Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Project 7x52 - Week 3

I was looking to do something a little bit different with week three of our Project 7x52 challenge. At the start of the week I thought about doing a set of people on the streets of Annapolis Royal in black and white. The weather was fairly grim and everyone has been bundled up so I figured that there could be some interesting images. By the time Thursday night rolled around and I had yet to get any images of people I started to rethink my strategy. Looking at the images that I had taken I noticed that there were a couple of benches. Keeping the idea of taking a set in black and white, I decided to see what sort of outdoor seating I could find in Annapolis Royal in the middle of the winter. Surprisingly, there was no lack of seats to photograph even in the middle of January.

Week 3 theme - A Place to Sit Outdoors (black and white)

1. Bench on the Annapolis Royal waterfront boardwalk with Granville Ferry in the background
2. Chairs at the Bailey House B&B on Lower St George Street
3. Bench at Petit Park.
4. Three boardwalk benches
5. Bench in front of a residence on Lower St George Street.
6. Waterfront picnic table by the O'Dell House Museum
7. Bench at the Historic Gardens.

All for now,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Our New Besom

"...I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts." Isaiah 14:23 KJV

It is not often that we purchase an artifact for the Annapolis Heritage Society collections. Over the years, most of our artifacts have been donated by generous friends and members. On rare occasion a piece comes on the market that is so valuable to our local history that we make a significant effort to acquire the piece. The 1759 Horten Powder Horn and the Harris Paintings are examples of artifacts that we have pursued in recent years. The piece featured in today's post is nothing like that. This artifact, a besom, has neither a great monetary value nor a long history in our community. What then makes this strange inexpensive (it cost $10) version of a broom an interesting artifact for our collection.

What this besom provides is the possibility for some interesting exchanges with visitors to the O'Dell House Museum. Visitors are invariably drawn to strange looking artifacts. This gives our interpreters the opportunity to discuss the artifact, how it was used and relate it to the story of the community. While this is a piece of indeterminate origins, it is typical of what would have been found in our community at one point. In that way, it can be used as a representational piece to link other stories. It is also an appropriate piece to have on display in a period house like the O'Dell House Museum.

The besom is built pretty well as it appears. It is a broom made of sticks tied around a central handle. A besom is always round due to the way that the sticks are tied. The handle appears to be made of ash but I am not yet certain of the type of wood used for the brush. While birch was a common wood for the brush, this does not appear to be the case here. While they are uncommon today, besoms were a common household item before the introduction of broomcorn (Sorghum vulgare var. technicum). Even after the introduction of broomcorn, besoms were still a useful outdoor tool.

There is an added bonus with this piece in that this is the sort of broom commonly associated with witches. When the haunted house at the Sinclair Inn Museum comes back next October this piece will doubtlessly have a central role. By the way, I am hoping that ours is not the besom of destruction.

All for now,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Archival Mystery

On certain occasions I come across an archival document that poses a few more questions than it provides answers. In all honesty, this is really some of the fun in dealing with archival documents. You occasionally come across strange facts or stories and there is a certain allure to sorting out these historical mysteries. It is a privilege to take some time with a historical document to ask "what exactly is happening here?" When you ask these questions it is interesting what light they can shed on the document as well as

The document featured in this post is an excellent example of needing to pause to ask a few questions. This document comes from the Cronin Fonds held by the Annapolis Heritage Society Archives. On the surface this is a fairly standard document detailing payment from a group of people to an individual. At this point, it would make sense to provide a transcription of the document. As always, I have tried to keep the original spelling and grammar intact.

"I do here by Certify that I have received of Thomas Cronin David Holden Thomas Holden James Mussels Quinn Worster George G. Cronin the Full Remompence and Satisfaction in Cash for Injuring or Damaging or accidently hurting my house and part of My Furniture on the 26th Day of Januarry last, And I do here by Acknowledge my self fully paid and Satisfied as Witness by my hand in Granville this 19th Day of Febr 1834.
Daniel Ellis
Witness William Mussels

Why were this group of men paying for "Injuring or Damaging or accidently hurting my house and part of My Furniture"? This wording certainly intrigues me. Were they doing work around the house when something went horribly wrong? Was this some sort of feud that eventually became violent with house and property becoming injured? Personally, favorite theory is that this was a group of young men who were having a couple of drinks when things got out of hand. A few drinks, some songs, a bit of general revelry and, before they knew it, house and furniture were injured. This would not be the first or the last time that property was damaged in this manner. Sadly, the fact that January 26, 1834 was a Sunday does not help this theory. There may be an entirely different reason for the damage and resulting payment.

