Tuesday 27 August 2013


This is a melodeon, a type of 19th century reed organ, which is on display at the museum in the Star Inn. It is covered in rosewood veneered casework. Its marker's mark states that the melodeon was made by "Andrus Bros in London CW"- CW stands for  "Canada West" which referred to the region of Ontario before Confederation. This information puts the melodeon's date from around 1865-1868.  It was originally purchased for Mrs. B. Sara Jane Nicholson by her father, Henry Nicholson. The cost of this instrument was $50 in gold and 100 bushes in grain. There were no local established banks or currency at the time it was purchased.

It was donated to the museum by Mrs. Mabel A.D. (Barrett) Stewart in memory her mother, Mrs John Barrett.

Monday 26 August 2013

Moustache Monday

Mr. Allan MacRae's cane and picture was on display at the museum this past weekend for the annual Glengarry Wood Fair, and it was decided that his moustache is just too wonderful not to have him featured in a Moustache Monday post. Mr. Allan MacRae lived an intriguing  life, earning some interesting nicknames such as Black Allan the Dogs, Allan Gorrach, Allan the Dog or Allan na Coin. He was even represented as a character (Allan Gorrach) in Ralph Connor's novel Glengarry School Days in 1902, as a wild eccentric who lived in a shack. Allan MacRae seems to have this mysterious air about him, represented in oral history as a homeless wanderer who travelled the countryside, finding lodging wherever the curiosity or charity of people allowed. He made  wooden objects such as  potato mashers and butter ladles, fixed chairs using elm trees, and also had the habit of disposing unwanted dogs by selling their hides or turning them into mitts. Less known, but equally as interesting, he apparently had a lovely singing voice in both English and Gaelic, was an exceptional storyteller and brought the news to the townspeople. At one point of his life, he actually did lived in a cabin in the woods- Lot 11 in the 19th Concession of Indian Lands near Maxville- which assisted the portrayal of him in Glengarry School Days.

No matter this man's history, he had wonderful facial hair and a grim stare which earned him a spot on our Moustache Monday post.  The museum has collected a few of his things, including the cane shown in this photo, and some chairs that he is believed to have fixed. At your next visit to the museum, be sure to ask the staff about this interesting man, and to point out of these historical chairs!


Monday 19 August 2013

Moustache Monday

Not only was Dr.Donald McDiarmid (1840—1910) a bearer of magnificent facial hair, he was also a physician, school inspector, and a military captain. He was born in 1840 in the town of Killin, Scotland. He earned his education in Canada, and became a graduate in Medicine from McGill University in 1867. He practiced medicine in Cornwall, then Athol, and in 1892 moved the practice to Maxville. Besides his medical work, Dr. D. McDiarmid also  inspected public schools in Ontario for many years. In 1868, he joined a militia company that formed in Dunvegan in response to the Fenian threat. He remained in the militia until 1884, rising to the rank of major. It was remembered that in this company, all the men “spoke the Gaelic with greater fluency than they did English.”

One of Dr. D. McDiarmid’s sons—William (born 1867) followed his father’s path in becoming a graduate of McGill and medical doctor in Maxville. Dr. Willie, as he became known, was also involved in politics. In 1940, he was elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal for Glengarry. Shortly after election, he gave up his seat to Mr. Mackenzie King,  who was Prime Minister of Canada at the time.

Another portrait of Dr. Donald McDiarmid

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Windsor Settee Deacon's Bench

There are many beautiful and wonderful pieces of furniture in our collection here at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum.  One of such pieces is the bench shown above. It belonged to the early MacMillan family, and was likely used in a church as a deacon's bench.  It is a Windsor settee; it has a broad crest rail  that is characteristic to the earlier form of Windsor style, and scrolled arms and flat stretches which were only introduced later, putting the date of this bench in the second quarter of the 19th century.

The most interesting feature of  the furniture we have in our collection are the marks and scratches on their surfaces, created by the many people who had used these pieces before us. This bench is quite worn, which suggests it was well-used and well-loved, and leaves us to wonder who had sat on this bench, and what experiences have happened around it.

Most of the information above was taken from" The Heritage of Upper Canadian Furniture" by Howard Pain, where this bench, and several of our other artifacts, are featured. This book can be found in our reference collection.

