March 1967 VOL. 48, No. 3
Things to Remember
The history of Canada is in the long and
continuing procession of all the people who passed this way
before us and left memories of themselves and their works
and the places they knew. Remembrance of them is being given
a front seat at Canada's centennial celebrations.
Museums, preserved and restored buildings, tell the story
of men and women pitted against the wilderness, without conveniences
or comforts, and often with little hope that conditions would
improve. Their valiant lives are shown in their handicrafts
and documented by letters, deeds, grants of land and old portraits,
things which enchant the eye and inspire the mind.
These thoughts are close to the hearts of many Canadians.
Reports have been published of some fifty museums being organized
as centennial projects, nine of them major new buildings.
In addition, pioneer homes are being restored, and some gathered
together into villages. All these will summon up remembrance
of things past and help us to understand how Canada became
what she is, our present circumstances, and how we may project
the advances of the past into the future.
In these days, museums are not looked upon as stodgy dull
centres. It is not enough to assemble a collection of naval
and military relics, of stuffed birds and animals, of native
soup bowls and arrows. Most museums of this kind are pathetic
and dusty, more reminiscent of death and the tomb than of
the stirring times which they are supposed to recall.
Museums are now finding it possible to educate in an interesting
way. Mr. J. D. Herbert, Director of Manitoba's Museum of Man
and Nature, writes: "A museum is an institution that seeks
to educate by explaining the nature, significance and relationships
of things chosen to illustrate the wonders of nature and the
works of man."
Dr. R. Glover, Director of the Human History Branch of the
National Museum of Canada, sees the purpose of the museum
as fourfold, and these four duties interlock: (1) to collect
objects of scientific or historic interest pertaining to Canada;
(2) to "conserve" those objects, which means to maintain objects
in good condition or restore them as far as may be possible;
(3) to conduct research, much of which is based on the study
collections; (4) to educate by a wide variety of means: the
publication of scientific and popular works, exhibits, guided
tours, and public lectures, including films.
There are, roughly, four types of museums in Canada: the
National Museum, provincial museums, local museums and special
In the National Museum the principal displays are recreations
of the natural settings of Indians and Eskimos and of Canada's
wildlife. It has exquisitely worked and well-designed dioramas
of life in all periods of Canada's history. Its scope encompasses
the whole country, its people, and its natural history. It
collects a wide assortment of objects, ranging from microscopic
organisms to huge war canoes and totem poles; it records all
available information about these specimens, and it preserves
them for this generation and those to come. It is one of the
great research museums of the world.
Provincial museums are, of course, interested principally
in their own environment, but they must go outside it on occasion
for objects which contribute toward understanding local conditions.
This is illustrated in a small way in the New Brunswick
Museum. The landing of the United Empire Loyalists at Saint
John on May 18, 1783 was a matter of the utmost importance
not only at the time but as the beginning of development that
is still going on after nearly two hundred years. But that
event cannot be understood if we start in a vacuum, so the
Museum has collected letters, ships' papers and objects with
which the Loyalists were associated in their previous dwelling
The most important section of the Newfoundland Museum, and
a valuable contribution to knowledge, is its Boethuck Collection.
This commemorates the indigenous Indians of Newfoundland,
a vanished race whose last survivor, Nancy Shanawdithit, died
in 1829. These were the people, says the Encyclopedia
of Canada, whom the Europeans shot down at sight
the French even paid a bounty for their destruction
on the principle that "there is no good Indian but a dead
Centennial Year will see the Quebec Museum displaying "French
Canadian Arts". This is to give an over-all picture of painting,
sculpture, jewellery, drawing, decorative arts and folklore
arts from the beginning until today.
The Royal Ontario Museum is Canada's biggest, and it is
among the three or four largest in the world. Its three acres
of galleries in the main building describe the structure of
the earth, its animals past and present, and the march of
civilization from Babylon to early Canada.
