Over the last few weeks museum staff have been hard at work with events and exhibit preparation.  The Collections Storage Facility was highlighted on Doors Open Middlesex on September 17-18.  We had over 100 people come out and view the storage building.  If you didn’t get a chance to come out that weekend and still want to see what the Storage Facility looks like you can call 519-245-0492 and make an appointment and staff will be happy to answer any of your questions. 

Also the second installment of the ABC’s of the collection will be starting shortly, so check back often to see what items will be highlighted next.

The age old question “What came first the chicken or the egg?” won’t be answered in this blog post however we will discover some of the egg themed items within the collection.

You can eat them, paint and collect them, as well as display and study them.  From bird eggs to a felt fried egg we have it. 

Starting in the field you will find a collection of bird eggs displayed in a wooden case as well bird sketches showing the size of the egg for each bird.  When it comes to factory related items, the museum has an egg scale and stamp as well as a photo negative of Maple Lynn Foods Ltd., honouring its egg producers with an annual banquet. Thirty-five producers were awarded with plaques following 12 consecutive months of producing at least 95 percent Grade A eggs back in 1983.

Moving into the kitchen you will find an egg beater and a decorative egg cup. In the arts and crafts area we have a felt egg made by the Middlesex Women for the Support of Agriculture for educational purposes in the Fairfield Family program. There is also a photo negative of Sharon Lamont, 10, carefully decorating an egg with magic marker at Caradoc North Public School in 1983.

Next time check out F is for … FLAG

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This unique dollhouse was created between 1870-1880 by Elizabeth Prangley.  She  fully furnished it and it formed part of a set which included a barn, fence, miniature animals and people.   The furniture was all handmade. The shells used in covering the house were reportedly collected in the Delaware area.  It was at one time on display at the Western Fair in London and in the ladies’ lounge in the American Hotel in Strathroy.  Elizabeth was related to  J. W. Prangley who was a prominent business man in Strathroy and at one time owned the American Hotel (see map and postcard images of the American Hotel).

When it was donated to the museum it was without any furniture and a call went out to the community for someone who could help furnish this unique piece.  Con and Irene Steele of Strathroy were able to recreate the interior of the house. First they researched Victorian furniture designs and then they were able to design and scale the furniture to fit into the house.   The one major issue was that the dollhouse did not come apart so the furniture had to be manoeuvred into place through the windows and doors.  All of the accessories were also hand-made including the braided mat, the doilies and bedding.

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This is a LINDAR Camera that was produced in West Germany during the early to late 1950’s by a man named Friedrich Lindenscheid of Ludenscheid, Germany. What makes this camera unique is the logo on the front which is three white circles that have the letters F.L.L in them, the letters are the initials of the inventor. These marking can also be seen on his WW2 metals.  This Lindar camera takes a 6×6 cm photo on a 120 roll of film, making for excellent photos. The camera includes an instant bulb shutter lever, a single dial on the front that selects a yellow filter to enhance clouds in black and white photos just to add a little more drama to a photo with a gloomy overcast. This camera has a twin with the same functions, its name is the ” LINDEN Reporter”. Both of these cameras have a fix focus, one f-stop and two settings.

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May 24th 1998 was a sad day for downtown Strathroy.  Fire completely destroyed  four businesses located from 61-67 Front Street W est as well as displaced a number of people who lived above.  Beacon Books, Lambert Flowers and Gifts, Dr. Ron Kreuzer, optometrist, and New Dawn Furniture and Auction house were completely destroyed.  The Pet Stop, and Bi-way were also damaged by the fire.  Firefighters from Adelaide-Metcalfe, London and Caradoc assisted the local department to help contain the fire.   Damage was estimated at over 1 million dollars.  In the weeks that followed the community rallied together with an outpouring of support to those who lost everything in the fire.  Letters in the paper were published by all of the business owners thanking everyone for their support.  With the community’s support most of the business owners were able to open in other locations within weeks.  The location has been turned into a parkette where downtown shoppers can take a minute to relax. 

Out of  the rubble P. Beaton decided to take bricks from each building and recreate the facade of each business.  Each of these bricks were carved with a dremel tool using various cutting and grinding bits.  They took between 20 and 30 hours each to complete, and were completed in November 1998.  After spending over 100 years as part of four buildings, these four bricks have become pieces of art, depicting the fronts of the buildings that they were an actual part of.

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Currently the museum is looking for information on P. Beaton and images of the fire.  If anyone has information please contact Museum Strathroy-Caradoc at 519-245-0492.

