Fonds Number: 317
Title: Brown family fonds
Creator: Brown family
Dates of Material: 1910-1950
Physical Description: .15 m
Scope and Contents:
The papers consist of correspondence and related materials tied to the Brown family of Peterborough, mostly based at 513, 515 and 517 Weller Street. The most significant part of the collection is the series of letters from soldiers overseas, all sons of A. Percy Brown. There are also several letters, mostly between Dolly and Elmir. There are small files that provide insight into aspects of Peterborough life, notably about Nicholls Hospital and PCVS high school. Some files suggest a link with Illinois, possibly tied to improving Elmir’s skills for working in a hardware store. The papers reveal some of the difficulties in running a small family business, such as Brown’s Hardware store.
Open to researchers.
The papers were acquired at a Homewood area lawn sale for two dollars and then donated to the Trent Valley Archives, 2 March 2011, by Brian Hurley, 272 Armour Road, Peterborough, Ontario.
Biographical Sketch/ Administrative History
Part of the history of the family is retrievable from the small collection of papers, coupled with research in local street directories, and cemetery sources. The papers open with two letters from Elmir Brown travelling in Des Plaines, Illinois, one to each of his brothers, Kenneth and Cecil, who were then living at 517 Weller Street, Peterborough. There is an envelope dated 28 December and the letters are dated 14 March 1911. The father, A. P. [Percy] Brown had run a hardware store in Morden, Manitoba.
In the 1910 directory, A. Percy Brown is a householder at 517 Weller, and is working for Higgins Hardware. He was a partner with W. R. G. Higgins, with a store at 137 Hunter Street, on the south side midway between Water Street and George Street. Higgisns Hardware was still at this location into the 1970s. In 1910, William R. G. Higgins was living at 1043 Water Street, then the home of John C. Higgins and William Gilgour, north of the Isolation Hospital (this may be the house now owned by Robert Lapum).
William R. G. Higgins died in August 1916 and is buried at Little Lake Cemetery. However, A. P. Brown had started his own hardware, stoves and tinware store, A. P. Brown & Co., at 171 Simcoe Street by 1914. In that year, Elmir and Kenneth were salesmen with the company, and Reginald W. was a student
Albert Percy Brown (1857-1928) d 3 July 1929
Married Charlotte M. C. Thompson (1864-1953)
had hardware business in Morden, Manitoba, before coming to Peterborough, c 1908 to partner briefly with William Higgins, and then started his own business, c 1914, when his first two sons were old enough to join in what became the family business. The main family home in Peterborough was 517 Weller Street (four houses east of Walton Street).
Rev Elmir Gilkison Brown (1893-1980) b 30 May 1893, d 28 June 1980
Married Dolly Evelyn English (1902-1992) b 42 Nov 1902, d 2 Dec 1992
worked at Brown’s Hardware, 1914-33, and then by 1935 became a letter carrier and worked for the post office until the 1950s. He was ordained to an Anglican ministry in 1957, serving in the Anglican Diocese of Ontario until he retired and returned to Peterborough. In 1929, Elmir and Dolly were living at 168 Brock Street, apt 3.In 1933, they were living at 515 Weller and running the hardware; by 1935, still living at 515 Weller, Elmir Brown was a letter carrier. After retirement, the Browns had an apartment on London Street, Peterborough.
Kenneth J. Brown
In 1929, Kenneth J. Brown, living at 54 McDonnel, was a salesman with Henry T. Millard’s bicycle and sporting goods store, 212-214 Charlotte Street. Kenneth was a salesman with the hardware in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1932 directory he was living with his mother and Cecil in a house on Albertus across from Queen Mary School. In 1946, his mother said he was working on the Danforth in Toronto, in a small hardware store.
Reginald W. Brown
m. Eva I. Res 1929, 178 Stewart Street (between Townsend and Dalhousie). He worked for Brown’s Hardware until 1933; then seems to have left Peterborough.
Cecil Brown wrote to his mother; the last we have is January 1918; however, he is mentioned in letters by Elmir up to April 1919. In 1933, Cecil Brown was living at 515 Weller, and was a travelling salesman for Western Clock Company (later, Westclox). In 1932, he was living with his widowed mother at a house on the west side of Albertus, 2 houses north of Weller.
