls, not used to normal domestic life or facilities, encountered rough treatment and extreme work demands in their new homes. Being separated at such a young age from their homelands and familiar places, many of the children suffered loneliness, isolation and often prejudice because of their origins.
On the other hand, many of the home children considered their lives in the peaceful and secure environment to be far superior to the impoverished conditions in industrial Britain. There were numerous success stories with former street children receiving a good education and being loved and cared for in their new families. Many home children went on to become successful farmers, teachers, nurses, ministers and other occupations. One example, David Brown Fraser, was placed in an orphanage in Scotland at 3 years of age, his mother had died and his father was a sailor. He came to Marchmont with his younger sister in 1895. David was placed on a farm near Frankford where he went to school and became one of the family. David married and had two sons. In 1916 he enlisted in the Canadian infantry and served in France, where he died of his war injuries. Another Scottish lad, James Galloway, came to Marchmont in 1910 and was settled near Springbrook. Reports say he had a good home life and he played in the Belleville Pipe Band. James served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force overseas and successfully returned home in 1919. He married another home child in 1920, bought 50 acres of land to start his own farm and raised a family of eight children.
Other success stories include one young boy who obtained a position at the Flint Law Firm in Belleville, studied law and assisted old friends at Marchmont in legal matters. Another was placed near North Bay, Ontario where he became a successful businessman and later Mayor of the City. Another boy also went into business and became Mayor of Arnprior. Many of these home children volunteered for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI, serving with great courage and were honoured by their home country of Canada. It is generally considered that the success stories for these children far outweighed the negative experiences. Thousands of Canadians today can trace their ancestry to these brave and determined children. The full story of this amazing chapter in Bellevilleâ€™s history has been captured in the book, Marchmont Distributing Home, Belleville, Ontario 1870-1925 by James Gilchrist. This 224 page book is available from the Hastings County Historical Society bookstore in the Community Archives, 254 Pinnacle Street, Belleville and from their online bookstore at www.hastingshistory.ca.
A historical plaque commemorating the Marchmont Home will be unveiled by the Hastings County Historical Society and the British Home Childrenâ€™s Association at the site of Marchmont at 2 p.m. on September 28 on the occasion of British Home Child Day in Ontario.
a night at the
BELLEVILLE OPERA BY: RICHARD HUGHES
Belleville and Hastings County music and theatre lovers are justifiably proud of their Empire Theatre, Pinnacle Playhouse and the numerous auditoriums that now bring such a wide variety of theatrical entertainment to our area. These venues are the current manifestation of a long entertainment history that goes way back, and features not one but two Opera Houses in our community. The first opened at the northwest corner of Pinnacle and Campbell Streets in 1877, but after a short run, it succumbed to fire in 1880. Belleville’s second and greatest Opera House opened on January 24, 1884. Over its nearly 50 year career the building was called the Belleville Opera House, Queen’s Opera House, Carman Opera House, and finally the Griffin Opera House. It was erected by a joint stock company, costing $20,500. Today, if you stand in front of the law office at the southwest corner of Bridge and Church streets, you can try to visualize the majestic Opera House and its impact on the passerby or patron of the 1890s. The classically inspired building was a substantial red brick structure on stone foundations. Stone surrounds with keystones accented the tall narrow windows. Alternating projecting and receding planes, blind arches, textured brickwork and terracotta panels enlivened the facade. The builders used the hillside location to advantage, creating sloped seating with uninterrupted views of the 37x56 foot stage. Well-lit dressing rooms and a large hall were accommodated below. The eight proscenium boxes, galleries and auditorium held 1300; the latest advances in fire prevention were reported. The Griffin boasted elaborately frescoed walls and ceilings, multicoloured woodwork, and lavish draperies and stage scenery – a thrilling world of elegance to transport the patrons to imaginary places. The working folks of the city and area would spend ten precious cents for the cheapest admission, a seat in the gods, the top gallery. They were transported into a world of operettas, drama or comedy, performed by local talent or travelling stars. Imagine the important gentlemen and well-dressed matrons of Belleville society, proud of the sophistication of their city, occupying their boxes, to see and be seen, enjoying the performance of prominent opera singers on the Toronto-Montreal circuit.
