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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Make It, Mend It: Tools of the Shoe Repair Trade

Posted on: October 18th, 2018 by Anna Irwin

The idea of repairing something can oftentimes take a backseat to purchasing a new item. Stores lined with new, shiny gadgets and niceties designed to make our lives easier often win out over rolling up our sleeves and fixing what we already own.
 

Selection of women’s and children’s footwear from the Chilliwack Museum and Archives collection [Photo credit: Anna Irwin]

These Boots Were Made For Walking?  

Buying new items when a problem occurs with an older object hasn’t always been the first instinct. Got a shoe separating from its sole? Today, we might head to Wellington Avenue, to one of the malls or look for a new pair online to see if something that might catch our eye. In the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century, however, purchasing a new pair of shoes was often a considerable investment for families, especially families with young children. Visiting a local cobbler or shoe store offering repair services, such as E.O. Wickham’s or A.E. Wiltshire Shoe Repair, could often extend the life of a pair of shoes, sometimes for decades depending on the level of care and maintenance paid to a pair of shoes and the material composition of the shoe.

 

Shoe Repair Kit donated by John Groves containing sole and heel menders. [Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1977.028.025.1a-d]

Saving Your Sole: 

Re-soling or adding soles to shoes was (and continues to be, although much less common) one way of making shoes last longer. Sole and heel menders, such as the ones found in a Shoe Repair Kit donated to the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, could be attached to the underside of the shoe and were typically affixed with nails.

While driving nails into ones shoes may no longer be common outside of the cobbling profession, modern adhesives such as Shoe Goo allow for young and old alike to fully re-tread well-worn footwear, re-attach separating soles and fill holes at their convenience without use of a hammer or specialized tools.

 

Boot last featuring three forms – one for men, women’s & children’s shoes. [Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 2002.003.001; Photo credit: Anna Irwin]

A Lasting Impression: 

Shoe lasts were and continue to play a key role in the manufacture and repair of footwear. Traditionally made from wood or metal, shoe lasts are foot-shaped inserts used by cobblers to form and fill-out shoes while not being worn by a person. Shoe lasts come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate the different styles of feet and the different types of shoes people wear. They can be used as a base around which to craft a shoe or as a form to hold the shoe’s shape whilst being repaired. Shoe lasts are different than shoe trees or shoe stretchers, which are used more frequently to hold or expand the shoe’s shape when not being worn.

 
 


At the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, we are proud to house a variety of artifacts that have been donated by the community, including examples of historic footwear and tools used to make and mend shoes and boots of all shapes and sizes. To donate to our object collection, please feel free to contact me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 604-795-5210 ext. 105.

The Chilliwack Progress: Heart of Our Community

Posted on: September 19th, 2018 by Tristan Evans

Guest blog by Archives Assistant: Laurie Benton

Have you seen the For Sale sign at the Progress’ Spadina Avenue office of late?

The first Chilliwack Progress building from the 1890’s with WT Jackman as Proprietor. [PP500552]

Will it be redeveloped or remain as commercial property? How will it impact the downtown core and commercial presence in the neighbourhood? Similar to other notable buildings going on the market around town, it made me recount the impact of these structures and subsequently what the change on the landscape will mean.  I immediately began researching the impact of our community newspaper and the history of the building itself.

Until post-war suburbia raced in and changed our downtown, the ‘heart’ of our community, it was thriving and bustling.  Not that this blog post is about our downtown specifically, but it is about identity and place.  Having a place to identify as the ‘heart’ of a community could have been easier for Chilliwack residents before the strong influence of the vehicle and subsequent development of the shopping mall.  Five Corners (previously known as “Centreville”) was a nucleus of commercial and social interaction and a short walk from many residential homes.  The Chilliwack Progress office has (whether it sought out to or not) shaped identity and place, in and for our community since the late 1800’s.

The first Chilliwack Progress building dates back to the 1890’s. William Thomas (W.T) Jackman purchased a printing and newspaper press in Toronto and shipped it to Chilliwack where he published the first edition of the Chilliwack Progress in April 1891 at 39 Yale Road East (now 46169 Yale Road East).  The Chilliwack Progress office was a three storey structure with glass front main floor and wooden sidewalk.

A stylish facade for the Progress building, 24 September 1958. [P.Coll 106 unnumbered]

Situated amongst some of the most frequented buildings in the downtown, The Chilliwack Progress was a thriving hub of information, activity and culture.  It shared real estate with the likes of the Commercial Hotel, a shoe store, On Lee laundry, the post office, a bakery, hardware store and drug store. Investigating a bit further into this building I found that the Progress remained at this address for 83 years!  Over time the building had a few face lifts, notably in the 30’s with a very stylish post- modern look.

What I find fascinating is that the Chilliwack Progress was the ‘heart and soul’ of our community.  For those that had lost something, wanted to gain a roommate or sell something, where did they go? The Progress! If you had donations of food or money that you wanted to give to a local charity, where could you drop such items off at? The Progress! Colouring a poster contest and want to drop off your submission, where should you go? The Progress!

1955- Please return these keepsake pearls to the Progress office.

A 1918 rental advertisement for a farm. Where should one apply? The Chilliwack Progress office.

