Wednesday, August 31, 2016

World War Wednesdays: "Enemy Aliens" in Elgin, WWI

     Hey there, history buffs! This will be my first official post back in my usual home base, and I'm coming at you live from the Gatineau hills once again. I was quite sad to have to vacate my post at the museum, but of course all good things must come to an end, and my fourth year at university will be over before we know it! In honour of this occasion, I decided to more directly cover a topic we've briefly discussed a few times before, with a local connection, of course.

     During the early part of the First World War, all elements of the German presence in Canada experienced a major backlash. Public schools removed German language courses from the curricula, and some orchestras refused to play German music. When the Lusitania, a civilian ship, was sunk in 1915 with hundreds of civilian deaths, the popular sentiment officially became that Canada was fighting a singularly noble cause against a nation of barbarians. Nasty riots began to explode in cities like Victoria, Montreal, and Winnipeg, with German-owned shops and businesses being targeted.

     While things generally weren't as violent in our own neck of the woods during that time, all things German did receive a harsher treatment. I recently came across a story which highlights this point and sheds some light on the power of popular opinion in wartime.

Thomas Brothers, Limited St. Thomas factory ca. 1908
     When the Thomas family emigrated from Germany to settle in Rodney, five of their sons established a successful lumber company on the west side of Furnival Road, south of the railroad tracks. Then, in 1903, the business was moved to St. Thomas, east of Wilson Avenue between Chester and Elm Streets. The brothers also built a number of houses along Chester Street to house factory workers.The 1903 catalog advertises an array of products: pails, washtubs, keelers and refrigerator drips, washbasins, handy dishes, milk pans, barrel covers, bread trays, ice water jars, butter tubs and covers, spittoons, chamber pails (for hospitals and asylums), slop jars, bread and butter bowls, florists' vases, and flower pot saucers. The company used wood fibre to produce their line, which they marketed as the Lily Brand. In addition, the factory was referred to as being a broom factory, and the Backus-Page House Museum has one of their washing machines. The brothers really did manufacture everything but the kitchen sink!

    During the advent of the First World War, however, the company was boycotted due to the brothers' German heritage, forcing the company to close. Ironically, the factory complex was briefly used in 1916 as living quarters for members of the 91st Battalion, and the Battalion also maintained a recruiting office there. Unfortunately, the brothers were unable to recover and resume business after the war was over. Between ca. 1917 and 1923, the factory complex was rented to the Thomas Edison Co. for use as a phonograph company. After that, it stood empty until the 1950s when it was re-purposed for use as the Victor Gasket Co.

     The Thomas Brothers' experience was troubling and unfortunate, but not nearly as devastating for them as it could have been. Anti-German propaganda, stories of German atrocities abroad, and the fear of saboteurs drove many Canadians to expect protection from their government. This came in the form of incarcerating some 8,579 of those"Enemy Aliens" behind barbed wire  and forcing tens of thousands more to register with authorities and abide by strict rules for the duration of the war. 

     The Thomas Brothers story is just one of many to come of that period in our history, and the discourse regarding these issues remains heated to this day. Many thanks to the Canadian War Museum and Elgin County Archives for the content this week! If you want to view the Thomas Bros. catalog, here's the link:
Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Seedy Saturdays- Tomato,Tamoto

Tomato. Tamoto.

      Select a sunny location. Set out bedding plants in late spring when the soil temperatures have warmed up, after all the dangerous frost has passed. The soil should be deep fertile and well dug with organic matter. Stick the plants as deep as possible into the soil to create an enhanced root system. follow directions of the chosen variety. 

       Tomato yields can be improved by pouring a tablespoon of Epsom salts in the bottom of the hole ready to receive the plant. Plants can be fertilized with Epsom salts every week. Add additional tablespoons of salts for every foot of height of the tomato plant. Water regularly, as inconsistent soil moisture will cause blossom end rot. 

Credit to: Rodney Horticultural Society. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Remember to Register for the Heritage Farm Show

Heritage Farm Show is September 10 and 11 at Backus-Page House Museum but we need your registrations NOW!!!

NEW: Submit your creations by September 9 at 5pm and win prizes for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place.    
          ___ A fruit pie with recipe
___ 1850s style Minced Meat in a mason jar with recipe
___ Any type of craft or textile art with the theme “Out Standing in Their Field – A Farm Scene”
___ Colouring Page (supplied by THS and Backus-Page House Museum)
___ Vegetables you’ve grown 3 of a kind on stem with leaves
___ Fruit you’ve grown 3 of a kind on stem with leaves
___ Any painting, drawing, or photograph with the theme “Rural Roots”    

See our website for submission form and details.

