We are fortunate to have several scrapbooks that belonged to Adelaide McLaughlin in our collection. These are truly magical places and I always discover something new and interesting each time I take a look through. Contrary to what I would have thought Adelaide’s scrapbooks would look like,perfect and well placed mementos, they are actually filled with newspapers, and articles, jammed in between the pages, awaiting a quiet moment to organise, a moment which never did occur.

Adelaide definitely enjoyed collecting scraps and preserving them. I think she and I would have gotten along tremendously! I often find cards or slips of paper in the pages of books, or notes to herself or someone else here and there, in her sewing basket, in a drawer, etc.

Did you know that the first serial scrapbook was introduced in 1825? Did you know that Mark Twain made a fortune with his patented invention, a scrapbook with pre-glued pages in 1872? He was able to tap into the huge market of middle and upper class women and their love affair with scrapbooks, especially scrapbooks with published themes, before photography was added, with just newspaper articles, poems, love notes, etc. Did you know one of the most prolific scrap bookers was Thomas Jefferson, who created as series of albums of newspaper clippings all about his own presidency?

This week while reviewing her mementos on the Chrysanthemum Teas I took to her scrapbooks and came across an interesting “fonds” (collection originating from one source) of the Kerby Family. Among this small parcel, clipped together, are letters, and newspaper clippings. I would like to explore these with you.

The first is a letter to Adelaide from Rev. George W Kerby, March 31, 1939. They chat about many subjects, but for the purpose of today, I will limit the references to the story we are weaving. Rev. Kerby begins with his happiness about the receipt of Adelaide’s letter, however as the letter progresses he chats about his sons departure from Shanghai to England to France, right side of page. When one reflects on the date, March 1939, we know how things begin to progress in Western Europe by September of that same year, the outbreak of WWII.

In the second letter, dated, September 20, 1940, Kerby chats about his son and losses in France, and the grandson who is just shy of 18

The third letter discusses many points, here is the third and final page of this letter to Adelaide, from George Kerby, to the right. The most fitting quote is this one ” these are most anxious times for us all, for Canada and the Empire, and for the world for that matter”.

It becomes clear while reading the one side of this conversation that the two have a wonderful friendship and the creation of this collection within Adelaide’s scrapbook doesn’t surprise me. In the second letter, George thanks Adelaide “for your kindly reference to my birthday, and also for the little poem which I greatly enjoyed and had never seen before”

The rest of the little collection clipped together is of further interest, and is essentially Adelaide, documenting the service life of George Kerby’s grandson, Harold.

The collection regarding Harold begins with a copy of a letter he wrote to his parents in July of 1941. I am including the full item to the left. Prior to writing this blog, I checked with a few military friends of mine about their feelings on the ethics of including the full letter. It was agreed that because of the nature of my blog, the letter, was being used to tell Harold’s story, and therefore in good taste.

Along with the letters are newspaper clippings about Harold’s RCAF career on the European Front. The earliest clipping, 1940, is about Harold being promoted to Wing Commander, and in charge of the 400th squadron.

To follow more of his career check out this: Oshawa Library RCAF Memories Scrapbook

The next clipping is one from September 2, 1943, where Wing Com. Harold Kerby is listed as missing. If you read the article, Kerby went missing on July 29th, but due to war censorship it was not allowed to be made public until early September. (clipping below)

The final clipping, below, from the collection is the one that might be anticipated and dates from November 9, 1943 where Kerby is “believed killed” via information from the International Red Cross. W/C Kerby was killed on a mission over Hamburg, Germany on July 29/30, 1943. His aircraft was intercepted by a night flier and shot down, killing four of the five on board.

Harold Kerby is buried in Hamburg Cemetery.


Missing Notification


Killed in Action Notification


Thank you to Sgt (Ret’d) Anthony R. Beresford, CD for his assistance with this blog entry and subsequent info about Kerby.