Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tourism Thursdays: September is Practically Here

🍂🍁September is Practically Here🍁🍂

           When September is fast approaching that normally means that the Heritage Farm show, Rodney and Wallacetown fairs are almost here.  
  The Annual Heritage Farm Show at The Backus-Page House takes place September 9th&10th. Come and see a variety of heritage skills being demonstrated, explore your rural roots and experience the living history museum first hand. Tractors, displays, poultry and cattle with be there. Its also a great time for the kids, enjoy carnival games and vendors as well this year at the farm show. The Back Pages Band is playing 12 – 4pm on Saturday, September 9. The Pierce Family Band is playing 12 – 4pm on Sunday, September 10

           The Rodney Fair! September 15th-17th. The Fair includes tractor pull, parade, sheep show, miniature horse and cattle show, demolition derby and tons of entertainment. Its a great time with great food , filled with amazing family fun!

        Bring the whole family out for great entertainment, agriculture, rides, tractor pull and much more! At the Wallacetown Fair, September 29th - October 1st. This years entertainment include, the tractor pull, fair ambassador competition, Mud Men, demolition derby, midway rides, Marshall Dane, horse racing, agri-magic show, baby show, cooking with John and so much more!

Thanks for reading
Sabrina Merks

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

World War Wednesdays: In the News: The USS Indianapolis

USS Indianapolis in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1937. US Navy Photo
     Among the many hot topics to hit the airwaves in the past few weeks was the discovery of the WWII USS Indianapolis wreck at its final resting place in the Philippine Sea. In the spirit of this remarkably tragic piece of American history, I've elected to discuss the life and legacy of its captain, Charles McVay III, in the hopes of a renewed discussion of the story's human element.
U.S. Naval Institute
      Capt. Charles McVay III was a 1920 graduate of the US Naval Academy and a career naval officer with an exemplary record, whose father had commanded the Navy's Asiatic Fleet in the early 1900s. Before taking command of the Indianapolis in November 1944, he was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the combined chiefs of staff in Washington, the Allies' highest intelligence unit. According to, "Captain McVay led the ship through the invasion of Iwo Jima, then the bombardment of Okinawa in the spring of 1945 during which Indianapolis anti-aircraft guns shot down seven enemy planes before the ship was struck by kamikaze on March 31, inflicting heavy casualties, including 13 dead, and penetrating the ship's hull. McVay returned the ship safely to Mare Island in California for repairs.

     On July 16, 1945, the Indianapolis sailed from California with a top secret cargo to Hawaii for refuelling, then to Tinian where it unloaded its cargo, the uranium and major components of the atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay on August 6. The Indianapolis was then routed to Guam that the seeds for the destruction of the Pacific had long since ceased. The Japanese surface fleet no longer existed as a threat, and 1,000 miles to the north preparations were underway for the invasion of the Japanese mainland. These conditions resulted in a relaxed state of alert on the part of those who were to route the Indianapolis across the Philippine Sea." includes a list of evidence as to the details of the ship's fateful final journey:

  • Although naval authorities at Guam knew that on July 24, four days before the Indianapolis departed for Leyte, the destroyer escort USS Underhill had been sunk by a Japanese submarine within range of his path, McVay was not told.
  • Although a code-breaking system called ULTRA had alerted naval intelligence that a Japanese submarine (the I-58 by name which ultimately sank the Indianapolis) was operating in his path, McVay was not told. (Classified as top secret until the early 1990s, this intelligence -- and the fact it was withheld from McVay before he sailed from Guam -- was not disclosed during his subsequent court-martial.)
  • Although no capital ship (unequipped with antisubmarine detection devices such as the Indianapolis) had made the transit between Guam and the Philippines without a destroyer escort throughout World War II, McVay's request for such an escort was denied.
  • Although the routing officer at Guam was aware of dangers in the ship's path, he said a destroyer escort for the Indianapolis was "not necessary" (and, unbelievably, testified at McVay's subsequent court-martial that the risk of submarine attack along the Indianapolis's route "was very slight").
  • Although McVay was told of "submarine sightings" along his path, none had been confirmed. Such sightings were commonplace throughout the war and were generally ignored by navy commanders unless confirmed.
    "Thus, the Indianapolis set sail for Leyte on July 26, 1945, sent into harm's way with its captain unaware of dangers which shore-based naval personnel knew were in his path. Captain McVay's orders were to "zigzag at his discretion." Zigzagging is a naval maneuver used to avoid torpedo attack, generally considered most effective once the torpedoes have been launched. No Navy directives in force at that time or since recommended, much less ordered, zigzagging at night in poor visibility. At about 11pm on Sunday night, July 29, the Indianapolis traveling alone was about halfway across the Philippine Sea. There was heavy cloud cover with visibility severely limited. Captain McVay gave orders to cease zigzagging and retired to his cabin. Minutes later the ship was  spotted as an indistinct blur by Japanese submarine commander Mochitura Hasimoto of the I-58. It was coming directly toward him from the east. Shortly after midnight the ship was struck by two torpedoes and sank in about twelve minutes. 

