W-MCP7-1.017 TO T.B. MCQUESTEN FROM FRED J. FLATMAN
Aug 7 1945
To: T.B. McQuesten.
From: Fred Flatman, 1113 St. Lawrence Ave, Niagara Falls, Ontario.1113 St. Lawrence Ave.
Niagara Falls, Ont.
Aug, 7 '45
I wrote two weeks ago to Mr. Sommerville for the following information and to date I have received no reply. He may be vacationing.
The blueprint of the Banner holder, which by the way now only awaits [patenting?] and assembling shows at the bottom of the escutcheon a bolt 1/2 in diameter and 20 inch in length [sic]. The small detail drawing shows this bolt screwed on to a 10 inch beam. G.K. But is this the only means of anchoring the job to the wall?
Mr. Sommerville vaguely suggests on the blueprint that the eyebolt at the top also functions as intended to function as a second securing bolt.
But as it is used a means of suspending the tube by means of the twisted rod, it cannot turn that is, it cannot be screwed in to the 10" beam.
I seems [sic] that two bolts are necessary provided that the second bolt is in the centre of the eschutcheon [sic] and in line. I can myself determine its location. Write as above it will reach me more quickly.
I would have called over the weekend but Mrs Flatman is really very ill and I do not care to be away from her very long. She has a very bad heart attack [sic].
[DRAWING ATTACHED AND LABELLED AS FOLLOWS]
This eyebolt will not turn because of the screwed rod
If a second bolt is needed it can be placed here.
You might also say whether you would like the eschutcheon Hammer-marked
Its really a nice looking job. I am anxious to see your face when you see it.
Editor's note: We might add here a note about the lifesize iron flowers that grace the top of the garden wall at the back of the garden: holly-hocks, sunflower, and?
They were made by Fred Flatman, the same iron-worker craftsman who made the Hendrie Gates at the RBG, and the Navy Hall Gates at Niagara.
Box 14-126 states:
"The wrought iron flowers set into the stone wall continued to decorate the gardens all year round. Fred Flatman, a local craftsman, had continued the garden's ornamental theme when he fashioned these unique objects of folk art without the use of a mould; instead he worked the metal with anvil and hammer, creating each leaf in a unique and totally distinct way."
See also: Box 14-126; Box 14-110; W-MCP7-1.111; W-MCP7-1.017; W-MCP7-1.145.
2 The Dictionary of Hamilton Biography contains a large article on Flatman mostly about his Marxist leanings during the 1920s. However, the last two paragraphs are copied here: He was having as much difficulty selling his craft as his socialist ideas. He found himself shoeing horses for the Hendrie Cartage Co. and then repairing the firm's new trucks. In his spare time he continued to pour his creative energies into ornamental iron work. When William Hendrie discovered this talent, he helped Flatman set up his own shop, the Oriental Hand-Wrought Iron Studio, and commissioned a set of wrought-iron gates for Hendrie Park, near Aldershot. These beautifully ornate gates, said to be the largest ever made by one man in North America, were reputedly modelled on those of Trinity College, Cambridge, and now stand at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. Flatman made for Mrs. Hendrie an ornate iron door reminiscent of a medieval castle. In 1953 he opened his shop to a small co-operative group, the Dale Community Centre, which sought economic self-sufficiency in response to the Depression.
In retirement in the last ten years of his life, Flatman remained a respected figure primarily for his handicraft. His obituary made no mention of his earlier prominence in the city's labour movement. He carried away with him the particular socialist vision of the radical craftsman. Like many other British (and North American) skilled workers, Flatman had found in Marxism the analytical tools and political program to express the craftsman's commitment to liberty, equality, and fraternity and his outrage at the degradation of work and workers within industrial capitalist society. The hint of Romantic medieval touches in his art suggests the influence of the great British socialist William Morris, who celebrated the dignity and creativity of artisanal handicraft and saw in socialism the only hope for restoring the moral and economic strength of that kind of society. Flatman believed that workers should 'become masters of the whole material means of wealth production to the end that they enjoyed unmolested the product of their own toil.' He wanted a 'new democracy' of 'dignity and freedom,' and spent much of his adult life trying to create it. (Craig Heron in DBH)