Friday, 14 June 2019

The Serviceability of Metal in a Pioneer Kitchen

          For a Pioneer, the use of metal became a very important part of survival. Skilled tradesmen - "blacksmiths"- would pound iron into a variety of strong, durable, and efficient tools that could be forged into any number of shapes. One area where the use of iron and other metals were especially helpful was in the kitchen. In Pioneer times, the kitchen was often the main room in the settler's home and was the center of activity and vitality. Here was where the family gathered, prepared meals, felt the warmth of the fire, sang songs, and rested. 

At first, all of the tools used in the kitchen and that would be used around the fire were made out of wood. Heavy pots containing the family's meal would be placed on long wooden poles called "lugpoles". If these poles were not changed regularly, the wood would become too dry, and the pole would snap and the settler's meal would vanish into the fire! Because the majority of a settler's diet revolved around meals that needed to be cooked over a fire, the use of metal played an important role in making food preparation and sustenance more sustainable and dependable.  

The efficacy of the Pioneer kitchen was revolutionized when settlers started replacing the use of wood with metal.  Blacksmiths began to create iron cranes in place of lugpoles in place of wood that would quickly become brittle. The crane would be attached to the side of the fireplace wall and hang over the fire, with a hook at the end to hold a heavy pot over the flames. Because the crane was made out of iron, the tool could withstand many years above the fire without being burned or melted. Blacksmiths also began creating "trammels" (a double sided hook that held the pot over the fire and swung on the crane),"trivets" (a metal stand that held the pan over the fire), "andrions" (iron stands that held burning logs), and many more iron tools that greatly transformed the durability and efficacy within the Pioneer kitchen. Soon every pot, pan, and cooking utensil was being made out of metals, and was able to last many, many years of safe use in the colonial kitchen.

In the collection here at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, we have many metal artifacts and artifacts that would have been used in a Pioneer kitchen. Pictured here is an iron waffle press that would have been used to cook waffles safely over the fire. Pancakes or waffles were a easy, inexpensive meal for settlers, where fruit or sugar was sometimes added on top. In contemporary times, pancakes and waffles are eaten typically at breakfast... but for a Pioneer, they also may have eaten them for dinner or dessert! Settlers would have thickened the pancake batter by adding additional flour before cooking them in a waffle press.

Pioneer Pancakes:
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes: 8 pancakes

1 cup (250ml) flour
2 tablespoons (30ml) sugar
1 teaspoon (5ml) baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaton
1 cup (250ml) milk
3 tablespoons (45ml) melted butter

1. Mix together flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl.
2. Beat together eggs, milk, and butter.
3. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend. If you are adding fruit, stir it into the batter.
4. Over medium heat, melt a little butter in a frying pan and pour enough batter to form a 5 inch (13cm) pancake. When the pancake begins to bubble all over and the edges turn brown, flip it and cook the other side.
5. Keep the pancakes in a warm over until you are ready to serve them. 

If you have any interest in learning more about metals, Pioneer life, or the history surrounding the role of the blacksmith and the forge, make sure to mark down on your calendar the 15th and 16th of June from 10am to 4pm for the 4th annual "Smith-In" Blacksmith Festival here at the MuseumMore than eighteen blacksmiths from across Ontario, Quebec, and the USA will come together to share their skills and products with patrons of the museum and fellow smiths.  

Enjoy these Pioneer pancakes at home, and the "Smith-In" festival this 15th and 16th of June!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Hooded Cape

2009-003-001 Woman’s hooded woolen tartan cape in Cameron of Lochiel plaid ca. 1875.
Owned by Isabella Cameron MacDiarmid (1848-1933), second wife of Dr. Donald MacDiarmid of Maxville.

Harris Apron

This sheer black apron belonged to the family of Margaret (Harris) Morrow whose parents built the United Church in Maxville around 1926 where her father was the minister. Margaret and her family lived in the manse. The apron most likely came from one of her grandmothers.
This very sheer black georgette material has a black silk waist band with tiny jett beads along every seam with a double row of the intricate beads along the ruffle at the bottom of the apron.
The apron was made in circa 1880 and was donated to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in 2009 by Barbara Craig, a friend of Margret Morrow.


