William Archer, 1874-1960

Marmora Herald,  Feb. 16, 1950 (page 8)

Musician, Violin Maker, Muralist,  painter & carver

Painting by William Archer

In the year 1917,  a copy of a Stradivarius violin was made by William Archer,  resident of the Marmora district for the greater part of his life,  but more recently (1950) a resident of Grafton.

Seventy-four years ago,  on April 5,  he was born in Marmora Township, at what was then named the lower mines of Deloro,  or the Williams Mine.  His parents were the late Mr. & Mrs. Edward Archer,  who came to this district from the Lake District of England.  William Archer inherited his father's love of music and identified himself with various bands which did duty from time to time for his native district.

The violin whose make was copied,  was at the time being played by an accomplished violinist, Miss Isolde Menges of England.  Miss Menges was the guest of Mr. & Mrs. S.B. Wright,  the former then manager of the Deloro Smelting and Refining Company Limited.  Mr. Wright was also an ardent violinist and the Deloro string quartet,  which he organized,  was renowned in this section of Hastings County.  Mr. Archer,  having inspected the Stradivarius, essayed to copy it.

Later,  as Miss Menges returned to Deloro again as guest of Mr. & Mrs. Wright, and to play at a concert in the Marmora Town Hall,  she used the locally made violin for some of her numbers and pronounced it to be fine.  Mr. Wright suggested to Mr. Archer that he should go further in his endeavour to make violins.  Thus, the latter launched out on a new career,  following at the same time his profession as a painter and house decorator.

On January 28, of this year (1950),  a quartet of his instruments,  namely a cello,  a viola,  a Strad copy and Guirnirious copy of violins, were played in an "ensemble" at the Broadus Farmer Studios in Toronto,  by four professional artists of that city.

The tonal results of the instruments were above expectations and created most favourable comment.

Records are being made of the numbers played.  In this,  Mr. Archer has achieved his great ambition.  It is interesting to note that violins and violas made by him are at present being played by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at every engagement.  Also violins of his make are in use by professional artists in various part of this continent.

In addition to having aquired proficiency as a violin maker,  Mr. Archer has achieved fame as a painter of murals,  a number of which adorn the walls of the sitting room and rotunda of the Royal Hotel Marmora,  attracting the attention of guests possessed with the sene of the artistic.

                       Marmora Herald,  Feb. 16, 1950 (page 8)

1913,  William Archer was hired to complete the decorations upstairs in the newtown hall with builderStanislaw Bertrand at his side.

Notes from his grandson, James A. Archer           (Dec. 2015)

"Browsing through and amazed to find information about my grandfather. I'm 85 and learning new things every day.  He used maple aged up to 30 years for his violins. This provided the rich tones"

Peterborough Examiner 1954

Great Grandson,  Peter Brady,  sent us these photos of one of the violins,  and wrote:  "Each has its own label and number inside the body with his name and insignia.  This model was called “the Bancroft” and was made in 1953 in Grafton, Ontario (says the label).