Poster highlighting Brock University's Special Collections

Today, we introduce to you the James A. Gibson Library’s Special Collections and Archives at Brock University. The Gibson Library’s Special Collections and Archives are an important partner to Seedling for Change, and the resources under their care have proven invaluable to us. This entry is very image-heavy and contains a lot of information, but for anyone interested in the Gibson Library’s collections, and/or connections between Latin America and the Niagara Region, this is a treasure trove! We invite you to click below to read more:

Every now and then, a researcher comes to the archives with a question that changes the way you look at the materials in your care. In January 2016, Dr. Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas came to Brock University’s Special Collections and Archives with such a question, “What collections do you have with Latin American content?”

My first instinct was to answer, “None.” Over the last 50 years, our primary mandate has been to collect the history of the Niagara area. Within five minutes, however, I started to recall records within some collections that involve Central and South America. Didn’t Dorothy Rungeling finish an international air race in Cuba? Donald Ziraldo traveled to Chile to visit grape farms. Brock University had field courses in Trinidad and Tobago during the 1960s and 1970s. Things began to look promising. After talking with the archives staff, within a day, we identified more than a dozen collections that had Latin American elements. It was a rewarding exercise to view our materials with a different lens. Sometimes our perspectives can become narrowed over time. But it just takes one challenging question to expose veiled history.

We look forward to providing Dr. Suescun Pozas and her students access to these collections and following their results. Perhaps new collections, rich with information, will be donated to Brock during the process leading to more exciting research. Their work will be a boon the local and academic communities. There is always so much history to discover.

– David Sharron of the James A. Gibson Brock University Library

David Sharron has been the Head of the Special Collections and Archives department of the Brock University Library since 2006. Prior to Brock, David was the head of the museum and municipal archives at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre in Southampton, Ontario. And from 1998 to 2003, he worked in the image archives at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. David has a Master of Arts degree in history with an archives specialization from the University of Windsor. Since 2001, he has been a Certified Archivist through the Academy of Certified Archivists.

“When Maria [del Carmen Suescun Pozas] came to us in January, I didn’t think we would be of much help,” said David Sharron, Head of James A. Gibson Library Special Collections and Archives. “Most of our archives are Niagara-based, so it appeared doubtful to have anything that linked to Latin America. But, within two days we came up with 14 collections with some Latin American content. It was very fun for us to look at our collections through a different lens.”

“In the late 1960s, Brock University had a sister school in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The Department of Geography at that time had students travel there to take in the culture, and students from Port of Spain came to Brock as well.”

David Sharron, Head of James A. Gibson Library Special Collections and Archives. See Steve Nadon, “A Day In The Life: Dr. Maria Del Carmen Suescun Pozas.” The Brock Press, 51 ,27 (April 5, 2016), 14-15.

The Gibson Library has provided Seedling for Change in History with a bounty of resources linking Latin America to the Niagara Region. Below is a sampling to serve as inspiration for the budding researcher:

Latin America in the Niagara Region

Dan Livermore: early Brock graduate (1969), born in St. Catharines, worked for the federal Department of Foreign Affairs, ambassador of Guatemala and El Salvador (1996-99); offered papers to Brock. Livermore can be contacted at

Donald Ziraldo made several trips to Chile, Brazil, Argentina and the Caribbean (Trinidad, Bahamas, Barbados) to visit wineries and grape farms.

The Department of Geography’s early trips to Trinidad and Tobago are documented behind the link.

BrockTrinidad1975-1*Brock students exploring the underwater geology of Trinidad and Tobago in 1975. Working with the University of West Indies, Brock students from the biology and geology departments travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to explore the flora, fauna and landscapes.

BrockTrinidad1975-2*Brock students watching a Trinidadian climb a coconut tree during their field course in 1975. Working with the University of West Indies, Brock students from the Biology and Geology departments travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to explore the flora, fauna and landscapes.


