This week was volunteer appreciation week.  Museum Strathroy-Caradoc has a number of dedicated volunteers working with the collection and below are their stories.

George
I started volunteering to work at the Strathroy Museum in September of 2014. As of March 31, 2016 I have 326 hours of community service. My work involves taking pictures of items and logging them into the computer (into PastPerfect) with a brief description of each item. I currently work Tuesday and Thursday afternoon each week. As I did not grow up in the area I find it interesting to learn more about the history of Strathroy Caradoc.

Paul
The RS Williams glass negative collection covers the years of approximately 1901-1905 and were discovered above Bosson’s Pharmacy.  As a recent retiree, I have been cleaning, identifying, recording and digitizing the negatives two mornings a week since October 2015. The tasks give me an insight into the names, clothes and customs of one hundred years ago. I have been fortunate to see the original glass negative of a picture of my maternal grandmother and her sisters from 1901. Preserving the Collection and assisting the Museum Strathroy-Caradoc is an excellent volunteer opportunity

John
Each week I scan the old Age Dispatch negatives into PastPerfect (the museum database).  I then transcribe the captions from the actual hard copy of the newspapers into the database and create search terms and key words that will aid future researchers.  So far I have completed the newspapers from March and part of April of 1984 and will start on May very soon.

Below are some of the items that George, Paul and John have been working on

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In 1964 Melbourne Legion Branch 510 purchased two lots at the Longwood Cemetery to build a memorial stone to honour all those that had fallen in past conflicts. Construction was complete in 1965.  This cemetery is located approximately 2 km north of Melbourne on Melbourne Road.  The Legion members and members of the community would march out to it from the village and have a ceremony every year.

After a number of years the Legion decided to look for land closer to the village.  Mrs. Elsie (Vail) Auld and Mrs. Ina (Vail) Campbell of Melbourne made the new park a reality when they donated a triangle of land to the Melbourne Royal Canadian Legion Branch 510.  This new park would located across the street from the Presbyterian church facing Victoria Street.

The land was donated in memory Mrs. Beatrice McDougall, a long-time resident of Melbourne.  She lived in the red brick house across from the new park. The triangle became separated as a result of everyone taking a short cut across the property that eventually became a road.

The land was deeded as a gift with the intent that the Legion would maintain the park. The Melbourne Legion moved the war memorial to its new location in 1985.  Other additions to the new park included plants, flag poles, lights (1987) and interlocking brick (1988).

With the move the memorial is now more visible and closer to the churches.

Currently Museum Staff are working at adding a Virtual Memorial for the Melbourne Cenotaph that is similar to that of Strathroy and Mount Brydges.

Melbourne Cenotaph

Melbourne Cenotaph

WWI Soldiers that were inscribed on the Cenotaph in 2014 include

Pte John McDougald
L Cpl William Newman
Pte Arthur Stevenson
Pte John Annett

Others from Melbourne area that are honoured on other memorials include

Wilfred James Cooper
John Andrew Dow Elder
Arthur William Good
Joseph Edward Moore
Dougald McNeil

WWII Soldiers names there inscribed on the Cenotaph in 2014 include

F/O John Dewar
Cpl Lorne Evans
                                                                      Pte Warren Kellestine 
                                                                AC2 John Brodie

Information gathered from the following sources
Melbourne WI – Transcript and Free Press pg. 20 November 7 1985
A Split Village by JoAnn Galbraith
Honour Rolls and Cenotaphs of Middlesex County by John Sargeant

Mount Brydges Soldiers Monument

In the early part of the year 1919 a special meeting of the ratepayers of the Township of Caradoc was called by the Reeve, James Peters.  The town of Mount Brydges was considering erecting a memorial in the form of a building or other structure in honor and memory of the men of the Township of Caradoc who had enlisted in any armed forces during the Great War of 1914-18.  It the desire of the people of Caradoc to honour the memory of those who had made the supreme sacrifice in defence of freedom, so dear to the hearts of all British subjects.  The meeting was presided over by the Reeve while the township clerk, John Brodie, was asked to act as secretary. After long and interesting discussion it was decided to appoint a committee to further consider the matter and report to a later meeting.

At the second meeting the committee recommended that a monument be erected on the grounds in Mount Brydges on which the town hall was located and that the names of all those from the township of Caradoc who had given their lives in the war should be engraved thereon. It was further recommended that a marble tablet be placed in the town hall on which should be inscribed the names of all the men and women who had served in any way.

Early in June 1920 this committee was able to report that the monument was completed. The statue surmounting the pedestal had been obtained from Italy. The names of all those from Caradoc who paid the supreme sacrifice were engraved on the base.

The unveiling was held June 16,1920.

