Saturday, July 23, 2016

Seedy Saturday- Garden Tips




Garden Tips 


           Steeped tea mixed with water will bring out the green in plants. Roses also enjoy a drink of tea in mid summer. And in the British tradition, usually around 4 pm. 

           Lemon balm, marigolds and catnip will repel mosquitoes. Coffee grinds have a neutral pH and acts as a soil conditioner as well as attracting good earthworms . 

          Toad houses ( clay flower pots upside down with a hole punched in the side) and a pan of water nearby  will encourage toads to stay in the garden. Each toad will eat about 10,000 insects in 3 moths... plus lots of slugs.   


Toad house


Credit to: Rodney Horticultural Society
   

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Living History Weekend at Backus-Page House Museum


     Interested in military history? Passionate about supporting local events and making the most of the place we call home? Don't have air conditioning at home and looking for a cool lake breeze? Whatever your motivation, we are looking forward to having you join us this weekend for our Living History event. At just $6.00 per day, it promises to be an amazing trip back in time at great value!

     Gates open at 10:00 AM both days and will remain that way until 5:00 that evening. In the meantime, there will be lots to see and do. Check out the following agenda for more details:

     Saturday
10:00 AM- Gates Open
10:15- Flag Raising (a Civil War era military ceremony performed by uniformed re-enactors)
11:00- Civil War Surgeon
11:30- Rate of Fire Demonstration
12:30- 'For a Cause Beyond Borders': An Original Story of Elgin County in the U.S. Civil War, performed by Seamus Gunn
1:30- Civil War Surgeon
2:00- WWII Field Training Session
3:00- Sing-Along
3:30- Drill Comparison
4:00- Rate of Fire Demonstration
5:00- Retire the Flag

     Sunday
10:00- Gates Open
10:15- Flag Raising (a Civil War era military ceremony, performed by uniformed re-enactors)
11:00- 1860s Worship Service
12:00- 'The Best Navy that Never Sailed': An Original Story of Elgin County and the Fenian Raids, performed by Seamus Gunn
1:00- Civil War Surgeon
1:30- WWII Field Training Session
2:00- Drill Comparison
3:00- Rate of Fire Demonstration
4:00- Sing-Along
5:00- Retire the Flag

Besides those events, there will be Pioneer Crafts with Bard Judith, Old-Timey Stories with Granny Laura, local author Al McGregor, Pioneer Storyteller Seamus Gunn, the temporary exhibit Historic Unmentionables (located in the house), plus an appearance by Queen Victoria herself!

Also, don't miss out on:

     Check out our commercial here: https://youtu.be/qd_ylOT8PxA

See you this weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

World War Wednesdays: The Best of the West

Rodney area members of Elgin's own 91st Battalion (WWI). Front row: John Watson, Earl Peace, Bob Gray, Hilton McNally, and Jim Burnett. Back row: Jack Morelock, Albert McVicar, Leon Auckland, Jim Campbell, Frank Janaway, S. McIntosh, and A. Templeton. Archie Gray and Ross Peace are not pictured. All returned safely.
     After almost two years of Dunwich-centric posts related to both World Wars, I've finally realized that it would be of interest to readers if I paid homage to the brave men and women on the other side of the Dunborough, some of whom are my own ancestors. As a good general overview, I found a piece called "World War I and II Veterans" in a volume called Rodney 1870 to 1950 by John Sinclair Dorland, which was graciously provided by the West Elgin Genealogical and Historical Society and is available for consultation at Backus-Page House Museum. I thought I'd share the essay, along with my own little contributions here and there, so that we can showcase some of our hometown heroes and the best of the west.

