Friday, June 22, 2018

Set up for Living History Weekend June 23rd & 24th

We are all getting really excited here at the museum, Living History Weekend is tomorrow and Sunday, and we cant wait for you to be on site. Don't forget that the house is open for tours, with special exhibits on WWII, pictures below are a sneak peak of what you will see inside the house. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tourism Thursdays

Tourism Thursdays 

Join the Elgin County Railway Museum on June 24th from 10am to 4pm for Railway Nostalgia Day and Train Hobby Show
Celebrate our railway heritage at this fun, family friendly event which includes: railway artifacts, photographs and demonstrations, railway equipment and rolling stock exhibits, model railway displays and hobby show vendors, and railway art and children's activities.
Admission is $8 plus HST for adults and $4 plus HST for children (aged 3 to 14). 
Phone: (519) 637-6284
Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 10:00 to 16:00
225 Wellington Street
St. Thomas, ON N5R 2S6


Save the date! Come celebrate Gay Lea Food's amazing 60th Anniversary at this year's Co-opalooza! FREE admission and activities for all at this family-friendly event. All GLF members, staff and their families are invited to partake in this fun-filled day of games, attractions, food and friends at our beautiful 98-acre Dairy Museum!
The event will feature: food trucks, trail hikes, team games, antique car show, arts & crafts, local artisans, attractions, local breweries, bubble soccer, axe throwing, tree rope climbing, bouncy cow & inflatable rock climber, museum tours, ice cream samples and more!
We look forward to seeing you all on Saturday, June 23rd from 11am to 4pm!
Phone: 1-888-773-2955
Saturday, June 23, 2018 - 11:00 to 16:00
48075 Jamestown Line
Aylmer, ON N5H 2R2

Military drills, displays, vendors, food and hands on activities from many historical time periods with this year's focus being World War 2.
(519) 762-3072
Saturday, June 23, 2018 - 10:00 to Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 16:00
Backus Page House
29424 Lakeview Line
Wallacetown, ON N0L 2M0

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trailblazer Tuesdays

Trailblazer Tuesdays

      Global warming may be putting animal populations around the world at risk, but the second most dangerous threat might surprise you. After habitat loss, invasive species pose the single greatest threat to biodiversity worldwide. With few natural predators and higher rates of reproduction, invasive species have the capacity to seriously damage their surrounding ecosystem, causing native species to expatriate and even become extinct. And while Australia usually bears the brunt of jokes about invasive species (remember The Simpsons episode where Bart unleashes toads on the country?), there’s no shortage of them in Canada.
     Here are some of Canada’s invasive species, all of which pose a considerable threat to our country’s habitat and native animal populations.

Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer was first detected in Windsor in 2002 and originated in eastern Asia. Extremely difficult to detect early, this invasive species has killed tens of millions of ash trees since its arrival. The larvae burrow through the inner bark while the young beetles feast on the leaves, effectively killing the ash tree. In banning the movement of firewood, provinces across Canada are hoping to stop the colonization of these pests.

Zebra Mussels
Zebra Mussels were first documented in Canada in the late 1980s. In just over 20 years, their presence has exploded throughout the Great Lakes. A female mussel can produce more than one million eggs per year. The result is a population that has altered the food web dramatically, reducing populations of algae and plankton, which native species need to feed on.

Asian Carp
Once established in an eco-system, these fish—which can grow to be more than 100 pounds—are virtually impossible to eradicate. Right now, the focus remains on preventing the fast-growing, aggressive, and highly adaptable species from entering the Great Lakes.

Let’s call didymo for what it truly is; rock snot. With confirmed cases in Alberta, British Columbia, the Maritimes, and Quebec (where it has grown in fast-flowing cold water environments) the invasive species isn’t spreading as quickly as was feared. Still, it is putting fish populations at risk by making it more difficult for eggs to survive their incubation period.

Round Goby
It may have a cute name and be diminutive in size, but this freshwater fish is still to be feared. In less than a decade it’s spread to all five Great Lakes, where in some areas there are more than 100 fish per square metre, dramatically altering the food systems. Worse, it’s also believed that the goby may be linked to outbreaks of botulism in fish and fish-eating birds.

Giant Hogweed
Not only is this Southwest Asian plant damaging to its surrounding habitat by shading out native plants, but it’s so dangerous that it can also make you go blind. No, really. The giant hogweed, which is becoming increasingly common in Southern and Central Ontario, contains toxins that can cause severe inflammation of the skin and even temporary blindness.

Eastern Grey Squirrel
They may be cuter than some of the other species on this list but Eastern grey squirrels are considered one of the top 100 invasive species in the world. They displace native birds, compete with native mice and voles, and pose a threat to Garry Oak ecosystems by damaging and killing trees by stripping the bark.