The Historical Atlas of Middlesex County was first published in 1878 by H. R. Page and Co.  On the title page it states that the atlas was dedicated by Special Permission to His Excellency “The Earl of Dufferin K.P. K.C.B. Governor General”.  Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple Blackwood, was Canada’s third Governor General, from 1872 – 1878.  Upon his appointment he travelled to every accessible part of Canada, often on horseback and canoe, initiating a tradition which has been followed by his successors.

Within Canada there were over 40 atlases produced between 1874 and 1881, covering most of the eastern part of the Country (Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes).  Each of the county atlases consisted of a historical text, township and town maps, portraits, views and patrons’ directory with business cards. But more important, names of residents were marked on the lots of the township maps in these county atlases. Unfortunately only the names of subscribers were recorded on the township maps for the Dominion of Canada supplements. All of these atlases were sold by subscription. Prominent county residents paid an additional sum to have biographical sketches, portraits and views of their residences or businesses included in the atlases (Information from the Canadian County Atlas Digital Project from McGill University).

Within the Middlesex County Atlas you will find sketches relating to the Firemen’s Hall in Strathroy, the Residence of I. B. Burwell (in Caradoc), Alexander Johnston of Kittridge Ave, Strathroy,  Richard W. Williams on Longwoods Road Caradoc, and James Manson of Strathroy.  Businesses include the Lager Beer Brewery on Caradoc Street Strathroy, and the Albion Hotel in Strathroy.

Personal sketches of some of the prominent Men in the County include Alexander Johnston a general store owner at the age of sixteen in 1860, and Dr. W. B Lindsay, son of Mr. G. H. Lindsay of Mount Brydges.  Business sketches include John Heard and Co Artificial Stone Works, Isaac Moore’s Hotel and Bixel Brewery all of Strathroy.

Maps include all of the townships in Middlesex County including and even preliminary village maps that did not come to fruition, like the Village of Adelaide.

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The Museum has a number of copies of the Middlesex Atlas and it is a very valuable resource when doing research for genealogy and exhibit purposes.  It has since been reproduced in 1972 however even the copies have become scarce over the years.

Come back tomorrow for B is for …..

For the month of August the Museum will highlight items within the collection using the alphabet.

This month you will get a glimpse of the collection.  We have been hard at work making the list and creating short stories for each item.  We have chosen a wide range of items within the collection that represent Strathroy-Caraodoc and surrounding area.  From the everyday household item to the unusual hand-made item, we have it all and maybe even a zebra for the end.

Check back tomorrow for A is for …..

Hello my name is Madison and I am working at the Strathroy –Caradoc Museum for the summer and so far it has been extremely interesting, informing, and entertaining. I am enjoying it a whole bunch. I recommend more people to come and see all the hard work done by the staff and community because they do such a tremendous job at keeping local history alive and accessible to the public, which is awesome. I personally think that it is important to keep history alive be it from your own family, the mill down the road, or your best friends sock, everything has a history behind it and it’s important to learn and ask questions about it.
I’ll be posting more throughout the summer, so stay tuned for more.

Canadians have been celebrating our country’s birthday since 1867 in a variety of ways.  In the beginning Canada Day was called Dominion Day and in 1919 Strathroy held its first “Dominion Day Picnic”. It was held at the Strathroy Fair grounds and it was not unheard of to have over 8000 people in attendance.  Events at the picnic included baseball games, dances, track and field and harness racing.  

Strathroy’s half mile tract was considered to be among the absolute best ovals in the country during the “glory years”.  It was kept in excellent condition throughout the entire year, not just for race days.  There was criticism however about it being too short and it had to be measured by a government certified surveyor and in 1943 a public statement was issued stating that it was valid. 

The track was maintained by using water from the nearby artesian wells and teams of horses graded the track. 

Another big track day in Strathroy was the Fall Fair in October, it was here in 1937 that the all time track record was set by Simcoe Harvester at a time of 2:04.1. 

Dreaded Rain
It wasn’t until the 28th edition of the Dominion Day Picnic that rain threatened to delay the races.  After a deluge of rain the sky cleared and the sun appeared.  At this point the track was dragged but the horsemen and owners protested that it was still too wet.  So as not to disappoint the crowd of over 9000, cars were driven around the tract to dry it up. A comment from the London Free Press later that week  “It marked the first time in history that automobiles and not pacers started off the Strathroy races.”

The Corporal Lee Pace was a feature attraction of the Picnic for a number of years.  Named in honour of the first stallion of the same name who was owned and managed by race day organizer Harold Currie. 

Trophies and other gifts were given out by local merchants including Bulter Woolen Mills, The Age Dispatch and Goudie Furniture Co.

The Dominion Day Races lasted until 1964, when changes in the sport of harness racing started to occur including night racing in London. 

Information gathered from “Strathroy and the Dominion Day Picnic”   Trot Magazine Vol. 14 #7 July 1987

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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