Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The Peterson Family Home at 283 Dufferin Avenue, London, Ontario, Canada, Early 1950s to Early 1970s

Note One: My brother Don Peterson's poem is included with permission.  Patrick Donoahue gave me the go-ahead to give credit to his image restoration services.  In addition, the executors of the James Reaney/Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney estate said it was fine for me to mention that the Reaneys liked Don's poem.  I also got the green light from Jean McKay and Louise Fagan.

Note Two: Around 2014, I instituted a policy regarding both my blogs that I do not include links to other people's websites or blogs on mine.  Consequently, you find information on how to locate the links, but not hyperlinks.  Further clarification can usually be found in the bibliography.

Images Included With This Post

In the mid-2000s, a relative mailed me some family slides that had been in the possession of someone he knew for many years.  The majority of the images cover activity in the Peterson family household from the early 1950s to the early 1970s.  They had not been stored properly and are consequently in poor condition.  Fortunately, Patrick Donoahue of London Image Editing and Photo Scanning ( was able to restore the images included here, to some of their original quality.

283 (left) and 281 (right) Dufferin Avenue, 1966

Introductory Comments Regarding Excerpts from "Jingles About Our House" Poem

This post contain excerpts from my brother, Don Peterson's, poem "Jingles About Our House," which he wrote 1971-1972 while in Grade 8 at Lorne Avenue Public School in London, Ontario, Canada.  These introductory comments are meant to help you better understand the poem.

From the early 1950s to the early 1970s, my family lived at 283 Dufferin Avenue in London.  Don's poem explores, often humorously, what life was like in our unusual household.  My father, Charles T. Peterson (1913-2007) was a periodontist (gum specialist).  My mother Jay Peterson (1920-1976) was an artist and cultural activist involved with many London community groups.  For further information about my parents, click on the "Charles T. Peterson" and "Jay Peterson" labels in the right sidebar.

I was/am the oldest child, followed by Stu, Chris (1954-2009) and Don.  For more information about my brothers, you can click on the "Stu Peterson," "Chris Peterson," and "Don Peterson" labels in the right sidebar.

My father's periodontal office was next door at 281 Dufferin.  To the west of his office was/is Metropolitan United Church.  And further west on Dufferin, across the Wellington Street intersection, was/is the London Life Insurance Company.  The cenotaph mentioned in Don's poem is located in Victoria Park, which is across the street from London Life.

Chris, Charles T., Leith, Jay and Stu Peterson, ca. 1956

The "catwoman" lived on Picton Street, the first parallel street running east of our former Dufferin home.

On September 22, 1971, the "new" city hall officially opened at 300 Dufferin, across the street from our home.  The reference to the "city pile" in the first stanza probably refers to the debris from the city hall's construction.

My brothers Stu and Chris Peterson played in rock bands, so there were constant jam sessions in the "back room" of 283.  The music frequently bothered the Metropolitan United Church sexton's spouse, whose home was not far from the back room.

Don's reference to my father sometimes being a problem to the mayor will be discussed in the "Tin God Versus Maple" section below.

Leith, Stu, Chris, Don and Jay Peterson 1961

Excerpts from Don Peterson's "Jingles About Our House," 1971-1972

Our house in Tuscan Bracket style,
Now stands before the city pile,
The cenotaph is across the way,
Where parades seem to pass every day.

Victoria Park, early and late
Where people walk and soon will skate.

Our bushes turn brown,
When dogs come around,
And people walk them up and down.

When London Life gets out at 4,
Traffic is blocked outside our door.

Metropolitan means many things to me
With all sorts of personalities.

. . .

Rock music coming from our house
Gives a headache to the sexton's spouse.

. . .

Our rock band used to cause noise pollution,
But egg crate cartons have been the solution.

. . .

The catwoman lives around on Picton,
And rattles her dish to bring the cats in.

At 12 o'clock every night,
The city trash truck
Appears on site,
It gobbles up garbage at city hall
And the noise it makes wakes one and all.

Inside our house, from end to end,
Primitive, oriental and modern blend.

Our towering ceilings, ten feet high,
Makes life easier, with space to fly.

There's beautiful sculpture on our living room ceiling,
With pears and grapes and banana peelings,
When I lie on the living room floor
I can see this sculpture more and more,
Some artisan of 100 years past
Must have made this out of plaster cast.

We don't have the cleanest floors
Because too many people walk through our doors,
From the boys in the back,
To our friends in the front,
Privacy is almost completely out.

Our long, slim windows let in lots of sun
Unless we keep our curtains drawn.

Pottery, masks, fossils and shells,
Brasses, wrought iron, shivas and bells,
Batiks, tapestries, quilts and flags,
Horse hair, crushed velvet and itchy straw shag.

A Scottish friend says:
The English Ivy brings bad luck,
So with philodendrons we are stuck.

Our kitchen is a vertical pen,
Meant for two, but usually has ten.

There are pockets of people everywhere,
Playing rock, Chopin or solitaire.

Folding origami or knotting macrame,
Hooking rugs and oil painting,
Typing, sleeping and contemplating.

Sprouting mung, alfalfa and wheat,
Provides food more nutritious than meat.

Banjos and lutes,
Autoharps and flutes,
Tubas and basses fill all the spaces.

The smells of our house,
Are really something else,
From Arrid Extra Dry
To Chanel No. 5
And fresh baked bread,
To the fragrant Lemon Pledge.

Down the drain the water runs,
It goes down until there's none,
Where it goes you cannot tell,
But you would think it was jet-propelled.

. . .

With father's office right next door,
Our life at home is never a bore,
He's either jolly or like a bear,
And sometimes a problem to the mayor.