World War I: Canadian soldiers
Brown’s Hardware, Peterborough, Ontario
St. John’s Anglican Church, Peterborough, Ontario
Nicholls Hospital, Peterborough, Ontario
Ravinia, Highland Park, Illinois
1 Bishop Strachan to Rev C. E. Thompson 1863
2 Ravinia Children’s Afternoon, Highland Park Illinois, Thursday, 7 August [1919?]
3 Correspondence, n.d.
4 Paints, ingredients, etc. n.d. [notes from Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition
5 Correspondence, 1910-1911
6 YMCA, 1915
7 Letter, 1915, J. H. Thomson to Kenneth Brown on Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital letterhead.
8 Correspondence, 1916, 20 letters, most to or from Kenneth J. Brown
9 Correspondence, 1917, 20 letters with varied correspondents
10 Correspondence, 1918, 27 letters with varied correspondents
11 An Illustrated Guide and Descriptive Account of the Palace of Westminster (London, Warrington & Co. nd, c 1917) 90 page pamphlet with good map guide to the layout of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Some excellent illustrations
12 Diary notes, 1918, evidently kept by Charlotte Brown
13 Correspondence, 1919
14 Brown Hardware, Morden, Manitoba, business card for A. P. Brown, n.d.
15 Young Men’s Bible Class, St John’s Church, c. 1920; notes for forming new group
16 Correspondence, 1921-1925, 1 item, A list of fees paid, presumably for a youth group, written on back of letterhead for Hotel St. Lawrence, Port Hope, ON.
17 Correspondence, 1926-1930, health almanac plus 20 letters, mostly between Dolly and Elmir.
18 Spratt’s Patent Limited, letter and price lists for dogs, poultry and birds from the London, England based company.
19 Correspondence, 1931-1935, 12 items, mainly between Dolly and Elmir.
20 Canadian Woodman, 1937, Easter newsletter of the Canadian Woodmen of the World, containing statements of the various insurance funds.
21 Correspondence, 1936-1940, 3 letters. Canada Life Assurance letter addressed to Cecil C. P. Brown, 513 Weller Street, 1939; a letter from Cecil to Elmir,1937; a letter from Violet (62 Balmoral, Hamilton ON) to Dolly, 1940.
22 Correspondence, 1941-1948, varied correspondents
23 Peterborough Anglican Young People’s Assn, 1942
24 Peterborough Canadian Concert Assn, 1942
25 Nicholls Hospital, c 1941, Dolly gave birth to a daughter and a stillborn baby at Nicholls, see file 22.
26 PCVS graduation speech, 1945, R. D. Brown was in Grade 13.
27 School Exercise Book kept by Rayma Brown, 1947
28 “Parish Church”, a church song apparently written by one of the Browns
29 Handycraft Supply Co, 1948, 1 item
Craft supplies price list for Handycraft Supply, owned by J. D. McIsaac, 58 Victoria Avenue, Peterborough; mostly for leathercraft and pottery supplies
30 AYPA Conference, 1949, invitation to the 18th annual Ontario provincial conference, being held in Ottawa, Ontario, 20 to 23 October.
31 Canterbury-St. Alban’s Fund, St John’s Church, c 1950. Receipts for E. G. Brown and Rayma Brown
32 “She’s My Daisy”, program for a three-act comedy presented by the St. John’s AYPA. Actors were Pamela Humphrey, Jack Fowley, Rodger Hendren, Beverley Gamble, Cecelia Record, Jim Record, John Gerow, Shirley Brown, Grace Record, and Anne Blackburn. Margaret Stevenson was the director, and Keith Wilson looked after sound and properties. The stage sets were constructed by Don Ferguson, Walter Dyer, Jim Record, and Max Ketcheson. Archdeacon Robertson’s wife was doing make-up.
33 Bishop Stortsford house, c 1900; photo of a house with seven people, probably family, posed in front yard.
34 Fire prevention pamphlet, 192, titled “Do You Know”
35 Post Office, 1940s, notes for a postal clerk knowing postal offices
36 Salesmen Books, 1927-1928
37 Church of the Advent, Chicago, Illinois, 1926-1927, pledge and church envelopes (filed in file 36)