WORLD WAR I AND II VETERANS
     In 1914, Canada, together with other British Commonwealth countries, followed Great Britain into a war with Germany. Although Canada had sent men to other wars Great Britain had been involved in, this was the first all-out effort to fight for the mother country.
    Many young men from Rodney and district volunteered to help fight, some paying the supreme sacrifice on the battlefields of foreign countries. 
     The home front did its bit also, with church groups Women's Institutes and other organizations and individuals sending clothing and food parcels to the Armed Forces and invaded countries.
     After the Armistice, and the men came home victorious, they formed the Great War Veterans Association with branches throughout Canada. In Rodney, they had a club room on the second floor of the T. F. Robinson building where, for a few years, they spent many happy hours reminiscing, playing cards and holding parties.
    Originally formed as a group of Canadian war ex-servicemen the association was dedicated to help veterans secure pensions and to the service of our country. It was because of their unceasing efforts that veterans of future wars were able to receive benefits equal to, or better than, any other allied ex-service person.
     For the year 1920, the Rodney and District Association elected the following officers: Thomas Lamb re-elected president; Alex Campbell re-elected vice-president; Hilton McNally secretary-treasurer; executive committee, Frank Janaway, Alex Colthart, James Burnett and Walter Terry.
     By the late twenties the association gradually went out of existence leaving veterans with no organization to present their cause to the government or anyone else.
     In June 1930, the first reunion since demobilization took place at the St. Thomas Armouries, with some 250 veterans from Elgin attending.
     Around 1932, the West Elgin branch of the Canadian Legion was formed, consisting first of World War I veterans from Rodney, West Lorne and Aldborough. Later, in 1936, veterans of Dutton and Dunwich joined. Some of the key promoters from Rodney area were: Frank Janaway, Dr. A. C. Steele, Tommy Lamb, Alex Colthart and Bill Katzenmeyer.
     Meetings alternated between West Lorne and Rodney, with family nights held and annual picnics at Port Glasgow.
     Formed in the depth of the depression it brought veterans together again who, like many others, were hit hard financially during the depression years.
     During these years, Jack McDonald of West Lorne, sparked a drive to collect cigarette packages which could be exchanged for toys for needy veterans and their wives to give to their children. Later the Poppy Fund was organized, with money raised for needy veterans.
     The first president of the West Elgin Legion branch was Earl Lemon of West Lorne, with Frank Janaway of Rodney as vice-president.
     When World War II started in 1939, the Legion organized and trained the Home Guard. In Rodney a platoon of volunteers was quickly formed with Dr. Arthur Steele as Acting Commander and Victor Campbell as the instructor. The platoon had weekly evening drills at the fairgrounds, where they were taught the rudiments of marching and taking instructions.
     In June of 1940 a unit of the Home Guard was formed by Aldborough, West Lorne and Rodney with Major James Black commander.
     For the second time within a generation the young men and women of the village and surrounding area volunteered for service for their country. Again, some paid the supreme sacrifice on foreign battlefields.
     When it was all over in 1945, and they came home victorious, there were so many veterans in the area they decided to organize a Rodney branch of the Canadian Legion.
     Land was purchased just west of Wights' Produce on the north side of Victoria Street and a new hall was erected in 1949.


John Watson
Elgin County Archives
     Seated in the front row of the first photo in this post is my three times great-uncle, John Arthur Watson. I had previously never thought I had any familial connections to the First World War, until I recently began creating a database of Western Elgin veterans and came across his name. After doing some digging among the family as well as some archives searches, I realized that he was indeed my great-great-grandfather, Robert A. Watson's, brother. John was born December 29, 1881, the son of Arthur and Mary Jane Murray, grew up in the Crinan area, and married Bell Williams. Their daughter Jean was born March 6, 1914 and he enlisted March 14, 1916. Remarkably, he was a guest of King George V on August 28, 1917 as a representative of Canada along with one man each from Australia and New Zealand, was wounded at the Somme and Vimy Ridge and invalided out of France back to England along with six other St. Thomas soldiers who had all met each other in hospital within an interval of five minutes. John returned home on December 17, 1919 and spent his later years in a small red house near the Rodney fairgrounds. His was a difficult and sad life, which seems to be a common memory among surviving relatives, but after a bit of searching I was able to uncover some amazing information about him and he remains a fascinatingly complex character in the family tree.

     I hope you all enjoyed this historical journey into the next township! As always, if you have any information to add about any of the individuals mentioned this week, I'd love to hear it. As long as you all keep reading, I plan to keep writing.
     Thanks for reading,
     Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Seedy Saturdays- Bush Tips



Bush Tips 

                  When variegated euonymus start producing green shoots, trim off all the green branches entirely. This will keep the variegation intact.

                     Lilacs need 8 hours of sun to thrive. DO NOT prune lilacs in the spring. After blooming deadhead the dried blossoms and remove the sucker. Top-dress with compost.

                     Alter the colour pink and blue hydrangeas by changing the soil acidity. In the spring add aluminium sulphate for blue blooms and add lime for pink blooms

Blue and pink hydrangeas 

  Tip: Trim all flowering bushes right after flowering 




Credit to: Rodney Horticultural Society. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

World War Wednesdays: "A Galaxy of Brains": Wallacetown's Wartime Shining Stars

The Keillor family outside the Wallacetown Cheese Factory ca. 1900, which they owned from 1883-1918
Elgin County Archives
     Through my current work at Backus-Page House Museum, I have had the honor of compiling research on our local area's veterans of the First World War. As I was working my way through the lists of names, I noticed that one name in particular seemed to be common in the Wallacetown area, and, being a Wallacetown resident myself, observed that there don't seem to be many traces of the family left in town. It wasn't until one of their descendants happened to stop in at the museum recently that I decided to pay a special interest to the family, and once I did there were many interesting stories to be found. I decided to compile some of their war-related material this week in the hopes that people will find it as interesting as I do, and of course with the goal of reaching relatives and family friends who have dispersed away from home. Without further ado, here are some anecdotes related to the Keillor family of Wallacetown, who made their community proud during WWI.

