Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apple Harvest Time

At this point in the year, the Annapolis Valley's apple harvest is well under way. In my world, few things exceed the pleasure of biting into the first gravenstine apple of the season. There is something about the crisp texture and sweet / tart flavour of a good apple that just cannot be topped. Well, now that I think of it, perhaps the season's first bite of apple pie also merits some consideration. For a variety of reasons apple harvest time really is one of the best times to live in the Annapolis Valley.

The photographs in this post come from the Sidney Payne collection in the Annapolis Heritage Society Archives. Born in England, Sidney Payne moved to Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia as a young man. From 1920 until 1947 he worked as the laboratory photographer for the Dominion Entomology Laboratory on Grange Street in Annapolis Royal. The archival collection documents many of his activities with the apple industry.

Note the traditional apple picking equipment being used in these photographs. The pickers are all carrying baskets made by the local Mi'Kmaq community. These woven baskets are made from sections of split white ash. Once the apples were picked, they were stored and shipped in wooden apple barrels. The cooperages which produced these barrels were once common features on the Annapolis County landscape.

All for now,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Tale of the Dancing Dog

Once in a while I stumble across an archival image which really catches my imagination. I never know where or when I will come across these evocative images. Equally, there is not a standard scene or subject matter which I find intriguing. If there is a pattern, the images often show something unexpected or a strange juxtaposition of ideas. What I enjoy the most is an archival image that makes me stop and ask myself "what in the world is happening?"

Today's image is an excellent example of the "what in the world is happening" phenomenon. Taken at face value this is a simple image of a child dancing with a dog on the deck of a ship while the Captain holds his stomach with laughter. Hmm, even trying to simply explain this image makes me wonder. What is the context for this image. Why are the boy (I assume) and the dog dancing? Why are they dancing on a ship? Is this the child of the captain and the ship's dog? Do poodles prefer a waltz or a tango? I assume from the look of mirth on the Captain's face that this was a spontaneous moment rather than a posed photograph. There is also something about the industrial setting on the deck of a ship which makes this intimate image very appealing.

This photograph, part of the Annapolis Heritage Society's archival collection, was taken by Charlotte Perkins circa 1900. From the look of the wharf beside the ship, I am guessing that the photograph was taken at the Annapolis Royal Railway Wharf at low tide.

All for now,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Art Auction at the Historic Gardens

Today was an interesting day at the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. In addition to the usual assortment of autumn colours that one would expect to see at this time of year, there were colours of a different sort on display. This colour came in the form of a collection of paintings which were auctioned as a fundraiser for the Gardens. Much of the artwork in the auction was donated by Gordon Totten and Patrice Dugan who are former Annapolis Royal business owners. I know that the Gardens were overwhelmed at the generosity of this gift.

There was some wonderful artwork included in the auction with works by renowned artists including Maud Lewis, Tom Forrestall, Norval Morrisseau and Harold Cromwell. I was joking with the auctioneer prior to the start of bidding that it would be a successful day if paintings were selling for more than the value of the car I drove to the auction. It is more of a comment on the humble value of that particular car but, a couple of paintings sold for higher than the vehicle's worth. For the sake of the Gardens, I am happy that the rains held off, the auction went well and they were able to raise some funds. If you were wondering, I placed a few bids but, I went home without any artwork.

All for now,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The General's Bridge

I was asked earlier today if we had many old images of the nearby community of Lequille in the archival collection at the Annapolis Heritage Society. Whenever archival imagery of Lequille is discussed, the first thing which usually comes to mind is the famous print of the General's Bridge by William Henry Bartlett. WH Bartlett was born in Kentish Town, London in 1809. During his career as an illustrator he travelled the British countryside, the Balkans, the Middle East and North America. In 1842, he produced a book of prints entitled Canadian Scenery which contained a number of images of the Annapolis Royal area. The print of the General's Bridge shows a collection of Mi'kmaw teepees standing before the river. A bridge, theoretically the General's, crosses the river in the background. An archival print like this one provides an interesting glimpse into part of our community prior to the advent of photography.