Manitoba has, as its centennial project, the "Museum of
Man and Nature". This concept gets away from the stereotyped
split between natural history on the one hand and human history
on the other. It portrays man and nature as parts of an indivisible
whole in other words, man in his environment, linking
together the past, the present and the future in one great
The Western Development Museum in Saskatchewan has several
branches, each of which displays early farm machinery and
articles once common to every household. A start has been
made on reconstruction of a pioneer village. The Saskatchewan
Archives Board, with preservation of government records as
its primary function, has broadened out to the collection
of historical records.
The new Provincial Museum and Archives of Alberta, scheduled
for opening in October, will be a free public institution
which will portray Alberta by collecting, preserving and exhibiting
significant natural and historical items.
British Columbia has under construction a large new Archives-Museum
The local museum has the function of showing the life and
times of its town or county. To be fully meaningful it should
demonstrate the process of development from pre-pioneer days
to the present. Little things are important: the Albert County
Museum in New Brunswick displays a name-quilt used in fund
raising for a community hearse (- a pertinent exhibit within
the context of telling the county's history.
The great strength and the pulling-power of the local museum
is its concentration on what is local. It owes it to its visitors
to give them a coherent story, attractively told, of how and
why this particular community originated and developed. As
Mr. Herbert remarks, it is possible to entertain and educate
at the same time, or to do neither: "The choice you make will
determine whether you run a museum, a midway or a mausoleum."
Some local museums specialize in periods or subjects, for
example the U.E.L. Museum at Adolphustown, the Brant Historical
Museum, the Bell homestead at Brantford, and the South Simcoe
Pioneer Museum, with its 5,000 implements. The rectory of
the church at Batoche, Saskatchewan, has been established
as a museum telling the story of the Northwest Rebellion.
There are special museums, big and small, covering the development
of various human activities: the National Aeronautical Collection,
Ottawa; the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, and the Canadian
Railway Museum at Delson, Quebec. The Canadian Railroad Historical
Association is devoted to the collection and preservation
of records and rolling stock relating to rail and inland water
Life as it was lived a century ago is best seen in the old
houses restored and furnished by devoted local women's groups
and historical associations. As the visitor walks through
their doors he enters the life and times of the people who
A house of particular interest because of its many associations
is that of Simeon Perkins, in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Colonel
Perkins was a merchant and ship-owner who came with the United
Empire Loyalists in 1759 and built this house in 1766. Here
is Perkins's desk, from which he managed activities ranging
from the West Indies to Labrador; here is that unusual piece
of furniture about which many have read but which few have
seen a trundle-bed. A trundle-bed is one that rolls
under an ordinary bed and can be pulled out for use. The Perkins
Hearth Cook Book, containing many excerpts from the Colonel's
diary, is being reissued in its fourth edition as a centennial
project by the Zion Guild in Liverpool.
Not many miles away is Uniacke House, built by an Irish
adventurer from Cork who became a member of the Nova Scotia
Council and Attorney General. A unique feature is that the
closet doors have holes drilled in them to admit cats in pursuit
Although he was influential in Nova Scotia government, Judge
Thomas Chandler Haliburton is most popularly recalled as the
author of a series of stories about Sam Slick, a smart Yankee
peddler of clocks. Haliburton has been named "the father of
the American school of humour." His house has been preserved,
and in it you may see one of the original Sam Slick clocks,
with wooden works.
In 1705 Claude de Ramezay built his château in Montreal.
After the conquest it was the official residence of the governor-in-chief
of British North America. In 1775 the American Continental
Army made the château its headquarters. In 1776 there
came to it Benjamin Franklin as an envoy to stir the French
Canadians to revolution. Benedict Arnold occupied the chateau
for several weeks. It has been preserved so well that the
mark of the old reception dais is still to be seen on the
Ontario has dozens of pioneer homes. At Orillia is the Stephen
Leacock Memorial Home. It contains original furniture and
a number of Leacock's manuscripts, books and letters.
The quaint and charming home of William Lyon Mackenzie,
leader of the rebellion of 1837, is in Toronto: Laurier House
in Ottawa was the residence of two prime ministers. "Chiefswood",
at Middleport, was the birth-place of the Indian poetess E.
Pauline Johnson. The McFarland House, near Niagara-on-the-Lake,
was built in 1800, and served as a hospital during the War
In far-away Yukon, you may visit the log cabin home of poet
Robert Service. Signatures of visitors from all over the world
are to be seen in the register on the rickety desk where the
author wrote his poems.
