Monday, February 12, 2018

Who's That Guy Again? Writing Safely on your Photographs

One piece of advice that I always give to my researchers at the Lambton County Archives is to identify the individuals in their photographs. In your personal photograph collection, you may know the names of all the aunts, uncles, and cousins, but unless you document this information, that knowledge is lost to anyone else accessing your material. You should record as much information as possible, including the names of the individuals in the paper, the date the picture was taken, where the picture was taken, and if applicable, the special occasion.

There are established strategies in the archival community for safely recording information on photographs. If you follow these rules, you can minimize the impact of recording important information on your photographs.

My preferred method is to not write on photographs at all, but rather place them in an envelope or sleeve that contains the relevant information. This way, you can label your photographs with the detailed information that you need without physically inscribing on the photograph itself. Through vendors such as Carr McLean, Brodart, and Gaylord, you can purchase transparent photographic sleeves or acid-free envelopes that will safely hold your photographs. By applying a label to the sleeve or writing on the envelope, you can record your information and avoid marking the original photograph. This is the best case scenario and a win-win for your priceless photographs!

Example from the Lambton County Archives where labels
have been inserted into the sleeve.

Example from the Lambton County Archives where
information was written on the envelope that houses
the image.

There are reasonable options if you do want to inscribe information directly on the photograph. For many older photographs, you can use a soft lead pencil to record your information. Writing on the back of the photograph, keep your letters small and neat to minimize the impact, and make your markings lightly. Pencil can be erased, so by using pencil you are not permanently altering the photograph.

Stabilo-All pencil, here in white, which is much more
legible on this black photo album than a regular pencil.
For modern, glossy photographs, pencil often will not stick or mark clearly on the back of the photographs, and it is not a good option. There are many products on the market advertised as "photo safe archival pens" that will write clearly on these types of photographs, but I do not recommend ever permanently marking a photograph. In many cases, the inks will smear, and sometimes bleed through to the front of the photograph. Additionally, you cannot change the information after you have marked it down in permanent ink, unless you want to scribble out what you wrote previously! The Stabilo-All pencil is a good option that will write on the glossy photographs but can be dry erased or wiped off of smooth surfaces. The Stabilo-All pencils are similar to a pencil crayon, and you can find them for purchase online. I have found that in some instances even the Stabilo-All pencils will not write on glossy photographs, and in those cases I use the method of putting the photograph in a sleeve or envelope and applying my labeling to this protective cover.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of documenting your photographs, and minimizing the impact of that documentation by following these guidelines.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rare World War One Photos and Diary Transcription Donated to Lambton County Archives

Rare World War One photos and a copy of a Lambton major’s diary written overseas in 1916 are now part of the Lambton County Archives collection.
9A-G R.B. Barnes, C.O. Fairbank, Steenvoorde France, 24 Aug 1916
The items, now more than 100 years old, belonged to Major Charles Fairbank of Petrolia, who chronicled the trench warfare in Ypres and the Somme.

His grandson, Charlie Fairbank of Oil Springs, donated the diary and the photos, spurred by the Lambton At War exhibit now showing at the Judith & Norman Alix Gallery in Sarnia. This material caught the attention of staff at the Lambton Heritage Museum while they were conducting research to support this exhibit and a lecture series about the major's participation in the First World War.

“My family has kept the diaries and photos of my grandfather, C.O. Fairbank, a major of the 70th Battalion and later joined the 18th Battalion at Ypres and the Somme,” said Fairbank. “By donating these items to the Lambton County Archives, historians and the public will gain new insights into the shelling, the horror of the trenches, and my grandfather’s incredible sense of duty. At the age of 58, he volunteered to go overseas on this dangerous mission, leaving behind a wife and his four young sons.”

9ED-G 70th Battalion at Sunnyside, 1915
One of the photos being donated shows Maj. Fairbank with his new recruits of the 70th Battalion at the west side of Fairbank’s mansion. It is believed this was taken in 1915.

Through some digging, the Fairbank archivist Colleen Inglis was able to piece together the story behind a series of three photos taken with Major Fairbank and five other officers. In one, they are in their regular uniforms, in another they wear their helmets and in a third, the same group are posed wearing their gas mask.

By transcribing Maj. Fairbank’s diary of 1916 to make it more accessible, she determined that the photos were taken on Aug. 24, 1916 in Steenvorde, France. The troops had been billeted and were all sleeping on hay in a barn. Tracking down a newspaper account of the photos in a Forest newspaper in 1916, she was able to identify who is in the photos.

