Thursday 29 June 2023

A Day in the Life of Pioneer Schoolchildren at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum

Students on a recent school group visit to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum participating in a game of Tug of War.

Photograph of schoolchildren taken outside of Dunvegan Public School sometime between 1920-1922. Donated to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum by by Ruth MacIntosh (Mrs. Gordon) in 1984. Object ID: 1984-027-005

Students participated in a typical school morning routine at the museum's Big Beaver Schoolhouse to approximate the experience pupils from the village of Dunvegan, who would have originally attended Dunvegan Public School in the 19th century. The photograph above was donated to the museum by Ruth MacIntosh (Mrs. Gordon) in 1984 and depicts Dunvegan Public School as it appeared in the early 20th century. This photo is believed to have been taken some time between 1920 and 1922, as indicated by the garments worn by the pupils posing for this school photograph. This piece also captures the red brick structure of the schoolhouse, along with eight of the building's windows and several flowerpots attached to the windowsills. The rose window of the schoolhouse is also shown above the front entrance of the building, beneath the roof's peak.

The schoolhouse still stands in the village of Dunvegan today across from the church manse of Kenyon Presbyterian Church on County Road 30. The building continued to operate as a school until the 1960s when it was purchased by Kenyon Presbyterian Church and used as a church hall for a number of years. The building was converted into a private residence between the late 1980s and early 1990s and eventually purchased by its first resident. The schoolhouse is still thoughtfully maintained and used as a private residence to this day. 

Photograph of a school bell once used at Dunvegan Public School. Donated to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum by John D. MacLeod in 1968. Object ID: 1968-008-004

The Glengarry Pioneer Museum houses several artefacts that were once used at Dunvegan Public School, and several items are currently on display at Big Beaver Schoolhouse on the museum grounds. Among these items include this iron school bell, donated by John D. MacLeod in 1968, which can be found on the schoolmistress' desk at Big Beaver Schoolhouse.

This summer, the Glengarry Pioneer Museum invites all families looking for an engaging and educational family outing to learn about the lives of pioneer schoolchildren and to discover a piece of the past at the Big Beaver Schoolhouse on the museum grounds. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Wednesday 21 June 2023

National Indigenous Peoples Day; Glengarry's Pre-Contact History

How was the Glengarry area used by Indigenous peoples before Europeans arrived in the late 18th century? How are the Akwesasne Mohawk people building back their language and traditions today?

To mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Glengarry Pioneer Museum invites you to learn the answers to these question from Phillip White-Cree from Clarkson University’s Humanities department in Potsdam, New York.

Photo Credit: The Native North American Travelling College of Akwesasne, Ontario.

On March 4th, 2023, White-Cree spoke from the Native North American Travelling College in Akwesasne, Ontario about the pre-contact history of places and people who inhabited what would later become Glengarry County and its surrounding areas as part of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum's Historical Snapshot Video Series

Listen and learn more on this topic by visiting White-Cree's video presentation from the museum's Historical Snapshot Video Series on YouTube via the video link above. 

Friday 16 June 2023

The Smith-In Blacksmith Festival; Forging Modern-Day Glengarry

The Smith-In Blacksmith Festival hosted by the Glengarry Pioneer Museum this Father’s Day weekend is fast approaching. Patrons will have the chance to catch a glimpse of the skills and techniques that were once used by pioneer blacksmiths at several live demonstrations and displays being held by modern-day blacksmiths traveling in from across Ontario, Quebec and the USA from Saturday, June 17th to Sunday, June 18th. 

Photograph of a reproduction, early 19th century blacksmith's forge cart. Object ID: EDU 2018-001-001.

Visitors to the museum are invited to observe a live workshop hosted by modern-day blacksmiths who will  learn how to forge a Norfolk door latch using tools and techniques of the past at the Williams Pavilion and the historic Olivier Hamlin blacksmith shop on Saturday the 17th. On Sunday the 18th, visitors will have the opportunity watch demonstrations on a reproduction, early 19th century blacksmith’s forge cart with functioning bellows on the museum grounds. The blacksmith's forge cart is depicted in the photograph above. 

    Photographs of a late 18th century handcrafted fire pot hook, known as a “Slabhraidh” in Scottish Gaelic. The photograph on the right displays details of the zig-zag pattern on the outside of the pot hook. Object ID: 1962-039-001.

The Glengarry Pioneer Museum is home to many artifacts that were handcrafted using historic blacksmithing methods that will be demonstrated at this weekend's festival. The earliest known of such artifacts in the museum's collection is a fire pot hook, or  “Slabhraidh” in Gaelic according to the University of Glasgow's Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic, which is depicted in the two featured photographs above. This hand forged chain and hook are believed to date to the late 18th century, likely among the items brought be early settlers. 

The hook would have been supported by three large branches arranged in a V-shape in order to hang a large cooking pot over a fire, likely to prepare meals for some of the early Scottish settlers as they worked to clear the land of the Glengarry area during the day. 