Unveiling Soldiers Monument Mount Brydges

Unveiling Soldiers Monument Mount Brydges

Researched and written by John Sargeant

This week we will be highlighting the monuments that are in Strathroy, Mount Brydges and Melbourne. 

Today we look at the Strathroy Cenotaph.

Strathroy Armoury ca 1909

Strathroy Armoury ca 1909

In 1909, as part of a campaign by the federal government, a new Armoury was built in Strathroy on Frank Street. Before this time the local militia had met and practiced in a shed near the corner of Adelaide and Scott Streets. The local militia unit was the 26th Regiment of the Middlesex Light Infantry.  During WWI the Armoury was the centre for recruitment of soldiers.

After the war it was only fitting that a War Memorial be placed near the building. 

The town initially was going to erect the monument but due to financial constraints was unable to right after the war.  The Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE) Mary Armstrong Chapter stepped up and raised the funds within the community to have the monument built.  They advertised in the local papers including the Strathroy Age Dispatch and asked for names to be submitted.  They updated and published this list over a number of months before it was finalized. 

The Strathroy Age Dispatch published an article on April 10, 1924 stating that “Messrs Hambly Brothers were working on the Soldier’s Memorial and that they hoped to have an unveiling later in the summer”.

Strathroy Memorial ca. 1924

Strathroy Memorial ca. 1924

On August 24, 1924 the community assembled in Alexandra Park and paraded to the cenotaph site in front of the Armouries. Teachers of various Sunday Schools saw that their pupils arrived with flowers.  Cars were provided for the next of kin and seats in the town square were ready.  

The program was as follows
Hymn “O God our Help”
Chairman Judge D C Ross – remarks
Unveiling of the monument by Miss Helen Buchanan of Stratford.
Prayer of Dedication – Rev John Moore
Scripture Reading – Mrs W. B. Lindsay (mother of Capt A. L. Lindsay)
Address General Sir Arthur Currie
Last Post
Reveille
Placing of Wreaths on the monument
Band selections
Hymn “O Canada”
GOD SAVE THE KING

It wasn’t until 1930 that the Cross of Sacrifice and lamps were erected above the monument.  In an article dated July 31, 1930 it states “Strathroy’s Completed Memorial to “the Boys Who Did Not Return” will be unveiled next Sunday afternoon.  May the ornamental lamps at the Foot of the Cross forever burn in loving remembrance of Strathroy’s Fallen Heroes.  Work is a credit to the Daughters of the Empire.” This ceremony coincided with the Old Boys and Girls Reunion being held in Strathroy.

The lamps mentioned above were made at the Corning Glass Works of New York.  Twelve in total were produced for the War Memorial. 

The final monument consists of three large tablets of imperial grey Canadian granite standing side by side on a light grey base.  The centre tablet is inscribed “Our Glorious Dead” with the quotation underneath “To Live in the hearts of those we leave behind, is not to die”.  The rest of the space and the side tablets are occupied by the names of the soldiers whose memory is commemorated.

Strathroy cenotaph Spring 2012

Strathroy cenotaph Spring 2012

Research and information provided by John Sargeant and Museum Strathroy-Caradoc staff and volunteers.

Do you remember 1983?

Did you attend a local event or have a milestone recorded in the local newspaper, The Age Dispatch?

Did you go to the fair in Strathroy, Mount Brydges or Ilderton?  Were you on a sports team, hockey, basketball, soccer, football, baseball, tennis etc.?   If so you may be in the Museum’s Age Dispatch Negative Collection.

Some snap shots for 1983 include:
Joan Galbraith retiring from the Strathroy Post Office
Trillium Village being constructed and opening
Strathroy Blade Mike Stapleton scoring against the Sarnia Bees
Mr. and Mrs. Antonio T. DaSilva of Strathroy marked their 60th wedding anniversary
Mr. Dressup coming to Colborne Street School
Charlie Weatherby guessing how many candies in a candy jar
Wayne Pullen shooting apples at the First Annual Apple Shoot in Metcalfe Township
Turkey Fest Mocha Temple Races
Fire at Strathroy Furniture

There are over 800 negatives online to view.  You can go to the online collection directly through the link provided ONLINE COLLECTION or find in on our website at www.strathroymuseum.ca under the tab “COLLECTION” and the page “SEARCH COLLECTION”.

To Search the Collection once there you can either browse in the “random images” page or do a keyword search if you are looking for something in particular.

If you see one that you like fill out the order form located below each image.  There is a small fee of $5 – $25 depending on what resolution that you want and for what purpose.