Across the street, thirteen stories high,
There the big new city hall lies,
Behind a square of engraved initials,
Of all the city's big officials.

Our house is a home as you can see,
Our family members are different as can be,
We fight a bit,
But we've learned to give,
Our place is home where we all live.

Copyright © 1971-2019, by Don Peterson

Don, Stu and Chris Peterson, 1961

Further Information About Don's Poem

Family friends and poets, James Reaney (1926-2008) and Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney (1925-2012), liked this poem so much they asked me to ask Don if they could have a copy.  Don agreed, so I gave it to the Reaneys around 1991.

On May 27, 2007, London writer, Jean McKay, who was a friend of my late mother's, read Don's poem.  This was at a celebration of my parents' lives in Proudfoot Hall at First-St. Andrew's United Church in London.  The event also included binders of archival material and display boards full of photos.  Family, friends and associates joined McKay in providing additional readings.  The approximately 53 people who attended gave me lots of positive feedback on what transpired.

Chris, Don, Jay, Stu (hidden) and Leith Peterson, 1961

"Tin God Versus Maple" Reading, May 30, 2007

Three days after the celebration of my parents' lives, I was pleased to be among five women writers/storytellers who read for a literary evening fundraiser.  This London event, hosted by producer Louise Fagan, was part of the In Good Company festival.  This inaugural festival showcased works by women in the arts.

My contribution was "Tin God Versus Maple," which discussed events before, during and after my father's 1970 tree-cutting protest.  Fortunately, the Ivey Family London Room at the London Public Library had a news clipping file which included the London Free Press coverage of this dustup.  Citations for many of the articles I found in the London Room can be found in the bibliography.

Leith using her mother's lipstick as face paint does not go over well, ca. 1955

Below is a synopsis of the "Tin God Versus Maple" story.

In the spring of 1970, the City of London decided to cut down the trees in front of our former home and my father's office, because they wanted to widen the street.  This was because the "new" city hall was in the process of being built.  But my father told the media and the mayor he would stand his four children in front of the trees rather than have them cut down.  He did not tell me about this ahead of time, but I will leave that saga for another day.

The furor all started when the Public Utilities Commission (P.U.C.) put red X's on all the trees on both the city hall side, and the south side of the street, where we lived.

Then, in the wee hours of the morning, a "mystery painter" covered up the red X's on the trees with black paint.  A London Free Press reporter spotted this individual and asked him if he worked for the city.  The painter said he did not.  As the reporter went to his car to get his camera, the painter left the scene.

Editorials and letters to the editor were almost all sympathetic towards the plight of the trees.  Edith M. Atkins complained that too much emphasis was being placed on catering to "that almighty tin god, the automobile."

But the protests failed to dissuade the majority of city council.  In fact, it seemed to make them all the more determined.  Council agreed to a week's reprieve, but when the week was up, 14 P.U.C. workmen and a foreman showed up at 6:00 a.m., with five vehicles and their saws at the ready.  Sixteen protesters were waiting for them.

The P.U.C. crew got to work, despite the dissenters' objections.  But the foreman told the workmen to stop after numerous residents phoned in noise complaints.  When Mayor McClure and Alderman Fred Underhill arrived, shortly after 7:30 a.m., they found my father serving coffee and doughnuts to those present.

More altercations and sawing ensued, with the final score being four trees cut down, one severely damaged, and one with a few limbs cut off.  In the end, the rest of the trees were cut down because they were showing signs of decay and would die in a few years anyway.

By 1974, members of the Peterson family had relocated either to other parts of the city or to other parts of the country.  However, my father rented out 283 and ran his practice until about 1977.

Then, around 1978, both our former family home and my father's office were torn down.  Where they once stood is now the Metropolitan United Church parking lot.  Just in front of the parking lot is a semicircle of grass on which two linden trees stand, side by side.  Rumour has it that they were planted by the city around the time the buildings were torn down, as a sort of compromise.  They are certainly not as tall as the great maples that shaded the south side of the street for many years.  But when a family friend jogs by, he gives a boy scout salute to what he considers to be living memorials to Jay and Charles Peterson.

Leith, Don, Chris and Stu Peterson, 1962


Kudos to my brother Don for giving me permission to include excerpts from his poem.  It documents 20 years of extraordinary activity in front of London's city hall.  Yes, many neighbours were glad when we left, and peace was restored to the area.  But numerous family friends and associates enjoy relating humorous anecdotes about the "fun times" at 283.

In her October 18, 2018 post, entitled "In Good Company," Louise Fagan said that conversations from In Good Company were "still part of the public conscience."  I consider my retelling of my 2007 "Tin God Versus Maple" saga part of this ongoing conversation.  Kudos to Louise for providing a forum for my unconventional London story.

283 (left) and 281 (right) Dufferin Avenue, 1966


Atkins, E. M. (1970, April 28).  Departed trees [letter to editor].  London Free Press.

Atkins, E. M. (1970, April 29).  Let's save the maples around city hall [letter to editor].  London Free Press.

Etherington, J.  (1970, April 30).  Tree-cutting ends in saw-off, mayor yields in face of protest.  London Free Press.

Fagan, L.  (2018, October 18).  In Good Company.  Retrieved from Louise Fagan: the Principal Collective:

Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library (2019).  City Hall at Dundas and Wellington. . .  Retrieved July 12, 2019 from

London Free Press.  (1970, May 1).  'Life people' to study tree-cutting policy.  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, May 1).  More trees doomed [editorial].  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, April 27).  Must the trees always fall? [editorial].  London Free Press.

