Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Fearful Garden

I mentioned yesterday that I had collected a number of photographs at the Historic Gardens while they were setting up for their Goblets and Goblins event earlier this weekend. I figured that all of this decorating really did merit a post on Halloween. I got a good chuckle at some of the flower beds being used as makeshift cemeteries. Evidently the graves were rather shallow as at least one of the skeletons had migrated to the surface. I as also quite impressed by the pumpkin bonfire which was built in the courtyard. I gather that the event was a success so we will hopefully see additional Halloween activity at the Historic Gardens in years to come.

All for now,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sinclair Inn Museum Haunted House - Part 3

Tonight was the final night of our Sinclair Inn Museum Haunted House for 2010. I must admit that we have enjoyed this event a great deal. The Haunted House was a great venue to present some of our local folk tales. I am a firm believer that history does not need to be dry dull or boring. With a good group of volunteers and a great deal of imagination we hopefully presented some our history in a entertaining manner. It was also fun to introduce a number of new visitors to the 300 year old Sinclair Inn Museum. While it was not our standard museum interpretation at this time of year, I hope that some of these visitors will feel welcome when we open for business next spring. This building has many more stories to tell.

The pictures in this post were taken over the last few nights of the Haunted House. Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped us make this event possible. While the event is over, I am not quite ready to leave the ghosts and goblins behind. Our friends at the Historic Gardens hosted a Goblets and Goblins event on Friday night. While they were making their last minute arrangements I was able to get some pictures which I will share tomorrow.

All for now,

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sinclair Inn Museum Haunted House - Part 2

Did I mention that we have flaming pumpkin heads beside the Sinclair Inn Museum Haunted House? Thanks to Jon Gray, local shoemaker, firefighter and Halloween enthusiast, we have had some wonderful burning pumpkins in the parking lot beside the museum. I think that the pumpkins really add something to the event.

Speaking as one of the ghosts in the museum, we have been having a great deal of fun with this event. We have heard a few squeals of fear and a few peals of laughter. It has also been very nice to see a new audience coming through the museum. If you would like to experience the Haunted House yourself, Saturday October 30 will be your last opportunity for this year. The doors will be open at 6:30 and we will be in the ghost business until 9:00pm.

All for now,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Annapolis County Call to Arms - 1866

I have a couple interesting pieces of Canadian history today. A few years ago a gentleman walked into the O'Dell House Museum with what looked like a board game. After showing me the side with a hand drawn playing board, he flipped the piece over to show me two documents pasted on the opposite side. The first document was a handwritten letter and the second was beautifully printed proclamation. While I immediately realized that these were important documents, it took me a few minutes to digest what he had presented.

In the years directly following the American Civil War (1861-1865) there was a great unease in the North American colonies with an allegiance to Britain. At wars end there was a large and well trained army which could easily decide to march north. In addition to this, there was a military threat from another source. Today this may seem like an odd threat but, it was a very legitimate concern in 1866.

The Irish Fenian Brotherhood were an organization dedicated to liberating Ireland from British Rule. During the Potato Famine of the 1840s a great number of Irish had emigrated to North America. Many of these people brought their desire to liberate their home land with them. Between 1866 and 1871 a series of cross border attacks were launched by Fenians living in the United States. These attacks have come to be known as the Fenian Raids. Among the desires of the Fenians was to cause enough trouble in North America that the British would be distracted in their dealings with Ireland. While the raids may have been a concern, they never really amounted to much more than border skirmishes.

Now, back to the documents. As I read the material, I realized that these were orders to call out the militia to defend Nova Scotia against the possibility of Fenian Raids. The printed document was a proclamation by Sir William Fenwick Williams, pictured at the top of this post, that there was the threat of an invasion. The handwritten document was a set of orders to Lt Colonel W.E. Starratt of how he was to muster and drill the militia. This document goes on to provide instructions for what to do if there is an attack. I have provided transcriptions of both of these documents at the bottom of this post.

While there was never a Fenian attack in Nova Scotia, there was a raid on Campobello Island on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy just a month after these orders were written. In April 1866 a group of more than 700 Fenians appeared on the Maine shore across from Campobello Island. The goal, although poorly planned, was to seize the island. Many of the men had arrived weeks before their weapons. The large numbers of men had alerted authorities on both sides of the border and may have been the reason that these orders were written. While some shots were fired and buildings burned, the raid was broken up without casualties.

All for now,

Royal Gazette Extraordinary
Published by Authority
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Saturday March 17, 1866

Sir William Fenwick Williams, of Kars, Baronet, Lieutenant-General in Her Majesty’s Army; Knight, Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; Grand Officer Legion d’Honneur; 1st class of the Turkish Order of Medijee, &c. &c.; Lieutenant –Governor and Commander –in –Chief in and over Her Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia and its Dependencies, &c. &c.&c.
[ L.S.]


