Friday, 19 June 2020

So Long... For Now

Dear Readers,

Thank you for enjoying and supporting The Archivist’s Pencil. We have loved bringing you our favourite stories, intriguing mysteries, entertaining letters, and exciting finds. As a team our understanding of the history of the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and of Catholicism has grown as we have jumped down rabbit-holes of research to share with you.

Although we are no longer posting in this space, we plan to leave it in place so that the community may benefit from the contents, and we hope to be able to share archival material through the Archdiocese of Toronto Blog, Around the Arch soon. Keep an eye out! 

For more information about the archives, visit us at our website here.

All the best,

Happy campers wave from their lakeside perch at Marygrove Camp for Girls, Penetanguishene, Ontario.


PH 73/51P
Rev. John J. Kelly Fonds
ARCAT Photographs Collection

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Happy Handwriting Day!

Today is National Handwriting Day in the United States.

The significance of this annual event has perhaps shifted in an era where official records are increasingly being created, authenticated, transmitted, and stored digitally.

Despite the shift towards electronic records, our sacramental records continue to be handwritten. These are some of the Archdiocese’s most important records that act as official proof of an individual’s participation in church sacraments. Typically, a person's name, parents' names, date of birth, date of baptism, godparents, and the name of the priest should appear on a baptism record.

We thought we’d share with you some good, some bad, and some ugly pages from our earliest sacramental register books. These examples show why it's essential for parishes to create legible and accurate records of sacraments, and help argue the case to continue teaching cursive script!

St. Ann's Parish, Penetanguishene. Combination Register 1846-1877

St. Ann's Parish, Penetanguishene. Combination Register 1846-1877

St. Ann's Parish, Penetanguishene. Baptism Register 1867-1882

Ste. Croix Parish, Lafontaine Marriage Register 1857-1937

Friday, 20 December 2019

"Give us a brief heart-space to see no sight, Save the One Star in all the crowded night"

Anne Sutherland Brooks was born in Guelph, Ontario, on July 14, 1900. Although Presbyterian, she attended the Catholic Loretto Academy, as well as the Guelph Collegiate Institute. Following this, she earned her teacher's certificate at the London Normal School.

By her mid-twenties, Anne began to attract attention as a poet, with her verses being published in numerous periodicals across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. In 1927, Ryerson Press published her chapbook of poetry titled, Within a Wicket Gate. One of her poems, "Poverty", was published in the New York Times.

In 1929, Archbishop McNeil made a request through the Loretto Sisters for Anne to send him a selection of Christmas poems for his Christmas greeting card.

Letter from Anne Sutherland to Archbishop McNeil
October 31, 1929

Archbishop McNeil Fonds
MN AH18.120
Anne Sutherland Christmas Poems I-III
Sent to Archbishop McNeil
October 31, 1929

Archbishop McNeil Fonds
MN PB03.12
Anne Sutherland Christmas Poems IV-VI
Sent to Archbishop McNeil
October 31, 1929

Archbishop McNeil Fonds
MN PB03.12

In 1930, six of Anne's poems were included in the anthology, Modern Canadian Poetry. As a member of the Toronto branch of the Canadian Authors Association, she was awarded the members' division poetry prize in 1932 and 1933. In 1934, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. included Anne's poem, "The Bird I Do Not Know", in the Roosevelt Bird Sanctuary Anthology. Her poem, "The Empty Little Cabin", was included in The Desk Drawer Anthology: Poems for the American People.

In 1935, Anne married Edward Arnold Brooks. In addition to caring for their children, John Edward Arnold and Anne Elizabeth, Anne Sutherland Brooks continued to recite her poetry and participate in radio broadcasts of children's stories. She passed away in 1996.

We hope you have enjoyed these beautiful Christmas poems, as well as this special slice of Canadian literary history. Merry Christmas from the staff at ARCAT!

Friday, 8 November 2019

The Remembrance Poppy

The poppy is a widely recognized symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers that many choose to wear in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day.

We were intrigued to find records in our archive that document how the poppy became a universally accepted memorial flower and how it started to bloom on the lapels of Canadians.

