George Rumpel
George Rumpel (1850-1916)

George Rumpel (10 May 1850 – 05 June 1916)

“He remained warm-hearted, fair and diplomatic. His employees liked him for this and because wealth did not deprive him of his genial, companionable attribute. Without ostentation, he was considerate of and helpful to those in unfortunate circumstances.”

Berliners were rocked by the sudden death of former mayor, businessman, and humanitarian George Rumpel. Both The Berlin Daily Telegraph and Berlin News-Record ran lengthy testaments to the “Felt King of Canada’s” business acumen, pride for his adopted home, and his humanity.

Rumpel was born in Saxony, Germany in 1850 and arrived in Canada when he was 18 years old. After five years in Hamilton as a shoemaker, he moved to Berlin and soon established the Rumpel Felt Boot Company, with three employees. By 1909, when he sold the company, it grew to 300 employees. Three years later, he founded Rumpel Felt Company, whose building can still be seen by visitors arriving by train. He was active in local causes, and was integral to bringing in the water works. He is credited (locally, at least) for the principle, the acceptance, and adoption of public ownership.

Lies! All lies!

A few weeks at London, Ontario’s Carling’s Heights was all it took for unsavoury rumours to circulate about 118th Battalion. Several articles vehemently denied reports of free-for-all fighting that involved Colonel Lochead, Sergeant-Major Blood and Battalion members. Even Czar, the Cossack Wolfhound (a Borzoi?), was returned to Berlin (truth be told, the camp didn’t allow dogs, so the loaned pup returned to his actual owner). Berliners may have found some solace in knowing the Battalion’s band was popular.

The Devil, you say!

EM Chadwick, considered to be the “first authority in Ontario upon city names, and the arrangement of coats of arms for different cities” weighed in on The Committee of 99’s shortlist. In his letter to Mayor Hett, the esteemed expert summed up what many thought, “How a body of sensible men can have given any consideration to such a list of names is beyond my comprehension.”

Dunard was the only name of the six that met his approval, but he wished Berwell had more consideration. His postscript focussed on the larger list of 113 names and ended with a shocker that would bring every good Christian Britisher to their knees: “I notice one name which means an insane murder or human devil!!!”

The shortlist’s aftermath

After days’ worth of local and national ridicule about The Committee of 99’s recommended shortlist, Berlin, Ontario’s Finance Committee discussed the renaming fiasco.

Alderman Cleghorn, smiled as he introduced a motion: “I suppose you all heard of the Committee of 99. Personally, I don’t think much of them or of the names selected. I think, in justice to the people of the city, we should reopen the contest for a week or so and let the citizens offer suggestions. Now that they know that the name is going to be changed, they are interested. I don’t think that out of the 37,000 (see note) suggestions received we found two dozen from the citizens. So in justice to them, I think we should give them another opportunity.”

Of course, at no point did he put on record that he along with fellow Finance Committee members (and 99ers) Aldermen, Hahn, Hallman, Rudell, and Master had trawled through the sea of entries and selected the 113 names The Committee of 99 worked from.

City Council accepted The Committee of 99’s suggested names, but also approved reviewing all 37,000 entries, reopening the naming contest to all Canadians from 6-12 June.

Some residents took the situation in with good humour. One said, “The Committee of 99 did the best they could with the material at their disposal.” Another didn’t see a problem with renaming the city, “Hurontobercanadunardrenomaagnoleohydro City.”

A glimmer of hope for amalgamation

Berlin’s former mayor, WD Euler, submitted the Joint Committee on Amalgamation’s report to council. It found both communities’ per capita assets, liabilities, and taxes were similar, and there could be some savings by joining public utilities’ operations. According to The Daily Telegraph, Euler added, “Personally, outside of the joint operations of public utilities and the accession of population, I don’t see any advantages to be gained by Berlin, except the prevention of friction and ill-will in the operation of the street railway between Berlin and Waterloo.”

It was clear that if the city of Berlin merged with the town of Waterloo, Waterloo wanted to retain their name (Berlin’s population was roughly four times that of Waterloo’s). The town’s mayor said if Waterloo’s name were submitted to the 99ers for consideration, its town council would submit an amalgamation bylaw to their citizens. After lengthy debate on the issue, city council agreed to add Waterloo for consideration.

What time is it?

Three weeks ago, Prime Minister Borden was asked in Parliament if the government would consider enacting daylight savings legislation. The answer was “no” as the government thought it would be best if communities dealt with the issue individually.

Which is what happened.

With one community on local time and the next leaping forward, and no central co-ordination as to when time jumping should take place, who could say what time it was at any point on the map? Hamilton announced its time change for this week, while Toronto (60km/ 37mi away) would move their clocks in a few weeks.

Berlin’s city council endorsed daylight savings, but not without some debate. When Alderman Zettel argued against it, he said, “The morning is the best time for recreations. It’s all right for those who don’t have to get up early.”

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Galt, city council dropped daylight savings, even though the merchants and school board supported it. Opponents called all these clockwork shenanigans a fad. Oh, Galt.

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener (24 June 1850 – 05 June 1916)

“His personality was as impenetrable as hardened steel, and he was not a hero that could be loved; even the War Office had no pronounced liking for him, but on all sides there was a profound respect for his military efficiency, and for all he and to extend the domain of the British Empire.”

Days after the Battle of Jutand the Devonshire-class armoured cruiser that carried Lord Kitchener and his staff was lost in gale-force winds, off the Orkneys’ west coast. At the time newspapers reported 200-300 people drowned, but today that number is thought to be closer to 600; there were only 12 survivors. It is believed to have struck a landmine laid by a German submarine during the earlier North Sea battle  Kitchener was en route to Russia, to speak with Czar Nicholas II, about military and funding issues.  

