Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Josephine and Ethel

I am trying to save a bit of time in my writing process today. I need to head to Halifax in a little while so I do not have much time to write. So, I have decided to take a look at the archival images stored on my hard drive to see if there was anything that would jump out at me.

The image of these two young ladies, Josephine Riordan and Ethel ??, has always been one that I have liked. As with some of the other archival images I have posted lately, this one comes from Charlotte Perkins' scrapbook which is kept in the Annapolis Heritage Society's archival collection. It was taken sometime around 1900.What I like about this image is that there are a number of subtle things going on. This is also an image that, for a number of reasons, it would not be possible to take today.

The most obvious element of this picture is the clothing worn by the ladies. This would have been very typical of young women in Annapolis Royal at the turn of the 20th century. These dresses would not have been highly fashionable in Paris, London or New York at the time but they clearly demonstrate what people in Annapolis Royal would have been wearing. Another appealing thing is that this was the sort of clothing worn by working families. People would often put their best clothing on if they were being photographed. This gives us a bit of a warped perspective about the clothing that people wore. This image is a candid shot of two young ladies wearing their everyday clothes.

Now, what are they sitting on? If you take a close look, you can see that these are random bits of scrap wood. These are actually the remnants of the process used to make heads (tops and bottoms) for barrels. In the late 19th century, coopering or barrel making, was the most common trade in Canada. This was also a very common trade in Annapolis County. Barrels would have been used to ship and store all types of merchandise. Everything from rum to dishes, apples to tobacco, and salted meat to coal oil was shipped in barrels. The coopering trade was almost entirely replaced by the introduction of plastic shipping containers in the mid twentieth century. Today, most coopers are found in historic villages like Ross Farm Museum in New Ross, Nova Scotia.

All for now,
RGS

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