The use of the flower as a memorial has roots in John McCrae's 1915 poem In Flanders Fields. An American teacher by the name of Moina Michael read McCrae's poem and pledged to always wear a poppy as a sign of remembrance. In 1919, Madame Anna A. Guerin (nee Boulle) happened to meet Michael while touring the States, and was inspired to circulate paper poppies to raise funds for individuals living in war-torn France.

Guerin pitched the idea of an Inter-Allied Poppy Day to several nations after her American Poppy Drives proved successful. The Great War Veterans' Association of Canada (precursor to the Royal Canadian Legion) adopted the campaign in 1921.

Here at ARCAT we have two early letters from the office of the G.W.V.A. that request participation in the Poppy Day Campaign ahead of Armistice Day on November 11.

Letter describing the National Poppy Day Campaign, circa 1921. 

"It has been thought appropriate that Canada should also adopt this beautiful custom. to this end, the Great war Veterans' Association of Canada has arranged with the French Children's League to distribute just prior to Armistice Day, replicas of the Flanders poppy, which the orphan children of France are making."

 FW HC05.10
ARCAT First World War Collection

Letter describing the National Poppy Day Campaign, circa 1921.

"On Armistice Day the soldiers cemeteries in France will be thronged by a reverend crowd eager to show that those who fought and won and sleep in Flanders Fields are not forgotten.
consider it a sacred obligation to wear the bright red poppy on Armistice Day
and keep alive the memory of those who brought  back honour to their country, glory to their flag, and peace to the world."

 FW HC05.11
ARCAT First World War Collection

The Legion continues the annual Poppy Campaign to this day as a way to support veterans and their families. Find more information about the Poppy and Remembrance Day on the Legion's website.

Monday, 28 October 2019

ARCAT needs your help!

Archivists often know a little bit about everything, especially when it comes to the subject areas of their holdings. The archivists at the Archdiocese of Toronto are no exception as they collect facts, names, dates, faces and places as quickly as they collect materials pertaining to the history of the Archdiocese. However, archivists can't know it all, which is why we need your help!
Back in November 2018, we received a panoramic photograph with zero contextual information. We found very little success in our attempts to identify the location, date, and the names of many of the individuals in the photograph.
As you can see, many Bishops and priests are present, indicating a large special event of some kind. We believe we have identified former Archbishop Neil McNeil, who was Archbishop of Toronto from 1912 to 1934. This gives us an indication of the date range.
Take a look at the photograph below and see if you recognize the building or any of the individuals pictured.
If you're confident in your detective skills, comment your responses on this post or email us at 

Photograph Collection
PH 36/12P

See below for close-up sections of the photograph:

We believe the individual in the bottom right hand corner is Neil McNeil, Archbishop of Toronto from 1912 to 1934.

Could the man in the middle row on the far left be Fr. Charles Coughlin?

Friday, 11 October 2019

What could this light be? A council!

A well known image shows Council Fathers seated in St. Peter's Basilica. Over 2000 bishop and other experts from around the world participated in the Second Vatican Council, including several Canadians.

[October 11, 1965 - December 8, 1965]

PH 14V/05cp
ARCAT Photo Collection

October 11, 1962 was a turning point for modern Catholicism: The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (Vatican II) was opened by Pope Saint John XXIII. The Council brought bishops and theologians from around the world to address problems faced by the Church and its people. The Council's significance was so great that it is common to hear people talk about "pre-Vatican II" and "post-Vatican II."

Over the course of four sessions ending in December 1965, 16 documents were produced that addressed issues of the Church in the modern world. The changes that came out of these documents are still discussed and debated today.