If you have vintage or antique farm equipment or a classic car, please register using the form on our website.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

World War Wednesdays: "In-Flu-Enza": The Spanish Flu Epidemic, 1918-19

     I had a little bird,
its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
and in-flu-enza
-Children's skipping rhyme, 1918

     Some fascinating and tragic elements of the First World War are the devastating events that occurred on the home front during that period. After four long years of unprecedented global devastation, the war ended in 1918 with a raging influenza epidemic which was partly spread by soldiers returning home. Ultimately, at least 20 million people around the world succumbed to the disease, including an estimated 50,000 Canadians. 

     Uniquely lethal in its tendency to attack young, healthy bodies, the Spanish Flu was spread through bodily fluids and moved quickly through the population. It manifested itself through fatigue and cough but quickly escalated its attack, creating mucous build-up in the lungs that was impossible to expel. Victims of the disease could be dead within days of contracting the illness.

     The Flu came in three waves: the first in the spring of 1918, the second (and most lethal) in late August, and the third and final during the winter of 1918-1919. Contrary to its name, it did not originate in Spain at all. Wartime censorship meant that combatant armies did not release any information about the flu in an attempt to maintain civilian morale. Since Spain was a neutral party during the war, it had no reason to impose censorship, leaving Spanish newspapers free to report on infected citizens. As a result, Spain was tagged as being the origins of the virus. 

"The 1918 has gone: a year momentous as the termination of the most cruel war in the annals of the human race; a year which marked, the end at least for a time, of man's destruction of man; unfortunately a year in which developed a most fatal infectious disease causing the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all--infectious disease," (12/28/1918).

     Canada's flu dead included soldiers who had survived the fighting in Europe only to succumb to the disease upon their return to Canada. In addition, thousands of family members who welcomed them home also perished soon after their arrival. This horrible reality hit close to home in Dunwich Township with the death of returned soldier Harry Bateman Blue of Iona Station in January 1919, He is the only confirmed local soldier who succumbed to the virus according to my database and research this past spring. 
     In addition to the widespread fatalities, the epidemic caused severe social and economic disruption. Children were orphaned, many families found themselves without their chief wage earner, and armies on both sides of the war were temporarily debilitated. Businesses lost profits from both a  lack of demand for their products and a reduced workforce. In an attempt to halt the spread of the disease, municipal governments closed all services except those necessary, and provinces enacted laws regarding quarantine and enforced the wearing of masks in public. Although the Canadian population happily accepted these restrictions, it opposed the federal government's request that victory celebrations be postponed until December 1. 

     Although decreasingly virulent, the Spanish Influenza strain remained active in Canada until the mid-1920s. While crippling in the majority of its immediate effects, the epidemic is credited with leading to the establishment of the federal Department of Health in 1919. In addition, since pneumonia contracted by a patient who was weakened by influenza became a major cause of death, the discovery of penicillin greatly weakened the impact. 

Timeline of the Spread of Flu and Movement of Soldiers:
The Limits of Necessity: Public Health, Dissent, and the War Effort during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic notes the spread of the virus was connected to the movements of soldiers. This piece provides some great insight on the social climate at the time and the ways in which military efforts defined Canadian life. Some interesting quotes and notes follow.
  • “[Carol Byerly] suggests that military physicians and government officials were caught between their obligation to protect the public health and their duty to prosecute the war effort. According to her analysis, health and war became competing interests.” 
  • The first wave of flu broke out in ranks of Canadian Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium in May 1918,  and sickened Canadian soldiers stationed in England a month later 
  • Infected soldiers sailed for Canada on June 26 on the Araguaya, the last Canadian vessel to ferry wounded soldiers back across the Atlantic until the end of September 
  • Arrived at Halifax harbour on July 7, 23% of its soldier-passengers were infected.
  • ”The second and more deadly wave of the flu first appeared among American soldiers at Camp Devens outside of  Boston on 8 Sept. 1918. By the month’s second week, it had already spread across Massachusetts and into New York State.” 
  • 17 September→ broke out among Polish American recruits at a camp outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • 20 September→ soldiers began reporting sick at St. Jean Military Hospital.
  • “In the midst of this crisis, MacPhail requested her father’s permission to sign on for active VAD service. Now a certified VAD nursing assistant, she argued that the city was “crying out for helpers and being young and strong I feel I ought to” despite the fact that the flu showed "no respect for youth.” 
  • “In this era," Nancy Bristow argues, "there was a presumption that women, whatever their nursing qualifications, would put themselves in harm’s way to fulfill their natural caring role. Certainly, many women came forward to nurse influenza victims, despite the risk to themselves.” 
     Many thanks to the Canadian War Museum, The Canadian Encyclopedia, and the University of Waterloo's Department of Drama page, "Contagion, Pandemics, and Humanity" for the information and images used in this post. 
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

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)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Memorial Mondays: Ruth Wight and Colleen Bobier-Emrich

Last week was a tough one for the museum and the community.  We lost one of the founding members of Tyrconnell Heritage Society, Ruth Wight and also one of our past summer staff, Colleen Bobier.  Ruth served for years as the board Secretary and was one of the best raffle ticket sellers around.  She enjoyed coming out to our events and hearing what was new.  I will miss my annual Christmas visit with Ruth when I dropped off the memberships she bought for friends and relatives as Christmas gifts.  She always wanted to know what new projects were up for the next year.

