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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I Love the 50's: Illness


Cholera was a major illness during the 1850's. Cholera is an infection of the small intestine. In 1854 an Italian doctor, Filippo Pacini figured out that there was an actual link between the bacteria of cholera and the disease itself. He discovered this by examining patients with cholera closely with a microscope. With the use of the microscope he was able to see "comma shaped particles", also known as vibrio cholera today, that he linked to causing the illness. 
Poliovirus was a dominant illness leading up to and throughout the 1950's. It is an illness that attacks the spinal cord and sometimes the brain. In 1949 David Bodian discovered there are 3 types of the poliovirus (sub-clinical, non-paralytic, paralytic). Vaccines for poliovirus began to come into play in the 1950's. Koprowski tested his vaccine on twenty children and as a result those children developed poliovirus antibodies and did not get poliovirus. The desire to get vaccinated increased tremendously after a polio outbreak in 1952 in the United States. A large portion of the cases during this outbreak resulted in paralysis, which motivated people to get vaccinated. 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Elgin County and the Second World War

World War Wednesdays: Elgin County and the Second World War
     Last week, I discussed a topic that I had recently covered as part of a final research paper assignment for my second year Canadian History course. Now that it is a new semester, these assignments are beginning all over again and I am taking on some exciting new projects that I would love to try and incorporate into World War Wednesdays. This week, as part of the Second World War series, I would like to discuss my current focus which is for my third year Second World War course.
     Back when I was studying history in grade ten at West Elgin Secondary School, I received a book written by local historian Blair Ferguson about the No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School which was located in nearby Fingal, Ontario. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was fascinated by its material and connection to my hometown. Now that I have moved to Ottawa to study, I have an increased interest in local history from home thanks to some cherished personal connections and works like the Ferguson book. After having attempted, with surprising success, to conduct research on a highly accessible major historical topic, I have decided to challenge myself further and take on a local history project relying mainly on primary documents and records. My area of focus will be on the impact of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and consequently the No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School, on the nearby communities during its operation, with specific interest in Port Stanley and Dutton and its surrounding rural areas.
     I have often heard that there are numerous areas around my hometown that were once host to far more than what currently exists. I've heard about the industry in Tyrconnell, the social gatherings and sporting events in Largie and Campbellton, the bustle of Rodney, and the numerous stores and schools which have now vanished. While this is incredibly unfortunate and significant loss for the area, there is still another major establishment which once made huge waves in our area but now seems to have vanished from our memory.
     The No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School was a unit of the British Commonwealth Air Training plan (BCATP), which was a central aspect of Prime Minister Mackenzie King's contributions to the Allied war effort during the Second World War. It was in operation from 25 November 1940, and yesterday, February 17, marked the 70th anniversary of its closure in 1945 (what better time to be focusing on it?) During that time, over 6,000 non-pilot air crew members graduated from the school. Its main station was at Fingal, covering the expanse of land which is now a nature reserve:

      The massive facility featured baseball diamonds and sports fields, which can be seen in this aerial photo. The school also was composed of bombing ranges in the nearby communities of Dutton, Melbourne, Frome, and Tempo, as well as a Marine Section in Port Stanley and a bombing and gunnery range on Lake Erie.
     There were also similar facilities located at the time in St. Thomas and Aylmer, Ontario.
     Being a component of not just a national but international Commonwealth operation, the Bombing and Gunnery School was host to men and women from as far away as Australia, as well as Americans who wanted a shot at fighting the Axis before the U.S. entered the war. As a result, these people found themselves in a small community environment which created a fascinating array of stories found in Ferguson's book, Southwold Remembers. Marriages were celebrated between locals and visiting air students, trainees and instructors found themselves interacting regularly with local farmers and community members, and local resources were accessed. What is historically significant about the school is its extensive records due to its own newsletter which was published monthly, The Fingal Observer. Through the examination of the school's own records, interviews, accounts, and local newspapers of the time, a major aspect of our community which has long been forgotten since it was torched to the ground seems to rise from its ashes.
     If anyone would happen to know of anyone from the area who has a recollection of events related to this topic (ie. bombing practice in rural Dutton, memories of the school itself), I would greatly appreciate some additional material. My goal is to cover as much as possible regarding this topic through this and other assignment projects in the hopes that this chapter of our local history may take up more of the book.
            As always, thanks for reading,