I do have a few paths to go down in trying to figure out this mystery. As an example,
a bit of genealogical research should turn up the general ages of the men in question. If they turn out to be 70 - 80 at the time of the incident, I would say that drunken revelry is less likely (not impossible, just less likely). There is also the possibility that as we continue to process material in the Cronin Fonds that a document will shed some additional light on this affair. Archival mysteries are a great deal of fun.

All for now,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Project 7x52 - Week 2

At the start of the second week of my Project 7x52 challenge we had a couple of days of snow in Annapolis Royal. I knew that at some point I wanted to have a weekly theme of snow so this seemed like an appropriate opportunity. I was also figuring that I should take full advantage of the snowfall because this has been a very odd winter so far. I have heard more than one person remark that it feels like we are trapped in a permanent November. Within 12 hours of the end of the snowfall, the snow that you can see in these images had melted and we were back to greenish brown grass. It is certainly odd weather for the middle of January.

Week 2 theme - Snow

1. Annapolis Royal taken through a snowstorm from the back of the Granville Ferry Hall
2. One of the ornamental grasses at the Historic Gardens
3. A cannon at Fort Anne NHS
4. Another ornamental grass at the Historic Gardens
5. The snow covered face on a brass cannonade at Fort Anne. This piece is a remnant of the French regime in Acadie.
6. The Sally Port at Fort Anne
7. I believe that this is the snow covered remains of a hydrangea at the Historic Gardens.

All for now,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Annapolis Royal, now in Living Colour

I am quite partial to colourized images from the 1920s. There is a certain charm in these images that someone has taken the time to personally add colour. The goal was to make a black and white image look more realistic. There was usually some blue added to the sky and a bit of green added to the grass. Clothing often took on an interesting shade. Since we are accustomed to seeing clothing of this period in shades of gray it is fun to see a dress or jacked rendered in shades of red or yellow. Sadly, by the time the Great Depression rolled around in the 1930s, there were few people who wanted to pay the extra money for hand coloured photographs so the practice fell out of fashion.

This particular image shows the trail leading around the grounds at Fort Anne. This is an interesting image because it shows the Town Hall and business district shortly after they had been rebuilt. Most of the buildings in the area across the street were destroyed in the 1921 fire. Town Hall, as with a number of buildings including King's Theatre, was designed by an English Architect named Graham Johnson. The white doors at the side of the building originally housed the fire department. This is where the library is currently located. In the foreground is a sundial that was once a fixture at the fort. This piece now resides beside the Governor's Garden at the Historic Gardens.

We have a few of these images in the Annapolis Heritage Society archival collection. Two of the images look at the area where the reconstruction of the Port Royal Habitation now stands. One of the images was taken from the water looking up at the site and the other was taken looking down from the North Mountain. They provide an interesting view of the community before reconstruction began. Most of the other images feature scenes around Fort Anne.

All for now,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Project 7x52 - Week 1

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, my Project 365 photography challenge has come to a successful end. Three of our local shutterbugs managed to capture an image every day during 2011. As the project was coming to an end, our local photographers started searching around for a new photography challenge. We all agreed that another year of taking a photograph per day was more than we really wanted. After some discussion we decided upon a new sort of challenge for 2012. We are calling this Project 7x52 because the idea is to collect seven images per week for each week of the year. Now, the question we have been asked is "how is this different from a Project 365?" The answer is actually fairly simple, we do not need to take each of the images on separate days. If we find some inspiration all of our images can be taken at the same time. If inspiration is slower in coming we can take the images leisurely throughout the week. The new project seems to have taken hold and we have been joined by some additional photographers. Since some of the photographers are not from the Annapolis Royal area we have created the new Project 7X52 group to accommodate everyone. Annapolis Royal images will still be uploaded to the link at the top of this post.

To add a new dimension to this year's project, we have decided that each week would have a theme. The themes are left entirely to the choosing of the photographer. The addition of a theme should make this year's project more blog friendly so I will try to keep my weekly activities updated. My theme for week one was "Old and New". This seemed like an appropriate choice as we were sweeping out the old and ringing in the new this week.

1. New bud on a rhododendron Nova Zembla at my house.
2. Rusted handle and hook on the old outhouse door on my property.
3. The front dormers on the new Langstaff House on Chapel Street. This is the newest house in Annapolis Royal with the owners taking residence around Christmas.
4. Granville Ferry with the first snow of 2012.
5. The remains of last year's apple harvest
6. One of the restored front windows at the Sinclair Inn Museum. This actually manages to be both old and new.
7. The 1797 Fort Anne Officer's Quarters.

