2020-10-07

History of Queens County captured in coffee table book

by Kevin Mcbain

  • <p>KEVIN MCBAIN PHOTO</p><p><em>Queens County: A History in Pictures</em>, takes readers through a historical and pictorial of Queens history.</p>
  • <p>KEVIN MCBAIN PHOTO</p><p>From left to right, Vernon Oickle, Kathleen Stitt and Linda Rafuse, who co-authored the book, Queens County: A History in Pictures.</p>

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Just released, Queens County: A History in Pictures, is a pictorial journey through the history of the county with photos from Port Medway to North Queens, down to Port Joli, and all points in between.

The 144-page book was put together by Linda Rafuse, the director at the Queens County Museum; Kathleen Stitt, the museum's administrative assistant; and Vernon Oickle, a former editor of this newspaper who went on to become an award-winning author of 32 books.

The book was published by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc., which is based in Lunenburg.

According to Oickle, he and Rafuse had been discussing doing such a book for years.

As the plan came into focus, Rafuse and Stitt became responsible for sifting through the photos and noting important historical dates, while Oickle managed and guided the process.

"They had to go through close to 40,000 photos from the Thomas Raddall Research Centre photograph collection. The number had to be trimmed down to 150 in the end," recalled Oickle.

In choosing the photos, they wanted representation from throughout the county and to include as much cultural diversity as possible. They also wanted a variety of photos representing the industrial revolution.

"I think the selections we made were bang on. There are some beautiful photos there and the book is beautiful," enthused Oickle.

The idea was also to include some reflection of major news events such as the three serious fires in Liverpool and one in Milton.

As well, they aimed to showcase a number of renowned Queens photographers, such as Gilbert Kempton. Kempton's photo of a couple of wooden boat builders hand drilling treenail holes graces the book's cover.

"Why we went with shipbuilding on the front is because it's an aspect of Queen's County history that many people are not aware of," explained Oickle.

There are numerous photos of historical artifacts, many of which are displayed in the museum, and which are designed to augment other images.

For example, a photo of the Mersey Hotel in 1935 is accompanied by a shot of the menu from December 25, 1935. While an old photo of the Perkins House is overlaid on a picture of a page of the diary of Simeon Perkins. There's also a photo of Babe Ruth who was in the area hunting in 1937, along with a photograph of his autograph.

"It makes the subjects real," commented Stitt.

Rafuse is equally excited about the book and what it means to the museum and to the history of the county.

"We're not only here to preserve our history, but we're also here to promote it," said Rafuse. "We can now easily share it with the people of our county. And there are so many descendants of Queens County residents all over the world; we can now put those photographs in their home."

The book was originally scheduled to be out this spring, but due to COVID-19, MacIntyre Purcell decided to delay the launch, which brings it closer to Christmas.

The books are now for sale through the museum, the authors themselves and several Queens County retailers. They can also be ordered through Amazon, Chapters or directly from the publisher.

MacIntyre Purcell plans to officially launch the book on October 11 at the Queens Museum of Justice in Liverpool from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Meanwhile, the three authors are delighted with the outcome of their efforts.

"At the end of the day, I don't think I could be prouder..." said Oickle. "It was a long, tough process, but it was worth every minute of it."

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