A letter sent to bishops in the Canadian Catholic Conference contained text of a July 1962 statement of Pope Saint John XXIII explaining his inspiration for calling the Council:
"Let us take, for example, the idea of the ecumenical council. How did it happen? How did it develop? It happened in such a way that to relate it seems unreal, because so suddenly did the thought arise of such a possibility and too, the determination to apply Ourselves to carrying it out. 
"A question posed during a particular conversation with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tardini, brought forth the observation of how the world is immersed in serious distress and agitation. We pointed out, among other things, how it is claimed that people want peace and agreement but, unfortunately, sometimes it happens that ultimately disagreements become more acute and threats are increased. 
"What will the Church do? Must the Mystical Barque of Christ remain at the mercy of the waves and go adrift? Is there not rather expected from the Church not only an admonishment, but also the light of great example? What could this light be? 
"The questioner was listening with an attitude of reverent respect and expectation. Suddenly Our soul was enlightened by a great idea that We felt just at that moment, and which We welcomed with indescribable trust in the Divine Master; one solemn and binding word came then to Our lips. Our voice expressed it for the first time: a council! 
"To tell the truth, at once the fear arose that this might cause perplexity, if not dismay. Undoubtedly, We would now have to listen to a list of grave difficulties, if for no other reason than that the sudden announcement would lead to the thought of a natural and lengthy preparation that such an aim would entail. 
"Instead, the answer came without delay. A clear feeling beamed over the face of the Cardinal: his assent was immediate and exultant. 
"This was a first definite sign of God's will. Who does not, in fact, know the necessary and attentive consideration with which the Roman Curia customarily examines the major and minor questions that present themselves? (PO VA14.04)" 

Here in the archives, we have records from five of our bishops who attended the Council: Cardinal McGuigan, Archbishop Pocock, Cardinal Carter, Bishop Marrocco, and Bishop Allen. We have previously written about the commemorative rings they all received, but there are many other documents of historical significance in our storage rooms.

Commemorative edition of Humanae Salutis, the document convoking the Second Vatican Council. The last pages contain the signatures of all the cardinals.

"The forthcoming Council, then, will meet happily and at a moment in which the Church has a more lively desire to fortify her faith and to contemplate herself in her own awe-inspiring unity, just as she feels the more urgent duty to give greater effectiveness to her healthy vitality and to promote the sanctification of her members, the spread of revealed truth, and the consolidation of her structures. This will be a demonstration of the Church, always living and always young, that feels the rhythm of time, that in every century beautifies herself with new splendor, radiates new light, achieves new conquests, all the while remaining identical to herself, faithful to the divine image impressed on her face by her divine Bridegroom, who loves her and protects her, Christ Jesus." (translation)

December 25, 1961

AF 074
ARCAT Artifacts Collection

Pope Saint John XXIII greeting Cardinal McGuigan during preparatory meetings at the Church of the Canadian Martyrs in Rome.


PH 09V/15P
ARCAT Photo Collection

A letter which includes instructions for what to wear to the Council. Can you imagine the big task of making sure over  2000 participants were dressed appropriately?

August 9, 1962

PO VA04.11
Archbishop Pocock Fonds

Bishop Carter's Vatican passport specially issued for the Council. On the next page it reads,

"Hamlet John Cicognani Cardinal Bishop of the Holy Roman Church of the Title of the Suburban See of Frascati Secretary of State to His Holiness Pope John XXIII requests all Civil and Military Authorities to permit the bearer, who is one of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, freely to pass, and, in case of need, to provide him with every opportune assistance and protection. From the Vatican, 1962."

CA AA07.03
Cardinal Carter Fonds

Philip Pocock attended the Council while Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto. Though his fonds is not yet available to researchers, it contains several boxes of documents and notes from his work during that time. An especially exciting item is his handwritten diary from the first session of the Council. It details behind-the-scenes discussions and his personal thoughts and reflections. On December 16, 1962 he wrote,
"On Dec. 8 the solemn closing of the first session took place. All the Fathers joined in the singing of the Gregorian at the Pontifical mass. It was very powerful and beautiful. At the end of the mass the Holy Father walked in, took his throne and spoke to us for about a half hour. He again stressed the pastoral purpose of the Council. Much work would be accomplished in the interval before the reopening of the Council, September 8/63. He seemed to be well and his voice was strong, However, I fear that he is suffering from a chronic disorder, perhaps cancer. (PO AA13.03)" 
Pope Saint John XXIII would die within six months, but his successor, Pope Saint Paul VI would continue the work of the Council.

Bishop Pocock in St. Peter's Square during the first session of the Council.


PH 14V/08P

ARCAT Photo Collection

We are lucky to have a box of newspapers and magazines with articles about the Second Vatican Council in Archbishop Pocock's fonds. Included are titles such as Life, Newsweek, and The New Yorker, to name a few.