Wallacetown Woman at 82 has Knit 260 Pairs of Socks (ca. 1940-45)
Mrs. Ada Keillor, Mother of Great War Veterans, Helping War Effort
     Mother of four sons who fought in the last Great War, one of them paying the supreme sacrifice, Mrs. Ada Keillor, grand old lady of Wallacetown is setting an example by her war efforts. Eighty-two years old, Mrs. Keillor's busy fingers have not lost the knack of manipulating knitting needles, acquired as a girl in the pioneer district of Tyrconnell. Since the outbreak of the war, Mrs. Keillor has knitted more than 260 pairs of socks for men in the active services. Her score to October 31 of this year was 255 pairs- an average of more than ten pairs a month.
     Think of that effort by a woman who has passed the four score mark, who continues to do her own housework and also cultivates a neat garden during the spring and summer months.
     Mrs. Keillor, who is the widow of Alvro Keillor, well-known resident of Wallacetown for many years, knitted during the first Great War, just as she is knitting in this war. She knitted for her stalwart sons in the active service forces and she knitted for the sons of other Canadian mothers. 
     Truly a good and patriotic woman is Mrs. Ada Keillor, a charming and winsome old lady, a consistent Christian, a true friend and a good and loyal citizen of Canada. The people of Wallacetown district are justly proud of Mrs. Keillor and the record of war service she has achieved. 
Alvro Keillor with his wife Ada (Green) Keillor, on their wedding day, November 17, 1880.
Elgin County Archives
     In addition to her welcomed handmade contributions to the war effort, Mrs. Keillor also sacrificed four sons to the service, with one of them never to return. Here is the information on the Keillor boys, in addition to their photographs:

Captain Clifford M. Keillor
ca, 1918, Elgin County Archives
     Born June 11, 1891 in Wallacetown; served as a physician.

Captain Benjamin Franklin Keillor
Elgin County Archives
     Born August 23, 1881 in Wallacetown; residence listed as Dutton; next-of-kin Annie Maude Keillor, wife, of Dutton.

Frederick Anson Keillor
Elgin County Archives
     Born January 9, 1883 in Glencoe; residence listed as Edmonton; next of kin Martha Lillian Keillor, wife, Edmonton; served as a physician and surgeon.

Sydney J. Keillor
ca. 1915, Elgin County Archives
     Born in 1896 and enlisted on October 13, 1915. Served with the Canadian Infantry (Western Ontario Regiment) in the 18th Battalion and was killed on April 13, 1918. He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, grave reference XXIX.B.7A, and is commemorated on page 440 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.

     If, like me, you noticed a high proportion of medicine-related service in this family, you will be interested to read the following article on how the surviving Keillor boys made their careers after their return.

19 Native Sons of Wallacetown Studied Medicine
West Elgin Community, Which has Never Attained Status of Village, Has Given Many Brilliant Men and Women to Other Professions
By Medicus- April 9, 1952
     If a village in Elgin County were to boast that at least two of its native-born sons have studied Medicine, it could be proud of itself, because it is above the average of the whole country. It is surprising, then, to learn that Wallacetown, which never attained the status of a village, can claim that 19 of its sons have graduated in Medicine. Another source of pride [are] its nurses, lawyers, dentists, teachers and preachers (Baptist and Presbyterian), engineers, authors, professors in Canadian universities, politicians (a mayor of Toronto), contractors, successful businessmen and prosperous farmers. With such a galaxy of brains, it is not surprising that Wallacetown has been dubbed the intellectual centre of West Elgin (it is the home of the originator of The Outlooker column of the Times-Journal). 
     But back to the doctors. Alvro Keillor's family heads the list with three sons and a grandson: Dr. Ben F. Keillor, a retired Pension Medical Examiner of Ottawa, living in Vancouver; Dr. Fred A. Keillor, a successful surgeon and businessman of Edmonton (ex-alderman and mayor); Dr. Clifford M. Keillor, Canadian Pensions Commissioner of Ottawa, who hopes to retire soon to his home in Kingsville; and a grandson, Dr. Sydney Lucas, son of John and Ermyn (Keillor) Lucas, an intern of Victoria Hospital, London, Ont. ...

     I hope these local stories serve as a reminder of Wallacetown's golden days, while also representing the often-overlooked accounts of veterans' lives after they answered their final roll call. Articles and information are courtesy of the Wallacetown Women's Institute's Tweedsmuir History of Wallacetown, and photos are once again thanks to Elgin County Archives.
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Seedy Saturdays- Fertilizer


Fertilizer!

