Thursday, February 9, 2012

Found Foote Photo #3: Retirement Party

The day the Winnipeg Free Press article appeared, a folder was dropped off at UMP.

Inside was an slightly battered 8" X 10" group photo and a cheery blue guide to the eighty-nine people in the photograph.

Ian Park, the Manager of Food Services at St. John's College (where UMP has its office), happened to have the photos in his office.

The photo commemorates the retirement supper of Ian's maternal great-grandfather, W.A. Aldridge. It has the following signature on it: "Jan. 15th 1944, L.B. Foote Photo." It also bears the number "2163."

William Aldridge is the tall man standing against the wall at the back of the photo, or, according to the diagram, #5.

William was the Deputy City Engineer for the City of Winnipeg. We know that he graduated from St. John's College with a BA in 1900, so he was retiring after more than 40 years' service.

According to Ian, William was a Freemason and president, in 1928, of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba. He also played the trumpet and followed Winnipeg's jazz scene.

Interestingly, according to this Manitoba Historical Society article, William was a diarist. But not of his personal doings: he kept a record of flood information.

Here's a quote from William D. Hurst, who became City Engineer in 1944:

"In 1896, Mr. William Aldridge commenced to draw a graph of river elevations for each spring break-up and he continued this practice until his retirement as Deputy City Engineer in 1945. Commencing in 1922, he added a diary narrative to each year's break-up as well as the drawing of the hydrograph."

Although he retired in 1944/5, William lived to the age of 103. Ian was 20 when he died and remembers him clearly...

We were initially confused by the chart that came with the photo. It would have taken Foote at least three times as much time to compile the names of all the people in the photograph than it would to TAKE the photo.

Ian explained that his great-grandfather had drawn up the diagram himself, which given his engineering background, made sense. William was very likely to have had scrap blueprint paper in his possession as well as the inclination to want to label all 89 invitees to his dinner.

Thanks to Ian for sharing this photo!

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