Sunday, August 21, 2016

Behind The Scenes With Ben - A New Arrival

A New Arrival

There has been a new arrival at Backus-Page House.  We have now grown our staff size from three to five in a matter of four and a half hours.  Our newest employee’s names are Brock and Kim.  They are both every intelligent people even though they don’t have a brain, they’re amazing at doing nothing but just hanging around and doing nothing, and they don’t talk much.  They are Backus-Page House’s newest scarecrows!!!!!!!!!  They also both have every important name.
        Sense Backus-Page House is big into history; both Brock and Kim were named after people who were both important and unique in Canadian history.  Comment blow if you know who their named after and why they are important and/or unique to Canadian history.  
        Find out next week who Brock and Kim are named after.
Brock is named after a British Officer who was born October 6th 1769.  This officer was killed in the war of 1812.
Kim is named after a Canadian Politian who was born March 10th 1947.  This Lady is still alive to this day.

From: Ben

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Seedy Saturday- VEGGIES Part 2



     Basil planted near tomatoes will repel white flies and mosquitoes and will attract some really good pollinators. 

Carrots and Radishes:

      Planting carrot seeds along with radish seeds will help in locating the tiny carrot leaves as radishes sprout earlier and will be harvested first. This procedure assists in the task of thinning the carrots as there will be space left from the harvested radishes. 


      Rosemary planted near carrots will deter carrot flies and ward off the pesky bean Beatles. 

Credit to: Rodney Horticultural Society. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

World War Wednesdays: The Canadians at Hill 70

Canadians take a break in a captured German trench during the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917. The soldiers on the left are scanning the sky for aircraft, while the soldier in the centre appears to be re-packing his gas respirator into the carrying pouch on his chest. Dust cakes their clothes, helmets, and weapons.
George Metcalf Archival Collection 
CWM 19920085-686
     This month marks yet another 99th anniversary related to the events of the First World War, and one that has not as of yet had any coverage by World War Wednesdays. I thought it would be a fitting tribute to give readers an overview of the events and what they meant for Canadians, while adding in some of the local research I compiled this past spring. 
     The central concept of Hill 70 is that the Canadian Corps attacked the northern France city of Lens in August 1917 in order to relieve pressure on other Allied troops who were fighting in Passchendaele, near Flanders.
     Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force on the Western front, launched a strategic offensive in Flanders, east of Ypres, on 31 July 1917. Known as the infamous Passchendaele campaign, it was marked by intense fighting, heavy rain, and mud. All of these factors combined to result in a diminishing hope for significant breakthrough. In order to divert German reinforcements from the Passchendaele battlefield, Haig ordered attacks further south. One of these, involving the First Army, meant an attack at Lens by the Canadian Corps. 

Canadian soldiers used this ruined house west of Lens to shelter their water tanks. From here, water would be carried forward to soldiers in the trenches. This photo was taken in September 1917, about a month after the battle.
George Metcalf Archival Collection 
CWM 19920085-786
     Haig ordered Strathroy, Ontario's own Sir Arthur Currie, who in June had been placed in command of the Canadian Corps, to launch a frontal attack on the city of Lens. Instead of attacking the heavily-fortified city directly, however, Currie's studies of the land were enough to convince his British superiors that a better plan would be to capture Hill 70, directly to the north. If the significant hill could be taken, the Germans would have no choice but to counterattack. Currie thus planned for artillery and machine guns to smash the German concentrations in order to weaken their hold on the entire sector. 
     The Canadians attacked on 15 August and captured many of their objectives, including the high ground. They were then able to hold their positions despite 21 determined German counterattacks over the next four days. Subsequent Canadian probing attacks against Lens on 21 and 23 August were unsuccessful, but Currie's forces had inflicted severe casualties on the enemy and gained the high ground overlooking the city. 
     Ultimately, over 9,000 Canadians were killed at Hill 70, but an estimated 25,000 Germans were killed or wounded. Currie proved himself as an able and innovative commander, and his Canadian Corps soon moved north to assist Haig and his faltering Passchendaele campaign. 
Canadian troops inspect a captured German gun position near Lens, France in September 1917. Its concrete construction helped protect the defenders from bullet and shrapnel fire.
George Metcalf Archival Collection 
CWM 19930013-964
     On 15 August 2016, the Hill 70 Memorial Project commemorated the 99th anniversary of Canada's "Forgotten Victory" by recreating the photo used as the top of this post (which was taken at Hill 70) in tableau. It was staged in various locations across downtown Ottawa, with a piper leading the way to each spot. The event began at the Drill Hall at 11, and was seen at:
Valiants Gallery at 11:15-11:45
Parliament Hill at Noon to 1 pm
Sparks and Metcalfe at 3.30-4 pm
George Street near the Bay at 5 to 6 pm.
    Local Connections 
     As part of my research for the 100th anniversary of the departure of Elgin's own 91st Battalion, I was able to identify the battles at which some of our local veterans served. I wanted to include a list, with images where possible, of the Dunwich and West Elgin men who are known to have served at Hill 70. In doing so, I recognize that this is only a partial list, and hope that any readers with further information will share any additions to my database. 
William Doolittle, Dutton
William McNernie, Dutton
William Lodge, Iona
Leonard Munn, Dutton (wounded at Hill 70)