     When the ship failed to arrive at Leyte on Tuesday morning, a series of blunders ensued. First, there was confusion as to which area the Indianapolis was to report when it arrived. Second, there was no directive to report the non-arrival of a combatant ship. And, third, there was no request to retransmit a garbled message which would have clarified the Indianapolis' arrival time. As a result, the surviving crew of the Indianapolis was left floating in shark-infested waters until 11am on Thursday, August 2, when Lt. Wilbur C. Gwinn, the pilot of a Ventura scout-bomber, lost the weight from his navigational antenna trailing behind the plane, a loss which was to save the lives of 316 men. While crawling back through the fuselage of his plane to repair the thrashing antenna, Gwinn happened to glance down at the sea and noticed a long oil slick. Back in the cockpit, Gwinn dropped down to investigate, spotted men floating in the sea, and radioed for help. At 3:30 that afternoon Lt. R. Adrian Marks, flying a PBY Catalina, was the first to arrive on the scene. Horrified at the sight of sharks attacking men below him, Marks landed his flying boat in the sea, and, pulling a survivor aboard, he was the first to learn of the Indianapolis disaster."

     Capt. William J. Toti, USN (Retired) describes the legal scandal that ensued:         "The Indy controversy erupted in August 1945, just after the atomic bombs were dropped. The American public was outraged at the loss of more than 800 lives in the waning days of the war, and a Navy court of inquiry was convened to investigate. Its recommendation was that Captain McVay be court-martialed for hazarding his vessel by failure to zigzag, but Admiral Chester Nimitz disagreed and instead issued the captain a letter of reprimand. Admiral Ernest King later overturned Nimitz’s decision and recommended a court-martial, which Secretary of the Navy Forrestal later convened.
In doing so, King intervened directly with the Secretary of the Navy to move forward with the court-martial in parallel with an investigation by the Inspector General (IG). But a court-martial is a trial, not an investigatory tool. If King’s problem was simply a lack of information, why didn’t he allow the Inspector General to issue his report before ordering the court-martial? Some believe it is because King was not satisfied that the IG’s conclusions would support his decision to court-martial.
The Navy Judge Advocate General also was asked to review the referral. His response contained the curious statement that the charges included in the initial referral were “the only ones that can be supported,” as if an agenda was at work to establish a greater foundation for prosecution. Whatever the truth, this statement certainly creates the perception that the Judge Advocate General was under direction to discover more charges to refer against McVay.
     In the end, McVay was charged with two counts: suffering his vessel to be hazarded by failing to zigzag, and failure to order abandon ship in a timely manner. His counsel, reportedly hand-picked by King, had never argued a case in court before. The court claimed that McVay was not being charged for any deficiency that led to the sinking of his ship. They made a strong case that the “Indianapolis was hazarded before she was ever detected by I-58, and would have been hazarded if she had never been detected by I-58.” In essence, McVay could have been found guilty in a court– martial even if his ship had not been sunk. This is a meaningless legal distinction, however, since absent the sinking, there would have been no way for anyone to know that the vessel had been hazarded.

     Hence, despite the fact that McVay was convicted only on the first count—for suffering his vessel to be hazarded by not zigzagging—there is no way to escape the fact that Captain McVay was court-martialed for having his ship sunk. Put all these facts together, and it is understandable why most of the survivors believe that Admiral King was doing all he could to tilt the scales of justice against McVay. Even Admiral Nimitz later would say to one survivor that the entire affair involving the court-martial was a mistake and should never have happened."
     From a statement submitted at a September 1999 Senate hearing by Paul J. Murphy, USS Indianapolis survivor: "The charge upon which he was convicted for failing to zigzag contained a phrase 'in good visibility.' The visibility that night was NOT good as all of us know who were there that night."