These Ojibway style snowshoes currently hang in the Orange Lodge building at the Museum.
2001-010-001 AB snowshoes

This photo is of Mary Victoria Alberta (Bertie) Harkness (1879-1931) with her dog and the wonderful snowshoes. Mary was the daughter of Dr. Andrew Harkness and Janet Ross. “Bertie” married Arthur Powell, a druggist from Lancaster, in 1905. 2001-010-002

WWI Photo

Photograph and metals of John Archibald MacDonald, killed in action, 1917
WWI Silver British War Medal awarded to all ranks of Canadian overseas military forces 1978-001-006

WWI Bronze four-pointed Star,1914-15 1978-001-003

1978-001-011 Photograph of John Archibald MacDonald ca 1916

The portrait is large, measuring 29cm x 59.5cm

Donated by Sister Clair MacDonald of Alexandria in 1978.
Sister Clair MacDonald also donated a bayonet that belonged to her cousin Pte. John Archibald MacDonald.

Fraser Photo

Photograph of Simon Fraser, ca. 1865

Simon Fraser (1834 – 1918) owned and operated a Tannery on the Lochinvar Rd. in Lochiel Township in the second half of the 19th century. Previous to this, he trained at a Tannery in Lancaster, moved on to work for a Tannery in Vankleek Hill and then finally opened his own prosperous business in the Lochiel township of Glengarry. Simon Fraser was also the Post Master of the McNab post office which he operated from his home near the Tannery. In actuality, his wife Isabella (McCrimmon) Fraser took care of the postal operation while Simon Fraser was busy at the Tannery. Their son, Dan A. Fraser took over the tannery for a short while, until it closed shortly after the death of Simon Fraser in 1920.
Several artifacts that belonged to Simon Fraser were thoughtfully preserved by his grandson, Donald S. Fraser and were donated to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum by his estate in September of 2010.
      Boots belonging to Simon Fraser

In a letter written by his grandson Donald Simon Fraser on September 16, 1998, it describes the boots as follows:
“Pair of dress boots worn by Simon Fraser, Tanner of  Lochinvar. Made by J.S. McKinnon shoemaker of St Eugene in early 1890’s; calfskin leather produced by Simon Fraser. Cleaned and oiled by Lynn McNab. Restored in Sept 1998. A family story indicates the age of the boots. When my mother came to Lochinvar as a bride in 1910 she shortly thereafter went to the local general store and purchased new linoleum for the kitchen floor and the store keeper, Thomas McCuaig remarked to her that when the old gentleman walked around the kitchen in his 20 year old boots it would test the new floor.”  –  Donald S. Fraser.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Glengarry Light Infantry

          During the Napoleonic Wars (1799 – 1815) the British Government created regiments known as ‘fencibles’ for home service. These fencibles began in 1803 and were created as temporary units used to protect British interests throughout North America. These fencibles were only meant to serve in uniform within Canada and not be deployed over seas. Each regiment was assigned their own unique uniform in order to distinguish themselves from the British Army’s red uniform.0

          The Glengarry Light Infantry was raised in 1812 by Alexander MacDonell of St Raphael’s. This group was made up of men throughout glengarry county, who would serve in Upper Canada and Glengarry. Their uniforms were distinguished by dark green coats and pantaloons, accompanied by a black cap with a green plume and 3 lines of silver buttons displayed on the coat. The Glengarry Fencibles participated in battles at Ogdensburg, Sackets Harbour, York, Lundy’s Lane and Cook’s Mills. The regiment was later disbanded in 1816.

          The museum has in its collection a badge from the Glengarry Light Infantry. This badge made of brass and reads “Glengarry British Fencibles” on the front. It belonged to Captain James MacMillan from the 9thof Lancaster. Captain MacMillan served in the 1st Glengarry Fencible Regiment and served in both Europe and Upper Canada with the British Army. It was donated to the museum by Rev. Somerland MacMillan of Scotland.

           If the military history of Glengarry and the fencibles that accompany it spark your interest, be sure to attend the museum’s 1812 Living History Re-Enactment! On September 29th and 30th join us for displays of military and civilian camps, daily battle re-enactments, and many great artisans and tradespeople. Its sure to be a weekend of 1812 excitement!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Corn Harvesting

With the Harvest Fall Festival fast approaching, this blog post will be focusing on the practices and tools involved in the harvesting of corn.