Ernest Rycroft, Iona 
Lance Corporal Wesley E. Sloan, Iona 
Leon Russell Auckland, Rodney
David Gill, Rodney
Frank Winfield Jannaway, Rodney
Hilton Day McNally, Rodney
Ross Farnham Peace, Rodney
Earl Russell Peace, Rodney 
George Henry Sayer, Rodney
Reuben Byfield, West Lorne
Roy Erskine, West Lorne
Boyd Erskine, West Lorne
Victor Earl Lemon, West Lorne
John Gyde, West Lorne

  Finally, I'd like to make special mention of the one local soldier who is known to have lost his life at Hill 70, William Harold Jacques. A native of Eagle, he enlisted in October 1915 and served at the Somme and Vimy Ridge with the 70th and 91st Battalions, as well as the 75th French Battalion. He was killed at Hill 70 exactly 99 years before this post was published, on August 17, 1917.

They were young, as we are young,
They served, giving freely of themselves.
To them, we pledge, amid the winds of time,
To carry their torch and never forget.
We will remember them

Special thanks to the Canadian War Museum for information and images, Lost Ottawa, and Elgin County Archives. Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Behind the Scenes with Ben - The Second Battle for Spicer Trail

The Second Battle for Spicer Trail

It had been a week sense the first attempt that Captain Buchanan and his MNR division tried to take back Spicer Trail which turned out to be a little bit and a failure with a huge accomplishment.  The failure of this was the MNR division had to retreat back to Backus-Page House to give Sargent Weed Wacker medical attention.  Their accomplishment was they had almost destroyed and pushed back all of Mother Nature’s tall grass and weed divisions.
 When it was time for the second attack for Spicer trail General Bobier had order Captain Buchanan and his MNR division to attack and destroy the remaining of Mother Nature’s tall grass and weed divisions.  Failure was not an option, Captain Buchanan and his MNR division planned to destroy all enemy divisions or die trying.
This time Captain Buchanan knew that all hostiles will be expecting another attack from the beginning of the trail where there was less hostile activity.  Captain Buchanan knew that the enemy would be expecting that so instead Captain Buchanan lead his MNR division threw Spicer Tail but starting at the back of Spicer Trail this time.
The second attempt to take control of Spicer was a lot shorter than the first but after a short little battle for Spicer Trail Captain Buchanan and his division had destroyed the remaining resistance of enemy influence on Spicer Trail and had claimed Spicer Trail again under the rule of Backus-Page House.  

Captain Ben

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Seedy Saturday- VEGGIES Part 1



    A teaspoon of sulphur placed at the bottom of each planting hole will acidify the soil slightly, thereby allowing the plant to use fertilizer more efficiently. plant peppers after all the danger from has gone and passed.      


    To keep the soil moist when planting lettuce seed, cut strips of moistened burlap, 4 to 6 inches wide. Place burlap on top of planted row. Keep the burlap moistened with a fine misting or sprinkling of water. Remove burlap at first sign of seeding sprouts. 


      WARNING!!! do not plant potatoes and tomatoes side by side, they do not like each other. counselling has not yet been made available for these plants. 

Credit to: Rodney Horticultural Society.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Vendors, Antique Tractors, Small Engines and Cars Wanted for Sept. 10-11

We're currently seeking the following people for our upcoming Heritage Farm Show on September 10-11 at Backus-Page House Museum.  If you can answer YES to any of the following questions then you need to send us your registration form.  

Do you have a business where you sell things?
Do you have some antiques or vintage items you would like to sell?
Do you make craft items to sell?
Do you have a vintage or antique tractor?
Do you have a garden tractor that is vintage or antique?
Do you have an antique car?
Do you have old farm equipment suitable for display?
Do you have friendly farm animals and pens for them?
Do you have a heritage or textile arts skill to demonstrate?

Go to our website for the registration form.  

Do you like to colour?
Do you make a great fruit pie?
Can you make 1850s minced meat?
Are you a vegetable or fruit gardener?
Do you knit, crochet, rug hook, paint, photograph or do any type of artwork?  

Go to our website for our colouring page and submission form.  There's prizes and ribbons for your contributions!!  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

World War Wednesdays: A Hateful, Beautiful Scene: The London Blitz, 1940

Firemen battle to control flames raging through a town house ravaged by a direct hit in 1940

