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Article posted: January 17, 2000

Memories From The Past Century
By: Ryan Taylor, Biography and Archived Articles

The recent list of significant contributors to Waterloo County (ontario) life in the past century published in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record was a pleasure to see. Familiar names, and in some cases, familiar voices and personalities.

Of all the memories evoked, one of the warmest was of a winter afternoon I spent with Mabel Krug, making an oral history tape for the Kitchener Public Library.

Mrs Krug was a power behind the Community Concerts organization in Kitchener & Waterloo. The musical artists who came to town were often entertained at the Krugs' country house between Kitchener and Preston before they left on the train from Galt headed for Chicago.

Marian Anderson was scheduled to sing here in the early thirties. One of the greatest American artists of the century, she faced many difficulties because she was black.

Her previous concert was in Toronto. Afterwards, her hosts took her to the Royal York Hotel for the night, but she was refused a room because of her color. A player from the Toronto Symphony gave her a bed for the night, but Anderson made it clear that if the same situation existed in Kitchener, she would not sing here.

Word was passed to Mabel Krug, who phoned Joe Zuber, owner of the Walper House Hotel where Anderson was scheduled to stay. Joe was surprised by the question. Anderson was welcome at the Walper, he said, and she might like to know that many other black musicians stayed there regularly. They played jazz at a club down King Street.

The Anderson concert was a huge success. The next day Mabel Krug gave her usual luncheon for the visiting artist before putting her on the train to Chicago.

I asked her, "What was Marian Anderson like?"

She replied , "She was the proudest person I have ever met." She had reason to be. The story of KW's welcome to Marian Anderson has always made me feel good.

A few years later, the refusal of the Daughters of the American Republic to allow Anderson to sing in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. led to one of the most famous concerts of the century. She sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the sound of her voice has not stopped ringing yet.

Not all families have a Mabel Krug or a Marian Anderson to call cousin. However, I have no doubt that we can see the contributions of our family members as making the past century what it was. The General Motors cars upholstered by my grandfather gave comfort to thousands of Canadians. Many boys went to their Saturday night dates feeling spruce because of the haircuts provided by my Uncle Jim.

Last weekend I talked to Evelyn Fox in Sudbury. She ran the lunchroom at the refinery in Copper Cliff for twenty years. Her meat pies and cranberry tarts kept those men working hard, and the result was metal used around the world.

I hope we all pause at the start of this new century to remember the contributions, great and small, made by people we know throughout the year and century past. They deserve our gratitude.

Ryan's Heritage Notebook...

A Family History Keepsake
Rosalie Beauchamp of Naughton made a beautiful keepsake for her mother's eightieth birthday.

Mary Anderson had always been keen on crossword puzzles. Rosalie created a crossword where all the clues were people or events in Mary's life. Once Mary had filled it in, Rosalie framed the completed puzzle, the clues and a picture of Mary as a little girl. The picture hung in Mary's bedroom for the rest of her life and can now be seen in her daughters' house.

This is an original idea for a party activity (family members helped Mary fill in the puzzle). It also makes a keepsake which will give joy for many years.

Books By Ryan Taylor

Across The Waters, Ontario Immigrants Experiences 1820 - 1850 - by Frances Hoffman & Ryan Taylor, 1999. Riveting first-hand accounts of the immigration and settlement experience, taken from the diaries and letters of 150 immigrants.

Routes To Roots, The Best of Ryan Taylor's columns from the Kitchener Waterloo Record, by Ryan Taylor 1997

More Family History Research Resources

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Norway Bay United & Anglican Cemetery
(Pontiac County, Quebec)

The Merivale Cemeteries
(Protestant - Ottawa area)