Then Man Behind the Poem: Guelph, Ontario’s Lt. Col. John McCrae

John McCrae as a physician in Montreal, 1912

John McCrae as a physician in Montreal, 1912 (Photo Credit: Guelph Museums)

When someone is asked today “Who was Lt. Col. John McCrae?”, nearly everyone will answer that he was a physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the Great War of 1914-1918 who just happened to write the most famous war poem of all time. This poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’ would become a global symbol of war remembrance still in use almost a century after McCrae’s death. Yet, what is least common, is who was John McCrae the man? There are a lot of interesting little stories about the non-military side of John McCrae that a lot of people don’t know. For example, what was the one thing he did to ease the pain of a dying child in Montreal, what special thing did he do for his nieces and nephews back home in Guelph while he was at war, and who was the young woman who captured his heart? Read on and I’ll fill you in on some stories about Guelph most famous son plus I’ll show you some rarely seen pictures, courtesy of Guelph Museums, of John McCrae the man.

Continue reading

Mapping Canada’s Built Heritage: The Fire Insurance Plans of Charles Edward Goad.

Cunard Wharfs in Halifax. (Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada)

Cunard Wharfs in Halifax. (Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada)

Having long been used as an invaluable tool for researchers, planners, architects, insurance adjusters, and even environmental consultants, fire insurance plans can tell us a lot about the history of our cities and towns. Not only do they show us what materials a building was constructed from, but also other information such as what the street names and addresses were, property setbacks, location of openings such as doors and windows, and the purpose of the building at that time. There was one company that dominated the fire insurance plan industry in Canada between 1875 and 1917. That was the firm of Charles E. Goad, Civil Engineers of Montréal. By 1910, his firm had produced detailed fire insurance plans for over 1300 cities and towns in Canada, plus hundreds more around the world. In this week’s article, I’ll show you how to read a fire insurance plan and how you might find one useful if you live or work in an older building.

Continue reading

Relaunch of History to the People

Hello Everyone,

After a rather lengthy absence, we are proud to be back to bring you more stories and features about Canadian heritage and history! We will re-post some of your favourites from the old site including the series Great Canadian Architects, Traditional Family Recipes and Canadian Castles. We are also working on some new ideas such as features on Canadian military history, Canadian cultural heritage landscapes from a foreign perspective, technological history and built heritage from across Canada.

A special thanks goes out to Pierre who lent his expertise and assistance as well as to Craig at Netfirms in helping to get this site back up and running again!

If you have any story ideas you’d like to see featured here, please leave a comment or send us an email.

It is great to be back and we look forward to posting new stories in the months to come as well as hearing your comments!

Administrator, History to the People