Kitchener was made famous for his actions in the Boer War, Egypt, India, Khartoum, and Sudan. He was appointed the British Secretary of State for War when the Great War was declared.

The day after his death was announced, The News-Record printed this anonymous quotation, “I would not be surprised if the name “Kitchener” receives serious consideration as one suitable for this city.”

Notes

  • Previous newspaper reports consistently mentioned 30,000 entries. This week that figure jumped to 37,000
  • Click here for more information on the Battle of Jutland

Want a bit more information?

The Recipe 

160608 Twice-Baked Potatoes

I’d recently acquired a copy of The Toronto Cook Book, a 1915 collection of recipes by Mrs EJ Powell. While my copy its preface, a little page riffling through Elizabeth Driver’s excellent Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949 shows the work was meant as wartime fundraiser, “in the aid of those who unfortunately have been financially embarrassed by the present war.” Unlike the 1898 Galt Cook Book or the 1906 Berlin Cook Book, it doesn’t appear to be a community cookery book—or if it is, the contributors’ names aren’t included.

This recipe, from The Toronto Cook Book, is for the still-popular twice-baked potatoes. I think of it as a basic jumping point and can be easily adapted to taste.

Potatoes in the Shell, from The Toronto Cook Book (1915)

Bake eight medium-sized potatoes, when done cut in lengthwise pieces, remove the insides without breaking the skin, mash add butter, pepper and salt, two tablespoons of milk and the beaten whites of two eggs; if desired it is much better with a little onion juice to flavour; stir together lightly and fill the shells with the mixture; bake in the oven 25 minutes so they will have a nice brown colour. This must be prepared in the oven and placed in the oven at once.

Potatoes in the shell (Twice-baked Potatoes) (Adapted; Modern Equivalent)

Serves: 8-16

8 8 8 Medium baking potatoes
2 2 2 Egg whites
      Salt
      Pepper
30ml 30ml 2 Tablespoons Milk or cream
      Butter, to taste
5ml 5ml 1 teaspoon Onion juice (see notes)

Bake the potatoes in the usual way (see notes).

About 10 minutes before the potatoes are done, whip the egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until medium peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate bowl mix together salt, pepper, milk, a few tablespoons of butter and onion juice.

When done, remove the potatoes from the oven and cut in half lengthwise. Quickly scoop out the flesh into the bowl with the seasoned milk. Mash together. Adjust the consistency to your liking and balance flavours to taste.

Fold in the egg whites in thirds, so as to not deflate the whites.

Spoon the mashed potatoes back into the skins. Riffle the top so the mash is textured and will create golden crispy bits. Dot the tops with butter.

At this point you can either

 – Set the potatoes on a baking tray and set them under the grill/broiler to brown

OR

– Set the potatoes in a 190C/375F oven for about 20-30 minutes (until brown)

Server immediately

Notes

  • To make onion juice, rub a small wedge against a fine grater or microplane. If you don’t want to do that, use a scant quarter teaspoon of onion powder instead.
  • If you’ve not baked potatoes before, here’s what I do
    • Preheat the oven to 230C/450F
    • Scrub and dry the potatoes. Prick the skins all over with the tines of a fork. Rub the skins with olive oil and give the potatoes a good dusting with salt.
    • Either place the potatoes directly on the oven rack or on a foil-lined baking tray. Bake at 230C/450F for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 200C/400F and continue baking until done (about 45 minutes).
    • When done, a sharp paring knife will easily glide into the flesh.
  • This is a basic filling (essentially plain mashed potatoes) make the potatoes with your favourite flavourings (cheese, onions, bacon, herbs/spices (or, if you’re like me, a combination of Dijon mustard and cheddar cheese)).

6 Comments on 02-08 June 1916: Welcome to Hurontobercanadunardrenomaagnoleohydro City

  1. Julia S.
    13 June 2016 at 21:58 (1 year ago)

    I am loving this series. Onion juice used to be available in little bottles, but I haven’t seen it in decades. My grandmother keep it on the pantry shelf next to her beloved bottle of Gravymaster, or whatever that hellbrew was called.

    Reply
    • Julia S.
      13 June 2016 at 21:59 (1 year ago)

      My grandmother *used to* keep it, &c.

      Reply
    • jasmine
      13 June 2016 at 23:15 (1 year ago)

      Thanks, Julia–it’s a fun one to research and write.

      I didn’t realise onion juice was available in the shops–I just looked it up and it’s still being made and can be ordered online (same with garlic juice). That said, Gravy Master is still around 🙂

      j

      Reply
  2. Lee Ann
    14 June 2016 at 01:05 (1 year ago)

    Typo: looks like the “or” should be “for”: “but on all sides there was a profound respect or his military efficiency”

    Kitchener is still remembered today for the sock finishing technique which bears his name, good socks with no seams to chafe the toes being very important in the trenches. I hadn’t connected it to the town until James Nicoll started posting these.

    Reply
    • jasmine
      14 June 2016 at 12:43 (1 year ago)

      Thanks, Lee Anne — I fixed the typo.

      You’re correct about the Kitchener stitch–(unsurprisingly) it was not mentioned in the period obituaries in the local papers. Based on what I’ve been reading, my guess is journos wouldn’t have included this (if they knew of it) as it would play more to female readers, than male, and didn’t play to the “man’s man” image he projected.

      j

      Reply

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