All for now,

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Heritage Meeting

This morning I attended a combined meeting of the Town of Annapolis Royal and the Municipality of the County of Annapolis's heritage advisory committees. While I have been a member of the County's committee for about 5 years and an adviser to the Town's committee since it was reformed a few years ago, there had not previously been a combined meeting of these two groups. I was very happy that Chairs Peter Davies (Town) and Marilyn Wilkins (County) had the foresight to call a combined meeting. In an region like ours with a limited population and limited financial resources, it makes sense to see if there are areas where we can cooperate. An ongoing flow of information between these two bodies is also something beneficial to all heritage minded people in our community. For our initial meeting we listened to a presentation on changes to the Provincial Heritage Property Act, and had a discussion of ways the groups could collaborate in the future. Hopefully this is the start of a strong new relationship on something that is of importance to both municipal units.

The image in this post is obviously the Officer's Quarters at Fort Anne National Historic Site. When I left the meeting and drove down St George Street the light reflecting off of the snow in the fort grounds caught my eye. I parked my car and walked back to get a few pictures of this iconic building. In a less tangible part of our community's history, you can see that someone has already been sliding on the rampart in front of the building. This has been a winter sliding destination for generations of local children.

All for now,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Some History to Start the Year

There are few things I find more enjoyable than a fresh take on local history. Dealing in the history of the Annapolis Royal region on a daily basis, one starts to think that they have a fair grasp on the generalities of our local story. When dealing with the vagaries of history, it is always a healthy thing to get your assumptions shaken up. It is for this reason that I thoroughly enjoyed Tom Peace's presentation to a joint meeting of the Annapolis Heritage Society and The Historical Association of Annapolis Royal earlier tonight. Tom, who recently completed his PhD at York University and is currently teaching at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, was in town to discuss part of his thesis that deals with the history of the Annapolis Royal area. Specifically, he was discussing Mi'Kmaq relations with the British, French and Acadians in the wake of the 1710 British conquest of Acadia. Tom also seemed to be taking some pleasure in actually speaking in the community that he had spent a great deal of time researching in various archives.

Using census and demographic information he was postulating a different sort of relationship between the Mi'Kmaq and various colonial forces than we have traditionally believed. Among other things, he was putting forward the idea that the relationship between the French and the Mi'Kmaq may not have been as strong as common understanding would have us believe. I am not going to pretend to pull all of his research and ideas together in this blog. That would not do justice to his thoughts. What I will say is that he is hoping to pull his research together in a publication which I would highly recommend.

I would like to thank Tom as well as our friends at the Historical Association of Annapolis Royal for their assistance in organizing tonight's presentation.

All for now,

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Beginnings

A new year and time for a new beginning. It has admittedly been a while since I have been regularly posting on the blog. After three years of fairly regular service, I ended up needing a break to recharge some of my creative batteries. Now that the new year has arrived, I thought that this would be a good time to get blogging again.

So, what was I doing with my time away? Well, in addition to regular work and family activities, I spent some of that time concentrating my Project 365 photography challenge. While taking a photograph per day may seem like a simple endeavor at the start of the year, toward the end of the year it managed to indeed become a challenge of consistency and creativity. Happily that challenge ended successfully on December 31 with the image of the Annapolis Royal lighthouse that I have included in this post. Project 365 was an interesting road where I managed to learn quite a few things. I should also acknowledge Trish Fry and Jane Dewolfe for also completing the 365 challenge. We now have an image bank of more than 1450 images documenting 2011 in Annapolis Royal through the eyes of three photographers (for those questioning my math, Trish did the 365 challenge twice with the second 365 representing the Historic Gardens). A copy of these images will be added to the AHS Archives. Hopefully these images can someday play the same role that the images of Charlotte Perkins, Frederick Harris, Sidney Payne and others play in documenting our community's history. Since I have not shared many of the recent 365 images on the blog, I will try to fill the backlog as time progresses.

With Project 365 complete we have decided to take on something we are calling Project 7x52. I will write more on this subject in a future post. Thankfully Project 7x52 will be much more blog friendly in the way we are planning it. This should contribute some weekly fodder and imagery to the blog.

During my sabbatical I also managed to write a couple of plays based loosely on stories from the history Annapolis Royal area. At this point the plan is for the first of these plays "Foule Papers 1721" to be presented on the O'Dell House Museum's stage this summer. In the spirit of the stories we have presented in recent years, this play is a (hopefully) comedic take on actual events. While complete, I think that the second play needs a bit of rewriting attention before I feel like giving it much public attention.

All for now,