Monday, May 30, 2011

Granville Ferry Fire Hose Reel - 1893

A couple of weeks ago I needed to make a trip to Yarmouth. Since it was only a quick trip to pick something up, I decided to extend my stay by a few minutes and pay a visit to the Firefighters Museum of Nova Scotia. If you have not had the chance to see this museum, I would highly recommend taking the time for a visit. From horse drawn wagons and leather fire buckets to steam powered engines and even fairly modern trucks, there are a wide variety of machines used to fight fire on display. There are also impressive collections of everything from safety equipment to firefighting ephemera on display.

While they have a very impressive collection of equipment at the museum, there was one piece in particular that I wanted to see. For some time I have known about a hose reel from Granville Ferry in this collection. Knowing that the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department are commemorating their 200th anniversary in 2011, I figured that these pictures may be useful at some point. I was directed to a room off of the upstairs exhibit gallery and allowed to take a handful of pictures.

The hose reel was made in 1893 and served the community of Granville Ferry. The piece is essentially a friction roller for the fire hose carried by two large wagon wheels. There is a tongue at the front but it appears to be a piece that would be pulled by two humans rather than a horse. There is an open tool box and two nozzles which are made of leather and brass.

This is certainly a case where I wish that the artifact could tell some of its own stories. Where was the hose reel kept in Granville Ferry? Where were the fires that this artifact helped to extinguish? Who were the people who pulled it? Even without these stories, I was happy to see this important artifact.

All for now,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Historic Gardens Dinner & Auction

Tonight was the night of the annual fundraising dinner and auction for our friends at the Historic Gardens. This is usually a fun night with a great deal of community support for the Gardens. As always, the evening opened with various games of chance and a silent auction. Plant material and donations from local businesses were both the prizes in the games as well as the items in the auction. After a welcome by Peter Davies, the Annapolis Royal Town Crier, everyone sat down to a lovely chicken dinner.

Greg Kerr, Member of Parliament for West Nova was the Master of Ceremonies for the event as he has been for many years. Highlights of the auction always include Greg's attempts to read the Latin names of plants and his ongoing banter with auctioneer Blaine Henshaw. There was an unexpected twist this year involving Greg and a mannequin. Perhaps I should just let the picture tell that story.

All for now,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

HMCS Cornwallis

A curatorial friend of mine recently sent me a collection of photographs that he purchased when he was attending a Boatswain course for the sea cadets at HMCS Cornwallis during the summer of 1961. For those of you not familiar with our local geography, the former HMCS Cornwallis Naval Training Base was located down the Annapolis Basin from Annapolis Royal between the communities of Clementsport and Deep Brook. Officially commissioned in 1943, the site quickly grew. At its peak, HMCS Cornwallis had more than 11 000 officers, enlisted and recruits. This volume of people made the base the largest Commonwealth naval training facility. Sadly HMCS Cornwallis was decommissioned in 1995 but, many of the buildings have found new life as the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre, HMCS Acadia (Sea cadet training) and an industrial park.

As I was flipping through the images, a number of them caught my eye. Indeed there were images of a few facilities that I never realized existed at the base. This particular image drew my attention because it seemed to be such a quintessential room from the early 1960s. The photo is labeled as the "main hall recreation area / dance hall". From the decore, I could not imagine this room being anything else. The checkerboard shadows are really very interesting.

As time moves along I will share more of these interesting archival images. I would also welcome any stories about HMCS Cornwallis from those who lived at the base.

All for now,

Friday, May 20, 2011


I'm having some computer issues at home so it may be a few days before I can get back to making regular posts. In the mean time, I am amassing a nice little backlog of topics including a trip to Delap's Cove, the construction of a new costume and some great pictures of the Annapolis Royal area as the visitor season is getting under way. I will be sure to get tome images of the first outdoor Farmers Market tomorrow morning.

