Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Aurora, A History In Pictures Collectible Book Arrived With A Surprise, An Old Photo

"Our history is a fragile thing, too easily lost or forgotten." ~ by John McIntyre

Aurora, A History In Pictures” book by W. John McIntyre arrived a few weeks ago in my mailbox. I ordered this book online from Amazon as it is no longer in circulation.

Upon arrival, I read the FOREWORD by John McIntyre, which I found very interesting and encouraging. He wrote, “Our history is a fragile thing, too easily lost or forgotten.” To tell you the truth, I never liked history in school. However, I enjoy it more in my own time now. It all started when I became interested in old family photos about 12 years ago. It took me about three years to scan all possible family photos from different sources. I think I have about 3000 pieces digitally archived – yes, we have a big family.

I also used to provide photo restoration service here in Aurora from my home. I did it for about 2 years as a small side business and got to know some very nice people. I really enjoyed it, but my arm could not take it anymore. It is, in fact, a very time-consuming process. Sometimes it was tough for me because I would get impossible requests. It got to the point that instead of fixing the scratches or damages on the photo, I was actually restoring people in the photo. That I did not like at all.

Aurora, A History in Pictures by W. John McIntyre

Looks like I got sidetracked a bit, so here we go – back to the book. The book itself is used in excellent condition, but it is also a collectible signed by John McIntyre.

I did not read the comments very carefully at the time of purchase because it was a surprise to me when the book arrived with an old 68-year-old photo of two people. The photo was inserted between page 46 and 47, matching the same person in a group photo in the book on page 47.

Miss Humphrys & Mr. Knowles, Oct 18, 1943

The comment stated: “SIGNED COPY/ 1988 The Boston Mills Press oblong PB 144pp. approx. 10″ x 8″, flat signed by author on title page, near fine clean and bright copy with a hint of storage stress (minor curl to cover), also includes old 1945 photo of two teachers from Aurora High School / Ontario, CA.”

I contacted the seller to find out more about the photo and how it got there. They kindly replied.

Anna, sorry but we do not know who the people in the photo are, we bought the book at a library sale and the photo was in the book. We thought maybe, the person who bought the book would know who the people were so we just left it in the book.”

The reason I bought this book was because of the old photographs of the Aurora. I love comparing the old to the new, so I don’t know who the people in the photos are or to whom they belong. I know their names because they are written in fountain pen on the back of the photo: Miss Humphrys & Mr. Knowles, Oct 18 /43.

It will always remain a mystery to us all who the original owner of this book was and what the purpose was for leaving a photo inside the book. A mistake? I think in the end the photo should belong to the descendants of either person in the photo.

Aurora, A History in Pictures

Therefore, dear readers, if you happen to know anything about this photo, please let me know or forward it to the people who may know. I will then give away the photo to the right person. The photo may belong to two families; however, the first person to come forward will receive the original and digital copies. The second family will receive copies in a digital format.


Description: A photo of Miss Humphrys & Mr. Knowles

Size: 5×7 inches with white border

Colour: Black and White, a bit tint of Sepia

Back: Names written in Fountain pen

Dated: Oct 18, 1943

Original, Aurora, A History in Pictures

Here is touched up photo with contrast adjusted. My advice never frame and hang original photos on the wall, UV light will damage them. Frame and hang copies only.

Enhanced, Aurora, A History in Pictures


Christopher Watts said: June 25, 2011 at 16:28

From what I gather Mr. Knowles ran a butcher shop on the south side of Wellington east of Yonge. I would encourage you to take the picture to the Farmers Market one Saturday I’m sure Mr. Heard could provide you some context and stories for the picture.

Anna Lozyk Romeo said: June 25, 2011 at 17:41

Christopher thank you. You know I did visit Mr. Heard this morning, finally broke out of shyness, lol, and stepped into his historical zone. He is very knowledgeable about the town and people, and believe or not he knew both names. I will be bringing the photo to the Farmers Market next week.

Michael said: July 8, 2011 at 11:11

Anna, this weekend’s farmers market should your stop. It is home to Doors Open Aurora. Pay particular attention to the following at the Farmer’s Market:

1. David Heard, as Chris Watts explained above.

2. Jacqueline Stuart, the former Curator of the Aurora Museum is a wealth of knowledge on people.

3. Dr. John McIntyre, the author of the book you hold in your hands.

I’m sure one, two or all three would be glad to help.

As an added bonus to Chris’ notation on the butcher shop, I imagine Knowles Crescent (in the south end of Aurora near Seaton & Henderson Drives) would be possibly named after Mr. Knowles in your picture. After all growing up on Knowles Crescent I remember the old manhole cover (where maintenance people go into the sewer system for repairs) we used to have as home plate for our childhood improv baseball games used to have “1949” on it. These covers are long gone after Knowles Crescent was reconstructed a couple years back. Hope this helps.

Michael said: July 8, 2011 at 11:24

Anna, It just hit me. The person you may have a photo of is J.H. Knowles the former Principal of Wells Street Public School. He had a house on Catherine Avenue (J.H. Knowles House) and is related to former Deputy Mayor Bob McRoberts somehow (grandfather?). House reference here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/index_e.aspx?ArticleID=478. Miss Humphrys may be a teacher at that time at Wells Street Public School at the time because of the context of the way the photos are referenced (Mr. Knowles & Miss Humphrys) as students would politely call them. In the Aurora a History in Pictures there is a picture of Wells Street Public School with all the glee club in front with Mr. Knowles, the Principal, included. Baldwin’s Restaurant has a small copy of the photo on their website near the bottom of this page: Baldwin’s Restaurant has a small copy of the photo near the bottom here: http://www.baldwinsrestaurant.com/history.

Anna Lozyk Romeo said: July 10, 2011 at 22:39

Hey Michael, you hit the nail right in the head. I will post results sometimes this or next week. Trying to keep up with busy hot summer days, LOL.


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