Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Sightings

Saturday Sightings

Field Mice

People in the countryside will be very familiar with field mice. We have a variety of rodents here in the John E. Pearce Provincial Park and we see them scurrying regularly. In the winter time we try and take great measures to ensure these little creatures don't make their way into our buildings and make themselves at home!
Field mice are small creatures that are usually brown or gray in colour. They have small round bodies and a long skinny tail that normally looks hairless. These little rodents can fit through the tiniest of areas and have grown accustomed to living in close proximity to humans. They can make their way into homes and buildings seeking food and shelter. However, they cause a significant amount of damage in doing so. They chew through a variety of substances including drywall, wood framing and electrical wires. We tend to have an abundance of field mice in our area because of our proximity to surrounding farmer's fields which provide the mice with seeds, nuts and cereals all year long. Mice are nocturnal animals and can be relatively inactive throughout the day. Therefore, their presence amongst humans can sometimes go unnoticed until they have multiplied to enormous numbers.
These little creatures tend to have a lifespan up to one year.
For more information on mice and rats please visit the following website:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Foodie Friday- Seed Cake

Seed Cake
  • 2 cups plain all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. caraway seeds
  • 3 tbsp. milk
    1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and base line a 7 in deep cake tin pan with buttered baking parchment.
    2. Sieve the flour. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, a little at a time, with a spoonful of flour with each addition. Add the baking powder and most of the caraway seeds to the remaining flour, reserving a few seeds to sprinkle over the top of the cake.
    3. Add the flour and caraway seeds mixture to the butter mixture, and blend in lightly but thoroughly; add a little milk to make a soft mixture if it seems to stiff.
    4. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle with the reserved caraway seeds. Put the cake in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325F and bake for a further 1 hour, or until the cake is well risen and golden brown.
    5. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack. When cold, remove the baking parchment and store in an airtight tin.
Backus-Page House Museum

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I Love the 50's- Guns

The development of very basic guns and weapons began very early on. Some guns used in the 1850's included: 
  • Burnside carbine (US rifle used developed in 1857)
  • Colt 1851 Navy ( US revolver developed in 1851)
  • Colt revolving rifle (US rifle developed in 1855)
  • Enfield rifled musket (UK, developed in 1853)
  • Lemat Revolver
  • Smith and Wesson Model 1
  • Springfield model (developed in 1855)
Guns had advanced to baffle rifles, assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, submachine guns and hand guns by the 1950's. There was an advancement in guns and weapons because they were needed for War, which is why explosive devices were also used. For example, the submachine gun was made during WW1 and during WW2 the production of the submachine gun increased tremendously because the demand was greater than every before. The submachine gun has mainly been replaced by the assault rifle, which has a much more accurate aiming range. 
John Thompson (inventor of the Thompson Submachine gun) holding a submachine gun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Canada at War

            Canada entered the Second World War by declaring war on Germany on 10th September, 1939, exactly a week after Great Britain had done so. As mentioned in a previous post, there was a great deal of division within the country during this time regarding support for Britain and the war itself. During the increasingly turbulent events in Europe in late 1939, it was becoming increasingly clear that if Britain fell to Germany, Canada could be threatened. In 1940, American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King signed the Ogdensburg Agreement, which ensured American support in defence of the continent should the need arise.

Mackenzie King (left) and FDR during the signing of the Agreement

            By 1942, Canada entered a state of ‘total war’, which means a war fought with no limits put on the resources used to achieve victory. Mackenzie King wanted Canada’s major contribution to the Allied war effort to be the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Air crews were brought to Canada from all over the Commonwealth for training (see last week’s post).

            Though it came with an obvious and astronomical price, the Canadian economy experienced a major upsurge as a result of the war. The effects of the Great Depression were made a distant memory in the wake of the sudden economic boom. Mackenzie King created the Department of Munitions and Supply in 1940 under C.D. Howe, who quickly organized Canada’s war economy. The government created the National Selective Service to place workers in industries. Canadian industry experienced major manufacturing changes, and was adapted to produce diesel engines, synthetic rubber, roller bearings, electronic equipment, and high octane gasoline in vast quantities. Also during this time, after a decade of hardship, the prairies experienced bumper crops to contribute to the war effort.