     Like Murphy, many of Indianapolis's survivors said that McVay was not to blame for the sinking, the families of some of the men who died thought otherwise. One piece of mail read: "Merry Christmas! Our family's holiday would be a lot merrier if you hadn't killed my son." The guilt that was placed on McVay's shoulders mounted until he committed suicide in 1968, using his Navy-issued revolver. He was discovered on his front lawn with a toy sailor in one hand. He was 70 years old.
     In 1996, sixth-grade student Hunter Scott began his research on the sinking of the Indianapolis, which led to a United States Congressional investigation. In October 2000, the United States Congress passed a resolution that Captain McVay's record should state that "he is exonerated for the loss of Indianapolis", which was signed by President Bill Clinton. The resolution noted that, although several ships of the U.S. Navy were lost in combat in World War II, McVay was the only captain to be court-martialed for the sinking of this ship.
     In July 2001, the United States Secretary of the Navy ordered McVay's official Navy record cleared of all wrongdoing.
     In July 2016, new details about the sinking emerged which helped lead to the wreck's discovery this month. Read about those details here: and the discovery here:

     Credits to and the U.S. Naval Institute for the information in this post. 
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Farm Meme Monday #5

Farm Pun                                                                                                                                                                                 More:
Will your tractor be one of the 150 pieces of equipment on site to celebrate Canada150 and Ontario150?  Join us at the Heritage Farm Show on September 9 & 10, 2017 at Backus-Page House Museum.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday Sighting - It’s Saturday!!!

Saturday Sighting - It’s Saturday!!!
What’s up Canada!  You know who it is!  It’s me again, Ben the MNR guy at Backus Page House Museum.  I’m here to give you your weekly Saturday Sightings.  Saturday is one of the best days of the week! 

If you work Monday to Friday and/or you’re a student, Saturday is just that day where you wake up in the morning and think; “I got another day off tomorrow”.  Friday’s are pretty awesome as well because it’s the start of the weekend, what day can beat?  That you get home from work or school and think; “Hey it’s the weekend”.  That was my favorite day of the week when I was in public and high school.

I bet you guys are wondering what I saw this week?  Well you guys all know that I hate snakes, if you didn’t….. I don’t like snakes.  Well I was moving some hay that we had and right when I moved one bale of hay there was a snake under the bale.  This snake was brown and had a stripe down its back and holy I was not having anything to do with it. 

A lot of gardening has been completed this week as well as a successful day of day camp on Tuesday.

That is your weekly Saturday Sightings with Ben the MNR guy.  Hope to see you soon and remember to stay cool.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tourism Thursdays: Fair Season is Fast Approaching

🎉 Fair Season is Fast Approaching 🎉

           Lions Support Dutton Dunwhich 150 Celebration. The Lions booth will be open from 2 PM till 6Pm for those attending the numerous Family activities planned. The Lions will then open their food trailer & bar, in the concert area, in support of the major concert featuring Jason Blaine; followed by a huge fireworks display.
2:00pm – 5:00pm FREE Children’s Activities!
7:00pm Gates Open - Fireworks after SCOTTY JAMES AND JASON BLAINE CONCERT.
Tickets available at or at the gate for $35.00

        Shedden fair is also this weekend! Friday 25th- Sunday 27th all day . Friday night antique and out-of-field tractor pull. Breakfast, livestock shows, midway, demolition derby, exhibits, and children's activities!
            Interested in Surfing the Great Lakes? Join Sport In Port, Surf The Greats, and Life of Leisure Surf and Social Club on Main Beach in Port Stanley for an afternoon that will include a Surf Information Session, water’s edge Yoga, beach cleanups, and much more. Don’t miss your chance to learn about local surf from the pros and have a ton of family fun! Sunday 27th from 10-4 pm.

Thanks for reading
Sabrina Merks

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

World War Wednesdays: Dieppe 75th Anniversary

 A German photograph of the aftermath of the Dieppe raid, Royal Canadian Air Force
     This past Saturday marked 75 years since the Dieppe raid during the Second World War. Dieppe is a complicated event to commemorate, and I hope to do it justice, so I wanted to begin with a link to the official Government of Canada overview:
Followed by oral testimonies of veterans who served there:
     In the case of Dieppe, it is important to understand the soldiers' perspectives and truly account for their horrific experiences. This event, more than any other, demonstrates the futility of warfare and the vast distinction between those who send the orders and those who must act upon them.