PO VA71-75
Archbishop Pocock Fonds

Here's a bonus note from Archbishop Pocock to the Chancery Office sent during the Council's last session in 1965. It is a transcription of a dictaphone recording:

"Message from his Grace:

We are installed at last here in Rome and we have had two day sat the Council. We had a beautiful trip over and two terrible days of rain in Capri. I suppose I better not talk to you about it because you will be finding out all the news in my letters anyway. I hope this machine that I rented works all right. If the speed is wrong or if it is hard to interpret, i wish you would let me know by a cable so I won't waste too much time here. Give my love to all the girls and my respectful regards to the clergy there at the Chancery Office."

September 1965

PO CO05.409
Archbishop Pocock Fonds

Friday, 27 September 2019

Happy Feast of St. Vincent De Paul!

"There is scarcely a single form of charitable activity existing in America at the present time that was not successfully undertaken by St. Vincent in France three centuries ago."  
 -- Henry Somerville
Today, September 27th, is the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, patron saint of charities.

The Archdiocese of Toronto has shared St. Vincent de Paul's charitable spirit from its founding when Bishop Power and the Loretto Sisters risked their lives to help the sick and poor Irish immigrants.

Since then there have been too many charitable endeavours in our history to cover in one post, so this week we are highlighting the particular organizations and places in the Archdiocese under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul.

  In addition to having an amazing cover page, this booklet details the many charitable deeds undertaken by St. Vincent to help the sick and the poor.

St. Vincent de Paul booklet by Henry Somerville, Paulist Press, 1916.

Archbishop McNeil Fonds
MN AP06.26

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a lay organization formed under the direction of Blessed Frederic Ozanam in 1833. The society is inspired by the words and deeds of its patron saint, developing programs, distributing resources, and advocating for those in need. The Toronto Council was established in the 1850s, and continues to offer thrift stores, residential housing, and programs such as sending children to summer camp and prison and home visitations.

St Vincent De Paul Society Bulletin for Toronto Particular Council, Vol 1, No. 1

February 1957

Other Collections - St. Vincent de Paul Society
 OC 012 BU12

St. Vincent's patronage has also been present in the Archdiocese through the works of the Congregation of the Mission (also known as the Vincentian Fathers). The order was founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 1625, and our very own Archbishop Lynch was ordained as a Vincentian in 1843. Like St. Vincent, Archbishop Lynch cared lovingly for Toronto's poor, who were often Irish Catholics.

Archbishop Lynch remained in close contact with his Province after leaving for Toronto. The following letter was written to Archbishop Lynch after he was named Bishop of Toronto in November 1859:

“It is the last time that I can presume to address you by the familiar and sweet name of confrere. You shall soon be, but in a fuller sense, what I always considered you, a dear and venerated Father.

So we have lost you in our poor litter Congregation! […] I can say emphatically and all who know you say, that your loss will be keenly felt by the Province in general and by the Seminary at the Falls in particular.
May Almighty God be with you in your new and higher sphere of action, and as when amongst us you were a faithful imitator of St. Vincent so may as a Bishop walk in the holy footsteps of St. Francis de Sales and St. Charles Borromeo"

November 8th, 1859

Archbishop Lynch Fonds
L AB01.10

After Archbishop Lynch's death, the Vincentian Fathers would not return to the Archdiocese until 1933 when they would administer different parishes in Toronto. The Slovenian Vincentians continue to be present in the Archdiocese, administering the parishes of Our Lady Help of Christians and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

St. Vincent de Paul is also the patron saint of a Toronto parish of the same name, which appropriately celebrated its first mass on September 27th, 1914. The parish's St. Vincent de Paul Society and St. Vincent de Paul Separate School were both also established in 1914.

The first mass was celebrated by the parish on September 27th, 1914 in a storefront on Roncesvalles. The church building was dedicated 10 years later in September, 1924.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish 75th Anniversary Booklet, 1989

Parish Collections - St. Vincent de Paul - Publications

These instances of patronage to St. Vincent de Paul are only a small example of his influence in our Archdiocese. You can find out more about St. Vincent de Paul here.
"We ought to deal kindly with all, and to manifest those qualities which spring naturally from a heart tender and full of Christian charity; such as affability, love and humility"
-- St. Vincent de Paul