Phragmites are a part of the iconic wetland scenery; watching the breeze through this tall grass is a relaxing and hypnotic experience. Sadly, an invasive subspecies from Eurasia has been running rampant in Ontario, chocking out native species critical for the health of the wetlands. Not only does it out-compete other species for valuable nutrients and water, but it also releases toxins that can kill surrounding plant-life.
This invasive species has proved tricky to combat. Largely, this is due to the myriad of similarities with the native Phragmites. Generally, the invasive species grow taller (up to 15 feet), grow in dense clumps, and have tan stems compared to the reddish-brown stems of the native kind.

invasive species Ontario
cottage life 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

See YOU at Living History Weekend June 23-24 2018

Where else can you find 200 years of history all in one place with a focus on WW2 in Western Elgin?  No where but Backus-Page House Museum on June 23-24, 2018.  Gate open 10am - 4pm each day.  Admission $8/person with children 12 and under free.  Cash preferred, but credit cards accepted.  Food, music, tacticals, singalong, storytelling, speakers, gift shop, merchants, museum tour, barn tours and more!  Thank you to the Government of Canada and our sponsors. 

Still looking for volunteers to assist with setup, gate, food booth, and more.  Contact Angela at 519-762-3072 or 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trailblazer Tuesdays

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             Lake Erie is the warmest of all of the Great Lakes, but it also freezes over more than the other lakes. It is the fourth largest when measured in surface area, with round 25,700 square kilometers and the smallest by water volume, with 484 cubic km. Lake Erie touches four U.S. states; New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. As the southernmost of the Great Lakes, the majority of Lake Erie's water flows in through the Detroit River from the upper lakes ; Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron ; as well as tributaries such as the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair. Its main outlet is Niagara falls The Niagara River, the source of the falls, runs 58 kilometers and connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Lake Erie has a tail-like shape, which is reflected in its name, which is derived from erielhonan, the Iroquoian word for "long tail."  Due to its southernmost position, Lake Erie is the warmest of all of the Great Lakes. While temperatures have reached as high as 85 F (29 C), water temperatures are generally in the low 70s F (21 C to 24 C) during the summer months, making Lake Erie a popular recreational area. 
            During the winter, water temperatures reach freezing, and the lake freezes over more than the other Great Lakes because of its shallowness. Its average depth is 19 m and its maximum depth is 64 m.Water levels are 7.6 to 9.1 m in the lake's shallowest area, making it possible for strong winds to kick up fairly powerful waves.Lake-effect snow has a huge impact on the surrounding communities.Like all of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is basically a divot formed from a moving glacier and is relatively young; less than 4,000 years old in its current configuration.Several native peoples lived on lake's shores, including the Erie tribe and the Iroquois. Lake Erie was the last of the Great Lakes to be explored by Europeans. French explorer Louis Joliet "discovered" the lake in 1669. The lake also played a pivotal role in the War of 1812.
           By the 1960s, Lake Erie had become sort of a "poster child" for water pollution. Pollutants from factories, waste from city sewers, and fertilizer and pesticides from farms made their way to the lake. As a result, levels of phosphorus and nitrogen increased, which led to algae blooms. The toxic algae caused "dead zones" by depleting the oxygen, and dead fish littered the shoreline. And in 1969, the Cuyahoga River, which flows through Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire. The federal government responded to this situation by passing the Clean Water Act in 1972. The law tightened regulations on industrial dumping. While the water quality of Lake Erie has much improved, the lake continues to be prone to algae blooms and still has dead zones. 
Lake Erie also has its own legendary lake monster , Bessie, which is mostly likely a huge sturgeon.

Sabrina Merks 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Tourism Thursdays

What's Happening this Weekend in Elgin County? 

Come out and enjoy entertainment, yard sales, rhubarb pie, actions, local baked goods as well as the famous Ice Cream with Rhubarb Sauce.
Date: Friday, June 8, 2018 (All day) to Sunday, June 10, 2018 (All day)
Location: Shedden Keystone Complex

Someone has murdered the town crier at the Highland games. Get your tickets now for this murder mystery dinner.  
Menu:  Scotch Eggs, 
                Country Baked Beans,
                Roasted triple A Angus Beef,
                Scottish Colcannon Potatoes,
                Parsnips & Carrots,
                Cranachan Triffle
Date: Friday June 15th 6pm & Saturday June 16th 6pm
Location: Dutton Dunwhich Community Centre 

Cast adrift by his fianc├ęe, Doctor Sean is looking to "escape for a while", and Junior's Caf├ę in Stewiake, NS seems to be the perfect refuge. What he hasn't prepared for is a quartet of diner divas set on giving him a truly east coast welcome! Romance, gossip, bawdy tales, and the true meaning of friendships that last forever. A masterful new Canadian comedy classic by Canada's favourite play write.
Showtimes: 2pm & 8pm performances.
See website for specific show hours.
Phone: (519) 782-4353
Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 14:00 to Saturday, June 30, 2018 - 22:00
Location: Port Stanley Festival Theatre