9A-G R.B. Barnes, A.P. Ross, A.E. Cook, S.M. Loghrin, C.O. Fairbank, G.V. Nelson, Steenvoorde France, 24 Aug 1916

“Captured at a peaceful moment, the picture of the men in gas masks is simultaneously lighthearted and terrifying, and it brings the people to life in a way that words alone cannot,” says Inglis. She noted that two of the men, Major S.M. Loghrin and Lieutenant R.B. Barnes were killed less than a month later, on Sept. 15, in the Battle of Courcelette and Lieutenant G.V. Nelson was killed in 1917.

The detailed diary, she says, provide a very vivid insight and document the first time he saw an airplane as well as his first sighting of a tank                                                         

Major Fairbank, who was 58 when he went overseas, returned to his family in 1916 and continued to live in the Fairbank mansion in Petrolia until his death in 1925. Earlier, he was the mayor of Petrolia, and the county warden. He was also a medical doctor, owned Vaughn and Fairbank bank as well as VanTuyl and Fairbank Hardware and was an active oil producer.

“These pictures are a unique and fascinating snapshot of history,” says Lambton County Archivist Dana Thorne. “They tell an important local story by featuring a prominent Lambton citizen, Charles Oliver Fairbank, but they also tell an important international story by situating him in France in the middle of the First World War.

“We are grateful that the Fairbank family is willing to donate this material to the Lambton County Archives, where it can be studied and appreciated by generations of researchers. We are also grateful that events such as the Lambton At War exhibit, on display at the JNAAG until February 4, help bring this type of material to the surface where it can be discussed and appreciated.”

9A-G G.V. Nelson, R.B. Barnes, A.P. Ross, A.E. Cook, S.M. Loghrin, C.O. Fairbank, Steenvoorde France, 24 Aug 1916

9A-G R.B. Barnes, A.P. Ross, A.E. Cook, S.M. Loghrin, C.O. Fairbank, G.V. Nelson, Helmets, Steenvoorde France, 24 Aug 1916

Special thank you to Pat McGee for writing this blog post!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sisters Finish Telling Family Story The Observer Started Sixty Years Ago

The Lambton County Archives are home to a collection of 50,000 photo negatives from the Sarnia Observer which depict local news worthy events from the 1950's and 1960's. Every summer, a post-secondary student is hired to work on digitizing this significant collection. In 2017, we hired Journalism Major Julie Mutis to work with the Sarnia Observer Negative Collection. While scanning negatives, Julie's imagination was captured by a photograph of a young family arriving in Sarnia in the late 1950's. Wanting to uncover more details about this family, Julie took the initiative to make contact with the sisters from the picture. Silvia and Marian were kind enough to travel to the Lambton County Archives and share their experiences with Julie, sitting down to talk with her about  their emigration to Canada and sharing about their life here. Below is Julie's article, published here on the Lambton County Archives blog as a Guest Blogger. Thank you, Julie!
Photograph of the Haler family in June 1957.
Joseph, Maria, and daughters Silvia and Marian.
From the Lambton County Archives Sarnia Observer Negative Collection.

This photo of the Haler family, Joseph, Maria and their two daughters Silvia and Marian, appeared in the Sarnia Observer on July 25th 1957. An interview with Joseph about the family's escape from communist Yugoslavia accompanied the photograph. The family was happy to have finally arrived at their destination but uncertain about what was in store for them here in Canada. Sixty years later, Joseph and Maria's daughters Silvia Freer and Marian Strangway are able to finish telling their family's story.

In 1957 Slovenia was a part of Yugoslavia, a communist country ruled by Joseph Tito. In the 1957 interview, Mr. Haler spoke about Tito saying he only maintained control of the country through a strong military and police presence. Though Silvia and Marian were very young when they lived in Slovenia (8 and 6 respectively), they remember the climate of fear that prompted their emigration to Canada. "With the communists, nothing was for sure and if you didn't do exactly as they say, they would kill you," said Marian.

Joseph Haler, who worked as a police officer for most of his career in Slovenia, knew the dangers of going against the government's agenda first hand. "When my dad's life was threatened I guess that was when the decision was made that we had to get out of there," said Marian. In 1957 a man came to the Haler's house and warned Joseph that the military was planning to kill him. Marian and Silvia were not told the exact reason behind this threat but said that they were always told it had something to do with Joseph's actions during the Second World War.