Today's second archival image was taken by Charlotte Perkins circa 1900. This image shows the General's Bridge area from another angle. I find this an interesting image because Miss Perkins obviously used a long exposure when taking the photograph. Because of this, the rushing water almost looks like a river of cotton candy. The gentle appearance of the water stands in stark contrast to the trees on the riverbanks which have not yet come into leaf.

All for now,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Steam Ferry Joe Edwards

Today's archival image is of the ferry Joe Edwards which once plied the waters of the Annapolis Basin between Annapolis Royal and Granville Ferry. There is something appealing about this scene with the women in their cloaks and men wearing wide brimmed hats. I enjoy how the people in the photograph have posed in places where you can get a clear image of everyone. In early photographs you can find this sort of posing but, as time goes on, the people in the scene tend to get crammed together. Just think how many times you have posed for a group picture with everyone standing shoulder to shoulder while the photographer asks if everyone can get a bit closer.

In the days before the Annapolis Royal to Granville Ferry bridge was built in 1920, the ferry was an essential service. Built in 1881, the Joe Edwards served the community until 1891. The vessel was built under the direction of Capt. Edward Purdy by builder Lowell Oliver of Digby. Captain Samuel Mills was at the wheel of this vessel during her 10 years. In the background you can faintly see the masts of a number of sailing vessels and a paddle wheeler which may be the SS Empress. The SS Empress left Annapolis Royal for Saint John, New Brunswick on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings at 8pm. Cost of the trip to Saint John was $2.00 which was no small sum in the 1880s.

The photograph is a tintype. The damage which you see in the corners is typical of the type of deterioration you can expect to see with this type of image. If you look closely along the right side of the image you can actually see bent metal from the image's backing. There was something else about this image which did not sit quite right with me. Clearly the photograph was taken with Annapolis Royal in the background but the landscape just did not seem as it should. Under magnification I realized that the name Joe Edwards was spelled backward on the cabin of the boat. When I once again looked at the land on the horizon I could clearly see that the photograph was a mirror image.

All for now,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Antique Appriasal North Hills Museum Style

Yesterday was the day of the annual North Hills Museum antiques appraisal event. Please note that I have gone out of my way not to break the copyright of any travelling roadshow type event. As these events usually are, this one was quite a bit of fun. It is always interesting to see what treasures appear out of the basements and attics of the Annapolis Royal region. This year our very talented group of appraisers were Roger Crowther, Louis LeRoux and Rosemary Beckett.

We are now in our third year for this event and we have seen a Maud Lewis painting every year. I am not totally surprised to see these paintings but it is always nice to see work by the queen of Nova Scotia folk artists. I was also interested to see some pre-Colombian pottery from South America, a lovely portrait of a child from the 1820s which was most likely painted in Quebec. We saw books, paintings, a glass tool for pressing lace, furniture, silver and even a gun. While I did not have an antique to appraise, I enjoyed spending time listening to the opinions and ideas of our experts.

As a final note for today, I would like to offer my sympathies to the family of Grant Potter. Grant, the Recreation Director for the Town of Annapolis Royal tragically died in a traffic accident on Thursday of last week. I had the good fortune to work on a number of projects with Grant through the years. Among other things, we had a great deal of fun assembling his history of sports and recreation in Annapolis Royal. His unfailing smile and good humour were always evident whenever I was working with him. His smile was even brighter when we were talking about his family or his beloved Boston Bruins. The Bruins logo at the bottom of this post in in honour of Grant's memory.

All for now,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fort Anne Postcards - Part 2

A few months ago I made a post showing some of the postcard images of Fort Anne National Historic site that we have at the Annapolis Heritage Society Archives. Through the years, this has been the single most photographed landscape in Annapolis Royal. From community celebrations and historic reenactments to history fanatics and eager tourists, this landscape has been photographed time and again. When you consider the history of the site this attention really makes sense.

This area at the junction of the Annapolis and Allains Rivers was a seasonal encampment site for the Mi'Kmaq and their ancestors for thousands of years. When the French arrived, this spot was used to grow grain for the ill fated deMonts / Poutrincourt Habitation. The arrival of the Scots in 1629 saw the establishments of the first fortifications on this site with the establishment of Charlesfort. Although the site was returned to the French in 1632 it would not remain a French holding. Through the 17th and 18th centuries this fort changed hands between the French and British numerous times as the two European powers struggled to control North America. This tranquil site is in fact the most fought over piece of land in Canada.