Monday, February 16, 2015

Media Monday

Happy Family Day 2015
I hope everyone is having a wonderful day with their families and friends!
Family was very important to people in the 1850s - especially on the farm. Families were much bigger than those today but more children were needed to ensure the work was done! Children started chores on the farm as soon as they were able and many children continued to help on the farm until they were married and left home (females) or some even continued the farm long after their parents had gone (males).
Families did much more together than simply work - they also spent time together like families today. Story telling was a favourite past time - usually older family members (grandparents/parents) would sit near the fire (especially in the winter) and the children would gather around the warmth. Here the grandparents/parents would create wondrous and fantastical stories that they would share with the younger children - these could range from fairytales, myths, legends, spooky tales, or simply stories from their childhoods back in Europe!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday and Tuesday Events at Backus-Page House Museum

Did you know Sunday, February 15 is the 50th anniversary of our Canadian Flag?  Come out to our Winter Family Fun Day to receive some free Canada Flag stickers, pins, bookmarks, and mini flags.  Stay to enjoy our indoor games and activities (all winter themes).  Take a photo with Olaf.  Temperature permitting there will also be outdoor activities and a snow sculpture contest (with prizes).  Warm food available for purchase. 

Tuesday, February 17th at 7pm is Family History Club.  Topic is Digitizing and Optimizing Old Photographs.  Bring photographs and a thumbdrive so we can assist you.  $5.00/person or Free for THS Members  RSVPs welcome.

Tuesday, February 24 at 7pm will be our regularly scheduled Family History Club.  Bring your research and laptop to get some work done.  Bring photos if you would like to use our scanner.  Use our resource library and get assistance from other's conducting their own research.  $5.00/person or Free for THS Members.   RSVPs welcome.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday Sightings

Saturday Sightings

Snowy Owl

We have a variety of birds that call the John E. Pearce Provincial Park home. In the summer the trees are alive with the movement and sound of thousands of different birds. In the winter everything seems to be so much more quiet. However, we still see a variety of winter birds that remain active and we see them regularly here at the museum. An impressive sight for us recently has been the sighting of snowy owls in our area. We have had employees see them in bean fields surrounding the property as well as sightings close to Dutton and Ridgetown.
Snowy Owls are beautiful creatures, the males have snow white feathers speckled with black spots on their chest and wings. Female Snowy Owls have a combination of white and brown feathers. Of all owls they are the only one that is NOT nocturnal - which means awake at night. Snowy Owls are seen active during the day hunting for mice in ditches and fields. These creatures have claws that can range from 25 to 35mm long which are perfect for catching large prey which can even consist of small foxes! Due to their colouration, Snowy Owls prefer habitats with snow so that they are easily camouflaged.
For more information on Snowy Owls check out this website:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Foodie Friday- Classic Herb Crescents

Classic Herb Crescents
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup small curd cottage cheese (slightly warmed in the microwave)
  • 1 tbsp. dried fine herbs
  • 2 tbsp. snipped chives or finely chopped green onion tops
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. In a small bowl, stir the warm water, sugar, and yeast together with a fork; set in a warm place to proof, about 10 minutes. In a mixer bowl, combine the cottage cheese, fine herbs, chives, soda, salt and egg until well blended. When the yeast is bubbly, stir it into the cheese mixture. Mix in approximately 2 1/2 cups flour until a stiff dough forms. If the dough is too soft, add the remaining flour as you knead it. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour.
  2. Mean while, preheat the oven to 350 F. Punch down the dough and transfer to a floured surface; roll out into a 13 to 14 inch circle. Spread the circle with half the melted butter, then cut into 16 triangles, like pie wedges. Starting from the bigger end, roll each wedge into a crescent.
  3. Transfer the crescents to a greased baking sheet and brush with the remaining melted butter. Let the crescents rise, uncovered, about 45 minutes, or until doubled. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm with unsalted butter.
Backus-Page House Museum