Monday 12 August 2013

Moustache Monday

This is a photo of Danny Long Donald MacMillan and his family. Mr. MacMillan is sitting in the middle of the group, with an delightful moustache above his lip. Danny Long Donald MacMillan was born in 1858, and lived at Lot 24 Concession 4, Lochiel, with his wife Mary Jane (her surname is unknown) and his children.  He had inherited the land from his father, Long Donald MacMillan (born in 1821), who also had lived at Lot 24, and was a member of the Church of Scotland as well as a local weaver.  This photo is assumed to have been taken around 1895 in the Duncan Donovan studio.

This family's records were found in the St.Colomba Cemetery Register. If you are looking to do some genealogy work on your family from Glengarry County, feel free to contact the museum and arrange an appointment to browse the many records we have in our reference collection.

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Jamieson Stoning Machine

This stoning machine was used by farmers around Glengarry to remove boulders from their fields. It was made in the Jamieson's shop in Brodie, Ontario, and would have been in use in the mid to late 19th century. The first stoning machine that they made had to be driven to Kingston in order to get a patent for it.

Farmers would rent this machine for $1.50 a day.Young boys would have to work ahead of the machine and chisel holes into the stone so that the grapples can grip the stone and then, using horse power and  a lever system, the stone would be lifted from the field. Some stone fences around Glengarry still have large stones with holes on the top of them, which is a trademark of this machine.

This drawing of the giant machine was sketched for the museum by Ross Mclean.

Monday 29 July 2013

Moustache Monday

In honour of the Glengarry Highland Games this weekend, we have added some Scottish heritage to our Moustache Monday as we feature an unknown Scotsman with a brilliant kilt and a merciless moustache. The photo was donated to the museum by Georgia Dion of Kanata, who's family- and great-grandfather, Danial McCraig-  have a connection to the McCraigs in Glen Robertson.

If you have any additional information about this unknown Scotsman, or any of our past featured gentlemen, we would love to hear it. You can let us know by emailing the museum at collections@glengarrypioneermuseum.ca

We are open everyday of the Glengarry Highland Games from 10am-5pm, so come stop by on your way to the games and learn how the first Scottish settlers of Glengarry lived!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Highland Dirk

This is a Scottish Highland Dirk,  a traditional and ceremonial sidearm for the officers of the Scottish Highland Regiments. A dirk is a long thrusting dagger that was used as a personal weapon for officers engaged in hand to hand combat. It was developed as a military item for the Regiments during the Jacobite Uprising in the late 17th to early 18th century; becoming most popular in the mid-1700s. The design is still used today  and hasn't changed for the last 200 years, although it is now more of a ceremonial piece rather than a weapon.
The original owner of this dirk was Duncan MacDonald who lived at  Lot 3, 5th Concession Lochiel, and had worked with the Hudson's Bay Company for a period of time. It was donated to the museum by his great grand nephew, Donald MacDonald of Vankleek Hill, in 1963.
Detail shot of the dirk's handle

Monday 22 July 2013

Moustache Monday


This week we are showcasing Malcolm Archibald MacRae's magnificent moustache and sideburns. He is pictured here with his leading lady, Annie Locklan Stewart. The couple lived at Lot 4 , Concession 4 in the township of West Hawkesbury, and had ten children. Many of their descendants live around Glengarry County.

There are two other photographs of the couple in the museum's collection; one with all ten of their children, and one of them later into their lives. All three are currently on display in the Orange Lodge for the "Portraits of the Past" display, and it must be said that Mr. MacRae has exquisite facial hair in each of them.

Monday 15 July 2013

Portneuf Pottery

This sugar bowl is a type of Portneuf  pottery; it is also referred to as Portneuf spongeware because of its pattern, which would have applied to the bowl with a sponge technique.  In the mid-1800s, a ship sailing from Scotland through the St. Lawrence to British North America, sunk near Portneuf, Quebec. The ship was carrying several pieces of pottery, and many of these pieces were salvaged after the wreck. This incredible story made this pottery-  classified now as "Portneuf Pottery"- quite rare and sought after.

This piece, as well as a few other artifacts (including a past Featured Artifact, the Meerschaum pipe), will be on display at the museum this weekend for our "What's It Worth?" event. It will part of an exhibit that allows visitors to guess how much they think these rare and interesting artifacts are worth. Come stop by to check them out, as well as various private collectors showing their collections, antique dealers and sellers, an antique car show& parade, and specialized appraisers to appraise any family heirloom you may have.