Colleen worked as summer staff for three years and became a teacher.  I come across her work all the time in the accession binders where she described and made notes on the collection items that came in during her time here.

Quotes from Past Board Member Henry Dryfhout
"The value she (Ruth) brought to this organization was Unbelievable as a member and Secretary for many years. She never let the Society down.  The community has lost a very special person."
 Colleen "was not only a great employee of THS but also had a fantastic ability to impact many young people's lives in our community and she found a way to get them involved in Backus-Page."

We've dug through our photo archives to bring you some pictures of both women in the hopes you will take a moment to remember them and their contributions to Backus-Page House Museum.  
                                                                                               - Angela Bobier

Ruth Wight having her face painted on Canada Parks Day at Backus-Page House Museum, July 17, 1999

Ruth Wight (far left) at a War of 1812 event at Backus-Page House Museum

Ruth Wight (right) at the Backus-Page House Museum Victorian Tea May 20, 2000

Ruth Wight (seated, front left) at the Back Porch Country & Gospel event at Backus-Page House Museum, August 15, 1999

Ruth Wight (far right) unveiling the Landing of the Settlers painting at Backus-Page House Museum

Colleen Bobier at Canada Parks Day at Backus-Page House Museum, July 17, 1999

Colleen Bobier at Canada Parks Day at Backus-Page House Museum, July 17, 1999
Trish Hentz (L) and Colleen Bobier at the Victorian Tea at Backus-Page House Museum, May 20, 2000

Sarah Hentz (L) and Colleen Bobier trying on some museum collection pieces.  
L-R Sarah Hentz, Krista Ford, and Colleen Bobier on top of the three completed boardwalks for the Spicer Trail

This poem was read at Colleen's funeral and I thought it appropriate for both ladies.

The Dash – A Poem by Linda Ellis

PS To see The Dash Movie again click here
The Dash
by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end
He noted that first came her date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
© 1996 All Rights Reserved, Linda Ellis

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Behind the Scenes with Ben - The Battle for Spicer Trail

The Battle for Spicer Trail

Today we have heard reports that a battle has happened at Backus-Page House on the Spicer Trail.  General Bobier had heard reports that Mother Nature had sent in weed and tall grass divisions to invade what we know as Spicer Tail.
 In response to this General Bobier sent in Captain Buchanan who is under the command of the MNR battalion.  Captain Buchanan’s orders were simple.  Go in to enemy territory on Spicer Tail and destroy any enemy resistance.  Captain Buchanan had put together a small division from the MNR battalion which consisted of Sergeant Weed Wacker, Corporal Hard-Hat, Private First Class Safety Glasses, Private Garden Gloves, and Private Work Boots. 
As Captain Buchanan and his division set out towards Spicer Tail Colonel Leitch was left behind to guard Backus-Page House in case of a full scale invasion from Mother Nature from surrounding areas. 
Captain Buchanan and the MNR division headed into Spicer Tail and the battle lasted for about an hour until Sergeant Weed Wacker suffered an injury and an emergency evacuation was put into action.

Reports say Captain Buchanan and his MNR division have taken back half of Spicer Tail and little resistance remains until Captain Buchanan and his MNR division head back to calm the rest of Spicer Tail.

                                                                               Captain Ben

Seedy Saturday- More tips on gardening!

More Garden Tips 

          Sheep manure is not as strong as cattle manure and therefore poses less if a threat to burning plants. 
           Remove the bottoms of two-litre plastic pop bottles. Cut 3 or 4 small holes in the shoulders of each bottle. Bury bottles with the funnel ends down between plants (such as tomatoes) so when water is poured into the cut off bottom of the bottle, the water will go directly to the roots. 
            Borders of flowers and herbs planted around vegetable beds are both decorative and beneficial in deterring bugs (e.g. Marigolds, nasturtiums, white and red geraniums basil and others). 


To get real enjoyment from gardening,
 put on a straw hat, dress 
hold a towel in one hand,
 a cool drink in the other and
 tell someone else where to dig! 

Credit to: Rodney Horticultural Society.