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Our co-op student Britanny from Strathroy District Collegiate Institute wrapped up her placement yesterday and wrote a short summary of what she was up to here for the past few months.

I have spent a lot of time working here at the museum and have done many different things. I have been doing “The Hometown Heroes: Famous Canadians in Strathroy-Caradoc” display for the past four months with displays for Stan Long, Charlotte Rapley, Sir Arthur Currie, and the current display for James T. Shotwell. The museum had a Grade 5 school field trip come in last week and I got to tell the students about some of the artifacts that I used for the different displays, such as, a sports jacket, an ink stand, a buckshot bottle, and a painted portrait.

Hometown Hero - Dr. James T. Shotwell Exhibit June 2014

Hometown Hero – Dr. James T. Shotwell Exhibit June 2014

The Art Spaces “Natural Beauty” exhibit was another activity I was able to do on my own. I got to select the paintings and the placement in the gallery. The overall theme was springtime so there were a lot of flowers and landscapes. The exhibit opening had refreshments provided by the museum, so to stay with the spring theme I chose fruit and veggie trays, colourful cupcakes and brownies with pink lemonade to drink.
I have had a wonderful time working here and it was awesome be able to get to know my co-workers at the museum. It was nice to meet the people who work at the library as well, since we share the same building. I was able to learn a lot and gain experience for a possible job in the future. I hope to visit the museum over the summer, after my co-op placement has concluded, to see the new exhibits and maybe see my co-workers again before I leave for college.


This month we will be looking at a spinning wheel in our collection that is currently on display in the Quilts and Coverlets exhibit.

The Solomon Dell Lever Spinning Wheel was invented by a gentleman who was one of Strathroy’s original 14 settlers and one of the town’s greatest inventor.  Coming to area in 1837, he opened a tavern and a house of entertainment, and tinkered with machinery to improve farming implements.  The story goes that he walked all the way to the Crown Law Department of Upper Canadian in Ottawa to get his wheel patented in 1867.  The patent stated it was for “a new and useful lever spinning wheel, not known or used in this province by others before [my] discovery [of it].”  Dell’s spinning wheel differed from other wheels because he added a treadle, spinners could either stand or sit to control the yarn tension with their feet, rather than walking back and forth.  During this time in early Canadian history settlers had to be self-sufficient and many houses had a spinning wheel.

At the Provincial Exhibition held at Kingston in September 1867 he won under the category of Agricultural Tools and Implements chiefly for hand use for his invention.

Another patent that Solomon submitted to the government was for an improvement in hand drills that you can see on the Library and Archives Canada website.  On this website you will find patents from 1869-1919 and if you type in Strathroy there are 98 results, everything from improvements to a snow gate to refrigerators and bolt-cutters.   There is one Mount Brydges result, a fanning mill shoe and two for Melbourne; a device for restraining vicious animals and a wheel.

Dell was also a noted hunter, killing 800 deer in his first forty years in this district and earning the nickname “The Western Hunter of Ontario.” Some called him “the greatest hunter of his age.”


Quilts and Coverlets: Piecing Stories Together is on until July 26th and as part of this exhibit we are showcasing two quilts from the local Barn Quilt Trail, the Longwoods Quilt and the Trail of Tears Quilt.  For more information on these quilts visit Trail of Tears and Longwoods Barn Quilt Trail 

Next month we look at a quilt that was produced on a Jacquard Loom.


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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