In the 1960s, St. Catharines twinned with Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. See:,, and

TwinningArchives*The ceremonial document announcing the ‘twinning’ of the cities of St. Catharines and Port-of-Spain in Trinidad and Tobago in 1968. (This comes from the Clerk’s Office Collection from City of St. Catharines.)


Vacation / cruise materials in the McPherson Collection (South America, Brazil, Jamaica)

Dorothy Rungeling fonds: Dorothy was one of the first women to hold a pilot’s license in Canada and raced all over the world through the 1950s and 1960s, including Cuba and Bahamas. One scrapbook has materials from these races (she met with President Bautista).

RungelingCuba1955*Dorothy Rungeling outside of her airplane after arriving in Cuba for the finish of the 1955 All Women International Air Race. Dorothy is on the left. On the right is her passenger Beverley Belfry.

Ontario Editorial Bureau collection (public relations) – look for: Mexican National Tourist Council, Jamaica National Export Corporation Trade Fair

Velmer Bentley Headley commemorative collection [sound recording]: Velmer was born in the small village of Mile-and-a-quarter in Barbados. He began serious voice training as a tenor, while studying in Jamaica. … His appointment as Professor of Mathematics at Brock University brought him and his family to St. Catharines.

Seagram’s Museum Collection (not Niagara related, but contains wine/alcohol ephemera from all over the world) – Look for: Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Guyana, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Venezula, Trinidad

SpiritsLabels-Barbados* A rum label from the island of Barbados.


*A rum label from Trinidad.

SpiritsLabels-Trinidad*A rum label from Guyana.

SpiritsLabels-Venezuela*A rum label from Venezuela.


Sean O’Sullivan collection: was a federal MP (youngest in Canadian history at the time) and a Brock grad – had a trips to Bolivia, Brazil, Chile; and correspondence on Guatemala

OSullivan1975*A letter from Brazil’s ambassador to Canada, Geraldo de Carvalho Silos wishing Member of Parliament Sean O’Sullivan a good trip to his homeland in 1975.


*A listing of all of the important meeting and appointments Sean O’Sullivan had for his trip to Chile in 1975.


War of 1812 items: A number of our War of 1812 newspapers and books will include military actions in the Caribbean and South America related to the conflict.

vol2 p51 (2)

*A clipping from the 7 September 1813 issue of “The War” – an American newspaper dedicated solely to reporting on the War of 1812.


Ontario Paper Company (Thorold) : Reports on Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador on the newspaper business.

St. Catharines and District Labour Council fonds: includes labour newsletters on Argentina, Latin and South America

J.W. Spenser fonds: a geologist who was one of the first to scientifically study Niagara Falls – collection also has items on Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba, the Caribbean and Central America

OSullivanChile1975*A letter from Lynwood Garrison to Joseph Spencer regarding Spencer’s geological work on the island of St. Martin and its surroundings. Spencer was also one of the first geologists to study Niagara Falls.

These next images are from Frank McCordick’s two month cruise through Central and South America in 1937. McCordick was the former mayor of St. Catharines and a well-known WWI veteran commander.

McCordickCruise*Months before the trip, McCordick arranged several personal tours of the various stops during the cruise through friends and acquaintances. This letter from a St. Catharines businessman introduces McCordick to a friend in Cuba.

McCordickCruise000*A helpful pamphlet supplied by the cruise line describing Brazilian currency and “What to do” in Rio de Janeiro.

McCordickCruise001*A handbill announcing the various entertainments that can be found in Buenos Aires.

McCordickCruise002 *A booklet on playing roulette in Vina Del Mar, Chile.

McCordickCruise-MemberBook*The passenger booklet from McCordick’s cruise around South America in 1937.

McCordickCruise003*A postcard of Buenos Aires purchased by McCordick during his 1937 trip.

*All photos from James A. Gibson Library Special Collections and Archives, and reproduced here with permission.


See anything interesting? Let’s discuss!