Monday, July 27, 2015

Memory Mondays- The Heritage Farm Show

Hello everyone!

I hope your Monday is proving to be a positive start to your week.  Today we are looking back on our Heritage Farm Shows of the past.  This event always brings lots of really neat farm equipment, tractors and heritage farm enthusiasts!  Each year visitors enjoy demonstrations, food, music and learning, and this year is shaping up to be the same!  So come on out to see and learn about all of the old farm implements that will be featured, along with a threshing machine and activities for the kids.  The fun takes place from September 12-13 this year here at the museum and we hope to see you out. Have a great rest of your week!

Memory Monday - Unidentified Willson Children

This picture was sent to us by Brenda Corby in the hopes someone will be able to identify these two children.  She believes there is a connection to the Willson family, possibly some Michigan relatives.  
If you know anything about these little ones, please contact our office 519-762-3072 or

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Behind The Scenes of Beds, Baths, and Beyond #12

·       Most didn’t wash their hair very often, but there were other ways of keeping it “healthy.”  Women brushed their hair more than 100 times a day to make it shiny.  To treat dandruff, they rubbed bran into their scalp.
·       Brushing and combing your hair would dislodge dirt and also spread the natural oils and fluids across the length of the hair, improving its conditions. 
·       As the century developed, the habit of washing one’s hair with water began to be promoted.  A range of washes for the hair were widely recommended, most of which were relatively basic.  Rosemary water was particularly popular. It removed more grease than just water. 

·       By the 1840s, occasional washing of men’s hair with water was creeping in, led by women, who had adopted the process first.  For most, it meant a swill around in cold water to dislodge the dust and dirt, but some were willing to risk soap, although it did tend to leave the scalp sore in some people. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Seedy Saturday- Thyme

Happy Saturday everyone!  This week, take some thyme to learn about another popular herb.


There are over 350 species of thyme, such as creeping thyme, which is a good ground coverer and lemon thyme which emits a strong scent resembling lemons.  The kind grown most often to cook with is a shrub reaching 1 foot tall, with small, oval, aromatic leaves, accompanied by tiny clusters of purple flowers in summer. 

A large number of species are native to areas within the Mediterranean.  The Etruscans and Egyptians used thyme for embalming and the Greeks used it as a temple incense, as the word “Thymus” means “courage” or “to fumigate” in Greek.  The soldiers of Rome bathed in thyme water to give themselves vigor, and it was also thought to be a good herb for medicinal purposes.  This herb was introduced to the English by the Romans and ladies would embroider sprigs of thyme on scarves for their knights, as it was a symbol of courage during the Middle Ages.  More practically used however, branches would be burned and thrown on the floor to cleanse homes. 

As a medicine, thyme was used to relieve asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough.  Hookworm could also be ejected with this herb, but like many essential oils, it can be fatal if a high enough dose is ingested.  When used externally, it can also cause irritation to the skin.  In a food dish however, it is quite good with soups, eggs, meats, breads, tomatoes and other vegetables. 
Take care,
Catie Welch

Friday, July 24, 2015

Family History Friday - Help Name These Photographs

All season we have been featuring a photo album new to the museum collection, where none of the photographs are labelled.  The only writing we can find refers to Johnny Sloan, 1887 and a Ms. McPherson of Wallacetown.  If you have any idea who these people are or what family they may belong to (most likely Sloan, McArthur, McPherson, Allen and others), please contact us.  The photo album is full so we will be posting more photographs over the next few weeks for Family History Fridays.  
Angela Bobier 519-762-3072 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Events to Attend this Week at the Backus-Page House Museum

Hi everyone, don't forget to make time to come check out some of the exciting events happening at the museum! 

Victorian Teas run every Sunday from 1:00pm-4:00pm. Enjoy baked goods and tea in the Parlour, followed by a tour of the museum. The cost is only $10.00/person. 

Enjoy a tour of the museum as well as the barn! Homestead Days at the Backus-Page House Museum runs every Tuesday-Friday in July and August. This exhibit of antique agricultural tools and implements is a MUST see! 

History Day Camp runs every Thursday in July and every Wednesday in August. Themes include; Confederation, The Railroad, WW1, Roaring 20's, Dirty 30's, WW2, We Love the 50's and 60's, the Fur Trade and the 70's and 80's! Tons of exciting crafts and activities planned! Pre-register your child(ren) today! 

