Monday, May 31, 2010

Provincial Heritage Plaquing

This is going to be a busy week in Annapolis Royal's heritage world. How about if we begin with the simple events and come to the larger ones. Tomorrow, June 1, marks the official start to the visitor season at both the Sinclair Inn Museum and North Hills Museum. After a long winter it will be a good opportunity to shake off the cobwebs and greet our visitors. Of course the the cobwebs are of the mental variety since our staff have been cleaning and preparing the sites for a couple of weeks already. I also encourage anyone who has the chance to visit North Hills so they can welcome our new interpreter, Wayne Smith.

While the seasonal opening of our sites is exciting, it is not really out of the ordinary. We expect our museums to open at this time of year. This week we are lucky to have a handful of events which would qualify as extra-ordinary. On Thursday and Friday, we are welcoming delegates from across the province to the Nova Scotia Built Heritage Conference. I have been part of the organizing committee for this event so I am very pleased to see things coming together. This should be a good conference filled with interesting sessions. On Saturday, we are marking the Sinclair Inn's 300th anniversary with a party in the afternoon. This event will have craftspeople, demonstrators, costumed animators and, hopefully, a great deal of fun.

Finally, on Thursday at 6pm, we will be hosting the official plaquing of North Hills Museum as it becomes a Provincial Heritage Property. While I am not fond of the verb form of the word plaque, it seems to be the correct word to use in this context. What I am fond of is the fact that the museum is officially being recognized for its heritage value and its contribution to the Nova Scotia landscape. This lovely saltbox structure has graced the Granville Road from as early as 1764. Home to the Amberman family from the 1780s until the 1960s, the building was donated to the province by Robert Patterson in 1974. Today the museum houses Patterson's astounding collection of Georgian porcelain, glass, paintings and furniture. Please join us for a plaquing, a BBQ and the chance to admire this beautiful building.

Because of all of the preparations needed this week, you are getting some recycled images from last season at North Hills Museum.

All for now,
RGS

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Historic Gardens Dinner and Auction 2010

Tonight was the night of the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens annual fundraising Dinner and Auction. Because I am home fairly late, this will be a short post. The Dinner and Auction is usually an entertaining evening and tonight was no exception. As usual, there was an excellent dinner which was sandwiched by a silent and live auction. Like everyone else in the room, I was happy to be able to help (if even in a small way) the Historic Gardens remain an integral part of Annapolis Royal. The photographs in this post are a fairly random selection of the events this evening. Congratulations to the staff and volunteers who make this a successful event every year.

A personal highlight of this event is listening to the interesting pronunciations of Latin plant names by the master of ceremonies Greg Kerr, MP for West Nova. Despite the fact that he was putting on a brave face, I think that some of the English words were even starting to elude him by the end of the night. For those who keep track of such things, you will notice that I have also included a couple of images of Stephen McNeil, MLA for Annapolis and Leader of the provincial Liberal Party. I actually had the opportunity to have a nice chat with both of our elected representatives and did not harangue either of them about heritage issues. Next time...?

All for now,
RGS





































































Saturday, May 29, 2010

300th Anniversary Party

The Annapolis Heritage Society is having a celebration this year. One of our sites, the Sinclair Inn Museum, is having a 300th anniversary. When it comes to wooden structures in Canada, this is a very special anniversary. The only other wooden structure which can claim this age is the deGannes - Cosby House which is also located in Annapolis Royal. As such, we are very proud and very excited to be the owners of such a unique piece of Canadian history.

Due to the complex evolution of the Sinclair Inn, the whole structure is not 300 years old. If you look at the top image and draw an imaginary line between the first and second windows on the side of the building, this two storey section is the oldest part. It is this section which was built by Jean Baptiste Soullard and Louise Francoise Comeau in 1710. The one storey section at the back of the house was originally located beside the Soullard House in the area which is now a parking lot. This house was built by Dr. William Skene and will turn 300 in 2012. These two early buildings were joined by Col. Frederick Sinclair in 1781. With the addition of a second floor and a change in the roofline we have the Georgian building which can still be seen on Saint George Street today.

On June 5, 2010 from 12 noon until 4pm we will be having our Sinclair Inn 300th anniversary festivities. Please join us for period animators and craftspeople, a visit from Queen Anne, bagpipers, lemonade, cake and a good deal of fun. As the week goes on, I will make another post or two about the anniversary with a bit more of the history of this fascinating building. Over the next few days I will also be highlighting North Hills Museum which will receive its Provincial Heritage Property designation on June 3rd at 6pm. Throw in the Nova Scotia Built Heritage Conference which is in Annapolis Royal June 3 and 4 and this has the makings of a busy week.