Joseph left the country first and arranged for his family to follow him soon after. Silvia and Marian recall having to climb mountains along the "Iron Curtain," the guarded border between communist and democratic Europe, to meet the professional border crosser Joseph had hired to take his family into Austria. Although the two remember being nervous about crossing the border, they were not entirely aware of the situation they were in. "We were kids we didn’t have to clue what was going on," said Silvia.

After crossing without incident, save the loss of one of Marian's shoes, the family headed to a bus station and traveled to Maria's sister's home in Austria. "We were told to keep our mouths shut and not say a word while we were on the bus and from there on it was party time for us," said Marian.

The Halers stayed with Maria's sister in Germany and then at a refugee camp where the sisters attended school while their parents organized the details of their trip to Canada. The Halers left a port in Trieste, Italy on what the sisters describe as a very nice, luxury Italian ship. "Not that we were staying in the luxury section," added Silvia.

The journey took around two weeks. "I know it was at least two weeks because we had fish on Fridays and the fish was not good," recalled Silvia. The boat arrived in Montreal on Marian's seventh birthday and after clearing customs, the Halers got on a train headed to Sarnia.

Although the family was happy to arrive in Sarnia, getting here was only half the battle. "Everything was new. We couldn’t even speak the language," said Marian.  The sisters said that their new neighbours made adjusting to life in Canada much easier. "I guess we've been really lucky we have always had good neighbors and good friends and everyone was always trying to help." Silvia and Marian said their next door neighbours would even give them rides to school so they didn’t have to make the long walk.

The sisters attended St. Peters where their peers were very eager to help them learn English. "We picked up the language quickly," said Marian. "Dirty words really quick," added Silvia demonstrating a habit the sisters have of finishing each other's thoughts. They said the kids at school would teach them swear words which they would repeat at home, excited to show their parents what they were learning. "Of course our dad picked them up too and started to use them," said Silvia. It was Joseph's friends who finally told him what kind of words his daughters were bringing home from school.
Marian and Silvia said that learning English was harder for their parents than it was for them but with the help of friends and co-workers, they too learned quickly. Both Joseph and Maria quickly found employment upon arriving in Sarnia. A friend of Maria's got her a job in the laundry department at the hospital. She soon transferred to housekeeping where she became a supervisor. Joseph had had a carpentry apprenticeship in Slovenia and continued that career in Sarnia.

Marian Strangway (L) and Silvia Freer (R).
Photo by Julie Mutis, July 2017.
Both Silvia and Marian graduated from SCITS and went on to relocate multiple times in Canada and the U.S. Both are now retired and spend their time volunteering for their respective communities of Port Huron and Sarnia.

Leaving their home and family in Slovenia was not ideal for Maria and Joseph but they did have the chance to go back. "It took a long time before anyone would go back because everything was so unsettled out there," said Marian. The Halers became involved with the Slovenian club in Lobo and connected with other people who had been forced to flee their homes.

Silvia and Marian said that their father would often talk proudly about how he arrived in Canada with less than a dollar in his pocket. Despite this and all of the other uncertainties that the Halers faced when the Observer article was written, Marian said that "Before we knew it," "it just all fell into place," finished Silvia.
Big thanks to Pat Forbes, the Observer staff reporter who wrote about the Haler family in 1957.

Written by Guest Blogger Julie Mutis.

The original newspaper article, published in the 
Sarnia Observer, July 25, 1957, p. 13

Sarnia Observer, July 25, 1957, p. 26

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lambton County Archives Capital Project - New Shelving Units

The Lambton County Archives is thrilled to announce that we are undergoing a major capital project this year. Our collections storage area has been filled to capacity for several years now. Our collection continues to grow as we accept new donations, and it has become increasingly difficult to find room for new material.

With the installation of a mobile shelving unit in our collections storage area, we will more than double our current capacity. We will also be able to reconfigure our collections on the new shelves in ways that are more intuitive than the current configurations.

Another major advantage of this project is the fact that we can reclaim our secondary storage space. Currently, we have 46 filing cabinets storing thousands of land instruments in a small secondary space called the Land Records Room. Many of these land instruments are over 150 years old. Currently, the land instruments are not in our primary, climate controlled collections storage area. They are also stored in aging filing cabinets that are not tall enough to accommodate all of the instruments, and some suffer damage as the cabinets open and close. By removing the land instruments from these cabinets and putting them into 375 custom ordered boxes, we can eliminate any future damage to this important collection. The new mobile shelving units will permit us enough space to accommodate these 375 boxes in the climate controlled area. We will be able to reclaim the secondary storage space as a cataloguing and conservation area where we will have the room to process archival material.