Also if you have more information about a particular event or person that you see in the negatives that you would like to share please contact the museum at 519-245-1105 ext. 322 or cloyst@strathroy-caradoc.ca

When people think of a “House of Industry or Refuge” they might picture a poorhouse, a workhouse, a prison or a scene from a Charles Dickens novel. But in the 1800s, if you fell into any of the following categories – destitute, jobless, homeless, blind, aged, widowed, pregnant, alcohol ‘intemperate’ or abandoned by a husband or father – you could have been admitted to the House of Refuge.

In 1890 the House of Refuge Act was passed, allowing counties to receive $4000 to purchase up to 45 acres of land on which to build an institution. Middlesex was well ahead of that date. Support for a local House of Refuge began here in the 1840s, although it was almost 40 years before one was opened. Construction started in 1880 on a three-storey building located on present-day Napperton Drive, just west of Strathroy. The House officially opened on January 12, 1881 with four ‘inmates’. James Keys was the first name found in the book titled “Register of Paupers, Vagrants, and Idiots received at the House of Industry and Refuge County of Middlesex”.

Today we associate ‘inmates’ with prison, but in the 1800s this described anyone living in a public institution, including a jail, hospital or asylum. House of Refuge inmates/residents were granted admission by the acting reeve or a local council member; they were classified as ‘deserving poor’. There was a supervisor (or ‘keeper’), a matron and a doctor on-site at all times. A component of each of the Houses was a working farm where, if capable, inmates were required to work to offset the cost of running the facility. Over the years the House of Refuge model slowly evolved as other institutions were opened for orphans, the homeless and people with mental health concerns.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s many residents died of common ailments recorded as la grippe (influenza), general disability, apoplexy (stroke) and paralysis, so Houses of Refuge often had a cemetery on site. The Burial Register for the “House of Industry and Refuge, County of Middlesex” indicates there were two cemetery plots, where approximately 180 people were interred. The location of the first plot is unknown, but about 90 former residents of the House were buried there. The first burial took place in February 1881, after a woman identified as ‘Widow Cinnamon’ died at the age of 77. She was admitted to the House of Refuge from Ekfrid Township only two weeks prior to her death. The last person to be buried in the first plot was James Smith from West Williams Township, who died on August 13, 1889, the same day he was brought to the House. The second cemetery plot was opened on October 10, 1889 with the death of Mary Bratt. It was laid out in the northwest corner of the farm, now marked with a cedar hedge and rows of trees. Although the cemetery closed in 1900, one more burial took place two years later. George Edwin Bratt, born to Lizzie Bratt, was just eight days old when he died.

In the years after the cemetery was closed the bodies of 93 people were sent to the London Medical School for research purposes. The Anatomy Act allowed medical schools to legally procure unclaimed bodies from government institutions to further the advancement of medical studies. This continued until 1931, when Middlesex County purchased plots within Strathroy Cemetery to bury those who either did not have a family, or whose family could not afford a burial. There is a gravestone in the Cemetery with the inscription “Middlesex County Home” to mark where some of these residents are interred.

All of this may sound like a grim and dismal way to live in the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, when a person did not have any family or could not afford help, there was no other option. Gradual improvements in senior care and social services grew out of these institutions, and by the 1940s all Houses of Refuge were renamed Homes for the Aged. Eventually the Middlesex County House of Refuge became Strathmere Lodge.

This article could not have been written without the initial research provided by Lindsey Bannister. Further research is being conducted on the House of Refuge cemeteries by Museum Strathroy-Caradoc.  The listing of names can be found in the banner link above titled House of Refuge Cemetery Listing.

The National Flag of Canada also known as the Maple Leaf flag celebrates its 50th birthday February 15th 2015. On this day 50 years ago in Parliament and many communities across Canada, the Red Ensign was lowered and the new Maple Leaf was put in its place. It took many years to get to this point with many discussions in Parliament and with Canadians across the country, to decide on the particulars of the new flag.  A committee was struck in 1925 to start researching the possibility of a national flag however this did not lead to any clear-cut decisions.  In 1946 another committee accepted designs from across the country but again nothing came from this project.

It wasn’t until 1964 when Lester B. Pearson was Prime Minister that the ball started rolling again on this topic.  With the Centennial of Canada fast approaching, the Prime Minister thought it was a good time to develop a national flag of Canada. This topic was not without controversy, with many people including members of the Legion opposing the idea of a new flag.  Veterans had fought under the Red Ensign and it was a symbol that they and others held dear.

The maple leaf emblem and the colours red and white were not new to Canadians.  The maple leaf was considered a Canadian emblem in the 1830s in Quebec as well as in the 1860s in the coats of arms for Quebec and Ontario.  The colours red and white were designated by King George V in 1921, in the proclamation of the Royal Arms of Canada — Canada’s coat of arms. Out of all of the designs that were submitted the committee chose the Maple Leaf.  It was approved in the House of Commons on December 15 1964, the Senate on December 17 1964, and proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, to take effect on February 15, 1965.