WHEREAS, a Hostile Invasion of the Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is threatened, by which the lives and property of Her Majesty’s subjects therein may be put in jeopardy, and preparations are necessary to repel such Invasion of Made;

And Whereas, in such an emergency , I am by Law authorized and require required to call out the Militia Force of Nova Scotia in aid of Her Majesty’s Regular Forces, for its defence:

I do hereby Command and require all Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Privates of the Militia Force of Nova Scotia, and all persons liable to perform Militia Duty in said Province, to turn out for actual service as in time of War, according to Law, and subject, on failure to do so, to the pains, penalties, and forfeitures thereby imposed and provided:

Of which all persons interested will take notice, and govern themselves accordingly.

Given under my Hand and Seal at Halifax, this Seventeenth day of March, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty-six, and in the Twenty-ninth year of Her Majesty’s Reign.

By Command of His Excellency
The Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief.


Bridgetown 23rd March 1866

Memo of Instructions to Lt Col W.E. Starratt Com Aug 3rd

Regiment Ann Co Militia

Muster your Regiment without delay – Read the Proclamation at the Head of your Regiment and explain – Administer Oath of allegiance to Companies as you arm them, - the Rifles on hand 40 Stand to one of your companies and immediately drill them for “5” five days – notify another company for next 5 days &c. unless arms come, if ea drill all whom you can furnish with arms – Learn them to shoot – Have a lookout at Port Williams. Post relays of horses, and telegraph to A.G. Militia, and Col. Milsom – if enemy appear. Send any information you may obtain – Keep the Ammunition in your own possession until required – If 800 rifles are sent to you, divide the Ammunition in proportion to rifles. Store Arms if possible in Charge of Captains – Send Col Milsom a Parade State of Muster day, note no of arms and kegs of Ammunition ?? by you on corner of said Parade State – Warn Regt to repair to respective Hd. Quarters or rallying post. On intimation of danger, throw up brush wood or timber near landing places to screen men from fire “on the alarm”. The men drilling with arms will immediately repair to the place where their arms are deposited – Should any attack or landing be made upon any one point, it will be the duty of all the other companies to march off at once to the assistance of the attacked party. Keep a constant lookout to sea and establish a line of communication to Regimental Head Quarters.

Lt Col T Milsom IFO
Dist D

W.E. Starratt Comm of the 3rd Rega An Co Mil

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm Ready for my Close-up Now

I knew that it is going to be an odd day when I was asked to sign a "model release form" before 10am. At that time in the morning the coffee has barely had the chance to make me mildly human. Add to that the fact that I am not physically what most people would consider model material and you have the beginnings of an interesting day.

Today was the day that Phil Neville and Susan Gilson from the Council of Nova Scotia Archives were in Annapolis Royal filming our Routes to your Roots YouTube video. Routes to your Roots is an innovative collaboration between the CNSA and the Province of Nova Scotia where researchers can find the region of the province that their ancestors came from. This is very helpful since it also allows you to discover the archival collections which may hold vital clues in your search for your ancestors. As a part of the project, they have been filming short YouTube videos at archives around Nova Scotia. You can check out some of Phil's archival adventures around the province in his blog.

My role was a fairly simple one. It could be summed up as talking to the camera about the AHS archival holdings. I talked in the tavern room, front parlour hallway and genealogy room of the of the O'Dell House Museum. I talked in the AHS's archival storage vault at the Annapolis Royal Court House. I also talked while standing beside the 1720 Bathiah Douglass gravestone in the Garrison Burial Ground while the rain poured down on all of us. Good thing that we are at the end of the visitor season and my vocal cords are in good shape. It should be an interesting editing job for Phil and Susan because I kept ad-libbing lines. I suppose that the ad-libbed lines will be easier to deal with than the totally flubbed lines. I will post a link when the final edited version is ready.

All for now,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flying Above the Crow's Nest

It is not all that often that you can see the past and the future colliding in one image. Granted, propeller driven biplanes are not currently a vision of the future but, when this picture was taken this was revolutionary technology. What we see in this image are three biplanes flying over the mast of a schooner. For a long time the only way to get an aerial view of the Annapolis Royal area would have been to climb the ratlines to the top of the mast of a vessel in the harbour. With a roar of engines and a whir of propellers, airplanes would have quickly been looking down on the tops of these masts.

In many ways this photograph, probably taken in the late 1920s, represents many of the changes which took place in the twentieth century. The world went from one where horses and sailing vessels, which had been used for centuries, were quickly replaced by automobiles and airplanes. The clop of hooves and the crackle of canvass were supplanted by the sounds of working machinery. This photograph perfectly captures the transition between two eras.