     As with most anniversaries, I like to tie in a local connection, and found an interesting one with the story of Lieut.-Col. John Andrews. It is told through a series of articles in the St. Thomas Times-Journal over around 20 years and demonstrates how people on the home front were informed of the fate of their local soldiers.
St. Thomas Times-Journal, Jan. 16, 1942
     The promotion of Major John Andrews, son of Col. and Mrs. W. A. Andrews, 33 Roseberry Place, to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel about the first of December last has been learned of here. At the age of 32, he is one of the youngest men of that rank in the Canadian Army, either in Canada or overseas, there being only two younger so far as is known. Lt.-Col. Andrews is now in command of the Calgary Tank Battalion with the Canadian Corps overseas, succeeding Lt.-Col. Bradbrook, of Calgary, who recruited the battalion and took it overseas, and who has since been posted to other duties with the Middle East Command. The battalion is part of the Canadian Corps troops and is understood to have the newest of British tank equipment. Lt.-Col. Andrews has been overseas since about the middle of last year, having preceded to England as brigade major of the tank regiments which left Canada at that time. He had previously been stationed at Camp Borden as a tank expert, his special training having been with tanks and other armored fighting  machines for several years prior to outbreak of the war. He had taken senior officers' tank courses in England before the war and was thoroughly grounded in all their features and uses.

St. Thomas Times-Journal, August 1942
      Lieut.-Col. John Andrews, son of Lieut.-Col. and Mrs. W. A. Andrews, 33 Roseberry Place, who is reported missing from the Dieppe raid last Wednesday. He was in command of the Calgary Tank Battalion, and was one of the youngest men in the Canadian Army to hold the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was 33 years old, a native of St. Thomas. By a coincidence, his paternal grandfather, Foster Andrews, a pioneer resident of St. Thomas, observed his 91st birthday, Friday, the day that word came that Lt.-Col. Andrews was missing. The message was received by Mrs. Andrews of Barrie, Ontario who was on vacation in the northern part of the province with her two-year-old daughter. Mrs. Andrews is a Winnipeg young woman. She communicated with her husband's parents in this city Friday night. Although official details have not been received, Lieut.-Col. Andrews is believed to have per-" (article not continued)

St. Thomas Times-Journal, September 1942
Fear Was on Boat Hit by Shell at Dieppe
Barrie, Sept. 16
     Lieut.-Col. John Gilby Andrews, 33, officer commanding 14th Army Tank Battalion (Calgary regiment)is reported missing in the official Dieppe casualty list. His wife, Mrs. Eleanor Catherine Andrews, Clapperton St., Barrie, has been informed the young officer was last seen leaving his tank with his crew for a launch, and that the launch was hit directly. Col. Andrews was one of the "originals" of the Canadian Armored Corps at Camp Borden, who established the Canadian Armored Fighting Vehicles school there, May 1, 1938. Mrs. Andrews and their two-year-old daughter Susan reside at Barrie; his parents and a sister, Geraldine, live in St. Thomas, and another sister, Jean, wife of Lieut. Pat McGiverin, Royal Regiment of Canada, in Toronto.

St. Thomas Times-Journal, Oct. 4, 1958
Col. Andrews to Attend Unveiling at Brookwood
     When Queen Elizabeth on Oct. 25 unveils the Brookwood Memorial in England, which commemorates 3,500 men and women of Commonwealth land forces who died at sea, on raids and in other missions and actions during World War II, and who have no known graves, among the many Canadians watching will be Lt.-Col. Warren A. Andrews, St. Thomas Civic Defense co-ordinator. The Brookwood Memorial, standing in the Brookwood cemetery near Woking, Surrey, contains the names of 148 Canadians- among them the name of Lt.-Col. John Gilby Andrews, the son of Col. and Mrs. Andrews was a 33 year-old officer commanding the 14th Armored Battalion (Calgary Tanks), when he was killed at Dieppe. An "original" of the Canadian Armored Corps at Camp Borden, he helped establish the Canadian Armored Fighting Vehicles School there in 1938. Col. Andrews will sail from Montreal to England on Oct. 14. Arriving Oct. 20, he will visit his granddaughter, Miss Susan Wallace, who lives in Southport. Together, they will attend the unveiling ceremony of the Brookwood Memorial.

