Thursday 27 June 2019

GPM Collection: 19th Century Eel Spear

This week's artifact of the week is an Eel Spear

Museum Collection

First quarter, 19th century
This hand-forged iron eel spear would be attached to a 15-20ft pole and be used to trap slow moving eel in marsh areas and below the riverbeds.
Standing in a boat or on the edge of the river, the fisherman would thrust the spear into the mud, and the eel would be forced between the rounded edges and impaled onto the needlepoint tines.    
This artifact was donated in 1966 by Dr. S. B. Fraser and was found in Cornwall, ON, on Cameron's Island. 

If you'd like to learn more about the various tools and gadgets Pioneers would have used, come by to see our Doodads and What-Cha-Ma-Call-Its exhibit here at the GPM in Roxborough Hall! 

Saturday 22 June 2019

Conversations with Andrew Guindon (Dominionville) about herbal remedies + traditional wisdom

It is finally summer-time here in South-eastern Ontario, which means that it is especially important to be able to identify the dangers and the uses of the plants around you as you enjoy spending time outdoors walking or working in the garden!

Here at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, we've included some excerpts from a 1976 interview with Andrew Guindon (Dominionville) from our Oral Histories collection. Take a listen below to hear more in connection to this topic!

Here are a few of the most common poisonous plants that can be found in the SD&G counties that locals should be wary of:

poisonivy1. Poison Ivy
Where: Along the forest edge, in meadows, forest openings and trails.
Adverse effects: Poison ivy is a very common trigger of allergic contact dermatitis or inflammation of the skin. It contains the potent antigen urushiol, which will cause a reaction in 60 to 80 percent of the people who are exposed to it. Oil resin from the plant may be carried on any object it comes in contact with – clothing, shoes or pet fur - and then transferred to the skin.
hogweed2. Giant Hogweed
Where: Giant hogweed can be found along roadsides, trails and stream banks.
Adverse effects: If you come in contact with this plant, you may experience severe burns to your skin. The sap found in giant hogweed contains furocoumarins that cause serious skin inflammation activated by exposure to the sun.
parsnip3. Wild Parsnip
Where: Generally found along the edges of plantations, roadsides, meadows and in old pastures.
Adverse effects: Similar to the giant hogweed, wild parsnip contains furocoumarins that when absorbed by the skin, and stimulated by ultraviolet light, the furocoumarins begin destroying cells and skin tissue, which appears as redness and blistering of the skin.

Just as there are a number of plants that should be avoided, there are many that can be found locally that can serve a medicinal purpose. With a strong cultural symbiosis with nature, there is a wealth of information about plants and herbal remedies that can be found in traditional teachings, as the interview touches on.The gathering of plants and herbs is imperative to their culture as they believe plant medicine not only cures physical ailments but can augment one's spiritual connection. Take a look below at some examples of traditional (Métis) wisdom surrounding local plants! 

Birch – “Birch is from day one is a healing tree. What you do is you peel the white bark and there’s a black bark in the back. You boil that and you make tea with it and it’s good for prostate, colon. The white bark they use to make canoe.”

Image result for birch

Dandelion – “Dandelion again is good for so many things. You can make salad with the leaves. Makes a beautiful salad. Right now it’s getting a little late, but early spring, they’re very tasty and it’s good for, you make all kind of compress with it. It’s good for colds, high blood pressure, gout and then the root is good for different things too. It makes good wine too. A salve made of dandelion and plantain is an all-purpose remedy.” 

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Plantain – “I do remember my dad, if we were outside and somebody got a little cut or an insect bite that he would go and pick a leaf or something and rub than on, and I think it was plantain. It’s good for a number of skin problems, like a rash or eczema or psoriasis. A relative of a friend of mine, his knee was all inflamed and he put this plantain salve on and he had me feel it after twenty minutes and he said it wasn’t hurting as much, and you could visibly see a difference.”  

Image result for plantain ontario

Strawberry – “The dried leaves of the strawberry can be made into a tea for menstrual cramps and hormonal imbalance.”

Image result for strawberry leaves

Thistle – “The bane of my existence have been these thistles. About three years ago this friend was told by a psychic that for this cough that he should get someone to make him some thistle salve. So I thought I could try that. These thistles grow at least as high as me if you let them be. So I’ve got my heavy garden gloves, I cut this stuff and I used one mature plant and a bunch of little ones. The salve is very good. If you have a tickling cough and it’s not too bad and if you rub this on your chest when you go to sleep you’re not coughing in the morning.”  

Image result for thistle ontario

Yarrow – “Yarrow, that’s available here still, contains a mild anesthetic. When rubbed on insect bites it stops the itching. It won’t do much for your ticks, but the mosquitoes and flies, if you rub that on it won’t itch no more.” “I use the yarrow flowers to make infused yarrow oil. Sometimes I will double infuse it. I use that for my knee. Without it, I wouldn’t walk. See, the yarrow has not only the ability to warm up the joint, but it is an anti-inflammatory that brings down the swelling. When the swelling goes down, of course the pain goes away and I can walk.” “If you boil this down you make a tea. You can drink the yarrow. It helps internally, and then you can also, with the stems you can boil it and cool it down and put it on for reducing fevers.”  

Image result for yarrow ontario

Information sourced from:
5 poisonous plants of Southern Ontario you should avoid - Jul 21, 2015 by Rebecca Canty
Traditional Ecological Knowledge Study: Southern Ontario Métis Traditional Plant Use - Written and prepared by the Métis
Nation of Ontario with help from AECOM.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

GPM Archives: Sounds of the Gaels

           Music and oral tradition was an intrinsic and pervasive element within Scottish culture, which viewed nearly every moment in the day to day life of a Scot as an opportunity for rhythm -where violins, small pipes, and the Highland bagpipes were all played in Gaelic societyFor every task, event, and ceremony in Gaelic culture, there was a tune to be sung in a matching speed and tone, synchronized as a community. Whether they be working or resting - as men rowed in boats and kept in time with their oars, as women passed along cloth to one another in a fulling bee, as cows were milked, as corn was ground, as butter was churned. A male choral song was generally called an iorram, and this was later most specifically applied to rowing songs. The heavily-rhythmic songs that women sang while fulling cloth are called òrain lu(adh)aidh. A song with a group chorus was generally called a luinneag, and these were very popular at gatherings. 

It was a traditional Highland education, in which everyone of all ages participated and had something to contribute. This allowed the collective wisdom and value system to be transmitted from one generation to the next, and it gave a sense of collective purpose and identity to young and old. Another important concept is that people sang songs because they wanted to communicate specific thoughts about their communities and the issues that were important to their communities. The Gaelic poet and performer had a social responsibility to engage with their society and to give it a voice. Songs had a social purpose and were functional in everyday life, they were not prized merely for their aesthetic beauty. 

Music was a kind of life force for the Gaels - lifting every part of daily activity and infusing it with deep emotion, ideas, thoughts, and passion. Having been settled by Scottish Highlanders centuries ago, the cultural influence of Gaelic music can still be found right here in the SD&G counties. The importance the Scottish placed on oral tradition and Gaelic music is preserved through oral histories we have here at the museum. Click on the video below to hear some of the Gaelic songs yourself - directly from our collection! 

English - Gaelic incl., prepared by Ewan Ross

Information sourced from:
An Introduction to the Gaelic Music Tradition

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.

March Break; Wonderful Winter Activities of Old Glengarry

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.