Today, Fort Anne National Historic Site is not a place of hostile conflict. It is a place of learning, of quiet contemplation, or recreation and of civic pride. No wonder people keep taking pictures and buying postcards.

All for now,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

End of the Rainbow

While they may be famed in song and story, rainbows are a fleeting thing. One moment a vivid ribbon of colour flashes across the sky and the next they have vanished. When I pulled out of the grocery store parking lot this evening I saw one of the brightest rainbows I have ever seen. This was not some sectional representation of a rainbow but a vivid arc across the sky. With my camera beside me, I tried to quickly drive to a vantage point where I could get a picture of this impressive sight. By the time I had turned the corner, stopped the car, turned on the hazard lights and grabbed my camera the rainbow had already started to fade. I was able to snap one quick photograph out the car window but, by the time I crossed to road the rainbow was gone.

From this vantage point it looks like the rainbow ends in the Annapolis Royal Marsh. This marsh, and the walking trail which surrounds it, are important features in Annapolis Royal. Among the historic uses for this area are agricultural fields, a venue for travelling circuses and an airport. Today the lands have been transformed into a fresh water marsh. When walkers are not making their way around the trail, the waterfowl and muskrats have the run of the facility. Actually, anyone who has encountered a Canada Goose on the trail will tell you who is really in charge.

This image also provides me with the opportunity to mention another terrific Annapolis Royal blog. Since May, Lois Jenkins has been keeping a photographic journal entitled Wildlife on the Annapolis Royal Marsh. This is an excellent way to keep up with birds and animals who are living around Annapolis Royal. I am also quite envious of Lois' abilities as a wildlife photographer.

All for now,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Lower Town's Waterfront

A couple of evenings ago I needed to drive back to Annapolis Royal to pick up a few things at the grocery store. For all intents, this was a fairly standard trip down the Granville Road. While I was driving, I noticed that there was an interesting coloured band of clouds hanging over Annapolis Royal. Since I was facing a somewhat eastern direction, I was not expecting to see so much colour at this time of day. I have occasionally seen this vista as the sun rises in the morning and there are indeed some spectacular colours but not usually in the evening. Since I have littered this blog with images looking across the Annapolis Basin from the opposite side, I figured that this would be a good opportunity to get some images of the Annapolis Royal waterfront.

This quiet scene was once the economic engine of Annapolis Royal. In the 19th century schooners, barques, brigs, ships and assorted other vessels would be lined up looking to load or unload merchandise at one of the many wharves. Along the shore you would find warehouses to store produce from the Annapolis Valley and salt fish. Huge piles of lumber seemed to fill every vacant space. In the shipyards, skilled craftsmen were producing wooden vessels to meet an ever growing need.

It is hard to see the signs of this activity today. All but one of the wharves have vanished. The rocks and rotting logs which are exposed at low tide are the only reminders of these facilities. We still have a fleet of wooden scallop boats, but the tall ships have been gone for a long time. Thankfully, many of the houses remain. Many of these houses have graced the waterfront of the lower town since the 1770s. These buildings have been there through the population influx of the Loyalists. They stood proud during the boom times of the golden age of sail. When the shipping boom went bust after WWI, these houses took on a more humble appearance, but they remained a key part of the waterfront. Today, these houses are a key element in what makes Annapolis Royal a charming tourism destination. They are a constant reminder that, despite the vagaries of economic fluctuations, the sun does not set on this scene.

All for now,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nova Scotia Day at the O'Dell House Museum

Yesterday afternoon we celebrated Nova Scotia Day in Annapolis Royal. With help from our friends at Fort Anne and the Town of Annapolis Royal's Team 300, we had a series of events through the lower part of the town. Nova Scotia Day was enacted by our Provincial Legislature in 2009 to commemorate King James I signing the Royal Charter of Nova Scotia in 1621. As a part of the ceremonies, Parks Canada launched a new web page for the original copy of the Charter which can be found at Fort Anne.