St. Thomas Times-Journal May 6, 1961
New Hangar at Meaford Range Named for Col. Jack Andrews
     Military personnel of the Meaford Armored Fighting Vehicle Range will be hosts in a dedication ceremony on Sunday, May 14, to commemorate the name of Lt.-Col. J. G. Andrews, who commanded the Calgary Regiment at Dieppe and who died in that action. The name, "Andrews Hangar" is being given to a new tank hangar which was built at the Range. This occasion affords the Royal Canadian Armored Corps an opportunity to record its appreciation for the services rendered by one of its original officers. Lt.-Col. Andrews was born in 1902 in St. Thomas, the son of Lt.-Col. W. A. Andrews and Mrs. Andrews, Roseberry Place, and attended school at St. Thomas Collegiate Institute. After graduation, he was employed in a local bank and soon became interested in the Militia and was appointed as a provisional lieutenant in the Elgin Regiment in 1928. This was his father's regiment. In 1930 he decided to make the Army his career and was attached to the Royal Canadian Regiment in August of that year. After completing a course at Royal Military College, Kingston, he was posted to the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
     In 1936, a Canadian Tank School was established at London, Ont. This school was commanded by Major F. F. Worthington, MC and bar (afterwards Major-General F. F. Worthington, CB, MC, MM, CD). Lt. Andrews was selected for posting to this school as an instructor. In 1938 the school moved to Camp Borden and was redesignated the Canadian Armored Fighting Vehicle School. Lt. Andrews was promoted to captain at this time and transferred to the AFV School, still as a member of the PPCLI. During the next year he held posts at National Defense Headquarters and the Directorate of Military Training in Ottawa and later was brigade-major at headquarters, Army Tank Brigade. In June 1941 he went overseas in that capacity, and thus ended his five years as a technical officer and instructor in the use of tanks. Major Andrews has been in on the birth of what is now the Royal Canadian Armored Corps. On December 3, 1941, Major Andrews was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and appointed to command the 14th Army Tank Battalion (Calgary Regiment). This was the first unit of the Canadian Armored Corps to go into action. The Dieppe Story is well known and the loss of Lt. Col. Andrews was one of the many tragedies of the day. Lt.-Col. Andrews was married in 1937 in Winnipeg to Eleanor Catherine Allan. They had one daughter, Susan, born in Barrie, who will unveil the memorial plaque on the "Andrews Hangar." His wife has since remarried, and is now Mrs. Ben Wallace, of Toronto. 
     The ceremony next Sunday will be attended by Col. Andrews's father and mother, who will accompany their daughter, Mrs. T. Patrick McGiverin and Mr. McGiverin; Lt.-Col. F. H. Medcalf, honorary lieutenant-colonel of the Elgin Regiment, and Mrs. Medcalf; Lt.-Col. J. W. McNeil; and Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Agnew.

     The Doc Alexander Blog describes the circumstances of Lt.-Col. Andrews's death:
"Andrews, Lt.-Col. John Gilby- The 33-year-old commanding officer of the CATR was Killed in Action on Aug. 19, 1942 during the Dieppe Raid. Andrews, who was commanding 'Regiment,' a Churchill MkII, attempted to land his tank on White Beach. But unknown to him, it appears that the waterproof cover had ripped as Regiment left Tank Landing Craft No. 8. The tank sank into roughly six feet of water and the engine flooded and died. Doc Alexander reports in his Dieppe journal that a few of the men climbed out of Regiment and were picked up by a small L-boat. Doc Alexander wrote: 'Some of the men escaped from the turret and I saw them picked up by a small L-Boat which immediately put out to sea, but only traveled a short distance when it received a direct hit from one of the shore batteries and burst into flames. I saw the men again jump into the water, but we do not know whether they were again picked up or not." Andrews was initially reported missing following the Dieppe Raid, but it was later confirmed that he had indeed been killed."

     Finally, check out this collection of artifacts from Dieppe, including Lt.-Col. Andrews's Memorial Cross:

     Thanks for reaching the end of this little Dieppe conglomeration; I hope that it enriched your reflections on that tremendous event.
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter) 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Farm Meme Monday #4

Pinterest @rhiarules2003                                                                                                                                                                                  More:
Bring your cowculator to the Heritage Farm Show, September 9 & 10, 2017 at Backus-Page House Museum to see if we hit our goal of 150 pieces of equipment on site to celebrate Canada150 and Ontario150.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Behind the Scene Sundays with Sabrina

🌺Behind the Scene Sundays with Sabrina 🌺

            First off HI , I'm Sabrina Merks, resident of Dutton and I'll be attending St. Lawrence College for musical theatre performance in the fall. You may have seen me in the Elgin County area wearing many hats, such as volunteer at The West Elgin Dramatic Society or have seen me as one of the cashiers at Dutton Foodland, or even possibly as current reining Miss Elgin County Globe. I spent my past year at Sheridan College in the performing arts program and I'm excited to be Assistant Museum Manager for whats left of our summer here.