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Trailblazer Tuesdays

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       Ontario boasts eight turtle species, which is more than any other province in Canada. But that’s in danger of changing; of the eight species, seven are at risk. What humans have done through contributing to habitat loss, hunting, and poaching, is target adult turtles. That increased adult mortality is actually what’s driving the population down. This, combined with the fact that few young turtles live to adulthood; only seven of every 10,000 snapping turtle eggs; means that species are being driven toward endangerment. You’re most likely to spot turtles in marshy areas where there is native aquatic plant life. But during nesting season, which runs from late May to early July, you’ll also spot them crossing roads and in sandy or gravel areas. Spring is important time to watch for turtles. If you can save one turtle by moving it off the road, that makes a big difference to the overall conservation of the species. Take a picture of the turtle with your phone and upload it to Ontario Nature’s Reptiles and Amphibians Atlas, which features the most up-to-date maps of turtle species across Ontario.
If you see an injured turtle don't be afraid to contact 
they will be able to help save and rehabilitate the turtle. 

1. Blanding’s Turtle
  • Unlike snapping turtles, which have yellow spots, look for a bright yellow chin and throat.
  • If you spot a turtle eating on land, it might be a Blanding; most aquatic turtles feed exclusively in the water.
  • They’re also likely to be seen on the move; Blanding’s make the largest overland movement of any Ontario turtle to move from their summer nesting spots to overwintering habitat.
Fun fact: These turtles can live to be 75.

2. Eastern Musk Turtle
  • With an upper shell that is brown with black flecking and a yellowish lower shell, these guys are easily confused with painted turtles, snapping turtles, and Blanding’s turtles. However, this small turtle only reaches a maximum length of 13 cm.
  • Keep an eye out for a light stripe above and below the eye on each side of the head in adult turtles.
  • Generally nocturnal creatures, Eastern musk turtles also rarely swim.
Fun fact: This turtle is named for the odour it emits when it’s threatened, which; you guessed it; is strong and musky. It’s also called “stinkpot.”

3. Midland Painted Turtle & Western Painted Turtle 
  • Painted turtles feature distinctive black shells with dark red or orange markings. No other species native to Ontario claims these colours.
  • Easily spotted on the move, painted turtles will move over large areas overland in search of nesting sites.
  • These are the only non-threatened turtle species in Ontario, but they are still susceptible to the threats that face other turtles.
Fun fact: With a natural “antifreeze” that prevents them from freezing, these turtles can survive temperatures as low as -9┬║ C.

4. Northern Map Turtle

  • Named for its markings, this turtle has contour lines on its upper shell that look like a topographical map.
  • They also feature a yellow spot behind their eyes. Don’t confuse them with snapping turtles though; snapping turtles are larger and lack the distinctive shell markings of the map turtle.
Fun fact: One of the largest threats to this turtle’s pollution is water pollution. It can cause mass die-offs of mollusks, one of their primary food sources.

5. Snapping Turtle
  • The most prehistoric-looking of all of Ontario’s native species, the snapping turtle has triangular spikes along its tail.
  • Most likely to be confused with musk turtles, snapping turtles are significantly larger and grow up to 47 cm long.
  • Not the strongest of swimmers, these aquatic turtles are usually observed walking on the bottom of small ponds and rivers or crossing roads.
Fun fact: Most Ontario turtles only lay somewhere between three and 15 eggs. The snapping turtle lays around 50.

6. Spiny Softshell 

  • As the name implies, the softshell turtle has a soft, leathery shell.
  • A long snout makes this peculiar-looking creature unmistakable from its counterparts.
Fun fact: With the ability to get nearly half the oxygen they require by breathing through their skin in the water, they’re able to stay submerged for up to five hours.

7. Spotted Turtle

  • The spotted turtle features orange-yellow markings on its limbs, neck, and legs. However, it’s most clearly identifiable from the yellow spots marking its shell.
  • While males have dark eyes and a dark chin, females of this species have orange eyes and a yellow chin.
Fun fact: Unlike most other turtles, spotted turtles spend the summer or dry season in a state of inactivity to avoid hot dry weather.

8. Wood Turtle

  • With a highly sculpted upper shell, Ontario Nature calls this species “one of Ontario’s most attractive turtles.”
  • The neck, chin and and front legs are a vivid orange-yellow colour.
  • Like their name implies, these turtles are likely to be found in woodlands or floodplains during the summer months.
Fun fact:  They’re considered extremely intelligent and have been documented using creative methods to get their food, including stamping their feet to cause earthworms to come to the surface.

Sabrina Merks