This week I continued to worked on Frankish Letters Book 1. As I did last week, I separated individual scans from a larger PDF file, paired them with their transcripts, and renamed them to match with each other. As I was checking to see if the transcript and the scan matched, I found myself reading little sections of each document and I observed something interesting! In some of the documents it looked like Charles Frankish was developing or already had a relationship with the recipient of the letters, leading to many P.S.’s at the ends of business letters, that were personal messages. I remember one of them asked if the recipient’s wife was feeling better and another referenced “snakebites” (quotes included in the letter), which could be referring to actual snakebites, but could also be a secret code word for something else! I thought that was pretty interesting, like maybe they were worried that someone else might look at their letters to try to find some important business deals. I don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist but I definitely think this might be a possible theory! Anyways, I’m looking forward to seeing more personal correspondences from Mr. Frankish as I transfer more of these business letters.
Buying Land in Ontario
I have been interested for quite some time about the
logistics of settling in Ontario in the 1880s. While creating metadata for the
Chaffey brothers’ letters I have gotten a better sense of what life was like in
the early days of the colony. However, more specific details about the cost of
land or the average living wage are rarely mentioned outright. Recently I discovered
a letter that shed light on some of these questions.
In a letter from 1883, George Chaffey outlined the prices
for different types of parcels of land.
For small town lots located on the main Avenue (what is now Euclid
Avenue) the price is $100.
For a large town lot located on other streets the price is
For 2.5 acre lots within the “townsite” the price is $625.
For 10 acre lots within the “townsite” the price is $2500.
For 20 acre lots on the main Avenue the price is $4000.
For all other lots 10 acres and more the price per acre is
For settlers who make “substantial improvements within a
year from date of purchase,” a discount of $25 would be negotiated. Usually the
Chaffey brother expected half of the payment to be paid in cash and the rest
would be paid through 1-, 2-, or 5-year payment plans with 10% interest.
After a settler purchases land, George Chaffey recommends
that the person moves to Ontario in the autumn, before the first rains of the
season. This gives settlers time to “put up his barn and house, purchase his
hay, grain and tools and get things in proper shape to begin work.” Once the
first rains of the season start it will be time to start “plowing and planting
I was on spring break last week so there were no blog posts.
As I was drafting the processing plan for the Yao family papers, I was surprised by the freedom I was given in determining the arrangement method and potential research value of the collection. Because the materials in the Yao family papers varies vastly in their forms, ranging from official documents to film rolls, I decided to generally arrange the collection into series based on the format of the materials.
Initially I was going to determine that the collection had medium potential research value because the events Norman Yao documented as a commercial photographer did not have an inherent connection between them. But after much hesitation, I determined that the collection has high research value because it reveals much about the local history of Claremont and tells a story of an immigrant family. Additionally, the collection would be accessible to the researchers because most of the documents in this collection are well preserved and can be dated, and certain parts of the collection are even systematically labeled.
I hope one day the Yao family papers can be available for researchers and benefit them in their research.
Hope you have a good week!
Spring Break Scanning
This week I continued scanning Frankish Letters Book 2. I am just over half way through scanning the book. I am very excited about this, and I think I might finish scanning the book by April!
This week I scanned letters from July and I noticed that Charles Frankish wrote less letters in July than in June. I find this very interesting and I wonder if it is because on average more business was conducted in June than July. Hopefully as I continue to read the letters I will find out.
More Next Week,
Hello Everyone, I now have nineteen of the twenty-seven boxes completed
and I am almost finished with the initial phase of processing the records
boxes. I am going to try to work fast next week and may be able to finish up and
move on to the next phase in processing the collection. The volume of club records
speaks to the club’s longevity within the Claremont community. It is inspiring
to think that a club which began with a few members meeting during the First
World War to do Red Cross sewing, knitting, and community service was able to
grow in membership and purpose, and endure an entire century. The day the Woman’s
Club of Claremont moved out of meeting at member houses and into their new
clubhouse was a big event which the ladies recorded in notes and photographs. I
have included more images found in a record book titled, Woman’s Club of Claremont 1924 – 1944, for your
Procession to the new clubhouse. Images found in a record book titled,
Woman’s Club of Claremont 1924 – 1944.
At the new clubhouse. Images found in a record book titled, Woman’s Club of Claremont 1924 – 1944
Frankish Letters Book 3
First full week!
My name is Hazel and this week was my first full week as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow. It has been really awesome to see all the different steps that go into uploading just one document. I spent the first half of the week looking over scans and transcripts for the Chaffey Letters book II, making sure that everything in that file was oriented correctly. Then for the last half of the week, I started separating individual scans of the Frankish Letters Book I from the larger ongoing PDF. After I separate a scan then I rename it and pair it with the corresponding transcript. I have found that through working this week, I have learned a lot about the systems within which I will be working for the remainder of the semester, as well as more about the team. I’m super excited to see what’s next!
On July 18, 1884 William Chaffey wrote a scathing letter to
C. N. Ross. Because it is so juicy, I thought I would include the body of the
Reliable parties inform us that you made statements which no
gentleman much less one with whom our relations have been so friendly would
have uttered and we are at a loss to understand it. What right had you to
accuse us of being swindlers? Did we ever swindle you in any way, or have we
ever taken any mean advantage of you?
Unless we hear from you, about this matter and you apologize
we shall be compelled to…have you do so in a way which will not be very
I personally suggest reading it out loud in your most
intimidating voice. Unfortunately, I have no context for what happened before
or after this letter explaining why C. N. Ross called the Chaffey Brothers
swindlers. I am hoping that as I continue to go through these letters this
mystery, as with all the mysteries I have found among these letters, is solved.
The more I read about the Chaffey brothers the more I
consider them as pretty ruthless business men. The possible allusion to
litigation is also interesting to me–were the Chaffey brothers planning on
suing C. N. Ross? Or was something more nefarious going on when he wrote “we
shall be compelled to…have you do so in a way which will not be very
These are the letters I am most excited to read. They break
up the monotony of everyday business transactions but they also inspire me to
continue to ask questions.
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Week of March 5-9
Today I worked on scanning more documents from the Ontario Mutual Water Companies Collection. A lot of them were excluded from the digitizing process because they contain sensitive information. For example, I couldn’t scan insurance documents, tax receipts, invoices, and so on. This led me to think about whether the things I was leaving un-scanned would have an impact on the work of a historian or researcher. I sometimes like to think of these documents as puzzle pieces, or clues in an investigation, but it’s hard to tell how significant each one might be. I’m sure someone with more historical context would be able to distinguish this more accurately, but for now I’m left wondering!