           Tuesday & Wednesday were quiet with the addition of giving tours. I enjoy giving tours and letting people grasp our little corner of history here in Dutton Dunnwhich. We also had a few items donated this week, some from my own personal collection. Im very much a music person, *obviously* and my dad one day found some very old sheet music and gave it to me. One of the books was called, Music Of The British Empire and inside it is the original version of O'Canada. The other book of music was book filled with how to teach children to play piano, but the really cool part was who owned it. We had to do some digging but on the inside cover of the book was name Clara Heine. So we pulled out our laptops and starting digging. Luckily Angela is a way better detective than I am was able to find out that the family was one from Dutton Dunnwhich. You never know what you might find in your own backyard.

            Thursday was our Day Camp day. This weeks theme was all about Biodiversity. The children learned all about animals and plants in the area and how early settlers may have encountered them. Unfortunately it poured rain for most of the day so all of the activities had to be inside, which doesn't make for a lot of fun when everything you're learning about is outside.  The kids still had a great time and thats all that matters.

Friday we had a few visitors and I was able to get 2 more years of nomenclature done. Im hoping to have all of it done by Wednesday. If you don't know or haven't heard about my struggles with the nomenclature I have to go through all of the years 1996-2016 and classify all of the man made objects. It takes a long time because you're consistently flipping through a book. However the task is very important, and will help us out in the long run. 

Thats been my week,
Tune in next for another update
Sabrina Merks



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Sighting - It’s All About The Animals

Saturday Sighting - It’s All About The Animals
          What’s up Canada!  You know who it is!  It’s me again, Ben the MNR guy at Backus Page House Museum.  I’m here to give you your weekly Saturday Sightings.  Everybody here knows what a tree frog looks like right?  Okay good!

          Lately the staff here at Backus-Page House Museum has been seeing a lot of tree frogs in this area.  They have been everywhere on trees and in the grass, its crazy!  The past week the staff here had emptied our World War 1 sand bags and has stored the bags into containers.  While doing this we saw a snake and a HUGE spider.  This year a lot of deer have been sighted in this area so if you’re driving by please be careful.

          We also had day camp this past Thursday where the kids learned about animals and how they live.  If you are interested in signing a child up for day camp give us a call here at Backus-Page House Museum and we will be able to assist you.

          That is your weekly Saturday Sightings with Ben the MNR guy.  Hope to see you soon and remember to stay cool.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tourism Thursdays : Theres Always Something To Do In Elgin

🏡Theres Always Something to do in Elgin🌽

       Travel the Talbot Trail and find unqiue treasures! On Saturday August 19th. Talbot Line (Hwy # 3) from Port Burwell - Rodney. Home owners all of the county will be hosting yard sales, and who knows what you may stumble upon! Be sure to start early, with almost 100km of the talbot trail to cover, there is lots to see

                On Saturday August 19th,  join us for a free celebration of fun, food and laughter in the park! There will be wagon rides, jump & bounce activities, BBQ food, games, snow cones & more! Downtown, merchants will have sidewalk sales & coupon promotions!
  • Sidewalk Sales downtown all day
  • Art in the Park (Palmer Park)
  • Farmers Market (Palmer Park)
  • Crafts and Baking (Palmer Park)
  • Live Music (Palmer Park)
  • Free Family Activities including jump 'n bounce games
  • BBQ with the Aylmer Splash Pad Group
  • Sno Cones & Candy Floss
  • VogelJoy Concert for the whole family

            On Saturday,  the ECC will hold their annual BBQ, Yard, Bake and Book Sale beginning at 8 am.  They will be serving breakfast sandwiches, then pulled pork on a bun, hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages for lunch at very reasonable prices.  At 10:30 am the Canadian Raptor Conservancy will present their Birds of Prey Show. This all ages event is sponsored by the Optimists Club of West Lorne.  Don't miss the opportunity to see Eagles, Hawks, Owls and more at the ECC! At 1 pm Band "Exit 137" will entertain. Bring your lawn chair and join us.

         Farmfest 2017, this Saturday from 5pm- 1am. Talbotville Market Berry farm. Tickets are $20 in advance and $30 at the door. TICKETS available for purchase in the farm market. Monday-Saturday 9am-7pm  Sunday 9am-5pm Cash, Debit , Visa, Mastercard. Everyone Welcome ! Proceeds from this event go to the Canadian Cancer Society. With a great line up of music you cant go wrong. 