The event is this Sunday, July 21st, 11am-4pm. More information can be found on the front page of the website and on Facebook, or if you have any questions you can call the museum at 613-527-5230.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Moustache Monday

How many moustaches can you find in this photo?

Shown above are the members of the Presbyterian Church General Assembly, who were the men responsible for uniting the 4 Presbyterian Churches in the Dominion of Canada. This was accomplished in Montreal on June 15, 1875. The most remarkable feature of this photo is, however, how many of the men had such admirable facial hair. This photo was donated to the museum by Mrs. Alex Stewart from the Skye Road area in 1963.

 The four churches that joined together were The Canada Presbyterian Church (formed in June of 1861), The Presbyterian Church of Canada in Connection with the Established Church of Scotland (1831),  The Synod of the Presbyterian Church of the Maritime Provinces of British North America (1867), and The Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces (1866). They united to formed The Presbyterian Church of Canada . There were a number of Church of Scotland - a Presbyterian Church shaped by the Scottish Reformation- congregations, including some in the Glengarry County, that resisted such a union, however eventually most of them joined The Presbyterian Church of Canada (PCC) in the early 20th century. United, the PCC was able to consolidate and grow across Canada.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Bullet Mold

This is a bullet mold in a plier design and was used to press a musket ball to the proper size caliber. It belonged to Angus MacIntosh, who owned the "New Store" of Dunvegan in the mid-1800s. This "New Store"  was eventually converted into a stagecoach stop, and is now the Star Inn at the museum. This bullet mold could have been used to make bullets for the weapons that were gathered in fear of the Fenian Raids between 1866-1870. The Fenians were a group of disgruntled Irish immigrants who lived in the United States. They started these raids in hopes of capturing the Dominion of Canada (which was still very much under British control) and then using it as a bargaining chip to secure Ireland's freedom from British rule. Although these threats never amounted to much, the fear of the Fenian raids was substantial to the people of Glengarry County. We will never be sure what the fate of the bullets made by this mold were; perhaps Angus was making them for his own protection, the protection of the community, or was selling the bullets -or the bullet mold itself- in his store.
This mold was donated to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum by Angus MacIntosh's great-great nephew, Donald A. MacLaurin, and has been a highlight in many of museum's displays.

Sunday 7 July 2013

Moustache Monday

 This week we are highlighting Mr.Duncan Donovan, the man that has captured many of the moustached headliners found in our weekly post, and who has a  pretty distinguished moustache himself!
Duncan Donovan was born on January 4,1857 to Richard Donovan and Sarah MacMillian. They lived on East 1/2 Lot 29, 9th Concession of Lochiel Township, and this is where a young Duncan Donovan grew up. In 1899, Donovan married Miss Catherine Campbell. The couple would often attend St.Finnan's Cathedral in Alexandria, and Donovan began making his name as a well-respected photographer there. He began his career while working under Mr. Duncan MacMillian, who had a  studio in Maxville. In 1902, he became a partner in the studio of A.G.A Robinson, and soon afterward he took control of the business under his own name.  Donovan retired in 1924,  and sold his business to Mr.P.A Charlesbois. Eventually Donovan passed away on March 17, 1933, but his legacy was not soon forgotten.
Charlesbois preserved Donovan's glass plates of photographs, which were eventually purchased by the Archives of Ontario, by a well-known Glengarrian, Hugh P. MacMillian. Many of these photos are now part of the museum's collection, others can still be found at the Archives of Ontario in Toronto.  These photographs are cherished by the Glengarry Pioneer Museum as they allow visual insight into the lives of Glengarrians in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Many of the photographs are featured in a display that is part of the temporary exhibit, "Portraits of the Past," this year. Some others are stored safely away in our climate-controlled storage facility, occasionally brought out to be showcased in exhibits, or used to highlight a glorious moustache or two!

Tuesday 2 July 2013


This is a Whitney Navy Percussion revolver in .36 Caliber. It holds six shots and has a 7 1/2 octagon barrel, and is of the cap and ball type. The gun is dated around 1858-1861, and was very likely used during the American Civil War.It was produced by The Eli Whitney Company. Eli Whitney was an American inventor of the cotton gin (short for cotton engine); which was an improved method of processing cotton. Eventually his cotton gin company went bankrupt, so Whitney signed a contract with the New American Government and began making guns. He practiced this new profession from around  the French Revolution era (late 18th century) up until the Civil War (1861-1865). This revolver was the precursor of the Col. Samuel Colt Navy Revolver.

