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

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.


Quilt to Boost Hospital Building Fund.  Strathroy Age Dispatch Negative Collection

Quilt to Boost Hospital Building Fund. Strathroy Age Dispatch Negative Collection

This month we are highlighting another quilt that is currently on display at the museum. It is a large quilt showing a map of Canada with a maple leaf border. It was made by Nancy Randall for a Strathroy Hospital fundraiser. It was raffled off for $300.
Nancy (aka Gramma Randall) was 80 when she made this quilt. It was her way of contributing to the building fund as whenever she was at the hospital she was “looked after as though [she was] a millionaire”. It was a labour of love and took her more than a year to complete. It was recognized at the Mary Hastings picnic where it took first prize in the over 70 age class before it was donated to the hospital in November of 1959.
The map of Canada has all 10 provinces, but only 2 territories. The two territories are the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories which is divided into two districts, the District of MacKenzie, and the District of Keewaten. Each province and territory has some of the industries, wildlife and cities that one might find there. Other interesting things to note include; Labrador not been labeled, most of the northern islands have been labeled (Baffin Island, Victoria Island, Banks Island, The Prince of Wales Island, Devon Island). Even though Nancy lived in Strathroy she did not include it on the map.
Nancy was known in the community for knitting mittens and gloves for the children. Over the years she was showcased in the local newspaper, The Strathroy Age-Dispatch for her milestone birthdays. In 1975 she was 95.

In 1984 Ontario celebrated its 200th anniversary. 1784 was chosen as the “birth” of the province as it was in this year a party of approximately 250 United Empire Loyalists established the first permanent European settlement in Adolphustown Township. Other important dates in Ontario’s history include 1791 when British Parliament created Upper and Lower Canada, 1841 when Canada West was formed and 1867 when the province was officially created.

Communities across the province celebrated throughout 1984 by planting trees, having banquets, participating in parades and creating quilts.

This quilt was created by the Parkhill Leisure Club for a competition that was held in May at the Ontario Agricultural Museum (Country Heritage Park). There were 206 entries from all over Ontario.


Ontario Quilt

Ontario Quilt

The quilt depicts historical scenes of Ontario including the Petrolia oil wells, a water wheel, pioneer scenes, the Provincial flag, the coat of arms, and parliament buildings. The colours coincide with the official provincial colours and the trillium, the official flower.

Tree planting was also a popular way to celebrate because it was in this year that Ontario adopted the eastern white pine as its official tree.  The Queen and Prince Philip toured Ontario and New Brunswick, (which was also celebrating its 200th anniversary), in the Fall of 1984 planting trees on the lawn in front of the Legislative Building.
To wrap up the year of celebrations the province awarded 1,984 Bicentennial medals. The recipients of the medal were selected by their communities and through public nominations during the year. The medal was made of Ontario nickel and gold and featured the Ontario coat of arms on one side and the Bicentennial symbol on the other.  It was inscribed with the words “For Service to the Community”

My name is Britanny Benson and I am a co-op student at Strathroy District Collegiate Institute. I choose the museum because I have an interest in the preservation of artifacts. For the past three weeks, I have been working at the museum and completed various jobs. My first project was finding activities for the March Break programs, such as weaving paper fish, making a yarn sun, and using a paper bag to make an Easter basket. I also designed the promotional poster. I helped in the set-up of the current exhibit, “Quilts & Coverlets: Piecing Stories Together” and made the ID cards for the different quilt and loom related artifacts.

The week after March Break, I designed and put together the first of the “Hometown Heroes: Famous Canadians in Strathroy-Caradoc” displays on Stan Long. I choose items relating to Stan Long’s time as a member of the Strathroy Rockets hockey team. This project allowed me to be creative and gave me more experience with how a display is best set-up, even with only a few items. I have started designing next month’s display on Charlotte Rapley, as well. Although I’m unsure if this time will more or less difficult because there are more items that are associated with her, than there were for Stan Long.

Stan Long Display Case

Stan Long Display Case

I still look forward to completing the display because it is something I can learn from and be proud of once it is finished. Mostly, I look forward to working on cleaning the glass plate negatives that were found in Bosson’s Pharmacy in 2011. It will be interesting to see the pictures take shape a little bit at a time, like putting pieces of a puzzle together. I am having a lot of fun working at the museum and hope to learn as much I can.

For the next few months I will be focusing on artifacts that are on display in our current exhibition “Quilts and Coverlets: Piecing Stories Together”.  This month we will be looking at the Loom.

Full view of Loom

Full view of Loom

This working two-harness counter balance loom’s main purpose today is to make rugs.  It is also called a barn loom and it is the tradition type of large floor loom used around the world.  The history of this loom has passed down through 5 generations and a short summary is below.

It was originally built for Amerilla Graves, possibly by one of her brothers, shortly after she married John C. Robinson in 1856.  The loom had four harnesses at that time, and was used to weave homespun fabric for clothing and blankets.  It was used in their home located at Lot 14, Concession 7 Caradoc Twp.  Twelve children were born to the couple before John’s death in 1884 at the age of 48.  Before Amerilla died in 1913, the loom was moved to the home of her second youngest child, Maud Hunter.

In 1900 Maud married Eli Hunter, a dairy farmer, and lived on Victoria St. in Strathroy.  By this time, two harnesses were removed from the loom and it was only used for making floor mats.  Two of the Hunter children, Roy and Lucy, wove mats alongside their parents, and hundreds of yards were woven and sold.

After Maud died in 1929, the loom was used by her second child, Lucy, who married John Everett Hambly in 1927.  The loom was moved to Lucy’s home on English Street in 1934.  Lucy’s son Bill and two grandchildren, also learned to weave on the loom.  It remained in Lucy’s possession until she died in 1980.

It was donated to the museum in 1980 by Lucy’s grandchildren and restored in 1998 by Hans von der Recke of Katesville Woodcraft.

Currently the Strathroy Pioneer Treadlers, Spinners and Weavers Guild use the loom.   For more information on this group see their blog

Rug being made on loom

Rug being made on loom

Coming next month: The Ontario Quilt

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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