London Free Press.   (1970, April 27?).  Mystery painter out to save trees.  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, April 2).  Picketing threat by periodontist gains week's reprieve for trees.  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, May 9).  Preserving the forest city [editorial].  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, May 2).  Save-trees forces lose city hall fight.  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, April 22).  Says public supporting tree fight.  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, May 5).  Tree replacement policy proposed.  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, May 1?).  Trees bring mayor, kin threats.  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, June 25).  Youth's protest costs city $343.  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, April 30?).  [Looking east on Dufferin Avenue] [photo with caption].  London Free Press.

London Free Press.  (1970, May 4).  McClure's career said hurt by trees.  London Free Press.

London Image Editing and Photo Scanning.  (2019).  Images, the Internet & Search Engine Optimization.  Retrieved July 15, 2019 from

Peterson, C. T.  (1970, April 25).  Must plan to protect quality of the environment [letter to editor].  London Free Press.

Peterson, D.  (1971-1972).  Jingles About Our House [unpublished].

Peterson, L. (2007, May 30.  Tin God Versus Maple [unpublished].

Wikipedia.  (2019, June 7).  Louise Fagan.  Retrieved from Wikipedia:

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Met Up With My Late Mother's "Moo Cow" Marionette at Museum London, November 3, 2018

Updated:  Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 6:30 PM, EST

Note 1: Around 2014, I instituted a policy regarding both my blogs that I do not include links to other people's websites or blogs on mine.  Consequently, you will only find information on how to locate the links (I often include screenshots of the webpages in question).  Further clarification can be found in the bibliography.

Note 2:  The two photos taken at Museum London are included with permission.  I obtained an additional permission from the Canadian Museum of History for the one of Moo Cow and me.

Playwright James Reaney and My Mother, Jay Peterson - Creative Sharing

James Reaney (1926-2008) and my mother Jay (nee Fleming) Peterson (1920-1976), were both highly creative London, Ontario, Canada cultural activists.  They were adept at not only getting projects off the ground, but also seeing them through to fruition.

One of these projects was marionette plays for children.  My mother convinced her fellow Western Fair board members to commission James to produce three shows for the September 1965 fair.  Mom took a hands-on approach with one of the three.  She invited James (or as I knew him, Jamie), his wife Colleen Thibaudeau, and their three children, James Stewart, John and Susan, to the Peterson family cottage at Leith, Ontario, in August 1965.  The Apple Butter marionettes were brought to life in my late maternal grandfather, Stuart Fleming's, old print shop.

In his 1990 Theatrum article, entitled "Stories on a String," Jamie described Apple Butter as a "new venture.  What I wanted to do in this fairy tale--where an orphan boy triumphs over the cruelties of his guardians--was to create a puppet hero for Southwestern Ontario. . ."  The tale was based on a story Jamie's mother told him about 1890s Perth County.

My mother designed "Moo Cow," an impressive-looking bovine, with the map of Canada built into the Holstein's black-and-white markings.  Moo Cow helps Apple Butter get the better of "thick skulled" Victor Nipchopper, by hooking Victor with her horn, and then flying away with him to the moon.

You can read Moo Cow's and Victor's exchange in Susan Reaney's September 1, 2018 post, entitled "James Reaney's marionette play Apple Butter" at

Screenshot from James Reaney, September 1, 2018

And you can read more about the Leith, Ontario adventure in my presentation at Jamie's memorial at London's Aeolian Hall, on July 7, 2008.  It can be found under the tag "Marionette Plays" by Susan Reaney, November 29, 2010 at

Screenshot from James Reaney, November 29, 2010

Canadian Museum of History Acquires Apple Butter Marionettes

Around January 2009, what was then the Canadian Museum of Civilization (renamed the Canadian Museum of History in 2013) acquired some of the Apple Butter marionettes from the James Reaney estate.  James Stewart Reaney, Jamie's son, explained this acquisition at the end of the November 29, 2010 post cited above.

James Stewart Reaney's Presentation, November 3, 2018

On November 3, 2018, I enjoyed attending James Stewart's lecture in the Museum London auditorium.  It was entitled "I Was So Much Older Then: A reconsideration of Jamie Reaney's Plays for Children. . ."  The London Public Library, Wordsfest and Museum London all played a role in bringing this talk to fruition.

In addition, the Canadian Museum of History loaned Moo Cow and another Apple Butter marionette, Tree Wuzzle, to Museum London, to be housed temporarily in the Museum London lobby.

Below is James Stewart giving his lecture.  The photo of the Reaneys and Apple Butter was taken by my mother in August 1965 at Leith, Ontario.  I am grateful to Susan Reaney, Jamie's daughter, and James Stewart's sister, who agreed to let me use her photo on my blog.

James Stewart Reaney, November 3, 2018

For an in-depth look at James Stewart's November 3, 2018 presentation, you can check out "Wordsfest 2018: James Stewart Reaney on James Reaney's children's plays," November 16, 2018, at

Screenshot from James Reaney, November 16, 2018

Leith Peterson Meets Up With Moo Cow

After James Stewart's lecture, I had the pleasure of getting reacquainted with Mom's "Moo Cow" in the Museum London lobby.  Susan Reaney kindly recorded this meet up and agreed to let me publish it on my blog.

Moo Cow and Leith Peterson, November 3, 2018

As I admired dear old Moo, I reflected on how enduring my mother's legacy has been, despite the fact that she passed away more than 41 years ago.

