Teresa Vanderburgh's Musical Scrapbooks

Teresa Vanderburgh was one of St. Catharines’ most prominent musicians and teachers for many years. She was born in St. Catharines and was the only child of John and Sarah Vanderburgh. She was also a niece of Dr. Egerton Ryerson, founder of the educational system of Ontario.

From about 1876 to 1922, Miss Vanderburgh kept scrapbooks of musical programs, biographies and reviews of various musicians, church bulletins, and other items of musical interest. Many of these items originated in St. Catharines while others were from farther afield like Toronto and New York City. Her two- volume set of Musical Scrapbooks can be found in the Special Collections room at the Central Library and we have now digitized them in order to make them available to the public and to preserve the originals.

Teresa Vanderburgh was the organist and choir master at Welland Avenue Church for 21 years, and later the organist and choir master at St. Paul Street United Church for 23 years. She was also one of the few women who organized the “Ladies Morning Musical Club”, the name of which later changed to the “St. Catharines Musical Circle” so that men could also be admitted.

The scrapbooks include items such as Grand Opera House programs, Masonic Hall Recital programs, Musical Circle programs, St. Catharines Collegiate concert programs, bulletins for musical church services, and newspaper articles reviewing concerts or solo performances. There are also items about non-local composers, musicians and societies that were of interest to Miss Vanderburgh for various reasons. For example, she may have been interested in New York because some of her students attended school there.

The names Mary Holder Williamson and Laura Christine Blackwell appear occasionally as well. Mary was the daughter of Tom Holder, first violinist in the Grand Opera House Orchestra in St. Catharines. She started her musical education with Teresa Vanderburgh and continued her studies with Archibald Greig Alexander of Hamilton, Angelo M. Read of Buffalo and Albert Lockwood of New York City. Laura was born in St. Catharines, was a friend of Mary Holder Williamson and had a very distinguished career as an opera singer in Europe and America.

These unique scrapbooks are fascinating and give us a glimpse of a very musical era. We hope that you enjoy looking at them as much as we do.

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