We look forward to welcoming all modern-day blacksmiths traveling in from across North America along with all interested visitors at the Smith-In Blacksmith Festival this Father's Day weekend, and we invite you to explore each of the live demonstrations and displays set to take place on Saturday and Sunday while you're here. Children's activities and food will be available onsite.

Thursday 8 June 2023

The Smith-In Blacksmith Festival; Preserving the Tradition of Blacksmithing in Glengarry


Photograph of Pat Taylor and Lloyd Johnson working in the Olivier Hamelin Blacksmith shop, built around the year 1800, at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in 2020.

Enjoy a unique family outing this upcoming Father’s Day weekend at the Smith-In Blacksmith Festival hosted by the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. Explore the displays and museum grounds from Saturday, June 17th to Sunday, June 18th to catch a glimpse into how blacksmiths of the past worked to manipulate iron into many different objects that would be used in pioneers’ everyday lives.

Photograph of Olivier Hamelin at the forge in his blacksmith shop in 1978.

Be sure to visit the Olivier Hamelin blacksmith shop, which primarily operated out of Apple Hill until 1985. In the year 2000, the building was relocated to its current location on the museum grounds. The shop and several other buildings on our grounds house a variety of artefacts that were created by Olivier Hamelin and other pioneer blacksmiths from across the Glengarry area using tools and methods that will be displayed by modern-day blacksmiths traveling in from across Ontario, Quebec, and the United States to appear at this year's festival.

Photograph of John A. Stewart in front of the Dunvegan blacksmith shop (left) ca. 1910. The museum's Star Inn is the building on the right.

 Current visitors, however, may not be aware that the village of Dunvegan once had its own blacksmith shop which stood on what would later become the grounds of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in the late 19th century. The original shop of Dunvegan was built in November of 1894 on the southeast corner of the village crossroads, about where the museum’s heritage gardens are now located. The shop was operated for many years by John. A. Stewart, who is depicted standing to the right of his shop and in front of the Starr Inn as they would have appeared around the year 1910.

Photograph of members of the Glengarry Pipe Band in 1928. John A. Stewart is pictured standing to the far left.

John. A. Stewart was born at Stewarts Glenn (west of the village of Dunvegan) to parents who arrived in Glengarry from the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Hebrides. Apart from blacksmithing, John was an incredibly accomplished piper, and his talent was in high demand at concerts, social events, and Highland dancing and piping competitions across Glengarry as both a piper and a judge. After John passed away in 1950, his brother, Norman Lachlin Stewart, took over the shop until the building was eventually taken down in 1954. We look forward to welcoming all modern-day blacksmiths and curious visitors alike at the Smith-In Blacksmith Festival soon on June 17-18th. While you’re there, we invite you to find the original site of the John. A. Stewart blacksmith shop as you explore the grounds. 

Thursday 1 June 2023

The Clan MacLeod Gathering; 1936 to 2023

The first blog entry of the 2023 summer season marks the upcoming annual Clan MacLeod Society of Glengarry picnic to be held at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum on Saturday, June 3rd, 2023. The Clan MacLeod Society of Glengarry was the first one to be created outside of Scotland and it was formed in Dunvegan in November of 1935. Just one year later in 1936, approximately one thousand MacLeods traveled from across North America and gathered with members of the newly formed society in the maple grove of Donald D. MacLeod near the village of Dunvegan to commemorate their Scottish Highlander ancestors who traveled across the Atlantic to find land of their own. The Clan MacLeod Society of Glengarry has gathered in Dunvegan every year since 1936 (excluding Covid), using the grounds of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum since it opened in 1962.  

MacLeod of Lewis Tartan. Photo Credit: The Clan MacLeod Societies of Canada

The Clan MacLeod Society of Glengarry picnic at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in June, 2007

While the agenda for many planning to attend Saturday’s gathering will likely consist of some light chit-chatting and grazing of a sandwich platter or two, the programme of events for the first gathering in 1936 was quite different. The museum’s original copy of The MacLeods of Glengarry 1793-1971; The Genealogy of a Clan, provides a fascinating glimpse into the first 1936 gathering’s full day of events. The day was kicked off by ten o’clock in the morning with registration, bagpipe music and a variety of sport activities. A full afternoon of addresses and oral family histories in both Gaelic and English soon followed, along with performances of more pipe music, Scotch dances, and Gaelic and Scotch songs. The long day finally came to a close at eleven thirty in the evening with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne at the Orange Lodge of Dunvegan (now the DRA hall). 

The MacLeods of Glengarry 1793-1971; The Genealogy of a Clan. Accession #: REF 2009-000-142-02.

The MacLeods of Glengarry have supported and contributed to the museum's collection for over 8 decades. Hundreds of artifacts in the collection come from MacLeods and their descendants and the museum congratulates them on their 87th anniversary. The picnic is this Saturday, June 3 and we look forward to hearing some good music and welcoming them back.