Colleen Thibaudeau - Jay "reaching out to us all"

Jamie's wife, Colleen Thibaudeau (1925-2012), correctly pointed out that my mother reached "out to us all" and "painted us all into it."  For further information about Colleen's observations about my mother, you can read the "Life Celebrated by Poem" section of my May 4, 2012 post, entitled "Jay Peterson (1920-1976)":

My Mother Teaching a Clay Modeling Course in 1956

An example of my mother reaching out can be found in this January 1956 London Free Press photo.  (Her married name was Mrs. Charles Peterson.)

London Free Press, January 1956

Since you will probably have difficulty reading the cutline, I have transcribed it below:

The first lesson in clay modeling for the Modeling and Sculpture Group sponsored by the Western Art League was taught last night at the Western Fair Arts building.  Here, instructor Mrs. Charles Peterson, left, coaches two students modeling faces.  The model, centre, Phyllis Eaton, poses for Dr. W.A. Andreae, Byron, and Mrs. Mary Jones, London, right.  It was the first of six weekly lessons.

I purchased a scan of the negative for the above photo from the London Free Press Collection of Photographic Negatives, Archives and Special Collections, Western Libraries, Western University.  This is one of my favourite photos of my mother.

London Free Press, negative date, January 23, 1956

Jay and Leith Peterson, December 1956

Here is another example of my mother reaching out, this time to four-year old me, in December 1956.

Leith and Jay Peterson, December 1956

I am guessing that she was helping me design a Christmas ornament.

From the late-1950s to the mid-1960s, my mother tried to get me engaged with the visual arts, e.g., enrolling me in arts courses.  But I realized I did not have her skills in this area, and lost interest.

Leith Peterson's Calligraphy, circa 1965

Nevertheless, I think this calligraphy I did around 1965 (below) signals my move into writing as one of my primary interests.

The "Calligraphy Leith" is in my mother's handwriting.

The author of the quotation is English critic, essayist and poet, Leigh Hunt (1784-1859).  Excerpt from The Farmer's Wife, Vol. 36 (1933), p 72.

Leith Peterson, ca. 1965 - Calligraphy of Leigh Hunt (1789-1859) quote

I like to think of this calligraphy as my "line and rule" nature constructively joining forces with my mother's imaginative heart.


There is a lot that can be learned from examining the creative energies of my mother and James (Jamie) Reaney.  It is fantastic that Susan Reaney, James Stewart and his wife Susan Wallace have done so much to document this verve through presentations and website posts.  And I have been happy to chime in from time to time on my blog.


Canadian Museum of History (n.d.).  About.  Retrieved November 2018, from Canadian Museum of History:

Canadian Museum of History (n.d.).  Marionette, Moo Cow.  Retrieved November 2018, from Canadian Museum of History:

London Free Press (1956, January).  First Lesson in Clay Modeling.  London Free Press.

Peterson, L. (2008, July 6).  Jamie and Jay Peterson's 1965 Apple Butter Collaboration.  Retrieved from James Reaney:

Peterson, L. (2003, May 10).  Remembering Mom.  London Free Press, p. F3.

Reaney, J. (1973).  Apple Butter and Other Plays for Children.  Vancouver: Talonbooks.

Reaney, J. (1990, April/May).  Stories on a String.  Theatrum, pp. 7-8.

Reaney, J.S. (2010, November 29).  Apple Butter and Friends are on their way to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  Retrieved from James Reaney:

Reaney, S. (2010, November 29).  Marionette Plays.  Retrieved from James Reaney:

Reaney, S. (2018, November 16).  Wordsfest 2018: James Stewart Reaney on James Reaney's children's plays.  Retrieved from James Reaney:

Wikiquote (2018, June 15).  Leigh Hunt.  Retrieved December 2018, from Leigh Hunt - Wikiquote:

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Ken Whiteley's "That Other Shore" Inspires Pride in Michael Sullivan's Michigan Descendants

Note: Photos of Allison Bosshart and family, Ken Whiteley and Reggie Harris, included with permission.


On July 25, 2016, I published a post about Ken Whiteley and my great-great grandfather, Michael Sullivan (1813-1886).  Below is a link to this post.

I explained that Ken is a "multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter [and] record producer" whose "musical journey has taken him from jug band, folk and swing to blues, gospel and children's music."  He has won a Canadian Folk Music Award and a Genie Award for best original song, among many other accolades.

Like me, Ken grew up hearing the story of how Michael Sullivan changed his surname from O'Sullivan to Sullivan, after he got on the wrong side of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.  Michael ended up moving to Cambourne, in the Cornwall area of England.  He courted a widow named Jane Trevillion (1816-1895).  Her husband had been killed in the mines, and she was raising four children on her own.

Jane told Michael that if he wanted to marry her, he would have to become a Methodist, and he complied with her wishes.  Around the 1840 to 1845 period, they wed in Cambourne, and subsequently had two children: Ellen Sullivan (1846-1922) and Thomas Sullivan (1849-1920).  Thomas is Ken Whiteley and my great-grandfather.

Michael was employed in the tin and/or copper mines.  Around the late 1840s, copper was discovered near Sault Ste. Marie, Upper Canada.  The centre of the find turned out to be Bruce Mines.  This led to a call for experienced miners, including those in the Cornwall area of England.  Michael, Jane and their six children crossed the Atlantic, ca. 1851, to seek a better life.

Ken Whitely's "That Other Shore" About Michael Sullivan

In my July 2016 post, I explained that Ken wrote a song, entitled "That Other Shore," about our great-great grandfather, Michael Sullivan.  The song is on his Freedom Blues (2016) CD.  This CD can be purchased from or via

On July 16, 2016, I enjoyed hearing Ken sing "That Other Shore" at the Home County Music & Art Festival Main Stage in London, Ontario.  A couple of photos of Ken and my meet-up can be found in my July 25, 2016 post (link below).

