Tag Archives: Clara Hines

“In Honour of Dominion Day”

Invitation to Dominion Day ceremonies; Clara Hines's postcard of Old Fort Henry

Invitation to Dominion Day ceremonies; Clara Hines’s postcard of Old Fort Henry

With its official emblem and half-billion-dollar budget, the 150th anniversary celebration of Canadian Confederation will bring extra colour to this year’s July 1 Canada Day holiday.  But in 1953, with the country yet to reach its 100th year, observance of Dominion Day (as it was then called) was not centrally orchestrated, and communities put their own unique stamp on the occasion.

That summer, Clara Hines and her husband Duncan Hines, author of the popular restaurant and hotel guidebooks Adventures in Good Eating, Lodging for a Night and Adventures in Good Cooking, left their Bowling Green home for a series of business meetings, interviews and promotional appearances in Ontario and Quebec.  As might be expected, they were eager to try the local cuisine.  They found a favorite in Montreal’s Cafe Martin, where, Clara wrote in her diary, the manager “was overcome when we left and Duncan gave him his card.”  Clara’s other passion was shopping.  Between meals, her exploration of local antique stores and her visits to the iconic Canadian department stores Eaton’s and Simpson’s took up more space in her diary than the usual tourist-style narratives.

On July 1, 1953, Clara and Duncan were invited to Dominion Day activities at Old Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario.  Situated on the St. Lawrence River at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, Kingston was of vital strategic importance during the War of 1812 and the fort had been erected to repulse an American attack. Accordingly, martial themes predominated during that day’s celebration of Canada’s 1867 act of Confederation.  “It was all a military show,” wrote Clara, “& they used the original drills of 1867 & the original uniforms and artillery.”  The demonstration of military tactics from the era included a mock battle with a gunboat and fireworks.  “This was all quite interesting,” was Clara’s assessment, “and something we are not likely to see again.”

Clara Hines’s diaries,which include a record of her three trips to Canada, are part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  Click here for a finding aid.  For other collections with a Canadian connection, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Comments Off on “In Honour of Dominion Day”

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

Land of Contrasts

Iceland 5 krona banknote (Frank Chelf Collection)

Iceland 5 krona banknote (Frank Chelf Collection)

June 17 marks the official anniversary of the 1944 founding of Iceland as a republic independent of Denmark.  Two Kentuckians had the opportunity to experience this nation of “extreme contrasts” (to quote its web site) both before and after its independence, and their impressions are recorded in the collections of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.

In January 1942, Hopkins County native Jim Wooton, then serving in the U.S. Army, was ordered to Iceland to help staff a transfer station for troops and equipment being sent to England.  He and 1,200 other men experienced a rough, late-winter crossing in a 300-foot United Fruit Company “banana boat,” but arrived in Reykjavik unmolested by German U-boats.  Hunkered down with his fellow soldiers in reinforced Quonset huts, Wooton vividly recalled the howling winds that gusted as high as 120 miles per hour.  He returned from his 9-month tour of duty understanding the reason for the island nation’s high literacy rate: “everyone stays home and reads.”

In August 1977, Bowling Green’s Clara Hines, the widow of cake mix magnate Duncan Hines, visited Iceland as part of a tour of several Nordic countries.  Her experience, needless to say, was starkly different from Wooton’s.  The intrepid 73-year-old hopscotched around the island by bus and small plane, viewing lakes, forests, lava formations, natural hot springs and waterfalls as well as picturesque villages.  The weather was warm and sunny most of the time–she only found the wind “very cold” on the walk from her hotel to the airport.  She spent her krona on a souvenir doll and a figure of the god Thor fashioned from lava, and pronounced herself tired but exhilarated by the sights in this “fantastic country.”

Click on the links to access finding aids for Jim Wooton’s and Clara Hines’s impressions of Iceland.  For more accounts of travels by Kentuckians, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Comments Off on Land of Contrasts

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives