Blog

Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

When I use the term “wealthy” I’m not referring to their financial situation, but rather the wealth of knowledge our volunteers bring to the Curatorial Department. Their past life experiences, educational background, or expertise in a specific field or topic has proven to be a source of invaluable research and knowledge. Whether it’s a tool with an unknown use, a strangely shaped wood object, or a uniquely stitched textile fragment, we can always turn to our “subject matter experts” to help us solve the mystery.

Many of you will know we are working our way through the identification, conservation, and cataloguing of the artifacts that were stored in the Labatt Brewery basement. Among the latest batch to be unpacked was an unusual looking brass object, cylindrical in shape with a hanging loop on one end and a hollow extension tube on the other. To the majority of us it looked like a whistle or steam valve from a piece of machinery, and without any markings it was difficult to positively identify.

Enter Brenda Fieldhouse, long-time volunteer and former employee, who has recently started to help out the Curatorial Department on a weekly basis. As she was surveying our eclectic group of artifacts waiting to be processed she casually pointed to the “whistle” and called it a meat rotisserie or meat jack. In her previous position as an interpreter at Eldon House...

Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

Usually at this point in the winter season most Canadians are ready for a break from the weather; a “seventh-inning stretch” so to speak. We long for warm sunshine and green grass and our thoughts turn to pleasant summer pastimes like picnics, trips to the beach, or playing a good old-fashioned game of baseball.

Base Ball Team
From the Fanshawe Pioneer Village postcard collection

The origin of the seventh-inning stretch is a little muddled, but one popular theory credits baseball enthusiast William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States. While attending the Opening Day game between the Washington Senators and Philadelphia Athletics on April 14, 1910 the President, a tall and rather rotund man, became increasingly uncomfortable on his wooden chair. When he rose in the middle of the seventh inning to stretch his frame, his fellow spectators followed his lead as a sign of respect for their leader. The tradition could date to an earlier time as a letter written in 1869 by Cincinnati Red Stockings manager Harry Wright reported “The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches.” Whatever its origin, the tradition of the seventh-inning stretch continues to be...

Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

As a World War One researcher my greatest interest is not in military strategy, technological advances in weaponry or the political climate of the time - it is the “human element” - the personal thoughts and experiences of those that served and the families they left behind. As we make preparations to celebrate the holiday season with our family, friends and co-workers, one can only imagine how different Christmas must have been for those separated by the Great War. A couple of artifacts in the Fanshawe Pioneer Village permanent collection help to provide us with a rare and personal glimpse into Christmases past.

Small and diminutive, but covered in patriotic Canadian imagery, this little chocolate tin was produced in Toronto by The Cowan Chocolate Company of Canada. The tin would have been marketed in retail stores across Canada during the war years and likely many found their way to the front line. Filled with the company’s famous “Maple Buds”, or perhaps milk medallions or chocolate ginger, the tin and its contents would have been a welcome Christmas treat and a remembrance of home to a soldier in the trenches.

Chocolate Tin

Even Britain’s Royal Family took steps to make sure those serving in his Majesty’s Service were remembered at Christmas. In 1914 Princess Mary, the 17 year-old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, organized...

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