 Alex Baker McDonald (1872-1965)  was the owner of this revolver. He lived on Lot 33, Concession 5 in Lochiel. McDonald passed the revolver down to his grandson, Basil McCormick, who received this gift  when he was only 10 years old. An older neighbour held on to the revolver until Basil wanted it back in 2002. Basil McCormick then donated it to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, where it was part of the commemorative 50th anniversary display last year, and is now kept safe in our storage facility for future exhibits. 

Sunday 30 June 2013

Moustache Monday

This photograph depicts Mr. James Denovan, his wondrous moustache and beard gleaming as he stands on a porch which surrounds a large brick house. Mr. Denovan was born in 1841 and passed away in 1895. He was killed during a barn raising bee at John MacLeods; a tragic, and unexpected accident,  that created an unusually large gathering at his funeral service as neighbours wanted to pay their respects to the shocked family. The Glengarry Pioneer Museum has many records about Mr. James Denovan, including his obituary- which provided the above information- his coffin plate, various photographs, even the boots he was wearing when he was killed.  These records give us an opportunity to learn more information about Mr. Denovan...and his photographs allows us to marvel at his magnificent facial hair!

This photo was graciously donated to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum by Mr.John Lunan, who was married to a Denovan descendent.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Meerschaum Pipe

Meerschaum – also known as Sepiolite- is a soft white mineral that is found in deposits around the Mediterranean, and sometimes floating on the Black Sea. It is often used to make smoking pipes (like the one shown above) since its soft texture allows for intricate carving of elaborate designs. As the pipe is used the mineral changes colour, usually turning yellowish, which helps to determine its age and usage.
This Meerschaum pipe was donated by Glen McKenize, a distant relative of the original owner, James Roderick McKenzie. James R. McKenize was born in 1817 on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, and eventually made his way to Canada,  settling in Dunvegan at 21-9 Kenyon. During his life, he was the postmaster of Skye, taught at a local  Dunvegan school house, was a long-time Deacon at Kenyon Presbyterian Church, and  a clerk in the divisional court. James R. McKenize was also a grandnephew of Flora Macdonald, a woman famous for her heroic and romantic devotion to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite cause.

 It is possible to assume from its yellowing, that this pipe lived a long and pleasant life with its owner. It is now safely stored in the Museum’s temperature- regulated storage facility, ready to be showcased in future exhibits.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Moustache Monday

This week features Mr. Duncan "Duncie" Willie Campbell, looking stern as he showcases his triumphant moustache.  He was photographed at H.R McGibbon's studio in Hawkesbury. The exact date this photograph was taken is unknown, but it is believed to have been around 1901.

If you recognize any of the men featured in our weekly post, and have any additional information you would like to share about them, feel free to email the museum at collections@glengarrypioneermuseum.ca.
We always appreciate learning more about the artifacts in our collection!

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Surveyor's Chain and Compass


A Surveyor's chain, donated to the museum by Willie Clark of Dunvegan. It was Made by Chesterman of Sheffield.
This type of surveyor's chain was widely used in Britain, the Eastern United States and older areas within Canada. Along with a compass (shown below), the surveyor would use this chain to measure lots of land for settlers.
Each chain had swivel links which were intended to keep the chain from kinking. The marker tags allowed the surveyor to read off any distance within the hundred-foot length of the chain at a glance and be correct to within one inch.

Surveyors Compass, donated by J.W Macleod of Kirkhill.
This compass was owned by Alexander MacLeod who immigrated to Canada in 1793. It was used for surveying parts of Glengarry County, the upper Ottawa Valley, most of the State of Missouri, and other parts of Western Canada and the United States. 

Sunday 16 June 2013

Moustache Monday

The owner of this glorious moustache is Mr.Rory William Macleod of Skye, Ontario, pictured here with his wife, Margaret McCrimmon. Rory William’s grandfather, Rodrick Macleod, owned Lot 10, Concession 9, of Caledonia Township in 1835. He then passed it down to his son, Donald Rory Macleod, who eventually gave it to his son- and the star of this post- Rory William Macleod.  Rory William was born in 1872, had six children and eventually passed away in 1950.  