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I love the 50's: Women in the labour force

Contradictions of Women in the Labour Force

As noted women were expected to handle all of the domestic tasks within the home, such as cooking, cleaning and caring for the family in the 1850's as well as the 1950's. By completing these tasks women were doing their part in portraying the ideal nuclear family image. This post will specifically focus on the 1950's and explore how women were portrayed within the Nazi regime around this time. 
The Nazi regime displayed contradictions in Nazi gender policies, more specifically in the desired role for women. Originally the desired role for women was to stay home and complete duties within the home however, later the Nazis decided they wanted the women in Germany to be submissive mothers as well as active citizens. They wanted women to be the perfect and ideal mothers while still benefiting their country by being active citizens. Women were expected to attend the National Socialist Womanhood, which provided courses in things such as cooking and child rearing. The Nazis however, did not realize that in reality these courses were causing women to spend more time away from their family rather then being the ideal mother that the Nazis wanted.
 Originally the Nazi regime wanted women to stay at home and fill the ideal and perfect homemaker role, however, after the labour force shortage this expectation changed. After 1938 when the change in the labour policy was made women were starting to be encouraged to work outside the home as well as inside the home. This created a tension because now women had the pressure to work but also maintain the home and care for the children as they had before. This also created a contradiction because the Nazi party was strongly encouraging women to have a lot of kids to benefit Germany but this became less realistic when the Nazi regime wanted women to be working inside as well as outside of the home. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

World War Wednesdays: The Darker Side of Canada's War

World War Wednesdays: The Darker Side of Canada's War

Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in Berlin, with Swastikas in the distance
     When we left off last week, Canada had just entered the turbulent storm of the Second World War despite seemingly all efforts do avoid doing so. For all Canadians, this time meant widespread uncertainty and fear. The people knew very well what being at war meant for the country, having just experienced what they had thought was "The Great War", and were certainly not eager to relive such terrible memories. Before we get into the events of the war itself, it is important to also consider some of the situations which were also occurring during the outset of the war, both inside and outside of Canada.
(Apologies in advance if this post ends up being lengthier than usual, I just completed a massive research paper on the topic and I'm trying to make it sound as interesting as I find it!)
     When we returned two weeks ago, we focussed on the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. This event ties into this week's post, and I will soon explain how. In the meantime, consider this image of William Lyon Mackenzie King in Berlin, watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies (second from the left, in the light suit):


     William Lyon Mackenzie King was and still remains Canada's longest-serving Prime Minister, and was in office during some of the country's most difficult times including the Great Depression and the Second World War. He is most often remembered as being highly spiritual, having held séances to channel his dear departed mother, and owned a succession of small dogs all named 'Pat'. While all of this may be true to some degree, history allows us to know so much more about King. He kept a diary for the duration of his entire adult life, ranging from his time as a university undergraduate to his death in 1950. As a result, we know a great deal about him as a person, and for historians this is a fascinating concept (made even better by the fact that the entire diary collection is digitized on the National Library and Archives website). Thus, there is a large amount of insight into his own personal feelings about the major historical events which he experienced, and this is highly useful for understanding his major decisions and policies.
   A bit of background on King is important for explaining his actions later on. He was born in the Canadian city of Berlin, Ontario (which was later changed to Kitchener), which is a significant fact and reoccurring theme. After attending the University of Toronto in the 1890s, he became the Minister of Labour. From there he established a strong political presence which led to his becoming Prime Minister; a surprising feat considering his lack of charm and typical physical characteristics for popularity. However, he compensated for this by forming a strong belief system and consistently reinforcing it, ultimately proving people wrong on their judgement of his appearance.
King in 1899

     This quality would be put to the test during the late 1930s when the political climate in Europe became increasingly tumultuous. In June of 1937, King embarked on a "diplomatic mission" to meet with Adolf Hitler himself in Berlin, bringing with him a number of personal qualities which he shared with the Fascist leader, including musical preferences, a love of dogs, a strong bond with his mother, and an affection for solitude. Having spent time in the German city in his younger days, he was very fond of it, and reflected in his diary:
     "Seeing where I lived 37 years ago, the association with Berlin, etc., is all most remarkable. My thoughts went back to the earliest days in Berlin, Ont."