 

 

 

 

 

An advertisement in the Chilliwack Progress, 26 June 1974 [https://theprogress.newspapers.com/image/77088771], invited the community to an open house for their new building on the corner of Hope and Spadina – its current location.  It boasted new “ultra-modern premises” that ranked with the “best in Canada”.  They cordially invited the community into their new facility for a behind the scenes tour as well as coffee and refreshments.  This sort of courtesy and openness is a product of the culture that was created over decades and through the words, attributes and action of all the contributors, writers and editors of our local paper.

Reading through old editions, I believe the sense of place persisted with the change in location.  But has being further from the downtown core changed the identity or heart?  As technology has shifted to a strong internet presence, the Chilliwack Progress has followed suit.  How has this technological change impacted the effect the Chilliwack Progress has on our community?  How do people today identify in our community?  Is there a disconnect between sense of place and the presence of ‘being’ online?  Interaction has a strong internet base and I struggle to deem this as ‘socializing’ nor does it have the same effect or impact in the community that the Progress had many years ago.

To be in the heart of a community, delivering an assortment of news and being a hub of activity and information is a great challenge and honour.  I am hard pressed to find a current example of such a place that could offer what the Progress did.  A local coffee shop? Local library? Museum, perhaps?  I  hope that the new home of the Chilliwack Progress offers an open door to the community,  ensuring identity and a strong sense of place continues.

 

 

 

Digitizing the Frederick Gordon Leary Fonds

Posted on: September 13th, 2017 by Tristan Evans

Photograph of a group of men at one of Chilliwack's landings (possibly Minto Landing), ca. 1914. [2015.063.033]

Photograph of a group of men at one of Chilliwack’s landings (possibly Minto Landing), ca. 1914. [2015.063.033]

In my first blog post, The Decision to Digitize, I discussed the various challenges associated with digitization and why we do not digitize everything at the Archives.  While most of our records will likely never be completely digitized, there are some occasions when it is appropriate to digitize an entire collection.  I am not going to say that I exactly lied to you about digitizing archival records; but rather, this is one of those rare occasions when it was decided that the work and costs associated with digitization were well worth the advantage of accessibility.

Last year, archivist Shannon Bettles wrote a blog titled, Alligators, Confectionary, and a man named Leary.  If you have not had the opportunity to read this blog I strongly encourage you to take a look.  The blog describes the fascinating story of how the Frederick Gordon Leary fonds (previously known as the Dragonfly collection) made its way into our collection.  My favourite part is, of course, the KeyThe Key gives you a brief inside into how us archivist will use the collection itself to determine provenance.

Man pictured on the steps of a building by a railway intersection, possibly a track-changing station, ca. 1914. [2015.063.029]

Man pictured on the steps of a building by a railway intersection, possibly a track-changing station, ca. 1914. [2015.063.029]

Over the past summer, archival and curatorial assistant Rachel Vandenberg, and volunteer Ev Parker worked on digitizing and describing the Frederick Gordon Leary fonds.  Some minor details have changed since Shannon’s original blog – most notably the name of the fonds and some of the specific identification numbers.  Nevertheless, I am proud to say that all of the glass plate negatives and photographic prints from this collection have been digitized and described.

Please feel free to take a look at the Frederick Gordon Leary fonds on this direct link and enjoy these amazing photographs of Chilliwack just past the turn of the century.  Once you have chosen your dream house from amongst photographs, feel free to change the search terms and take a look at our other collections.

Alligators, Confectionary and a man named Leary

Posted on: August 4th, 2016 by Bettles, Shannon

Frederick Leary Negatives

View of the Dragonfly Gallery collection of glass plate negatives and prints, in the container they arrived in. [Shannon Bettles photograph]

Sometime in 2015 Alain Nowak of Ladner answered a Craigslist advertisement about a stuffed alligator, as antique dealers do.

Nowak’s Dragonfly Gallery is a local fixture on Ladner’s historic waterfront. Stuffed alligators are at home amongst church pews, commercial shoe stretchers, vintage tailgates, tin signs and tricycles. As it turns out, the reptilian carcass was being flogged at too high a price for Nowak. Determined not to leave empty-handed, he purchased a box filled with unbroken 5” x 7” glass plate negatives and hundreds of photographic prints from the seller who reportedly discovered them in a Coquitlam dumpster some 30 years.

Last October I received a phone call from the Matsqui-Abbotsford-Sumas (MSA) Museum, when one of their Trustees stumbled across the collection at Dragonfly Gallery. After identifying the collection’s content as Chilliwack-centric, I received the 108 glass plates and prints for the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.

At the Chilliwack Archives, I examined the glass plates and photographic prints more closely. I recognized many of the image because the Archives has copies in the form of postcards in our collection already. In fact, the postcards in our collection were clearly derived from the glass plates.

Fred Leary the Palms Confectionary Chilliwack

“The Key” – Frederick Leary stands outside his confectionary shop “The Palms” located on Wellington Ave., 1914. [2015.063.005]

Though we were able to identify most of the locations pictured, questions remained. For instance: Who took these photographs? When where they taken?

