Saturday, November 29, 2008

Opening Night

I am back in the O'Dell House Museum on the morning after the first night of Victorian Christmas for a bit of clean up. Looking around, it doesn't look like there is too much work to be done. All in all, I would call opening night a great success. We had about 175 visitors during the two hours we were open. Please consider that there are only about 2000 people who live around here, (445 in the Town of Annapolis Royal according to the last census). I would call these numbers very positive. With the layout of the museum, I was happy that everyone did not arrive as we opened the doors at 7pm. 175 people in this building at the same time scares me for many reasons.

One of the big factors in last night's success is that the weather was co-operative. There have been some nights when the wind has been blowing and the rain, snow and sleet are falling that potential visitors just do not leave their houses. I can't say as I blame them on those nights. The wind off the Annapolis Basin can be so strong on stormy nights that all of the oil lamps blow out when someone opens the front door.

I would like to mention one of the comments I hear every year at Victorian Christmas. This deals with the life that people in the late Victorian era would have led. People will walk through the museum, look at the decorations and when they get back to the kitchen and see the wood stove will say "Didn't they have it rough back then!" In reality, this is a matter of perspective. Compared to our current lives, people in the late 1800s would not have had as many amenities or technological gadgets (yes, they could live without i-pods). To see this through the eyes of someone living in Annapolis Royal in the 1870s, they would have felt that their lives were much easier than that of their parents or grandparents. At that time, the industrial revolution was churning out items which greatly improved the comfort level of the average citizen. Things like the cast iron stove were vast improvements over the open hearth which had been used before. Yes, to modern eyes life seemed harder but, the people living these lives did not know this. They felt that they were a very advanced people and looked back upon their elders as having lived difficult lives. Just imagine how people 140 years from now will look back upon us.

All for now,
RGS

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