Below are flags and items from the Museum Strathroy-Caradoc’s collection, including representations of the Union Jack, the Red Ensign and the Maple Leaf.

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For more information visit the Government of Canada Canadian Heritage website

This month’s artifact is a little different.  To highlight the current exhibit Strathroy-Caradoc Then and Now: A Photographic History.  We have chosen to show a 1911 postcard from the Main Street (Adelaide Road) in Mount Brydges superimposed with a new image taken by Museum Volunteer Jerry Rozek.

In the image you see two buildings prominently featured.

The first building on the left was constructed in 1880 to house the village post office, a general store and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F) Hall on the second floor, addressing many of the needs of the local population under one roof. The store was established by Edward and Eliza Tuck, and carried a broad selection of merchandise. Following the untimely death of her husband Edward in 1886, Eliza took over the operation of the general store on her own. She eventually re-married John Betts, who managed the Commercial House hotel, and they carried on the dry goods business together for a number of years until the business was purchased by the Steer Family.  The first Mount Brydges post office was established in 1856, with Edward Mihell Jr. appointed as postmaster. Henry Bartlett was the postmaster at the time the office relocated to this building around 1913.  The I.O.O.F. name remains visible on the stained glass that highlights the three segmental arch windows on the second storey that give the building its distinctive character. The Odd Fellows, a benevolent fraternal organization, were actively involved in a variety of civic and philanthropic efforts in the community.  Much of the original architectural features of the building’s façade remain intact today, including the attractive cornice moulding that stretches across the façade above the storefronts. This beautiful structure played a significant role in the commercial activity of the early village.

The building to the right housed similar businesses. On the first floor the Union Bank of Canada and a general store and on the second floor the Independent Order of Foresters. It burned down in 1914 and was replaced with another two story building. Eventually this second building was torn down to make way for the Royal Bank of Canada that you see today.

Information from this blog can be found in the Mount Brydges Heritage Walking Tour.  An electronic copy can be found on the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc’s site or visit the Museum to pick up a brochure.

On July 30th Museum Strathroy-Caradoc opened a new exhibit titled “Strathroy-Caradoc Then and Now: A Photographic History.  This exhibit consists of over 30 past and present images of Strathroy, Mount Brydges and Melbourne.

As part of this exhibit we are showcasing cameras that are in the museum collection and telling the history of photography.

The earliest camera on display dates back to the 1920s and it is a Kodak Brownie No 2A Model B.   These cameras were produced by the Eastman Kodak Company in the Rochester New York and the Canadian Kodak Company in Toronto.  The name Brownie came about from a comic produced by Palmer Cox who wrote numberous books with these characters  These cameras had a leatherette covered card box that would slide off the metal piece for loading.  These cameras would use 116 film size and produce images that were 6.5 cm x 10.5 cm (2 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches) in size.

These cameras were inexpensive and easy to use making it an ideal purchase for the average person.

 

For more information on the Brownie Camera please go to Kodak’s Brownie camera site

For more information on Palmer Cox please go to The Photographic Historical Society of Canada

With summer in full swing and the kids out and about playing  the Museum has chosen a toy from its collection for the artifact of the month, a Buddy “L” Dump Truck.

This toy was produced by a company that got its start making pressed steel parts for the farm and auto industry in the early 1900s, Moline Pressed Steel Company out of Illinois.

The origins of the toy line started when the owner, Fred Lundahl, took some scrap metal to make a model of one of the farming company’s trucks that he had an account with.   He gave this model to his son Arthur Bud also known as Buddy “L”.

As the economy shifted in the 1920s and the orders for the auto and farm industry slowed down, Lundahl decided to switch gears and make pressed steel toys full-time.

By 1923, there were over 70 000 toys being shipped out of the factory. These trucks, cars plans, trains and construction equipment were not your average toy, as they measured at least 40 cm in length. This was the case until the Great Depression and World War II. After the war ended the scale of the toys decreased.

The Buddy “L” Dump truck in the Museum Collection is from the late 1930s, early 1940s and it originally had battery operated headlights. It also has a hinged back to create an automatic dump mechanism and the tailgate opens.

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If you are looking for summer activities for your children or grandchildren, check out our Summer Programming page on our website. There are still spots available.

For more information on the history of toys and games, check out the online exhibit by the Canadian Museum of History

About the Museum

Museum Strathroy-Caradoc opened to the public in 1972. As a community museum we strive to preserve and tell the story of Strathroy-Caradoc, and inspire residents to explore and understand the community around them.

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