During its lifetime, the Griffin Opera House put Belleville on the entertainment map. The November 27, 1886 Toronto Mail deemed the Belleville Opera House “without exception one of the most beautiful, convenient and secure temples of amusement in the Dominion.” and enthused about the Griffin’s status on the entertainment circuit of the day: “Belleville enjoys the reputation of being one of the best show towns between Toronto and Montreal and…a favourite halting place with all firstclass traveling companies…” During the late 19th century Belleville became known as “one of the best towns between Toronto and Montreal for opera.” Later, early motion pictures attracted attention. A poster in the Community Archives collection advertises ‘Anthony and Cleopatra : The World’s Greatest Photo-Drama in Three Acts, Eight Parts.’ A curious 1925 photo featuring a mule and covered wagon in front of the Griffin Opera House depicts not the Belleville traffic of the day, but a promotion for the 1923 silent film The Covered Wagon chronicling the tribulations of a group of pioneers struggling to Oregon. The growth in popularity of the talking pictures by the late 1920s, and advent of purpose-built modern cinemas augured the end of the Opera House. The structure was demolished in 1933, its memory kept alive at the Archives of Belleville and Hastings County.
As part of its 2017 Belleville 200 Celebrations, the Hastings County Historical Society will be unveiling a commemorative historical plaque at 2 p.m. on July 26 at 65 Bridge Street East, site of the Griffin Opera House.
HARRY, BELLEVILLE’S LAST
A historical plaque commemorating Fire Station No. 2 was unveiled by the Hastings County Historical Society at 394 Front Street on June 14. When we see the giant red fire trucks, topped with immense, powerful ladders rushing through the streets of Belleville, sirens wailing, it is hard to imagine that less than one hundred years ago, a call to the fire station first required the volunteer firemen to lead their horses from the stables, hook up the harness, drag out the wagons and hitch them up, then begin the run to the scene of the fire. Not hard to imagine how fires would have had the advantage over the firefighters in the early 1900s.
In 1926, the City bought a motorized hook and ladder truck which would finally displace this last team, dear old Harry and his partner, who had pulled the old ladder wagon for twenty-two years. Soon after, Harry’s partner died, and city officials decided to sell old Harry to a market gardener. But the firemen refused to let their faithful old horse spend his last days working in the fields pulling a plow. They agreed to keep him in a stall at the fire hall and exercise him in the yard behind.
In 1836, when Belleville was incorporated as a police village, the fire regulations required that all citizens from fifteen to sixty were to help pull the fire equipment if so directed by a town official. Later years brought bigger and heavier equipment, and the man power was replaced by horse power. By the turn of the twentieth century, while firemen were still volunteers, horses were contracted by the City, and only the drivers or teamsters were paid.
Ultimately, Harry was put out to pasture in Bleecker’s Woods north of the City for a peaceful retirement, but within a few months of leaving Fire Station No. 2, the old horse died at the age of twenty-three. His faithful service was not forgotten as members of the Fire Department turned out as an honour guard for old Harry at his burial. The last of Belleville’s Fire Department fire horses was laid to rest.
By 1916, the Fire Department was run by full-time, permanent paid employees, with professional teamsters to handle the horses. In 1921, the City bought two new motorized fire trucks to replace the two horse-drawn hose wagons. However, the age of real horse power was not over as a team was retained to pull the hook and ladder wagon. Operating out of Fire Station No. 2 at the top of Front Street, these horses not only had special care at the hands of the firemen, but easy access to the river for bathing and exercise. BY: RICHARD HUGHES 27
the Golden Days of
RUM-RUNNING BY: ORLAND FRENCH PHOTOS FROM THE BILL HUNT COLLECTION
Loading the “W. Cole” in Belleville harbour. C. W. Cole owned Main Duck Island, a transfer point for booze shipments across Lake Ontario. A century ago, federal lawmakers were struggling to implement a disjointed parcel of rules and regulations to ban the distribution and sale of a mind-altering drug: alcohol. Today, our lawmakers are struggling with a set of rules and regulations to allow the distribution and sale of another mind-altering drug: marijuana.
However, you could sell it to another country. And the closest thirsty country was the United States. Never mind that the U.S. was under a stricter Prohibition law that banned the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages. Its people were thirsty and Canada held the bung in the barrel.
We will see how the noble experiment to take the “can’t” out of cannabis turns out. The first effort – which was known as Prohibition – was a disaster. But for a significant number of Bellevillians at the time, it was a money-maker. It turned law-abiding citizens into law-breaking rascals in the rum-running business.
And so the dance of the rum-runner began. The giant Corby Industries Ltd. plant at Corbyville continued production and even planned expansion. Cases of whisky made their way to the docks of downtown Belleville to be loaded onto a flotilla of small boats destined for overseas markets. These little cargo ships, small fishing boats really, posted manifests for ports in Mexico, Barbados, Cuba and other Caribbean countries. They’d be back the very next day, empty, with proper paperwork completed.