The Backus-Page House Museum's location is one of a kind! It's the perfect location for picnics, family outings and trail walks! The scenery is absolutely beautiful and can be enjoyed by all!

For more information call us at the museum 519-762-3072.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Profile of a Local Hero

     So far, I've done a number of features in recognition of some of the major faces of both world wars, including some of our well-known local heroes. In contrast, one of my main goals and most valued aspects of working at Elgin County Archives is discovering more about the vast number of regular Elgin County boys who enlisted and did their hometowns proud. I have wanted to start featuring the stories of some local heroes on here as a way to ensure that their contributions are never forgotten, and I stumbled across one in particular that is a perfect first feature. This week, we're focusing on Arthur Freeman, a St. Thomas veteran of both world wars and example of a true humble hero. All content is courtesy of Elgin County Archives, with gratitude.

     In January of 1980, the St. Thomas Times-Journal interviewed 83-year-old Arthur Freeman, who had a number of memories and reflections to share with readers. He posed for the camera holding his military medal for extraordinary bravery during the First World War, which bore the description: "For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during operations on Passchendaele Ridge from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, 1917 "He remained on duty during almost the whole of this period himself. At all times, notwithstanding heavy hostile fire, he kept his gun in action and his crew organized for attack. During the intense enemy barrage on the night of Oct. 31, his platoon officer gave him permission to withdraw from his section to a less exposed position, which he declined to take advantage of, pointing out that he desired to be in readiness for any counter attack  and held this post, protected his gun from becoming mud-clogged by lying himself along side it. Throughout he did more than his duty at all times". If you remember anything about the First World War and the meaning of the word 'Passhcendaele', you'll know that's a big deal.

    Mr. Freeman, however, had his own feelings about the infamous embodiment of hell on earth. After having seen the movies; read the books and articles, he asserted that everyone has a different account of what happened. He said that people often associated Passchendaele with mud, but he remembers it being worse at the Somme."We lived like bloody rats, deep in the trenches," He said. "You learned to keep your head down."

     Indeed, Mr. Freeman was a good authority on conditions of all the major First World War battles- he saw action at Passchendaele, The Somme, Vimy Ridge, and Ypres. Reflecting on those experiences, he said, "I often sit here and think how we lived. But a hundred people could write the history of the war as they saw it ... there wouldn't be two of them alike."

     As the story's headline proclaims, even heroes come in small packages. In his reflections, Arthur admitted he was really too small physically to meet army regulations. "I was about three inches too small in the chest and a couple inches too short," he remembered. "I guess I was one of the smallest in the regiment. I wasn't big for my age." Remarkably, at just 21 years old and 5 feet, 3 1/2 inches tall, it was he who remained when others would have fled at Passchendaele. He single-handedly held off the enemy placing himself in extreme danger while protecting the men in his crew.

     Mr. Freeman's experiences can be seen as fortunate from the beginning. He joined the 91st Elgins in May of 1916 and was fighting by November. Remembering that rushed time, he said: "All we'd had was squad drill — it was bloody ridiculous. But they didn't have time to train us.. There we were, a bunch of kids. If the Germans had counter-attacked we would have had no idea what to do — we were so disorganized". Though he was hit twice with shrapnel and grazed once with a machine-gun bullet, remarkably, he was never injured seriously.

   Looking back on his experiences and referring to the present time, Arthur wondered, "You wonder why we have to have war... They should have learned from the last two wars .— nobody wins, everybody loses." While he felt honoured by receiving the military medal, he insisted that he had only done his duty, and regarded it as recognition of his entire experience, not just at Passchendaele. "I was more entitled to a medal at the Sommes in 1916 than at Passchendaele. But you do what you have to do and say to hell with it. That's the way I see it anyway."
Arthur Freeman, left, and Howard Vair, representing the 91st Overseas Battalion, lay a wreath in memory of the departed warriors during an annual reunion.

    Mr. Freeman finished his reflections with praise for the then-upcoming Elgin Military Museum, which he felt would be a valuable contribution to the county. He finished his interview by saying: "Kids today, or anybody... they read about it (the war) but they wonder what things really looked like... It's good to preserve history".

     That last part has really stuck with me, and I think about it often. It seems like a small message from the past that reinforces what I try to do every day, with the blog, my work, studies, and my writing. I hope that stories like Mr. Freeman's connect with you in the ways that they do with me, so that we can maintain our appreciation for the heroes like him for generations to come.

Thanks for reading,