🐮🐣Whats Happening at the Backus-Page House 🐮🐣

              Come and see a variety of heritage skills being demonstrated, explore your rural roots and experience the living history museum first hand! September 9-10, 10am-4pm. 
The Back Pages Band is playing 12 – 4pm on Saturday, September 9
The Pierce Family Band is playing 12 – 4pm on Sunday, September 10

Thanks for reading.
Sabrina Merks

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

World War Wednesdays: SS Caledonia

Advertising card for the ship, Norway Heritage
     For those who remember the series of posts from a few weeks back about local First World War hero Maj. George Stirrett, this week's edition ties in as a bit of a spin-off. On June 9, 1915, Stirrett and the rest of his squadron, including Lieut. Billy Bishop, sailed for England on the SS Caledonia. I decided to investigate further into the history of that ship, a la the traditional WWW boat stories that seem to be a trend, and the results were quite interesting!
 Photograph of Caledonia dated 1904, possibly shortly after being launched, but it probably was actually taken in 1905 around the time of the ship’s maiden voyage on 25 March. Courtesy of the Peabody MuseumSalem, Massachusetts.
     The SS Caledonia was a 9,223-ton British passenger ship built for the Anchor Line by David and William Henderson and Company at Glasgow, Scotland. She was approximately 500 feet wide and could reach a top speed of 16 knots. Launched 22 October, 1904, her maiden voyage was 25 March, 1905. Primarily used for trips between Glasgow, Scotland and New York City, she could accommodate roughly 250 first class passengers, 350 second class passengers, and 850 third class passengers.
Main staircase and lift, Gjenvik-Gjønvik Archives
Italian veranda cafe, Gjenvik-Gjønvik Archives

Corridor Lounge, Gjenvik-Gjønvik Archives

Another view of the Corridor Lounge, Gjenvik-Gjønvik Archives

Italian smoking room, Gjenvik-Gjønvik Archives

An alcove in the Caledonia smoking room, Gjenvik-Gjønvik Archives

Caledonia stateroom with private bath, Gjenvik-Gjønvik Archives
     Between 1905 and 1914, the Caledonia was "one of the premier passenger liners that steamed between Glasgow and New York City on a weekly basis," and her fastest time between the two cities was 6 days and 20 hours. A 1911 travel brochure printed by the Anchor Line boasted of the Caledonia's amenities:
     "First Cabin passengers are furnished with a liberal table, including all the delicacies of the season, and everything necessary on the voyage. Wines and liquors pf the finest quality can be had on board at moderate prices. The Dining Saloons, Music Hall, Ladies' Boudoir Promenade Decks, and by means of electric bells, are in communication with the Steward's department. Every steamer carries a duly qualified Surgeon and experienced Stewardesses, and is provided with a select Library, including all the latest Guide Books of European travel. Staterooms are located on the Main and Upper Decks, are large, have electric lights, and are perfectly ventilated and elegantly furnished, accommodating two, three, and four passengers each. All Staterooms are provided with electric bells connected with Steward's department."
A stateroom on board Caledonia. Photograph taken from an Anchor Line travel brochure dated 1911, Naval Warfare Blog. 

First class dining saloon aboard Caledonia. Photograph taken from an Anchor Line travel brochure dated 1911, Naval Warfare Blog.

 First class music saloon aboard Caledonia. Photograph taken from an Anchor Line travel brochure dated 1911, Naval Warfare Blog. 

Anchor Line dinner menu from S.S. Caledonia on 4 July 1905, during a trip from Glasgow, Scotland, to New York City, Naval Warfare Blog.
     Rates for adult passage ranged from $67.50 to $125 depending on the accommodations, children between the ages of 1 and 10 traveled for a half fare, and infants under one year made the trip for only $5. 

     When the First World War began in August 1914, the British government requisitioned the Caledonia and converted the elegant liner into a troopship with the capacity to carry 3,074 troops and 212 horses. For over two years, the ship carried soldiers and their equipment to France, as well as to various locations around the Mediterranean. 
     On 5 December, 1916 (a year and a half after Maj. Stirrett's voyage), while on a trip carrying mail  but no troops from Salonica, Greece to Marseille, France, Caledonia was attacked by the German submarine U-65 under the command of Cpt. Hermann von Fischel. She was torpedoed without warning approximately 125 miles east of Malta. Although his ship was sinking, Caledonia's commanding officer, Captain James Blaikie, steered the troopship towards the U-Boat and tried to ram her. Caledonia actually managed to hit the submarine, causing severe damage, but the U-Boat stayed afloat as Caledonia sank, with the loss of only one life, and there was evidently enough time for the rest of the crew to abandon ship and make it to the lifeboats before Caledonia went down. Fortunately, the absence of troops on board the ship helped keep the number of fatalities low.