Workers are busy on the P-39 Airacobra assembly line at Bell Aircraft's Niagara Falls plant

            With so many enlisted men, Canada faced labour shortages as early as 1941. Women were encouraged to enter the workplace and participate in the total war effort. The 1942 National Selective Service Act recruited women, who ultimately did everything but actively serve, and earned 60% less than the men’s salaries.

            Mackenzie King was determined to avoid problems of greed and inflation of wartime goods and prices. He set up the Wartime Prices and Trade Board to ensure a large enough supply to meet both civilian and military needs through rationing. Taxes were raised to help offset the massive cost of the war, and the government also turned to the idea of Victory Loan drives. Nine of these were conducted between 1941 and 1945, and nearly $12 billion was collected. In terms of social support, the government increased its role with the 1940 Unemployment Insurance Act, the 1944 Family Allowance and the 1945 ‘baby bonus’ cheques.

            Regarding conscription, Mackenzie King wanted to do anything possible to avoid repeating the major WWI issue. In early 1942, Quebec voted 79% against it, compared to Ontario’s 17%. The National Resources Mobilization Act allowed the government to call men for the defence of Canada but not for overseas service. The mood in English-speaking Canada slowly shifted in favor of conscription. Mackenzie King’s solution was to hold a national referendum and ask Canadians to relieve him of his promise against conscription. As expected, he was supported by the English but the French were outraged. Mackenzie King then hesitated as he feared the Quebec reaction, but by 1944 the casualty rate was so high that volunteer replacement was insufficient. It was finally agreed that a small number of men be sent overseas. The fallout from Quebec was critical but did not destroy King’s government. By stalling until the end of the war, he avoided a major division and the bloody riots that had been seen during the previous war.

            Canada’s contribution to the Allied war effort was major and well-recognized on the world stage. At one point after the fall of France in 1940, Canada was the second-largest Allied power after Britain. The legacy of bravery and pride created in the First World War was continued by the next generation of Canadians, and their contributions are still evident in every aspect of daily life today.

            Thanks for reading,


Monday, February 23, 2015

Media Monday

Media Monday
The Annual General Meeting
The AGM will take place on February 26th, 2015.
At the AGM the Board of Directors will be voted on and chosen for the museum.
An agenda has been designed and will be posted for all to see.
The public is more than welcome to attend this meeting and help to ensure a positive future for the Backus-Page House Museum!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Sightings

Saturday Sightings

Red Fox

When driving along Lakeview Line people have to be very careful because we have wildlife that regularly dart out across from the forests which line either side of the road. Upon driving to work some of our staff have spotted a red fox that we believe resides somewhere in the surrounding area.
It is quite a sight to see a red fox because of their unique colouration making them almost rusty orange in colour. However, not all red foxes are actually a red hue, many are brown or black in colour and some can even be almost silver. These fascinating animals resemble a small dog with a bushy tail with a white end. They are a lean animal that is quick on its feet which allows it to be a good predator. When they create a den, foxes enjoy sandy soil on the edge of woodlands or fields.
Red Foxes are a nocturnal animal which makes them a rare sight for viewers during the day. These animals eat a variety of small rodents like moles, mice and rabbits but is also a fan of chicken, plants and berries.
For more information on Red Foxes please visit the following website:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Foodie Friday- Barley Water

Barley Water
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley
  • 1 lemon
  • sugar, to taste
  • ice cubes and mint sprigs
  1. Wash the barley, then put it into a large stainless steal pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for two minutes, then strain the liquid. Return the barley to the rinsed pan.
  2. Wash the lemon and pare the rind from it with a vegetable peeler. Squeeze the juice.
  3. Add the lemon rind and 2 1/2 cups cold water to the pan containing barley. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer the mixture gently for 1 1/2- 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stain the liquid into a jug, add the lemon juice, and sweeten to taste. Leave to cool. Pour the liquid into a bottle and keep in the refrigerator.
  5. To serve, dilute to taste with cold water, add ice cubes and mint sprig.
Backus-Page House Museum