All for now,
RGS




































Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Late Victorian Men - Part 2

Tonight seems like a good night to dip back into what I have started calling my "big bag of Victorian portraits". Obviously these archival gems are not kept in a big bag, but you hopefully get the general sense that these are a random selection of archival portraits. My goal is to provide an idea of how people of the Annapolis Royal area looked from the 1860s through the 1890s. How did they keep their hair both on their heads and facial? What sort of clothing did they wear? Most of all, why is the man in the top image hanging his hand in his pants?

Using portraits as the basis for some of these answers can be a bit misleading. The men in these pictures were wearing their best clothes. These would have been the same clothes worn to church on Sunday morning. If you were going to have your portrait taken you would always wear your best. After all, why would you want to be remembered in the manure stained shirt and trousers you used for the morning's chores? While they may not show what the average person was wearing while at work, these images do give you a sense of what you might see if you were to walk down St George Street on a Sunday morning in 1872. Hopefully the people with a hand in their pants would have been at a minimum.

All for now,
RGS




























Monday, May 24, 2010

Down on the Farm

Well, if you had ever wondered what museum workers do on their time off I can give you a fairly simple answer. Many museum workers spend their long weekends and precious days off visiting other museums. I know, we are an odd set. Over the years, I have met very few museum workers who were not first museum fans. Most of my brethren have a moment in their past where they realized that they enjoyed spending time in the museum environment. Whether it was an enlightening children's program, a fascinating artifact or an interpreter who told wonderful stories, there is something which has drawn these people to museum work in addition to a paycheck. Because of this, museum workers tend to spend at least a portion of their time away from work visiting museums.

With this as the backdrop, yesterday my family made a trip to Ross Farm Museum's Woolly Weekend. Located in New Ross, Nova Scotia, this site features a working farm complete with heritage livestock and plants. Additional buildings include a working blacksmith's shop and cooperage. The special attraction for this weekend was the annual shearing of the sheep. As with any good living history museum, the sheep were shorn of their winter coats using a set of hand clippers. When we first walked into the building where the work was taking place a sheep was patiently standing while the partially cut wool from her back lay around her legs like a skirt. After watching the shearing we were able to move on to picking, carding, spinning and dyeing. From experience, I am just as happy that we missed the washing phase of the wool preparation. The smell of boiled lanolin and sheep manure is not one of my favorites. For the kids, it was a wonderful opportunity to see that products like their hats and mittens took a considerable amount of effort.

For the record, my first employment in the heritage world was at a large living history site in Ontario. While I was a student, I spent five seasons as a costumed interpreter. I had the opportunity to try my hand at activities from blacksmithing to making bread by hand. With one of my summers being on the farm, I even had the opportunity to shear sheep. Because of this, I have a great appreciation for the power of this sort of interpretation. If for no other reason, it is important for children to have the chance to interact with animals. While it may seem hyperbolic, I can clearly remember many groups of 10 year olds who were confused between cows and horses. I would like to thank our friends at Ross Farm Museum for the work that they do and for providing me with the opportunity to do a bit of reminiscing.

All for now,
RGS












































Saturday, May 22, 2010

Horsing Around - Part 1

When looking at this collection of images you should try to imagine modern car owners posing with their prized mechanical possessions. In the place of polished chrome and horsepower, here we have polished brass and horse power. To the people posing with these animals, they were every bit as valuable as cars and trucks are today. Horses were the way get to town, the way to haul loads and they way to get a great deal of work done around the farm. The added bonus of a horse was that you had a highly intelligent animal to work with rather than a noisy, smelly and mindless engine.

This collection of equine archival images comes from the Charlotte Perkins and Samuel Newton Weare collections at the Annapolis Heritage Society archives. We have many additional archival images of horses contributing to daily life in Annapolis Royal and area. I will try to revisit this topic at some point.

All for now,
RGS




























Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fort Anne Postcards - Part 1

Through the years we have developed a fairly impressive collection of Annapolis Royal and area postcards at the AHS Archives. Since the postcards have arrived from different donors, we do not keep them all together, but thanks to digital images we do have some latitude to quickly pull together images based on a particular theme. I figured that since our friends at Fort Anne National Historic Site have recently opened for the season that this would be an excellent opportunity to pull some postcards which show images of the fort.

When I started looking at postcards I quickly realized that we have so many images of Fort Anne that I would need to turn this into an extended number of posts. The number of images makes a great deal of sense since much of the history of the Annapolis Royal area is tied up in events which took place at this location. This has also been a location where tourists have wandered and thought romantic thoughts about the battles of the 17th and 18th centuries for over 100 years. For those who are unfamiliar with Fort Anne, the building featured in these images is the Officer's Quarters which was built in 1797. The designer of this building was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (the father of Queen Victoria).

All for now,
RGS