The Key

Working with and researching archival collections can be compared to a detective examining pieces of evidence as a way to discover clues to solve mysteries. With the Dragonfly collection, one of the photographs held what I like to call, the “key” – it is full of clues which unlocks the mystery. Let’s take a look:

The Palm’s

The photograph shows a man standing in the doorway of a store called: The Palm’s Fruit and Confectionary. The Chilliwack Museum and Archives had already undertaken previous research on this business, having artifacts including a menu, in the artifact collection.

Saturday Evening Post

Detail from [2015.063.005] of the Saturday Evening Post magazine in the Palm’s window. Zooming in, we see the magazine is dated November, 1914.

As well, a quick keyword search of the Chilliwack Progress newspaper, provided more information, such as the opening date of the business in 1914.

Knowing that Mr. Fred G. Leary was the owner of the business opened up more avenues of research. A search of the Archives’ catalogue reveals that we have some photographs of Fred Leary. Could the man in the Dragonfly photograph be the proprietor of the business Mr. Leary?

We believe this is the case. Therefore, the photograph can be dated to as early as 1914, when F. G. Leary opened his business. But it’s not the identification of Mr. Leary that is the clue unlocking the mystery of the entire collection – it is the postcards and magazines visible in the store window!

Dating the Photograph

If you look closely in the shop window, you will see a number of magazines. By scanning the glass plate, we were able to zoom in close enough to read the date printed on the magazine – November, 1914! This dates the photograph more precisely.

Detail of the "Palm's" store window showing postcards on display. [2015.063.005]

Detail of the “Palm’s” store window showing postcards on display. [2015.063.005]

Solving the Mystery

Remember those postcards in the shop window? Look familiar? These postcards contain images of buildings around Chilliwack. In fact, these images are exactly the same images as the glass plate negatives in the Dragonfly Gallery collection, which are now sitting on my desk. It turns out that F.G. Leary developed photographs at the Palm’s, and it’s very likely that he, himself, is the photographer behind the photographs in question and producer of the glass plate negatives. This revelation suggests that the entire collection of glass plate negatives can also be dated to 1914 and can be attributed to Leary as photographer. Further, this means that similar postcards in our collection were likely purchased originally from The Palm’s confectionary.

Frederick Gordon Leary, 1889-1985

Frederick Gordon Leary was born September 29, 1889 at St. John, New Brunswick. He came to

BCER Substation Chilliwack

One of the prints from Leary’s glass plate negatives showing the BC Electric Railway substation, ca.1914. [2015.063.019]

Chilliwack in 1914 at the age of 25 years and opened an ice cream parlor: Palm’s Confectionary. In 1926 Fred Leary was elected as a trustee of the local school board. He

served in this capacity for 49 years, retiring as the longest serving elected official in 1975.

 

In 1939 he became an accountant. Over the course of his long tenure in Chilliwack Fred Leary was a founding member of the Union Board of Health (serving as Chairman for five years); was a member of the Chilliwack Volunteer Fire Department, serving for 41 years and retiring in 1956; was secretary of the first Agricultural Hall Society, and member of the Chilliwack and District Agricultural Society; was Chilliwack’s Citizen to be recognized in 1956; was an active member of Chilliwack United Church and appointed as a Serving Brother of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, 1956, by the governor-general in Ottawa.

On June 29, 1920 Frederick Gordon Leary (31) married Elizabeth Hilda Blanche (Hilda) Manuel (23) at the Chilliwack Methodist Church. The couple had three daughters: Emily (married Lloyd Griffin), Fort

Leary

Fred Leary at his confectionary counter at “The Palm’s”, 1914. [2015.063.017]

Langley, Dorothy (married William W. Reid), Terrace, and Miriam (married Allan Ruttan), Prince George.

Frederick Gordon died in Chilliwack on October 6th, 1985 at the age of 96. He is buried at the Odd Fellow’s Cemetery, Little Mountain. A Chilliwack school, F.G. Leary Fine Arts School, is named in his honour.

Mystery Solved?

While much of this mystery has been solved, there is still a pressing question: How did the glass plates end up in a dumpster? To this we have no answer. At the Chilliwack Archives we do our best to answer questions and gather information about our collections. However, we rely on you – the community – to fill in the gaps with this and the many other collections we preserve.

F.G. Leary

Formal studio portrait of Frederick Gordon Leary, Chilliwack Board of Trade Citizen to be recognized for 1956. Norman Williams portrait. [P5365]

I encourage and welcome you to come into the Archives to view the Dragonfly Gallery collection highlighted in this blog. We will soon be adding these images to our online catalogue for easier access once they are digitized and prepared for long-term preservation.

Welcome to our New Website!

Posted on: October 22nd, 2015 by Bettles, Shannon

Ask any young person today and you’ll find out – technology changes quickly. That’s why we’ve updated our website! Our previous website built in 2010 was over five years old. Unfortunately, in the life-span of a website, that’s pretty old.

We hope you enjoy the look and functionality of our new online presence as we aim to bring you more online content about Chilliwack’s history. Make sure to follow our blog, bookmark our list of research links and visit our shop online. We welcome your feedback and thank you for your patience as we work out any kinks in the new website.