     Captain Fischel of U-65 was so enraged by being rammed that he took Captain Blaikie prisoner from one of the lifeboats. For a time, Germany threatened to execute Captain Blaikie for trying to sink U-65. But, the British government made it known to the German government (through the US ambassador in Berlin, since the US was still neutral at that time) that a German officer would be shot in retribution. Ultimately, Captain Blaikie was sent to an officer prisoner-of-war camp at Freidburg, Germany. 

     I came across two different news reports from two very different newspapers that covered the sinking of the Caledonia: 

From the Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, NSW, Australia, Tuesday, 12 December, 1916 (courtesy of the National Library of Australia)
Sinking of the Caledonia
German Official Report
(Reuter's Message)
Washington, Monday
     The German Embassy has received an official message from Berlin that the British Anchor liner Caledonia was sunk by a U submarine on December 4 after she had tried to ram a submarine and that the captain was made a prisoner.

From the Cornell Daily Sun, Ithaca, New York, Sunday, 11 December, 1916 (courtesy of the Cornell University Library)
Sinking of Caledonia Officially Announced
By The Associated Press
     Berlin, Dec. 10- The British steamer Caledonia was sunk by a German submarine on December 4 after she had tried to ram the undersea boat, it was officially announced today. Her captain was taken prisoner.

     Information this week is courtesy of the Naval Warfare Blog. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse inside and overview of a ship with a fascinating story!
      Thanks for reading, 
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Behind the Scenes Sunday with Sabrina

🌸🌸Behind the Scenes Sunday with Sabrina🌸🌸

              First off HI , I'm Sabrina Merks, resident of Dutton and I'll be attending St. Lawrence College for musical theatre performance in the fall. You may have seen me in the Elgin County area wearing many hats, such as volunteer at The West Elgin Dramatic Society or have seen me as one of the cashiers at Dutton Foodland, or even possibly as current reining Miss Elgin County Globe. I spent my past year at Sheridan College in the performing arts program and I'm excited to be Assistant Museum Manager for the summer.

           This week has been quite busy on Tuesday we had the waterfront cyclists come through and we had 100 cyclists on site. We gave tours all that morning and it was crazy busy, we gave 23 tours of the house! So many people from all over Canada came through as well. The cyclist started in Point Pelee national park are working their way up to Toronto. They were on their way to Port Stanley that day and used our museum as a pit stop. 

            Day camp was on Wednesday and we had 4 very eager explorers with us. this week we learned all about food. We Talked about the food groups, planted seeds in our garden, played games, made all sorts of cool crafts and were able to talk about food back in the 1850's which I might is rad.  
             The rest of the week I have just been working away at the nomenclature, trying to get it done ASAP. Which is difficult because if you know me I tend to be able to focus on a task for an hour or two then need a break. Often when I need those breaks, I write blogs or go outside and water the garden or even give a tour. 

              Saturday morning was a little different as well. So I come on site minding my own business when I see another car. I don't think anything of it people use our park or facilities all the time. Its when I get out of my car im greeted by the amazing sound of bagpipes, and i think to myself .... did we have an event or .... As I walk closer I see that its Brian one of the board members playing his bag pipes. We chat and laugh, and when I go into the museum I open all the windows so I could hear him play. It was a great way to send Saturday morning.

That has been my week everyone. 
Tune in next week for another update
Thanks for reading 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday Sightings – The Flood of Backus – Page House Museum

Saturday Sightings – The Flood of Backus – Page House Museum
          What’s up Canada!  You know who it is!  It’s me again, Ben the MNR guy at Backus Page House Museum.  I’m here to give you your weekly Saturday Sightings.  Well I don’t know about you guys but I like water, keeps me alive and health so I don’t die.  Water is pretty great, but when we have too much water…. things can go pretty wrong.

          Like on Monday when we finally got some rain (all farmers in background start cheering as any hope for rain has been given and the will to move on has been restored), but seriously like some actual rain that lasted for  more than 30 seconds.  Well our house garden got flooded because of the rain and it was bad.  We had a lake going through our garden for a total of 15 minutes.  I have never seen a garden flood this bad; I started looking for pirates because I swore that Captain Phillips boat could have sailed through this flood.  “Look at me, Look at me, we sail through your garden… oh and I’m the Captain now!”

          In being all serious though the garden is fine and everything is back to normal.  I want to give thanks to our farmers who are feeding us and who are out in the fields day and night making sure we are fed. 

          That is your weekly Saturday Sightings with Ben the MNR guy.  Hope to see you soon and remember to stay cool.