Another highlight of the day were historic vignettes written by Peggy Armstrong. The vignettes, entitled The Birth of New Scotland, took place at both Fort Anne and the O'Dell House Museum. At the Fort King James and Sir William Alexander were shown discussing their plans for the establishment of a New Scotland in North America. To listen to the discussions this was indeed a glorious and bold enterprise. At the O'Dell House Museum we met the crew of the ship Eagle. The year is 1629 and these men have been waiting at Dumbarton harbour for over a year while Alexander managed to gather sufficient "monies and provisions" to supply the settlers. When we meet them the crew are grumpy, fighting with each other and not particularly keen on a trip into the unknown. If you look carefully you will actually find me among the cast of this vignette.

Unfortunately, I was not able to get any images of the presentations and vignette at Fort Anne. At that point, I was trying to make sure that all of our details at the O'Dell House Museum were in order for the arrival of the crowd. The images in this collection show the performance at the O'Dell House Museum as well as the procession between the venues.

All for now,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Nova Scotia Day, September 10

Tomorrow, September 10, is Nova Scotia Day. While it is still not an official holiday, Nova Scotia Day was enacted by the Provincial Legislature in 2009 to commemorate the granting of the Royal Charter of Nova Scotia in 1621. This charter, granted by Britain's King James I to Sir William Alexander, first Earl of Stirling, is in many ways the birth certificate for Nova Scotia. From this document we take the name Nova Scotia, our provincial Coat of Arms and the basis of our flag. Since the Charter is written in Latin, as all important documents were at the time, the name of New Scotland appears as Nova Scotia. I guess that Nova Scotia was easier on the tongue than the English New Scotland or the Gaelic Alba Nuadh because the name stuck. One of the original 1621 copies of the Royal Charter of Nova Scotia Can be found at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal. In my personal opinion, this may be the most important archival document in Nova Scotia.

It took a failed settlement attempt plus a good deal of financial manoeuvring before Sir William Alexander was able to establish a Scottish colony in the New World. In 1629, an expedition under the leadership of William Alexander Jr. arrived in the basin the French had named Port Royal. Sailing by the burned remains of the French Habitation, Alexander and a group of 70 settlers established a colony at the convergence of the Annapolis and Allains Rivers. Here they established a small fort named Charlesfort in honour of King Charles I who had ascended the Throne in 1625. This little Scottish colony survived until the land was ceded back to France in 1632.

If you are in Annapolis Royal tomorrow there will be a series of events to celebrate Nova Scotia Day. At Fort Anne there will be music, dramatic vignettes, the launch of a website on the Charter of Nova Scotia and an opportunity to become a Knight of Fort Anne. Later in the afternoon a bagpiper will appropriately lead a procession from Fort Anne to the O'Dell House Museum where the final installment of the dramatic vignettes will take place on the backyard stage. If you look closely, I will be one of the actors in this production. The final part of the festivities at the O'Dell House Museum highland dancing lesson and refreshments. This should be a fun day.

The images in tonight's post are of the Charlesfort National Historic Site Monument at Fort Anne and the view of the Annapolis Basin from the monument. This view is essentially the same view that William Alexander Jr. and his Scottish settlers would have seen when they were here between 1629 and 1632.

All for now,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Youth Movement

Tonight feels like another opportunity to dip into the Annapolis Heritage Society's archival collection. Seeing as we are now well into the back to school season, I figured that this would be a good chance to bring out some archival images of local children. When I look at these images which were taken around 1900, I have trouble imagining any of today's children wearing these clothes to school. Little sailor outfits and broad brimmed hats seem quite appropriate in archival images, but not really as adornments in a modern schoolyard.

I would like to draw your attention to the photograph of the young girl with the wheelbarrow. In this studio shot she is carrying a load of firewood and there is a shovel lying on the ground beside her. What I adore about this image is the toy dog standing on the floor beside the shovel. The dog is almost an unseen detail but, it has obviously been placed with a great deal of care. I wonder if this was a much loved toy which needed to be included in the photograph.

Sadly, these images have a bad case of the worst blight in the archival world. They are beautiful and expressive images but they are all unidentified. It is amazing how much that one piece of information can add to an archival image. Thankfully, We do know that these images were taken by Samuel Newton Weare of Bridgetown. As always, if you have more information on any of the archival images that I post please leave a comment on the blog.

All for now