This photograph was taken by Duncan Donovan in his Alexandria studio. The Glengarry Pioneer Museum has a large collection of Donovan photos, many of which are displayed in the temporary exhibit, “Portraits of the Past.”

Monday 10 June 2013

The Story Behind the Blue Willow Plate

This plate has a pattern known as “Blue Willow.” It was designed in England by Thomas Minton around 1790. Willow refers to the pattern, and it uses a specific treatment known as transferware. This process is when the pattern is applied, transferred, or stamped onto the ceramic piece, rather than hand painted, saving time and cost. The background color is always white, while the foreground color depends on the maker. Blue is the most common colour, followed by pink, green, and brown.

In order to improve the sales of the “Blue Willow” plate, Minton created a story based on the design. It has been told as follows; once there was a wealthy Mandarin, who had a beautiful daughter. She had fallen in love with her father's humble accounting assistant, angering her father. He dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart. The Mandarin was planning for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke. The Duke arrived by boat to claim his bride, bearing a box of jewels as a gift. The wedding was to take place on the day the blossom fell from the willow tree. On the eve of the daughter's wedding to the Duke, the young accountant- disguised as a servant- slipped into the palace unnoticed. The lovers escaped with the jewels, but the alarm was raised. They ran over a bridge, chased by the Mandarin with a whip in hand. They eventually escaped on the Duke's ship to the safety of a secluded island, where they lived happily for years. However, one day the Duke learned of their refuge and sent an army to seek his revenge. The Gods, moved by the misfortune of the lovers, transformed them into doves to live on in tender bliss.  This romantic fable can be explained on the plate by its decoration; the boat, island, fence and bridge all are shown, under the presence of the two love birds in the sky.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Moustache Monday

Having great facial hair must run in the family, or at least in this one it does! This photo depicts the MacRae brothers, photographed in 1871. The photo is part of the tintype process of photography [also know as also melainotype or ferrotype] and was used in the mid-1800s to early 1900s, primarily. The image, which was underexposed, was produced onto a sheet of iron metal and then coated with black paint, lacquer, or enamel to darken it. It evolved out of ambrotype photography, which placed a negative image onto glass, then used reflective light and a dark background in order to make the negative look like a positive image. The use of tintype photography reduced the cost considerably, proved to be very durable, and therefore became very popular. It was also an excellent way of capturing some impressive facial hair; although this picture is darkened, the moustaches of these brothers still steal the show!

Learn more about photography, photographic processes, and moustaches by stopping by the museum!

Monday 3 June 2013

Alcohol Proof Kit

This alcohol proof kit was used to test the amount of alcoholic content found in liquor. Each ball had a number that corresponds with an alcohol proof. Whichever ball sunk to the bottom of the glass would reveal the proof of the alcohol. For example, if the ball with the number 22 sunk, it would mean that the drink was a double whisky, whereas if number 34 sunk, it would mean that the drink was weak and not properly made.  This was an excellent way for men to ensure the alcohol served to them was at its desired proof.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Moustache Monday

Introducing Moustache Mondays, a new weekly post, featuring some of the museum’s best moustaches! This week David Murdoch MacPherson (1847-1915) takes the spotlight, a man who has earned the nickname “The Cheese King,” by owning several cheese factories located in Glengarry County, and the surrounding areas of  Eastern Ontario, Huntington, and Chateauguay counties in Quebec, and New York State. At the peak of his cheese producing career, MacPherson owned 78 factories and by 1874, his cheese empire was credited to be the largest cheese factory combination in Canada.  It has also been said that at one point, MacPherson’s factories controlled 1/8 of all cheese production in the country. MacPherson, and his impressive facial hair, are part of the new temporary exhibit called “Portraits of the Past,” displayed in the Orange Lodge. Come stop by to learn more about the “King of Cheese”- and arguably The King of Moustaches- and have a peek at the other captivating portraits from the museum’s collection!
        Look forward to this post once a week for all your moustache needs.

Monday 15 April 2013

Making Maple Sugar

Postcard, Making Maple Sugar in Dalkeith, Ontario

This postcard was never sent, as the reverse is blank; however it depicts the wonderful scene of boiling sap in a bush somewhere near Dalkeith. It was gratefully donated by the family of Robert Denovan (1884-1976)

Friday 5 April 2013

A Tanner and his Boots...

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.