The estimated duration of the renovation project is May 15, 2017 - June 23, 2017. During this time period, we will not be able to access our collections storage area to retrieval archival material. Our facility will remain open to the public during regular operating hours throughout the renovation (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm; Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6pm-9pm; and Saturday afternoons 12pm-5pm). We will still have the capacity to assist researchers because we will retain access to the reference books in our reading room, our microfilm collection, and all online services. However, without access to the archival collection some of our resources will be limited, and we will not have access to our photograph or negative collections.

This project is made possible in part by the Government of Canada. We were successful in applying for a grant through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The other key contributor for this project is the County of Lambton.

The upgrading of our collections storage capacity was identified as a priority in our 2014 Strategic Plan, and we are pleased to be implementing this major improvement. Moving forward, the Lambton County Archives will be in an event better position to safeguard the documentary history of Lambton County.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thomas Doherty - Lambton County Industrial Pioneer

Thomas Doherty
Thomas Doherty was a unique individual in Lambton history. He was a man with broad interest and an inquiring mind, a poet, inventor, engineer and politician.  Often recognized as a Sarnia man, Doherty also had connections to other parts of Lambton County and is often celebrated as one of Lambton’s industrial pioneers.

Thomas was born in Lanark County and moved to Uttoexter in Plympton Township at the age of 6.  At a young age he showed an aptitude for fixing machinery and equipment, and operated a small blacksmith shop fixing farm tools.  It is believed that he built his first thresher in his shop there. 

Thomas showed an early business aptitude and, keen to expand on his skills, when the Village of Watford offered free land to anyone willing to set up a foundry and machine shop he moved his family and founded Watford Agricultural Implement Works in 1875. Doherty was an excellent businessman and realized quite early that to be viable in a local market he needed to be diverse and could not focus on one line of equipment, such as threshers.  Watford Agricultural Implement Works instead offered a full line of implements, which also allowed his shop to corner the market on implement repairs. He also guaranteed his equipment would be equal to any other manufacturer and customers could return it if not satisfied after purchase.  His extensive sales were based mainly on customer testimonials.

Employees at Doherty Manufacturing Company
In 1881 Tom took advantage of a tax forgiveness scheme that Sarnia was offering to attract new business and opened a foundry there.  The Doherty Manufacturing Company, located at the corner of Queen and Wellington Streets, focused on stove production and was soon a major Sarnia employer.  By 1913 the plant had expanded to take up the entire block between Queen and Vidal Streets, churning out 3000 stoves a year. 

Tom was a constant tinkerer and had a naturally inquisitive mind. He held patents for many of his inventions over the years, an early one being the discovery of a method to make cast iron as strong as steel, yet more malleable and easy to work with.  Called ferrous steel, he patented this method as the "Doherty Process". Through further experimentation, he developed a more refined method of controlling the impurities in iron, producing what he named "DeCarbon Steel".  This steel was used in his stoves which he guaranteed would not crack or warp and would last two stoves made of regular steel. 

Doherty's elaborate stove designs
His business sense also played a large part in his success with Doherty Manufacturing - he did not employ travelling salesmen, and passed those savings directly on to the consumer.  To make his stoves more attractive, he produced intricately embellished stoves, including elaborate designs, images and colour on ceramic tiles and used nickel to add flair.  The stoves were all given whimsical names to evoke an emotional response in his customers. 

Beyond Ferrous Steel and DeCarbon Steel, Doherty held patents for many other innovations.  He obtained his first patent in 1881 for "Doherty's Improvements on Thrashing Machines".  With his guarantee of the "perfect separation of grain from the straw" he received $4,000 in orders at its unveiling at the Warwick Fair. In the early 1890's there was a demand for central heating in homes, businesses, and government buildings.  Doherty set out to design, patent and manufacture a new, highly efficient boiler system which was awarded a gold medal by the Parisian Inventors Academy!

Doherty also devised several engines.  He developed a marine engine and a gasoline engine which had two pistons in one cylinder and was said to be vibration free.  Thomas built Sarnia's first Automobile in 1895, largely from bicycle parts.  The 3 wheeled vehicle was powered by a huge coil spring that had to be manually wound every few blocks. His next car was a 5 seater seen here, with 4 cylinders, pneumatic tires and a water cooled engine.  This novelty was not well loved in town though - often seen as a nuisance and scaring horses. In fact, his car was banned from the Sarnia & Florence Plank Road by its private owners for spooking a horse and upsetting the carriage.  This ban was even upheld in a court of law when Doherty challenged it. "Doherty's Red Touring Car Put Out of Business by a Trolley baggage Car" declared the Sarnia Observer in 1903 when Doherty's Automobile and the baggage car of the Sarnia Street Railway affectionately "kissed" each other.