It was a lucrative if dangerous enterprise. The late Bill Hunt, who colourfully chronicled the industry in his book Booze, Boats and Billions, said a rum-runner with a sleek and speedy watercraft could make more money in a week than a labourer or a farmer could in a year. Small wonder it was estimated in 1926 that 100,000 people were engaged in running illicit alcohol into the United States, most of them Canadian. Prohibition was declared in Canada as a federal law in 1918 during the last years of the First World War. It was to be a temporary measure, sort of like income taxes. But it wasn’t a complete ban on booze. You could still manufacture liquor, you just couldn’t sell it in the province of origin. 28
Another rumrunning fishing boat, the “Hattie C.” There appears to be a uniformed police officer standing on the deck.
A long fishing boat, the “Harry H.” In truth, they had only gone to places like Main Duck Island, transferring their cargos onto speedy rum-running boats for transport across Lake Ontario. Sometimes they went only a few kilometres and “short-circuited” back into a quiet cove near Point Anne or Shannonville to serve the local market. Others went out for a cruise until darkness fell, then came right back into Belleville.
The nature of rum-running produced colourful characters who are still remembered today: Doc Welbanks, Harry and Herb Hatch, Ben Kerr, Claude Cole and many others. Some became millionaires in the booze business when Prohibition was lifted. The dashing Ben Kerr, who disappeared in Lake Ontario, didn’t live to realize a fortune.
The free flow of liquor in Belleville never stopped. According to Hunt, at one time there were 19 places in a short stretch of Front Street where you could get an illegal drink. On top of that you could imbibe at a private club, chief among them the still-surviving Belleville Club where the city’s most distinguished citizens could obtain a classy Canadian beverage at the bar. The lowly bootlegger, once shunned and avoided, gained some status among people who would refer to him as our “bootlegger”.
Through the 1920s it became obvious that Prohibition was impossible to enforce. The federal government lifted the ban and provinces gradually instituted regulatory boards and commission. Prohibition ended in Ontario in 1927. Learning from history, government today appears to be implementing a similar regulatory process for the control and distribution of marijuana. There’ll be no exchanging of bales of marijuana on Main Duck Island.
Ben Kerr demonstrating the power and speed of his boat “Evelyn” in an unidentified harbour circa 1922. 29
GROWING UP IN BELLEVILLE
in the FIRST WORLD WAR BY: LAUREL BISHOP
How did the children of Belleville meet the challenges of the Great War? Certainly they were expected to make sacrifices, demonstrating patriotism and obedience at an early age. While their fathers and brothers enlisted for overseas service and their mothers were organizing patriotic events, knitting socks and sending parcels of hospital supplies and comforts overseas, the children were engaged in projects of their own. Every week the public school pupils sent scrapbooks of local newspaper clippings to the Belleville soldiers overseas. Children cut out pictures and bright, cheerful stories, pasting them onto strong manila paper. Samples of these scrapbooks were placed in the Merchants Bank windows for public viewing. Young people of Belleville were well aware of the significant military presence in their city of 12,000. Belleville provided barracks in a converted canning factory and the armouries where hundreds of soldiers lived while training. Children often accompanied their parents to evening recruiting meetings where young men were urged to enlist. They attended children’s motion picture matinees at the Griffin Opera House, the films depicting in graphic detail the horror of the battlefield. On Victoria Day in 1915, the 39th Battalion held a military field day with sports at Agricultural Park. Significantly, the parade to the park included Cadets of Belleville High School and of Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and St. Michael’s schools.
As food became scarce in Canada and Europe, the call went out for boys fifteen to nineteen, Soldiers of the Soil, as well as for girls known as Farmerettes to interrupt their studies and work on farms. Despite their efforts, food restrictions were increased. Children and their families feared the dreaded telegrams prefaced with the words “Sincerely regret to inform you” followed by news that a loved one had been killed, wounded, gassed or shellshocked. Despite the unbearable grief, the young people were expected to carry on and do their bit for Canada and the Empire.
During the winter, Lattimer’s Drug Store on Front Street offered the use of their ice cream parlour as a tea room to The Pollyannas, a group of twelve young girls. Following the example of their mothers, the girls donated profits to a wartime charity, the Red Cross. Wearing middy suits and red and white caps, in a room decorated with flags, maple leaves and barberries, the girls served tea every afternoon from four to six o’clock to the musical accompaniment from a victrola.