Allison Bosshart, the Great-Great-Great Granddaughter of Michael and Jane Sullivan

In July 2017, Allison Bosshart, who is the great-great-great granddaughter of Michael and Jane Sullivan, contacted me via my blog.  Allison is descended from Ellen Sullivan (1846-1922) who was the oldest daughter of Michael and Jane.

Below is a chart that explains the connection between Allison, Ken and me.

Connection Between Allison Bosshart, Ken Whiteley and Leith Peterson

Ken Whiteley Performs at Michigan Concerts, May 4-5, 2018

I helped Allison connect up with Ken.  She was thrilled when he informed her he was playing twice in Michigan in May 2018.

The first Michigan gig was on May 4, 2018 evening, and was entitled "Reggie Harris and Ken Whiteley - in Celebration of Pete Seeger!"  It was part of the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert ( at MSU Community Music School in East Lansing.

(For further information about Reggie Harris, visit

Below is a photo of Ken and Reggie at this event.

Ken Whitley and Reggie Harris at Ten Pound Fiddle Concert, May 4, 2018

In attendance were:

- Allison Bosshart and her husband
- Allison and her husband's children: Max and Ava (twins), 8, Ella Ruth, 10
- Allison's mother, Carole Bosshart, who is the great-great granddaughter of Michael and Jane
- Allison's cousin, Jan Yeaman, who is the great-great-great granddaughter of Michael and Jane

L-R: Jan Yeaman, Max, Ken, Ava, Allison, Carole, Ella Ruth, May 2018

In a May 8, 2018 email to me, Allison described it as a "magical performance. . .We sang with a whole group of people about my great-great-great grandparents AND my children's great-great-great-great grandparents!!  Wow!!

Then on Saturday, May 5, morning, Ken performed at the "Fiddle Scouts Concert," which was the children's segment of the Ten Pound Fiddle event.

Allison said she was "beside [herself] with joy and fellowship of music" when Ken invited her children up on the stage with him.  She "kept wondering what would Michael and Jane Sullivan think?"

Ken Sings "That Other Shore" at Smales Pace/Change of Pace Reunion, London, Ontario, May 5, 2018

On Saturday, May 5, evening, I was happy to be entertained by the music and camaraderie of Ken, Brent Titcomb, Liam Russel Titcomb, Fraser & Girard, New Cumberland with John P. Allen, and Nora Galloway.  This was at the 8th Annual Smales Pace/Change of Pace Reunion at Aeolian Hall in London, Ontario.  As Ken sang "That Other Shore," and dedicated it to me, I felt gratitude that my July 25, 2016 post had widened the circle of Michael and Jane's living descendants.

Below is a photo of Ken and me after the Smales Pace/Change of Pace Reunion Concert, at the Aeolian Hall.

Ken Whiteley and Leith Peterson, London, Ontario, May 5, 2018


Belanger, J. (2018, May 2).  "Reunion concert pays tribute to London's legendary folk "'hotbed.'"  London Free Press

Bowman, D. (2013, December 16).  Ken Whiteley.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

My Leith Peterson Blog is Now HTTPS

As of April 8, 2018, this blog is now HTTPS, via the following link:

My other blog, which covers my views on Indigenous (Aboriginal) issues, was also updated on April 8, 2018:

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Ivey Family London Room's "Winter in London" 2017 Display Includes Artwork by Jay Peterson (1920-1976)

Jay Peterson's Girl, Sled and Snowman, circa 1961

My mother, Jay Peterson (1920-1976), painted this girl, sled and snowman on the wall of my father, Charles T. Peterson (1913-2007)'s, periodontal office.  My father's office was located at 281 Dufferin Avenue in London, Ontario, Canada.

Jay Peterson's ca. 1961 artwork

It is believed my mother painted this around 1961, along with other artwork of children engaging in various activities.  If you want to see other images that she painted on the wall, click on the "Jay Peterson" label in the right sidebar.  Scroll down to view my posts dated May 11, 2013 and December 15, 2016 (Part One of Four of the latter).

My father retired circa 1977, and his office was torn down shortly afterwards.  But before it was dismantled, he cut my mother's pictures out of the wall, and had them individually framed.  To make a long story short, two of about four that were previously at the Peterson cottage in Leith, Ontario, are now on the wall of my home in London, Ontario.

Am grateful to my brother, Stuart Peterson, who, in August 2016, mailed me three more of my mother's paintings that had been on the wall of my father's office.  My cousin, John Tinker, found them at my maternal grandparents' former cottage in Leith, Ontario.  Consequently, I now have five of these treasured reminders of my mother.

Artwork in 2017 Season's Greetings Card

I incorporated my mother's girl, sled and snowman artwork into my 2017 Season's Greetings cards.  This is the eighth year I have used her artwork to brighten up my end-of-year correspondence.  For the previous seven years, I used the Staples Copy and Print online greeting card templates to create them.  This year's card was developed via the Staples Live Design System.

Here is a photo of the front of the 2017 card.

Jay Peterson's artwork in 2017 Season's Greetings card

The inside of the 2017 card.

Inside of 2017 card

It says "Season's Greetings from the Peterson residence" because I provide my two surviving brothers (who also have the last name of Peterson) with multiple copies of the cards.  This is so they can distribute them to their own network of family, friends and associates.  I particularly appreciate the fact that my brothers pass on the cards to their children--my four nieces and one nephew--who never knew their grandmother, because she passed away before they were all born.