    When he met with Hitler, King presented him with a book depicting his childhood home in Berlin, Ontario, and told him all about the connections which he had with Germany. Hitler's feelings about the encounter are unknown, but King felt that it went very well:
     "My sizing up of the man as I sat and talked with him was that he is really one who truly loves his fellow-men, and his country, and would make any sacrifice for their good." (Diary, June 29, 1937) Hitler appeared to be "a man of deep sincerity and a genuine patriot." (Diary, June 29, 1937) King saw similarities between himself and Hitler, writing, "As I talked with him, I could not but think of Joan of Arc. He is distinctly a mystic .... He is a teetotaller and also a vegetarian; is unmarried, abstemist in all his habits and ways." (Diary, June 29, 1937)

     The important thing to take away from this event is that King ultimately praised Hitler's policies at the time (1937) and greatly admired him as a leader.

     Through an examination of Canadian immigration policy during the time , it can be said that King employed some of these shared beliefs in his own country's policies. When Jews began fleeing Europe to escape persecution, Canada's immigration policy regarding those of Jewish origin was that they belonged to a "Special Permit" group, which consisted of those people with the least desirable racial characteristics, making them least likely to fit into Canadian society and therefore a threat to Canadian culture. This policy was not changed due to the circumstances in Europe, and King even advocated for and defended it.
The SS St. Louis in Havana harbour

     This fact is exemplified in the case of the 1939 St. Louis Incident. On the morning of 13th May, the SS St. Louis departed for Havana, Cuba, from Hamburg, Germany with 937 Jewish refugees on board. It was the last chance for many of them to escape the concentration camps, and the plan was for them to live in Cuba until their names reached the quota list to enter the U.S. Previously, on 5th May, the Cuban president had closed the loophole allowing them to enter Cuba based on anti-Semitic sentiment, refusing to allow the passengers to disembark, and when the ship arrived anyway it was forced to remain in Havana's harbour as many groups tried to change the president's mind. At that time, the Germans used the case as leverage to prove that no nation wanted the Jews, therefore making it hypocritical for Germany to be criticized for the same thing.

     On 7th June, King was in Washington, and his response to the plight of the refugees was similar to that of America when he said that he was "emphatically opposed to the admission of the St. Louis passengers". Ultimately, the ship was denied from all ports and was forced to return to Hamburg. France, the UK, Belgium and Holland stepped in just before its return to admit shares of the refugees, but in the end only 240 of the 937 passengers survived the Holocaust. This tragic event put King's race-based immigration policy to the test and failed considerably on a moral level.

    As Canadians, it is difficult to imagine that something like this could be attributed to our famously kind and accepting nation, and we do not like to reflect upon this darker time in our history. Personally, I feel that events like this are crucial for showing us how far we have come as a nation since that time. I think that the best possible outcome of the St. Louis Crisis is that we can reflect on it today in 2015 and feel disbelief that it could ever have happened in the Canada we know. The best that we can do as people living in the legacy of these events is read about them, discuss them, never forget them, and continue to use them as lessons for the future.

     If you're still with me, I'd like to thank you so much! This is such an amazing outlet for me to share the things that I find interesting and/or am currently working on. I'm so lucky to be able to study what I love every day and be to able to share it with people who are also interested.
             Until next week,
            Delany Leitch

Monday, February 9, 2015

Media Monday

Happy Monday!

Upcoming on Sunday February 15th, 2015 
we are hosting a Winter Family Fun Day!
From noon to 4:30pm the museum will be open with indoor and outdoor activities,
crafts and games for the whole family!
We will have a bonfire and a marshmallow roast as well!
Bring your own toboggan and snowshoes if there is snow
We have a great toboggan hill as well as amply walking trails.
We will also be having a Snowman/Snow Sculpture building contest that day as well.
(Weather Permitting)
Judging will be done at 4pm, bring your own accessories.
There will be prizes for all those who participate as well as special prizes for
Best Historical Sculpture and Best Overall.