While I am on the moving forward into the future theme, I also have something on the news front today. Earlier today I was telling someone that every October I seem to take the jump into a new form of social media. In October 2008 I started this blog. I find it hard to believe that it has actually been around for two years and four hundred and thirty odd posts already. Last October I started the AHS Twitter account. This year I have finally made the fateful jump to start a Facebook page. I have decidedly been holding off setting up a Facebook page but, I figure that I have given myself enough time that it is time to take a headlong leap deeper into the social media abyss. It makes me feel really dramatic and daring when I write it that way.

All for now,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sinclair Inn Museum Haunted House

It has been a frightening couple of nights in the Sinclair Inn Museum. A collection of the Annapolis Royal region's ghosts and goblins have gathered in the museum for our first ever haunted house. While the museum is renowned for its usual ghosts, this is an entirely new collection of phantasms. From the Gray Lady of Granville and the one-armed soldier to the Chequered Lady and the forerunner of Joe Holmes, many pieces of our frightening local folklore are on display. Some of these ghosts will also take the time to tell you their stories as you walk through the building. I would suggest keeping an eye out for the one-armed soldier. He is rather a loud crashing lout with his chains and his infernal marching.

The Haunted House will be open again next Friday and Saturday nights (October 29, 30) from 6:30 -9:00pm. If you are interested in making a trip to Annapolis Royal, there is quite a bit of Halloween inspired fun with Goblets and Goblins at the Historic Gardens, a live presentation of Robin Hood at King's Theatre and the Annapolis District Drama Group's presentation of Murder in the Cathedral at St. Luke's Church.

All for now,
RGS (Ghost Pirate)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Changing Views of the Annapolis Basin

Tonight was the night of the Annapolis Heritage Society Annual General Meeting so this post will tend toward pictures more than words. As I usually do at the end of an AGM, I am feeling both tired and a bit brain dead. Lack of mental acuity aside, I would like to take the opportunity to welcome our four new board members and thank our three retiring members. I should also take the opportunity to thank Janice Slaunewhite and Wayne Smith from North Hills Museum for their roles in tonight's meeting.

Thankfully, I have a few pictures which have been waiting for a chance to be downloaded from my camera. The two sets of images in tonight's post were taken earlier this week on the Annapolis Royal waterfront about 16 hours apart. With the O'Dell House Museum located on the waterfront I have been able to see many different versions of this view. It is quite rare to see a perfect mirror image of Granville Ferry like I did the other day. Usually there is some ripple or wave to interrupt the scene. Likewise, while I have seen and photographed a great number of sunsets from this location, I still find it amazing to see a sunset with colours shooting across the sky.

All for now,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Annapolis Heritage Society AGM 2010

It is once again time for the Annapolis Heritage Society's annual general meeting. Could it only be a year since we last gathered to discuss the activities and upcoming events of the AHS? Evidently it is because my calendar tells me that the meeting will be held at North Hills Museum (5065 Granville Road, Granville Ferry) on October 21 at 7:00pm. The AGM is an excellent opportunity to learn about what the AHS has been up to and what we have planned for the future. This is also a great chance to meet the people who give their time and energy to preserving heritage in the Annapolis Royal region. You could also be among the first people to meet the incoming AHS board as they are elected.

Our presenter for the evening is Wayne Smith who works as an interpreter at North Hills Museum. Wayne has just finished his first season with us but he has a deep background in the decorative arts. Wayne will be drawing on some of his previous work experience with the National Gallery of Canada when he discusses the North Hills Museum collection and potential programming opportunities. This should be an interesting evening and a fresh look at how we could present parts of our story to museum visitors.

The image in today's post comes from the Charlotte Perkins collection at the AHS Archives. It really does not have much to do with the AGM but it was a cheerful image of people enjoying a picnic. I believe that the photograph was taken about 1915.

All for now,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ghosts and Sunsets

As I sometimes do, I found myself in Annapolis Royal just before sunset this evening. I was meeting people at the Sinclair Inn Museum so that we could take a look at the site in the darkness. While the last sentence may not initially make sense, it becomes more coherent when you realize that we have been setting up a haunted house in the museum over the past week. We needed to see how the decorations looked in the darkened atmosphere of the museum at night. I am quite excited about the haunted house and there will doubtlessly be more about this later in the week.

While I was waiting I realized that there was going to be a very pretty sunset. I grabbed my camera and made my way to the boardwalk. With autumn creating a orange blanket of leaves on the top of the north mountain, the golden light of the sunset was stunning. I also had a pleasant five minute conversation with a local lady where I learned many of the details of her life stretching back some 80 years. It is amazing what you can see and learn on a quiet Sunday evening in Annapolis Royal.

All for now,