Corn has always been an important crop in farmers fields creating not only a food source for humans and animals but for food production and bio-fuel as well. It has become a staple food and energy source with its production surpassing that of wheat or rice today; Canada alone produces over 10 million metric tonnes of corn per year. However, corn wasn’t always produced in such mass amounts; before the days of industrial farming and the equipment that accompanies it, all corn harvesting was done by hand with tools from the museums collection.

When harvesting time arrived in the fall, the corn had to be removed from the stalks by hand, this brought about the invention of the husking peg. A husking peg is a small wooden spike, used through mid to late the 1800s, that would be hand held or attached to the hand with a leather strap. This peg would be pushed under the husk of the corn and pulled downwards, ripping open the husk. The corn could then easily be pulled and cut from the stalk. Once all corn was harvested, the kernels would then need to be separated from the cob, this could be done by hand or with the use of a corn sheller. A corn sheller is a machine in which a single corn cob is inserted, and a wheel is turned stripping the cob of kernels. The kernels are then emptied from the bottom while the bare cob is removed from the side. These were common tools on a farm having been used from as early as the 1840s until the 1950s.

Since harvesting corn required so much effort for the small yield, work bees would often be organized to combine the work with others. These bees were often held in the evening and would be accompanied with games and music. Piles of harvested corn ears were arranged in the center of the room and people make it a competition to see how many ears of corn they can husk. These activities not only raised crop output but community morale and relationships as well.

As this year’s harvest season approaches and gardens bloom with their produce, keep the Fall Festival on September 9th in mind as we are looking for always appreciated donations. If you would like to donate preserves, baked goods, produce, or plants, please contact Barbara Newman (613-678-6845) or the museum directly.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Hair Wreaths and Recievers

This week’s featured artifact at the museum is our hair wreaths and a receiver box.

Hair art traditions date back as far as the 12th century, however, it was during the 1800s that this tradition became increasingly more popular. This popularity came about due to two events: the American Civil War and the passing of Queen Victoria’s husband Albert in 1861. During wartime, thousands of mourning families wanted a way to respectfully honor their dead, this brought about hair collecting. Queen Victoria took to wearing all black until her death and wore a piece of hair jewelry with Alberts hair to accompany every outfit. This display made public mourning a socially acceptable practice. Later, this practice became not only a sign of mourning of those passed but as a gift of affection for current loved ones as well.

Hair of deceased as well as current loved ones would be collected in a hair receiver until enough was gathered to create an item of jewelry or a wreath. These receivers were often decorated wooden or porcelain boxes with holes in the top to collect the hair and often kept prominently on a dresser.

Once collected, the hairs were woven around wires and bent into intricate designs often including flowers and leaves. Hairs of the most recently deceased would be placed in the middle, with the other hair pieces following around the wreath. Wooden or glass beads, ribbons and buttons were also included in the designs. Hair wreath designs are often horseshoe shaped, used for good luck, and placed upwards in order to catch luck for those represented in the wreath.

When completed, the hair wreaths would be displayed in a prominent position in the household or given to loved ones as gifts. See attached photos of one of our collections’ hair wreaths and a receiver.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Rolmonica

     This weeks featured artifact from the museums collection is the rolmonica. The rolmonica, or mouth organ, was a revolutionary musical instrument that combined the technology of a harmonica and a self playing piano. This instrument was invented by Joseph Le Roy Banks and patented in 1925. The mouth organ used dry waxed paper rolls with specific perforations representing different notes that could be heard when air passed through them. 

     To play, the user would simultaneously blow into the mouthpiece and turn the crank allowing the prepared tune to be heard. The tune could be played on both the inhale and the exhale allowing continuous playing.The user also had a diverse choice in the prepared tune as many different rolls were available; almost any popular song of the time could be found on a rolmonica roll!

     At the time, a rolmonica could be purchased with a set of four song rolls for between one and three dollars; every extra song roll cost about 50 cents. The rolmonica became a very popular household item as it was portable, relatively inexpensive, and required no musical talent to operate and enjoy!

This rolmonica was made by the Rolmonica Music Company of Baltimore, MD. The body of the instrument was made in the USA while the harmonica piece was made in Germany. It was donated to the museums collection by Mrs K. E. MacLeod of Dunvegan.