All for now,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Medicine to Drinke

Why is there always sheep dung? What was it about that particular substance that made it so appealing to early physicians? Was it the need to have an unpleasant treatment to psychologically convince the patient that they were getting a cure for their ailment. Does sheep dung have particular properties that make it suitable for compresses? It certainly could not boast any antiseptic qualities. Having had the opportunity to shear sheep in the past, I can testify that I can think of very little benefit that can come from sheep dung outside of the garden. In the garden it is a wonderful substance but, I can think of very little to recommend it as a medicine. Yet, in many old remedies like the one transcribed in today's post, sheep dung is an integral ingredient.

While this remedy is called Medicine to Drinke, I think that there are at least two remedies at work. The first remedy almost sounds like an interesting cocktail. The allycompain mentioned in the list of ingredients is certainly elecampane which grows wild in our area. In fact, we have some of these tall yellow flowers in the back yard of the O'Dell House Museum. The root of this plant has been used medicinally for centuries and bears some expectorant qualities. The root appears to be steeped in half of a pint (paint in the transcription) of molasses and 8 glasses of gin. Since the root apparently has an anise flavour, this may actually be a pleasant aperitif. At worst, it might make some of the other parts of the remedy more bearable.

This prescription comes from the Cronin fonds held by the Annapolis Heritage Society Archives. I have found at least one other equally questionable prescription in the documents. As I always do when transcribing, the original spelling and grammar are left intact. I must admit that I do not know who the gentleman in the photograph is. Although he is an unidentified photograph in our collection but, he had a somewhat medical bearing that I felt added to this post.

All for now,

Medicine to Drinke

allycompain ½ paint molasses 8 Glafses jin in a bottle and fill it up with the allycompain liquor

Punkin sees and flax seed ½ paint, punkin seeds one hand full,

Casteel soap 1 ounce & Parsley the parsley stewed to liquor

Warm Watter for Drink with some meal or bran

To forment plaster, sheeps Dung with the hymlock & Juniper Liquor wet it with vinear

Rub Frequently with fresh butter the sore

Anoynt in the Seabord & yd with the ointment left

After Washing it with Casteel soap& warm water

Wet or wash the Bowl with Soap Suds & grease it a little.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Caught in the Act

Over the past few weeks we have been finding large sections of roof shingles torn off of the Sinclair Inn Museum. At first we were mystified as to what was causing the damage. It is certainly not normal for wooden shingles to suddenly deteriorate in large patches like this so, something external was causing the damage. Because water was getting into the building we had a local contractor put up a tarp and we hoped that this was a one time incident. Of course these things are never one time incidents.

Earlier today I was in the building and I heard the distinct sounds of a very angry animal. To be exact, I actually heard the sounds of an upset mother and a number of very small voices. I figured out where the noises were coming from but, not wanting to encounter an animal defending its young, I decided to go about my business and come up with a plan. I made my way next door to chat with Harry Jost who is a longtime member of our Sinclair Inn Museum Committee. Harry informed me that the roof had been damaged again overnight. Whatever this intruder was, it was decidedly unwelcome.

A little later in the day I was alerted that a raccoon was sitting on the roof beside the chimney. I arrived in time to see her pick up one of the babies with her mouth and crawl up the chimney and into the museum. If you look at the series of photographs closely you can actually see the baby in her mouth. I left the museum with our Halloween music playing and strobe lights flashing in hopes of making the place a little less comfortable. Hopefully she will decide that the neighbours are miserable and move the family to a new home. Knowing that this will probably not work, we are also trying to arrange for a live trap to relocate this family to a better home.

All for now,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

North West Rebellions Medal - 1885

While we have a deep and rich history in Annapolis Royal, we have some artifacts in our community that relate to historic events from other parts of Canada. The artifact featured in today's post is just such an artifact. From May 9 - 12, 1885 a battle was fought between the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan under their Metis leader Louis Riel and the Dominion of Canada. Riel and Gabriel Dumont and fewer than 300 Metis and First Nations warriors faced a force some 800 strong led by Major General Frederick Middleton. Middleton's overall force included one battalion from Nova Scotia.