              Its Important to understand the numbers on fertilizer containers and how each number relates to the health of the plants. 


              First number is N for Nitrogen, Nitrogen encourages lush growth of the plants, e.g greening the grass. 
N-nitrogen 
                                   greening 
          

            Second number is P for Phosphorus, Phosphorus promotes flower production in flowers and flowering vegetables. 

P-phosphorus 
                                                       flowers 

              The Third number is K for Potassium, Potassium strengthens stems and root systems on the plants. 

K-potassium 
                                                    roots

                         


    Compost Recipe 

         mix one part moist ingredients such as 

            vegetable scraps and coffee grinds, including 

              egg shells, with three parts dry vegetation such as

         straw, dried grass, leaves, or news paper.

            DO NOT COMPOST SEEDS OR DISEASED PLANTS 


Credit to: Rodney Horticulture Society. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

World War Wednesdays: Friends in the Fight: WWI Pals Battalions

     Hello and welcome to the latest edition of "It's Totally Possible to Write Weekly Blogs About the World Wars for Almost Two Years and Never Run Out of Topics"! The First World War has been in the news a lot recently, especially in regard to the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, but I wanted to take a look at a unique topic that I hadn't previously heard much about. This week is all about the Pals Battalions, a uniquely British phenomenon whereby men were recruited to serve alongside their friends, relatives and workmates.

     A crucial fact which contributed to this concept was that Britain found itself as the only major power to enter the war without a mass conscripted army. After the war began, it became clear very quickly that the British army was just not large enough for a global conflict.

     Thousands of men began volunteering for service in Lord Kitchener's New Armies, propelled by patriotic fervor. It did not take long before it came to be realized that local ties played a major role in enlistment, and that many more men could be enticed to serve if they knew that they would be doing so among familiar faces.

     On 21 August 1914, the first of the Pals Battalions began to be raised from the City of London stockbrokers. Amazingly, 1,600 men joined what became the 10th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in just a matter of days. The phrase "battalion of pals" was first coined by Lord Derby, and recruited enough men to form three battalions of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment in only a week.

     Soon, Pals Battalions came to be synonymous with Northern British towns. Men from cities including Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Hull, Glasgow, and Edinburgh enlisted by the thousands in 1914 and 1915. In addition, the battalions were also raised from Birmingham to Bristol and from Cambridge to Cardiff.

     After being trained, the first of the Pals Battalions began arriving on the Western Front in mid-1915. However, most of them never saw major action until the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. Many of these units sustained heavy casualties, which had a major impact on the communities they left behind. As a result, the close-knit structure of the Pals Battalions was never continued after the introduction of conscription in 1916.

Here are some examples of the different Pals Battalions across Britain:
The recruitment of Pals battalions appealed to the complex local and national identities of men in Britain. Here the image of Field Marshal Sir John French, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, is used to appeal to men from Newcastle-upon-Tyne with Irish roots. Four 'Tyneside Irish' battalions were raised, as well as four 'Tyneside Scottish' battalions.
Volunteer recruits of the 'Preston Pals' parade in their civilian clothes in Market Square, Preston, on 7 September 1914. In two days, over 200 Preston men formed a company of the 7th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. They were joined by volunteers from Blackpool, Kirkham and Chorley.

A group of 'Leeds Pals' at their training camp in the Yorkshire Dales in September 1914, shortly after enlisting. A local benefactor gave the men pipes, but their uniforms did not arrive until November - reflecting how quickly Pals battalions had been recruited. These men became part of the 15th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment.

Recruits of the 'Grimsby Chums' (10th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment) pose with rifles, September 1914. Access to rifles so soon after joining up was rare due to the shortage of equipment, with new recruits often having to go without khaki uniform for several months.

Infantrymen of 10th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment (Hull Commercials) marching near Doullens, 28 June 1916. While this photograph shows men of a Hull Pals battalion clearly having been encouraged to smile for the camera, it does reflect the sense of optimism among the troops of the British Army on the eve of the Battle of the Somme.

Men of a support company of an assault battalion of the Tyneside Irish Brigade moving forward shortly after zero hour on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. This significant day was when many Pals battalions experienced their first major attack. The Tyneside Irish attacked near La Boisselle, suffering very heavy casualties.

     Major thanks to Imperial War Museums and their article "The Pals Battalions of the First World War" by Matt Brosnan, from which the majority of the photos were borrowed. This topic stands out to me as one of many heartbreaking stories related to the First World War, especially to the Battle of the Somme, and I hope that keeping the memories alive will do these men justice in some small way.
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)