Sarnia Waterworks
Thomas also worked with the Sarnia Waterworks to improve the safety of the town water supply.  He invented and patented a new water filtration system for use in the new waterworks, which was completed after his death. 

Doherty did not just obtain patents in Canada for his inventions.  He obtained patent rights in the United States, England, and much of Europe.  His fortune was made by selling the patent rights to all his inventions around the world.

Thomas was also actively involved in civic life, beginning in Uttoxeter where he was involved in the Canadian Grange Movement, to try and improve the lot of farmers across the Country.  He then went on to be a councillor in Watford, an Alderman in Sarnia, chairman of the Sarnia Parks Board, a hospital trustee, and member of the Sarnia Street Railway, Board of Trade, the Industrial Club, the Sarnia Automobile Club, the Sarnia Waterworks and finally was acclaimed Mayor of Sarnia in late 1915.

Doherty's time as mayor was unfortunately cut short.  On September 6, 1916 he addressed the citizens of Sarnia at the laying of the cornerstone for an addition to St. Paul's Presbyterian Church.
After his speech, he returned to his chair where he collapsed and died instantly of heart failure.  With the death of Thomas Doherty Lambton County lost one of its earliest and greatest industrial pioneers.

Thank you to our guest blogger Laurie Webb, Curator/Supervisor of Museums for the County of Lambton, for providing this blog on Thomas Doherty!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What is True History? The Shaw Gusher Question

Portrait of John Shaw
Portrait of Hugh Nixon Shaw

What are true historical facts? Who decides what gets written in the history books?

Historians use primary sources (material written or created at the time of the events) to interpret what happened in the past. Secondary sources (textbooks, magazine articles) are written to explain a historian's interpretation of the past.

So what happens when historians cannot agree on one version of history? Who decides which facts are right?

This type of historical debate is stirring in Lambton County surrounding the the man who drilled the first oil gusher in Canada. For decades historians thought it was a man named Hugh Nixon Shaw, but recent scholarship suggests that it was actually John Shaw.

Newspaper articles from the Toronto Globe and the Hamilton Times in 1861 and 1862 refer to "Hugh Shaw" as a successful businessman who patented a still and opened a refinery in Oil Springs. He died in a tragic accident on February 11, 1863, "of suffocation, caused by inhaling poisonous gases from a well at Oil Springs…"[i] Primary sources do not support Hugh as the oil gusher pioneer. There are no references to Hugh and the oil gusher in any 1860s newspapers. The first reference to Hugh and the gusher appears two decades later in Belden's Illustrated Historical Atlas of Lambton, Ontario, 1880. Also telling is the fact that Hugh's own journal of business expenditures from 1861 to 1863 does not refer to the gusher.[ii]

John Shaw was a significantly less successful businessman. The Toronto Globe described on February 2, 1862 how "… last January found him a ruined, hopeless man, leered at by his neighbours, his pockets empty, his clothes in tatters…"[iii] John got lucky with his gusher, and his accomplishment is referenced numerous times in 1860s newspapers including Hamilton Times, Toronto Leader, Toronto Globe, New York Times and Sarnia Observer (eight separate articles). Hamilton Times proclaimed on January 20, 1862, "Mr. John Shaw, from Kingston, C.W., tapped a vein of oil in his well... the present enormous flow of oil cannot be estimated at less than two thousand barrels per day, (twenty-four hours), of pure oil...”[iv] Additionally, secondary sources published by John McLaurein in 1902, A.J. Yates in 1931, Charles Wallen in 1936, and Samuel Tait in 1946 all cite John Shaw as the original gusher pioneer.

If virtually all of the primary sources refer to John Shaw as the man who tapped the gusher, how did history come to celebrate Hugh Nixon Shaw?

Belden's Illustrated Historical Atlas of Lambton, Ontario was the first source to credit Hugh but matches the description of the penniless John: "[Hugh Shaw] had been reduced by his want of pecuniary straits, that it is related of him that the very day he struck oil he was refused credit for a pair of boots." Two men melded into a single story.