In general terms, dissatisfaction had been brewing for some time between the Native and Metis populations and the Dominion of Canada. The Battle of Batouche is really part of a larger series of events known as the North West Rebellions. The North West Rebellions, in turn, are really the second part of the Red River Rebellions of 1869 -70. Tensions had not abated from this time. Among the issues were the expansion of agricultural settlements across the prairies, unrepresentative government, disappearance of the buffalo. White settlers who had purchased land along the proposed Canadian Pacific Railway route between Winnipeg and Edmonton were also upset when Prime Minister John A. Macdonald changed the route to run through Regina and Calgary. In an attempt to influence the Canadian government, Riel, Dumont and others established the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan.

Despite some early victories by the Native, Metis forces at Duck Lake, Fish Creek and Cut Knife, Batoche was the decisive battle for the Dominion of Canada. Riel surrendered after Batoche and was eventually (and controversially) hanged for treason. At the end of the conflict medals were awarded for those serving for Canada. The front of the medal bears the likeness of Queen Victoria while the back reads "North West 1885 Canada). This particular medal has recently been transferred to the Annapolis Heritage Society as part of a large military collection. It was awarded to a Corporal Brown of the Nova Scotia battalion to serve under Major General Middleton.

All for now,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Archival Mother's Day

As it was in many houses, today was a big day in our house. Breakfast was served in bed, handmade gifts involving pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks were presented and flowers were purchased. Yes, these are the hallmarks of Mother's Day. The day of the year dedicated to thanking all hardworking mothers for their sacrifices, guidance and love. Could we ever find enough pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks to pay proper tribute?

I decided to take a look through the AHS archival collection to see if I could find any interesting images of mothers. While I am sure that many of the women in the pictures I was looking at were mothers, I had a fairly rigid idea of the type of image I wanted to find. I wanted images of a women interacting with their children. Now, these images could easily be Aunt Jane or the lady from down the road playing with the children but at least they present a maternal appearance. Although they come from different collections, these images were taken circa 1900. I find to interesting to think how drastically the role of women within the household has changed from the time that these image were taken. I hope that the mothers in your life had an enjoyable day.

All for now,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Faerie Houses Part 5

It looks like the Faerie folk have been back to Annapolis Royal again. Actually, they have been quite regular in their pattern of expanding their territory every Friday night. They have, in fact, been more regular than I have been since I have not photographed the houses which appeared at Bainton's Tannery and at the playground on lower St George Street last week. I did see photographs of these houses and I was once again impressed with the quality of their construction. This week houses have appeared at the Royal Bank, under the large magnolias at the Historic Gardens and at the Delap-Savary House on St. George Street. I did not know about those at the Delap-Savary house until later in the day so I have not yet had the opportunity to take a photograph.

I continue to be impressed by the faerie's ability to theme their construction to the to the type of business they are colonizing. Houses made of old leaves of books at the library, duct tape at the hardware store and now play money at the bank. Today's houses were also placed in a prominent spot under the large magnolias at the Gardens on Magnolia Festival weekend. Say what you will about our faeries, they are a creative lot who seem to be paying attention to events in town.

Over the last couple weeks I have seen a strange new being appear at the Farmers Market at the Historic Gardens. Having never seen a faerie before, I am not sure what physical form I should be looking for. I snapped a photograph of this creature in hopes that it may be one of the faerie folk.

All for now,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Not Quite the Image of the Day - Part 4

Another month has clicked by in our Project 365 challenge. Looking over images that I have taken over the past month it is hard to believe that we had snow in the beginning of April. Now that the flowers have started to bloom and the community is transitioning into its warm season mode, thoughts of snow are quickly receding into the back of my mind. I must admit that I like the juxtaposition of the snow at the top of this post and the flowers at the bottom. Bring on the warm weather.

Once again, this collection of photographs are those that were not chosen as the image of the day on their particular day. Project 365 continues to be an interesting challenge. It has been nice that Spring has brought a new palate of colours because I was tiring of shades of white, brown and gray. It has also been fun to try to look at the community with a fresh set of eyes every day. While it may be a truism, I have realized that you see a lot more details when you are looking for them. If you are interested, feel free to browse the pool of Project 365 images taken by our three photographers.

All for now,