The Ivey Family London Room Receives Copies of My Season's Greetings Cards

The Ivey Family London Room, at the Central Branch of the London Public Library, has been one of the recipients of my cards featuring my mother's artwork for all of the eight years I have produced them.  I have happily complied with the London Room Librarian, Arthur McClelland's, request to provide additional copies of each year's card.  This is so the staff can not only retain them in the archives, but also so they will have extras for display purposes.

(For further information about the London Room, refer to my December 14, 2013 post, which you can find by clicking on the "Ivey Family London Room" label in the right sidebar.}

2015 and 2017 Cards in Ivey Family London Room "Winter in London" Display

Barb Scott, the London Room Library Assistant, included both my 2015 and 2017 cards in this year's "Winter in London" display.  In a Decembet 5, 2017 email to me, Scott explained that this year's focus is on "skating, tobogganing, outdoor ice rinks and such."

On December 6, 2017, I went down to the London Room to view the wonderful displays, which are housed in wall and flat cabinets in various parts of the repository.

Here is a photo of Scott at the entrance to the London Room.

Barb Scott at entrance to the London Room, December 6, 2017
And this is one of Scott and I standing beside the display cabinet containing the 2015 and 2017 cards.  This cabinet is located outside the London Room's front doors, on the left.  The cards are on the second from the bottom shelf, on the left.

Leith Peterson and Barb Scott beside display, December 6, 2017

The 2015 and 2017 cards in the display.

2015 and 2017 cards in London Room display, December 6, 2017

(For further information about the carollers artwork in my 2015 card, refer to my April 11, 2016 post, which you can find by clicking on the "Jay Peterson" label in the right sidebar.)

Scott said the "Winter in London" display should be up until mid-January 2018.  If you are in the London area during this period, I recommend checking it out.

Ivey Family London Room Celebrated 50th Anniversary, July 31, 2017

On July 31, 2017, I enjoyed being present at the London Room's 50th anniversary.  This well-attended event included speeches, the unveiling of a new collection of historical postcards, and the launch of the book London: 150 Cultural Moments.

So, if you do make it down to the London Room to see the "Winter in London" display, or, if you venture there at any point in the future, you will have an opportunity to see what more than 50 years of hard work, and a dedicated staff, have accomplished.


Carbone, J.  (2017, July 31).  Central Library's London Room marks 50th Anniversary.

London Public Library (2017, Summer).  50 years of local history.  Access, pp. 1-2, 32, 42.

London Public Library (2012, September).  Ivey Family London Room [brochure].

Montanini, C. (2017, July 27).  London culture in 150 meaningful moments.

Pinkerton, C. (2017, June 5).  London Room: Becoming city's know-it-all.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Part Four of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - Her Involvement With Indigenous Issues, 1958-1976

My references to the writings of other people--both indigenous and non-indigenous--do not in any way imply that they share my views on this matter.  The opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends or associates.

Part Four - A            Introduction to Jay Peterson's Involvement With Indigenous Issues, 1958 to 1976

In April 2011, I launched not only this blog about me generally, but also my ( which covers my views on indigenous issues.  Some of my posts mention my mother, e.g., the fact that she was the main reason I got connected with the aboriginal "cause."  However, until now, I have said very little on my site about her work in this area.

Part of the reason for this is my views on this topic have diverged substantially from my mother's over the course of the 40 years she has been gone.  In fact, I have become so disillusioned with many aspects of the "cause," that, since about the mid-2000s, I have primarily been on the outside looking in.  There are a few aboriginals who I keep in touch with, who share at least some of my views, but for the most part, I keep my distance from the whole scene.  For further information about my opinions on this, you can check out my blog.

In Part Four--Sections B to E below--I have tried to be as objective as I can about what my mother was doing at the time she was involved.

Part Four - B            Indigenous Visitors to 283 Dufferin Avenue in London, Ontario, etc.

According to a biographical sketch my father put together around 1970, my mother "became interested in the plight of Indians* [in 1958] when she found a young teacher from Trinidad helping the Indians** without compensation on his summer vacation, and Canadians themselves not doing it."

Mom frequently went to various aboriginal communities in the London, Ontario area--from Kettle Point to Cape Croker***--and visited with the native women.  Often she would buy their crafts from them, sell the items in town, and then bring the money back to the women.  What resulted was a lifelong friendship with natives on various reserves in Southwestern and Central Ontario and in the London area.

My father shared my mother's enthusiasm for indigenous issues, particularly in connection with environmental stewardship.  He told me that every year, for many years, he gave 5,000 saplings to both Oneida of the Thames and Six Nations--and planted some of them himself.  One year, he said he gave 22,000 to Six Nations.  No wonder his friends there called him the "tree man."  His funeral program included an "Iroquois prayer."

I recall a number of aboriginals who paid visits to our home at 283 Dufferin Avenue In London, Ontario, Canada.  They included people from Six Nations, Cape Croker***, Oneida and other communities.  I have various materials that document my parents' and my involvement during this period.  These materials include guest book entries, correspondence, programs and news clippings.

Our family home was filled with aboriginal crafts, including Mohawk pottery and corn husk mats from Six Nations, plus sweetgrass baskets and silkscreen-printed cards from Cape Croker***.

Jay Peterson in front of 283 Dufferin Avenue, London, Ontario, ca. 1967

Part Four - C            Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada (IEA), ca. 1964-1973, and the Canadian Association in Support of the Native Peoples (CASNP), 1973-1976

My mother was active with the Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada (IEA) from about 1964 to 1973.  G. Allan Clark, the Indian-Eskimo Association executive director, wrote a letter to my father, dated March 6, 1970, in which he extolled the many ways my mother supported the aboriginal cause.  He said "Jay's home" provided support and encouragement for indigenous people, much like the N'Amerind Friendship Centre in London.