As the Great War drew to a close, the scourge of Spanish flu arrived in Belleville. Schools were closed from October 15 to November 9, 1918. Forty-seven people died during October alone. A Voluntary Aid Corps of citizens was formed and gave nursing help to eighty-four and nourishment to ninety-six different cases. The High School science kitchen was in operation for almost three weeks providing gallons of broth and soups, as well as puddings and custards to the stricken.
A Waste Paper Campaign was launched with the help of forty boys from the high and public schools as they canvassed the city to collect old magazines, newspapers and waste paper to be baled and sold. Mayor Ketcheson estimated at least $4,000 a year could be made with proceeds going for hospital and trench supplies.
With news of the end of war on November 11, 1918 the people of Belleville rejoiced, and in the glorious parade a mile long were Boy Scouts, Cadets and school children carrying flags. They had done their bit, and the Great War would always be a part of them.
the home of BILLA FLINT RESEARCHED BY: LOIS FOSTER HASTINGS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
BILLA FLINT February 9, 1805 – June 15, 1894 In 1836, Billa Flint became president of the Board of Police and was appointed magistrate. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1847 for Hastings, and in 1854, for Hastings South. In 1863, he was elected to the Legislative Council for Trent division and served until Confederation when he was appointed to the Senate. In 1866, he became Mayor of Belleville. He served over 20 years on the council for Hastings County and was Warden for the County in 1873.
Remembered as one of Belleville’s most enterprising, early industrialists, Billa Flint built his 180 Coleman Street residence in 1834 after moving to Belleville in 1829. This two-storey brick house became home to not only Billa Flint, his wife Phoebe and their son John, but also his mother-in-law Mrs. Clement and her children. Billa Flint’s first business venture in Belleville was to open a general store on Front Street. He then purchased parcels of land along Coleman Street and developed his property with mills, warehouses and extensive wharfs. His entrepreneurial spirit was not limited to Belleville and included business initiatives in several locations.The two-storey home is all that remains of the previous stone structures in this section of Coleman Street.
a brief history of
BELLEVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY JOHN M. PARROTT ART GALLERY
Belleville Public Library and John M. Parrott Gallery is a community meeting place that supports and inspires lifelong learning, creativity, growth and success. We strive to meet the educational, recreational and information needs of all Belleville citizens through free and equitable access to physical and digital collections, artwork, technology and services.
The new gallery hosted many travelling exhibitions by the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Ontario Arts Council, The Royal Ontario Museum and other cultural institutions.
We are located in a beautiful building in downtown Belleville, built in 2006, with three floors including the art gallery and several meeting spaces. The building is also now home to the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County and the Hastings County Historical Society, after renovations were completed in March of 2016. The Library has its origins in a Mechanics' Institute that operated from 1851 to 1859. Municipal Library service in Belleville officially began in November 1876 with the establishment of the "Mechanics' Institute and Library Association".The name was changed in 1895 to the Belleville Public Library, in accordance with the new provincial Act Respecting Public Libraries, the precursor to the legislation that now governs public libraries in Ontario, the Public Libraries Act. In 1903, the City of Belleville passed the first by-law for the operation of the Belleville Public Library, for that year. New by-laws were passed each year thereafter until 1908 when the by-law establishing on-going library operations was passed. Senator and Mrs. Henry Corby purchased the Merchants Bank of Canada property on Pinnacle Street, now home to the Core Arts and Cultural Centre. The Corbys remodeled the Merchants Bank building to serve as a library, and presented it to the City in 1908 â€œ...for the use of the citizens of the City of Belleville for their sole and only use forever as a free public library.â€?
ORIGINAL BELLEVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Corby Library building was closed on April 27, 2006 and the new building built, located across the street at 254 Pinnacle. The move to the third floor of the new Library in 2006 vastly increased the gallery space. The John M. and Bernice Parrott Foundation provided a very generous donation to contribute to the construction of the new building and this new professional gallery. The Parrott Foundation also donated a large collection of This new library building, also known as the Corby Library, original Manly MacDonald oil paintings and an endowhad additions in 1959, 1968 and 1973. A branch in the ment fund to care for this important collection. Manly east-end of Belleville located at the corner of Farley MacDonald was an important artist to the region and Street and Victoria Avenue (known as the East Branch his works are now on permanent display in our gallery. Library) also operated from 1964 to 2002. There is also a corridor gallery and a gift shop where you can find original works by local artists and artisans. Many pieces of art hung throughout the library over the years, and many exhibitions had taken place in the The City of Belleville is extremely fortunate to have such basement auditorium. In 1973, an art gallery was added a vibrant and dynamic Library and Gallery to call our to the Corby Library. This marked the first dedicated own. gallery space in the library. In the early years, the By Trevor Pross, CEO and gallery was embraced by the community as a new Susan Holland, Gallery Curator meeting place, a location for learning and enjoyment. 33
POINT ANNE Manly, Bobby and more... BY: VERN WHALEN
For over 70 years the village of Point Anne was one of the most productive sites in Canada for cement manufacturing. However, it was just as well known for individuals and sport teams who called Point Anne home.