Prices for this event are $6 for Children and $3 for Adults.
There will be food and beverages available for purchase.

You are encouraged for RSVP for this event by calling the carriage house at
519-762-3072 or emailing

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday Sightings

Saturday Sightings

White Tailed Deer


As part of the John E. Pearce Provincial Park, the Backus-Page House Museum has a variety of wildlife that roams it's grounds daily. Even during the month of February we see winter animals regularly. A popular sight for us here at the museum would be the White Tailed Deer which run through our back field almost daily. Because we are a provincial park there is no hunting permitted, the deer must know that they are safe on our grounds because we have seen herds as big at 50+ at times in some of our surrounding fields. We have volunteers who drive in early in the morning to record sightings on the grounds as well as our staff which record sightings late in the evening before they finish their shift.
White Tailed Deer are named for their tails which have a white underside. This white area is clearly visible when the deer are sighted running because they flip their tails up.
The deer in our area enjoy the surrounding forest which serves for both protection against human interaction as well as severe weather. In the summer we regularly see one deer here and there. In the winter however, deer come together for survival and warmth during the cold winter months. Therefore, we see the deer in our area in great hoards - standing huddled together to survive.
For more information about the white tailed deer in Southwestern Ontario please visit:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Foodie Friday- Cheese Biscuits

Cheese Biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese 
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Instructions: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, onion, salt, thyme, rosemary, and red pepper; mix. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry blender until fine crumbs are formed. Add the cheeses and cream and stir until just mixed. Turn out on a floured surface and lightly knead 8 turns. Roll out, and using a 2 inch cutter, cut out 24 biscuits. Transfer to a greased baking sheet and bake at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. 
Backus-Page House Museum

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I love the 50's: Roles for Children

Roles for Children

In the 1850's jobs, tasks and roles depended on gender, even for the children. Men did most, if not all of the outside work while women took care of duties inside of the house. By around age 5 children were expected to start helping with the tasks either inside or outside of the home. The young girls would learn how to spin, sew, knit, work in the garden, care for the other children and of course cook. A typical duty for young boys was to help care for the livestock. At age 14 the boys were expected to be able to work a full day on the farm, usually in the fields. When the girls reached about age 14 they were expected to be able to complete any domestic task within the home. Parents relied very heavily on the children to help around the home and therefore, education was never really an option for most children. 
In the 1950's the roles of the children at home didn't really change as the focus was on the nuclear family. Every family was striving to produce the ideal nuclear family image. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Canada's Role in the Outbreak of the Second World War

