Belle Époque Kingston

Edith Drury in Kingston, 1901.

La Belle Époque, technically speaking, refers to the period in French history from 1871-1914, a time of peace, innovation, and optimism. However, it’s sometimes used more broadly as a romantic term to describe the elegance of the turn of the twentieth century.

There are some very charming photographs of Kingston during this time in the Marjorie Howard Futcher Photo Collection, part of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University. The photos were taken by the daughter of a prestigious physician at McGill who often visited friends in Canada and abroad, including the Drury family, who lived in Kingston while their father, Colonel Charles W. Drury was stationed here. I love these images because they’re so much more relaxed than what we’re used to seeing of people circa 1900 (they can smile! they can move!) and they show a personal view of the leisure and social life in Kingston for a reasonably wealthy and prestigious family.

Many of the photos are faded and blurry, so I’ve tried to choose some of the best to show here. I’m unable to link to each photo individually, but you can click the link above to go to the collection home page.

Victor Drury and his father Colonel Charles W. Drury in City Park. The house in the background is on Emily St. Drury was commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Field Artillery in Kingston. According to G.W.L. Nicholson, he was “the father of modern artillery in Canada.”

Edith Drury, another of the Drury brood, standing by City Park. The family later moved to Halifax.

None of the people in this photo are identified, but you can see the Kingston Yacht Club in the background. July 1905.

This was taken in 1900 at Tremont Park Island, one of the Thousand Islands just across from Gananoque. Edith Drury is seated at bottom right and her brother Victor is behind her.

Gwendolyn Marjorie Howard (Futcher’s maiden name) and Gladys Buchanan, 1902. This was taken at 132-134 Earl Street; in 1902 the Drurys lived at 132 Earl.

The next Drury home at 157 King St. E. The house was a residence for army commanding officers. It’s still standing, although with a few alterations. From 1969-1976 the Grad Club was located here.

George Chipman Drury pretending to sword fight on the roof of his house. Winter of 1904-5.

Results of aforesaid sword fight.

One more of “Chip,” February 1905. One of the other Drury children, Gladys, later became the first Lady Beaverbrook (apparently not the one all the schools etc. are named after, that’s the second wife).

A summery 1902 photo to finish. This crowd posing in City Park includes friend Phyllis Porteous (back), with Gladys and Edith Drury in front of her at left and right.

Once again, all these photos can be found in the Marjorie Howard Futcher Photo Collection at McGill University.


One thought on “Belle Époque Kingston

  1. In the photo of the two young women on the corner of Sydenham and Earl Streets it looks as if the one on the right is checking her cell phone! The photos suggest tranquility and elegance. Lovely.

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