     One thing I feel like we haven't talked about enough on this blog is the Blitz during the Second World War. Since we're coming up to another anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain, I thought it would be interesting to compile some of the coolest resources related to that iconic period in British history and hopefully give you a good overview.
Stiff upper lip: A man determined to keep a sense of normality reads a book on a park bench as a moored barrage balloon, designed to scupper air attacks, floats in the background and a second, right, soars above
     When the war began in September 1939 the British people were warned that air attacks on cities were likely and that civil defense preparations on a local and national level were already underway. Those who did have backyards built corrugated steel Anderson shelters and covered them over with earth. Larger civic shelters made from brick and concrete were established in British towns, and a blackout was rigorously enforced.
Wreckage: Workers wielding pick-axes and shovels are tasked with clearing away the remains of bombed building that would have once stood next to this Central London church
     Until late summer 1940, the German Luftwaffe (air force) had targeted RAF airfields and radar stations for destruction in preparation for a German invasion of the island. When the invasion plans were put on hold and eventually scrapped, Hitler turned his attention towards demoralizing the British population and forcing its leaders to come to terms. At around 4:00PM on 7 September 1940, 348 German bombers blasted London for two hours. Two hours after that, guided by the fires started during the first assault, a second group of raiders began a second attack that lasted until 4:30 the following morning. 
In this extraordinary picture, the double-decker bus is still visible amid crumbling tarmac and bent girders left in an enormous crater caused by a bomb which landed in the middle of a Balham high street, south London
      This marked the beginning of what the British press called the Blitz, the German word for lightning. For the next 57 consecutive days, London was bombed either during the day or night. The concentrated, direct bombing of civilian and industrial targets in Great Britain continued until May 1941, when the Germans began focusing their attention on the Russian theater.

     "They came just after dark... "
Ernie Pyle was one of World War Two's most popular correspondents. His journalism was characterized by a focus on the common soldier interspersed with sympathy, sensitivity and humor. He witnessed the war in Europe from the Battle of Britain through the invasion of France. In 1945 he accepted assignment to the Pacific Theater and was killed during the battle for Okinawa. Here, he describes a night raid on London in 1940:
"It was a night when London was ringed and stabbed with fire.
They came just after dark, and somehow you could sense from the quick, bitter firing of the guns that there was to be no monkey business this night.
Shortly after the sirens wailed you could hear the Germans grinding overhead. In my room, with its black curtains drawn across the windows, you could feel the shake from the guns. You could hear the boom, crump, crump, crump, of heavy bombs at their work of tearing buildings apart. They were not too far away.
Half an hour after the firing started I gathered a couple of friends and went to a high, darkened balcony that gave us a view of a third of the entire circle of London. As we stepped out onto the balcony a vast inner excitement came over all of us-an excitement that had neither fear nor horror in it, because it was too full of awe.
You have all seen big fires, but I doubt if you have ever seen the whole horizon of a city lined with great fires - scores of them, perhaps hundreds.
There was something inspiring just in the awful savagery of it.
The closest fires were near enough for us to hear the crackling flames and the yells of firemen. Little fires grew into big ones even as we watched. Big ones died down under the firemen's valor, only to break out again later.
About every two minutes a new wave of planes would be over. The motors seemed to grind rather than roar, and to have an angry pulsation, like a bee buzzing in blind fury.
Children sit among the rubble
of their home September 1940
The guns did not make a constant overwhelming din as in those terrible days of September. They were intermittent - sometimes a few seconds apart, sometimes a minute or more. Their sound was sharp, near by; and soft and muffled, far away. They were everywhere over London.
Into the dark shadowed spaces below us, while we watched, whole batches of incendiary bombs fell. We saw two dozen go off in two seconds. They flashed terrifically, then quickly simmered down to pin points of dazzling white, burning ferociously. These white pin points would go out one by one, as the unseen heroes of the moment smothered them with sand. But also, while we watched, other pin points would burn on, and soon a yellow flame would leap up from the white center. They had done their work - another building was on fire.
The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape - so faintly at first that we weren't sure we saw correctly - the gigantic dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.
St. Paul's was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions - growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield.
The streets below us were semi-illuminated from the glow. Immediately above the fires the sky was red and angry, and overhead, making a ceiling in the vast heavens, there was a cloud of smoke all in pink. Up in that pink shrouding there were tiny, brilliant specks of flashing light-antiaircraft shells bursting. After the flash you could hear the sound.
Up there, too, the barrage balloons were standing out as clearly as if it were daytime, but now 
Dec. 29, 1940 - St. Paul's Cathedral
emerges from the flames during
one of the most devastating raids.
they were pink instead of silver. And now and then through a hole in that pink shroud there twinkled incongruously a permanent, genuine star - the old - fashioned kind that has always been there.
Below us the Thames grew lighter, and all around below were the shadows - the dark shadows of buildings and bridges that formed the base of this dreadful masterpiece.
Later on I borrowed a tin hat and went out among the fires. That was exciting too; but the thing I shall always remember above all the other things in my life is the monstrous loveliness of that one single view of London on a holiday night - London stabbed with great fires, shaken by explosions, its dark regions along the Thames sparkling with the pin points of white-hot bombs, all of it roofed over with a ceiling of pink that held bursting shells, balloons, flares and the grind of vicious engines. And in yourself the excitement and anticipation and wonder in your soul that this could be happening at all.
These things all went together to make the most hateful, most beautiful single scene I have ever known."
   This eyewitness account appears in: Pyle Ernie, Ernie Pyle in England (1941), Reprinted in Commager, Henry Steele, The Story of the Second World War (1945); Johnson, David, The London Blitz : The City Ablaze, December 29, 1940 (1981).

     Many thanks to BBC History,, and the Daily Mail for the information and images used in this post. 
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)