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

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.

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

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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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.

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

The Museum opened on Family Day with new exhibits in the Gallery, “Sitting Pretty” and “Pipes and Progress”.   Over the last week we have seen over 300 people view the interesting history of the toilet as well as water works in Strathroy-Caradoc.  Getting the word out has helped immensely, London Free Press, Strathroy Age Dispatch and MyFM have all interviewed Museum staff.  You can find the London Free Press article here

Here are a few snap shot of the exhibits in the gallery.  Come to 34 Frank to see more.


Continuing on the theme of getting the word out, the Museum’s Collection Storage Facility was highlighted in the Strathroy Age Dispatch on Feb. 24th 2011.  There was a full-page spread including 5 photographs showing items within the collection and a great write-up by Alana Power. 

Come and visit Museum Strathroy-Caradoc and learn about privy digging, outhouses, sewers, and reservoirs. 

See you soon.

Every year numerous items are donated to the Museum and this year more than 50 people donated over 400 items.  We thank those who have given their possessions to the museum, they will be kept in the community and will continue to be viewed for many years to come.  Our largest donation this year, not included in the above statistics, is from the Strathroy Age Dispatch, the local newspaper.  They have given the museum and therefore the community, over 100 years of the newspaper and over 20 years of negatives.  Over the coming months we will keep you all up to date on the progress of reviewing, cataloguing, scanning and photographing this very large donation. 

To all the donors, 
Thank you

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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