Clark also talked about the exhibits she arranged at the Western Fair, to help educate the non-native population regarding native contributions to "Ontario's history and culture."  I remember attending some of these Western Fair exhibits with my mother.  As I recall, aboriginals from different communities, such as Cape Croker*** and Oneida of the Thames, demonstrated their skills, such as sewing intricate beadwork designs.

When the Indian-Eskimo Association (IEA) moved from Toronto to Ottawa in 1973, there was a name change to the Canadian Association in Support of the Native Peoples (CASNP).  My mother continued her advocacy work under the CASNP moniker from 1973 until her passing in 1976.

The Fall 1978 CASNP Bulletin, entitled "On Native Women," was dedicated to my mother.  Joanne Hoople, the CASNP executive director, described my mother as a "selfless worker throughout her adult life. . .who is remembered as someone who inspired others."  Hoople talked about my mother's contribution to the establishment of the N'Amerind Friendship Centre, as well as her work "furthering the objectives of the Indian-Eskimo Association" and then CASNP.

Part Four - D            Interest in Indigenous Art and Symbolism

My mother's B.A. in Art History from the University of Rochester (1941) and her B.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Toronto (1943) heightened her appreciation for those who were creative and artistic.

In addition, her 19th Century Scottish cotter ancestors had instilled in her a deep appreciation for folk art.  In 1949, shortly after she moved to London, she wrote about the importance of folk art.  She described it as the "art of the people," which included many homecrafts, such as weaving, sculpture, toy making and woodcraft.

She said the Industrial Revolution had caused folk arts to die out, but that they should be revived.  I think both her education and her interest in folk arts contributed substantially to her support for indigenous peoples' artistic and creative abilities.

In addition, my mother was interested in symbolism in all its forms, so it is not surprising that she would be fascinated by the aboriginal version of this.  For instance, she was intrigued by the Iroquois creation stories that include the "Turtle."

I am not saying my mother's turtle artwork below represents any indigenous story, but I think it is an example of how her connection with indigenous people heightened her appreciation for the natural world.

Jay Peterson's turtle artwork, ca. 1964-1974
Part Four - E            Native (a.k.a. Indian) Studies Course Instructor at Fanshawe College, ca. 1970-1973

She taught Native (a.k.a. Indian) Studies at Fanshawe College, in London, Ontario, circa 1970-1973.  I have copies of some of the material she helped prepare for this course, including a one-pager entitled "Ways of Wisdom."  Twenty-one aboriginals from different tribes across the country helped her assemble this document.  It includes 11 observations, such as native people were more interested in "BEING than BECOMING."

Some of the course content I have is unsigned and may have been written by others or in collaboration with others.  Aboriginals who I am assuming were guest lecturers for the course also wrote some material that I found in her course files.

However, I know that "Ways of Wisdom" was written by her because I have her handwritten drafts.

Part Four - F            My Comments About My Mother's Involvement with Indigenous Issues

It was difficult for me to write about this topic because, as I said in the introduction to this post, my views on aboriginal issues have changed substantially from my mother's over the past 40 years.  Her experiences spanned an 18-year period, but mine have lasted more than 35 years.

Although I share her view that non-aboriginal people need to be better informed about the history and heritage of indigenous people, my approach is quite different from hers in other respects.  For more information on my views, you can look at my blog.

Part Four - G             Notes

* I realize that some indigenous people prefer that the term Indian not be used, but it was the word often employed at the time my father wrote his biographical sketch of my mother (circa 1970).  In addition, Indian has a specific meaning under the terms of the Indian Act.  See Gibson citation below for further information on this.

Moreover, many aboriginals still call themselves Indian and do not find the term offensive.  See MacBain citation below.

Finally, no legal definition exists for First Nation, although many aboriginals prefer to refer to themselves this way.  See my citation for the Government of Canada's TCPS 2 (2014) - Chapter 9 below.

** My father was referring to the Trinidad teacher "helping the Indians" in two or more aboriginal communities southwest of London.  These communities are now called Chippewas of the Thames, the Munsee Delaware Nation and the Oneida Nation of the Thames settlement.  Note that the first two are reserves, but the latter is a settlement.  For further information on the history and current situation of these communities, refer to the relevant websites listed below.

I found some of the content in the McCallum document (cited below) helpful for preparing the information on Southwestern Ontario aboriginals.

*** Cape Croker has a very complicated history which is beyond the scope of this post.  For further information, please refer to the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation site, which is listed in the citations below.


Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.  Retrieved December 14, 2016 from:

Chippewas of the Thames.  Retrieved December 11, 2016 from:

Gibson, G. (2009).  A New Look at Canadian Indian Policy.  Fraser Institute.  Pages 18-29 discuss the fact that Indian has a specific meaning under the terms of the Indian Act.

Government of Canada (2015, July 7).  TCPS 2 (2014) - Chapter 9 - Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples of Canada.  Retrieved October 18, 2016 from the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE):  On page 21, in endnote #1, there is a reference to there not being a legal definition for First Nation.

Hoople, J. (1978, Fall).  In Memorium: Jay Peterson.  On Native Women: CASNP Bulletin, p. 2.

Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada (2016).  Indian-Eskimo Association of Canada fonds, 1957-1970.  Accession Number 95-006.  Retrieved July 7, 2016 from Trent University Archives:

MacBain, R. (2016).  Their Home and Native Land.  Robert MacBain.  See pages xi-xii for MacBain's explanation as to why he uses the term Indian in his book.  One of the reasons is that the "32 Ojibways, Mohawks and Cree" who he interviewed for the book did not find the "word to be insulting, pejorative or offensive.  They used it all the time."