and found a talent in drawing and painting. Manly would have a keen sense of imagery in depicting local farms, cattle, boats, rivers and lakes. He put his imagery to canvas. He became known in the art circles as the â€œInterpreter of Old Rural Ontarioâ€?. He was known as a contemporary of the celebrated Group of Seven. Growing up in Point Anne we often thought of him as just a strange old man who wore funny hats and painted pictures. He drove around in a station-wagon with the back filled with canvas paintings. When he was away we often would sneak into his old barn and look at his paintings hidden under tarps. He did however often visit the local school when he was home and talk to the children about art. Manly MacDonald died on April 10, 1971 in Toronto at the age of 82. He is credited with painting over 2000 canvases in his lifetime. Many of his paintings can be found in major galleries in Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada and locally in Belleville at Loyalist College or as part of the Parrott Collection at the Belleville Library. As is the case with most artists, his work became more famous after his death. 34
E N D O F D AY FISHERMAN
Manly MacDonald was born in Point Anne in 1889
Village boy Bobby Hull would become a hockey legend as the “Golden Jet”. He began skating at age three. His first hockey was played on the company sponsored outdoor rink behind his house and the frozen Bay of Quinte. Barely a teenager he left home to play junior hockey in 1954. His blistering slap-shot and adept skating led him to the NHL in 1957 with the Chicago Blackhawks and WHA with the Winnipeg Jets and he finished with a brief stint with the Hartford Whaler in 1980. He won the Hart Trophy as MVP twice, the Art Ross Trophy as top scorer three times and the Stanley Cup in 1961. He was named an All Star 13 times, scored 50 or more goals in 10 seasons and was Canada’s Male Athlete of the year in 1965 and 1966. His combined goal total in both the NHL and WHA was 1018 including playoffs. Hull was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.
After breaking the NHL season goal record the cement company erected a billboard in the village. It read “Point Anne – Birth Place of Bobby Hull: The World’s Greatest Hockey Player”. Bobby returned often to Point Anne during the off-season to visit his family and friends. As a 12 year old boy his father took me to see him play in Toronto. He took me into the Black Hawk dressing room to meet his teammates. That night he scored the twenty-fifth goal of his career and after the game he gave me the puck which I still have. Bobby Hull never forgot his roots and in 2013 wrote a forward for my book Point Anne – History of a Cement Factory Village. Space does not allow the tales of the village’s great softball, hockey or tennis teams. The softball teams won five Ontario Championships, a hockey team – one Ontario title, and the tennis team was perennially a top team in the Quinte area. As well the younger brother of Bobby Hull, Dennis, also had a respectful 14 year career in pro hockey.
Perhaps the dust that billowed from the smoke stacks of the cement plant propelled these two to greater heights. At the very least there must have been something in the air because people from Point Anne were a hearty breed, always striving to do better. For such a small hamlet it contributed much to the arts and sports of Canada. Having grown up there I can attest that Point Anne was community, just as solid as the concrete that came from the cement produced there.
1929 HOCKEY TEAM
1952 HOCKEY TEAM
POINT ANNE CEMENTMEN O N TA R I O C H A M P S 1 9 4 1
POINT ANNE CEMENTMEN O N TA R I O J U N I O R C H A M P S 1 9 6 6
GREAT FLOODS make for strong communities Living along the waterâ€™s edge was a critical part of Bellevilleâ€™s ability to grow and prosper. The shipping yards along the waterfront made it possible for industries to succeed. A downside to the location was the floods that descended through the Moira River on more than one occasion. Perhaps this has served to strengthen the community, building a resilience which has created a community unafraid to meet challenges and work together in difficult times.
As part of its 2017 Belleville 200 Celebrations, the Hastings County Historical Society will be unveiling a Great Belleville Floods commemorative historical plaque at 2 p.m. on August 9 at 224 Front Street.
MAYORS OF BELLEVILLE â€“ NAMES & YEARS OF SERVICE PAGE ONE