World War Wednesdays: Canada's Role in the Outbreak of the Second World War
    Most of us know at least a little bit about the role that Canada played in the Second World War. We have family members and community members who were involved, and even if we don't always tune into the media regarding these topics, every Remembrance Day we reflect on the sacrifices made by our great country. My hope for this blog is that we can become better acquainted with what the generation before us really experienced during the war, and how these experiences fit in with those of the rest of the world.
     Following the crash of the New York Stock Exchange in 1929 the world experienced a time of economic hardship commonly known as the Great Depression, and Canada was no exception to the widespread suffering. Population growth in the 1930s reached its lowest point since the 1880s, the number of immigrants dropped to less than 12,000 by 1935 (consisting mostly of those from preferred countries only), and by 1933, 30% of the labour force was unemployed. Understandably, Canadians looked to their leadership during such hard times, and the people began to see the weaknesses in Canadian politics. In an effort to alleviate the effects of the Depression, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King utilized some of American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's programming ideas of the New Deal in order to create a social safety net: welfare. As a result of focussing on solving its domestic problems, Canada turned away from Europe and the issues that continues there after the First World War. Mackenzie King adopted another American concept, that of Isolationism, which meant that Canada would not become involved in foreign issues.
Unemployed men line up for free food during the Depression
     Even after 1935, the growing power and aggressive policies of Germany, Italy, and Japan were not of great interest to the Canadian government. Canada remained neutral when civil war erupted in Spain, and even Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany were not accepted (stay tuned for subsequent blogs regarding this).
     Two distinct phases are evident in regard to Canada's attitude towards another war. From the mid-1920s to 1937, people generally felt that war must be avoided at all costs. The First World War had been a devastating and drawn-out conflict which claimed the lives of almost an entire generation of young men, and the effects of the Depression left the country in no shape to be entering another such conflict. The technology developed in the First World War meant that new conflict would be devastating and costly. It was also popularly thought that Italy and especially Germany had been poorly treated in the postwar Treaty of Versailles, which crippled the country with reparation payments and loss of territory. It is also important to note that a fear of communism was particularly strong, a sentiment shared not only by the Germans. From 1937-1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain attempted negotiations with Hitler, which proved to Britain, Canada, and other sympathetic nations that negotiation rather than force could resolve the claims which were creating tension.
The famous photo of Neville Chamberlain shaking hands with Adolf Hitler
     By 1937, however, Mackenzie King recognized that war was possible. He also knew that he would be under strong pressure to back Britain in a future conflict should the country take any action.  As a result, some Canadian rearmament was undertaken after 1937, but King mainly focussed on avoiding war.
     Canada's neutrality was not the only thing threatened during this time. King's position as Prime Minister became under fire as it was clear that English and French Canada had very different views regarding war. Francophones wanted neutrality, since they had no connections to any European countries, and felt that Canada's involvement would be sticking its nose in where it had no business being. English-speaking Imperialists stood behind Britain and were willing to fight Germany. However, all of Canada was relieved by the policies commonly known as Appeasement in 1938, which allowed Hitler to have his claims of previously lost land areas on the grounds that he would be satisfied, making war unnecessary.
Neville Chamberlain famously waves Hitler's signature, proclaiming 'Peace in Our Time" and the end of German hostility
     While events such as this are now reflected on as having been horrifyingly naïve, they are reflective of the lengths that the world was willing to go in order to avoid the turmoil of another war. Unfortunately, hindsight and evidence tell us that this was just playing into Hitler's plan, as he felt that Germany's claims for power and restoration could only be won through war. On September 1st, 1939, Hitler's army attacked Poland. As part of Britain's pledge to defend Poland in the event of attack, Britain, and subsequently France, declared war on Germany on September 3rd. Mackenzie King called Parliament on September 8th and delivered a speech in favor of war. The Conservatives supported him, and on September 10th, the Parliament of Canada voted to declare war on Germany.
     The events that followed established a new Canadian identity on the world stage amidst the uncertainty and horror of the early days of war. Next week's post will pick up from here, and explore Canada's contributions and unique initiatives throughout the conflict.

As mentioned last week, I would like to hear more from readers! Have something you'd like to be discussed in a blog post? Always wondered about the how or why of a Canadian historical event? Send me your questions via commenting on this post, the blog itself, or the Backus-Page House Facebook page! I'll be posting a Q&A once I've gathered some questions.
                       Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Media Monday

Welcome to February 2015
February in the 1850s resembled the same activities that took place in January.
Winter activities on the farm basically sum up to doing everything that many people were much to busy to take care of during the spring, summer and fall months!
The warmer seasons were always more productive on a farm and therefore, some things would get pushed aside until winter.
One such thing usually pertained to fixing fences, buildings and the home.
A popular winter activity included stock-proofing the fields. This meant ensuring that the livestock could not escape the fields themselves which allowed for farmers to release their livestock onto harvested fields. The remaining crop shreds left in the fields could provide the livestock with forage for part of the winter months before hay and feed needed to be supplied as well.
Another activity included making post and rail fences - the posts would need to be implanted in the ground before the frost got too deep but the rails could be installed during the winter months.
Lastly, a rather important winter practice was called coppicing - which basically means woodland management. Farmers would tend to their woodlands during the winter months and this would then allow for lumber for buildings and fences to be provided. Coppicing also provided the farmer with their supply of firewood for the winter months. The main source of heat for pioneer houses was the fireplaces and therefore an ample amount of wood was necessary. Having had to clear the land completely upon settling in this area - many pioneers had an 'unlimited' supply of woodlands surrounding their farms.