McCallum, I (1998).  Part 2b - Human Heritage/First Nations: Thames River Watershed.  Retrieved June 30, 2012 from Canadian Heritage Rivers System:

Munsee Delaware Nation.  Retrieved December 11, 2016 from:

Oneida Nation of the Thames.  Retrieved December 11, 2016 from:

Peterson, C.T. (ca. 1970).  Peterson, Jessie Royce (Fleming) - "Jay Peterson."  London, Ontario.  unpublished.

Peterson, J. (1975, March).  Phase Five: Experiencing Equality [seminar, unpublished].  University of Western Ontario, Department of Occupational Therapy.

Peterson, L. (2003, May 10).  Remembering Mom.  London Free Press, p. F3.

Part Three of Four: Tribute to Jay Peterson (1920-1976), on the 40th Anniversary of Her Passing, December 15, 2016 - Her Involvement With First-St. Andrew's United Church

Disclaimer: My references to the writings of other people do not in any way imply that they share my views on this manner.  The opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my family, friends, or associates.

Part Three - A            Jay Peterson and First-St. Andrew's (FSA) United Church, London, Ontario, Canada - Introduction

Our family attended First-St. Andrew's (FSA) United Church in London, Ontario.  I know my father was involved with various activities at the church, such as teaching Sunday school, but unfortunately I am not aware of any specifics.

Have more information about my mother's contribution because I have newspaper articles and other documentation.

Part Three - B.1          Jay Peterson's FSA Drawing, 1953

I have my mother's 1953 drawing of First-St. Andrew's in a scrapbook of her artwork and projects covering the circa 1935 to 1955 period.

My mother's father, John Stuart Fleming (1892-1989), wrote "1953 Jessie" on the above artwork.  Jessie was my mother's given name, but Jay was what most people knew her by.

Part Three - B.2          Input Into Symbols on FSA Sanctuary Ceiling, 1955

In 1955, my mother provided input into the symbols that were painted on the FSA sanctuary ceiling.  In 1975, the symbols were "covered with drywall when some plaster fell."  But, in 1999, the sanctuary was refurbished and the symbols were "replaced."

In November 2016, I attended the funeral of an old family friend in the sanctuary of First-St. Andrew's.  It was nice to look up and see that the symbols are still present on the ceiling.

Part Three - B.3          FSA Art and Artifact Exhibitions, Late 1950s to Early 1960s

From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, Mom helped organize art and artifact exhibitions for FSA.  Some of these exhibitions were described in the pages of the London Free Press.

For example, in November 1962, The FSA United Church Women (UCW) presented a "Visual Worship" exhibition of "religious art," which included works by "well-known artists from London and Toronto."  In addition, members of the congregation, including the UCW, put together diaplays on the topic.  Further, there were a variety of ancient Bibles for attendees to look at.  A photo of the display convenor, Mrs. George Young, and my mother, the art-coordinator, examining the Bibles, appeared in both the London Free Press and the United Church Observer.

In November 1963, my mother was one of two art co-convenors of the FSA-UCW "Religious Art and Artifact" exhibition held at the church.  London Free Press columnist, Lenore Crawford, said the collection was "fascinating and worth hours of study.

My mother was involved with other programs and projects at the church, so what I have mentioned above is just a sampling.

Part Three - B.4           FSA Memorials, 1976 and 2007, and the 2007 Celebration of My Parents' Lives

The Very Rev. Angus J. MacQueen (1912-2008) was the First-St. Andrew's minister from 1951 to 1964.  He kept in touch with my parents after he moved on to other ministry duties in Toronto.  On December 19, 1976, he returned to First-St. Andrew's to give my mother's eulogy.

In his eulogy, Rev. MacQueen described my mother as a "very special kind of person, full of courage, goodness and kindness."  Four qualities stood out for him: her sincerity, selflessness, openness, and her encouragement of others.  I agree with Rev. MacQueen's assessment.

In the late 1970s, my father, Charles T. Peterson, moved to Duncan, British Columbia, but when he returned to London in 1997, he started attending First-St. Andrew's again.  His memorial was held there, April 4, 2007, with Rev. Dr. David McKane officiating.  Rev McKane was the FSA minister from 2002 to 2010.

On May 27, 2007, I held a celebration of my parents' lives in Proudfoot Hall, in the basement of FSA.  The celebration included binders of archival material, display boards full of photos, and readings by family, friends and associates.  The approximately 53 people who attended provided me with lots of positive feedback.


Crawford, L. (1963, November [2?]).  Religious art in Canada on the move.  London Free Press.

First-St. Andrew's United Church.  First-St. Andrew's United Church/FSA History.  Retrieved November 27, 2016 from:

First-St. Andrew's United Church (2016, November 27).  History of our Sanctuary Space.  Retrieved November 27, 2016 from:

London Free Press (1962, November 2).  Ancient Bibles Displayed at UCW Exhibit.  London Free Press.

London Free Press (1962, November [2?]).  First-St. Andrew's UCW: Religious Art Collection Replaces Bazaar Project.  London Free Press.

Peterson, C.T. (ca. 1970).  Peterson, Jessie Royce (Fleming) - "Jay Peterson."  London, Ontario.  unpublished.

Peterson, L. (2003, May 10).  Remembering Mom.  London Free Press, p. F3.

United Church Observer (1962, December).  Ancient Bibles displayed.  United Church Observer.