An influential scholar, Robert B. Harkness, solidified Hugh as the man who discovered Canada's first oil gusher in his 1940 publication Makers of Oil History. He refers back to a series of articles that appeared in the Toronto Globe in 1861 and describes how they consistently discuss Hugh Shaw, but those articles mention nothing about the 1862 discovery.[v] Harkness notes, “How John Shaw could live in Petrolia, enjoying the glory of his gallant pioneer-namesake Hugh Nixon Shaw, along with men who knew this to be incorrect, is extraordinary.”[vi]

After Harkness, other historians and journalists began to cite Hugh, and John’s name faded. When Oil Springs celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1958, a flurry of articles credited Hugh with the discovery. The Reverend William G. Shaw, Hugh's grandson, paid homage to his grandfather with by visiting Oil Springs. He told the Sarnia Observer, “I was quite surprised… to find that there were write-ups about the Shaw well in the newspapers. Father referred to it occasionally but never attached any importance to it.”[vii]

Now, histories written about oil discoveries in Lambton County consistently credit Hugh Nixon Shaw as a penniless, down-on-his-luck vagabond who made an incredible discovery. The stories of Hugh Nixon Shaw and John Shaw have melded together under a single name.

Recently, historians have been revisiting this issue and asking questions. Who really discovered that oil gusher, and how do we decide whose interpretation of the primary sources is correct? These questions continue to keep historians on their toes!

If you would like to read a more detailed exploration of this topic, you can review the Shaw Investigation report.

[i] Toronto Globe, February 14th, 1863, “Hugh Nixon Shaw Obituary”
[ii] Original journal in collection at Oil Museum of Canada, Oil Springs.
[iii] Toronto Globe, February 5th, 1862, “A Promising Trade”
[iv] Hamilton Times, January 20th, 1862, “Extraordinary Flowing Oil Well”
[v] Toronto Globe, August 27, September 2, September 6, and September 12, 1861.
[vi] Harkness, p. 9.
[vii] Sarnia Observer, Ben Fiber, “Oil Pioneer’s Grandson Attends Centennial,” July 2nd, 1958, p. 22.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Call For Vintage Film Footage in Lambton County

Following the highly successful screening of vintage film footage in Alvinston, Lambton County Archives is looking for the public's help in locating and digitizing more old film from across Lambton County.
A screening of film footage captured in Alvinston during the 1940s attracted more than 130 residents to a recent viewing at the Alvinston Library. Lambton County Archives believes the popularity of the event demonstrates there is an appetite for more vintage local films and hopes to expand its archival holdings beyond traditional documents and still photos to a wider selection of media.
"Lambton County Archives would love to digitize residents' 8 mm or other vintage film," says Dana Thorne, Archivist.  "Lambton County needs video footage that features our local history. Not only does old film footage offer unique insight into the past, it is also important to create digital copies of this material before the fragile film becomes unviewable."
Any film loaned to Lambton County Archives will be screened by the Archivist.  If the footage is determined to have local historical significance, the material will be converted to digital format with a copy to be housed at Lambton County Archives. For more details about the digitization project, visit the Lambton County Archives Vintage Film Footage page or contact Dana Thorne at 519-845-3324 ext. 5239 or via email at 
One of the most interesting pieces of footage to come in so far is the "Stars of the Town" footage from Alvinston. The footage was shot in Februar 1949 by a name named LeRoy (Roy) Harold Massecar. When he was not busy in his fulltime work as a reverend, Massecar travelled across Ontario and filmed the activities in small towns between 1947 and 1949. He would show the video footage in town halls and community centres, charging a small admission for local residents to watch themselves on the silver screen.
Roy used silent, black and white 8 mm film to capture approximately 100 Ontario locations. For more information on Roy's other projects, visit the Western Archives page on the "Stars of the Town."
His footage was recorded in Alvinston in February 1949 and screened on March 4, 1949. Two shows ran at 7:30pm and 9:30pm and admission was forty-five cents or twenty-five cents. The Alvinston Free Press published several articles and an advertisement for the event, included below. The newspaper reported in the March 9 issue that the screenings were a success: "To say the least, they were a scream - one long one - each time someone did something 'funny,' none of which were posed for. Just the ordinary passing parade of life in a small town like Alvinston."

DVDs have been produced with copies of the footage. They can be purchased for $20+HST at the Lambton County Archives (787 Broadway Street, Wyoming) or the Alvinston Library (3251 River Street, Alvinston). Learn more at the "Stars of the Town" DVD webpage

The Alvinston Free Press, 2 March 1949, p. 1

The Alvinston Free Press, 23 February 1949, p. 1

The Alvinston Free Press, 9 March 1949, p. 1