The pioneers paid great attention to religious observance,
and their church buildings stand as memorials to their piety.
At Barrington, Nova Scotia, is the oldest nonconformist,
non-denominational church building in Canada, built in 1765.
The grandson of one of its clergymen became Archbishop of
Canterbury. Near by is a memorial to the grandmother of John
Howard Payne, who wrote "Home Sweet Home". St. Edward's Church,
at Clementsport, erected by the Loyalists in 1788, has many
In Montreal, Notre Dame de Bon Secours (the Church of the
Sailors) was founded in 1657. Damaged by two fires, the church
was replaced by the present building in 1772. Quebec City
has many ancient church buildings, but of special interest
is Notre Dame des Victoires, erected in 1688 near the site
of Champlain's original house.
The original mission founded on the site of Prince Albert,
Saskatchewan, in 1866, is now a museum. The English River
Mission of the Church of England, in Saskatchewan, built in
1850 of logs cut locally and windows brought from England,
is still in use.
Attracting scores of thousands of visitors every year, the
restored pioneer villages across Canada are our most popular
link with our past.
In these villages history drops its textbook guise and reveals
itself not as a scholarly record of political struggle and
economic development but as the story of people.
Port Royal Habitation, in Nova Scotia, has been restored
in accord with Champlain's plan for the original of 1605.
Visitors enter a room furnished as it was when Marc Lescarbot
sat there writing a play in 1606, the first drama ever presented
in North America, and the community room, where Champlain
instituted the Order of the Good Time.
Chambly Village, near Montreal, is part of the seigniory
granted to Jacques de Chambly in 1672. In it are the St. Hubert
house, built in 1760, the Maigneault house, built of four-inch-thick
planks, morticed to a frame of hand-hewn timber, and the Lareau
house, built on its present site in 1775.
Upper Canada Village, near Morrisburg, Ontario, is a living
museum portraying the evolution of life in the province from
1795 to 1860. More than forty buildings, many of them brought
here from the seven villages now flooded by the St. Lawrence
seaway and power projects, have been refurnished with authentic
furniture of their time. Among the houses is one that is truly
historical: built before 1783, it was the residence of John
Graves Simcoe, the first governor of Upper Canada. Around
this fireplace he met with the five members of his executive
in 1792 and hammered out the institution of Civil Government.
Here, too, are a Glengarry log school, immortalized in stories
by Ralph Connor, and two churches, one an ancient log structure
and the other brought on trucks from Moulinette, one of the
Near by is an imaginative and beautiful memorial to the
pioneers. Before their churchyards were flooded, burial stones
were removed. Stones and bricks from the demolished buildings
in the valley were brought to this place and used to build
several pleasant garden courts. The gravestones were set into
Farther west, crumbling stonework beside the River Wye marked
the site of Sainte-Marie until a few years ago. In 1940 the
Jesuit Order acquired the property and sponsored archaeological
investigations, and in 1964 the government of Ontario began
reconstruction of the settlement. The earth was removed a
spoonful at a time to reveal the mouldering remains of the
palisade and buildings. Today the visitor sees many buildings
There are other historical villages in Ontario, including
Fanshawe, Muskoka, Jordan, Kitchener, Rockton, St. Joseph
Island, and Black Creek.
On a sixty-acre site near Calgary, Alberta, has been reconstructed
a prairie settlement of the 1890's. Original buildings have
been brought here and re-erected a North West Mounted
Police barracks, a smithy, a ranch, a post office, a barber
shop, a bank, a church, a general store and many others.
British Columbia has its Barkerville, where gold flowing
from creeks in tens of millions of dollars in the 1860's created
the largest settlement west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.
The town is being rebuilt as it looked during the gold rush.
Forts and battlefields
Canadian military efforts have been in self-defence, and
there are big and little forts and martello towers in every
part of the country, testifying to the determination of Canadians
to defend their land.
Stone by stone, the mighty fortress-city Louisbourg is rising
from its ruins on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. The first
French settlers came here in 1713, and by 1755 they had a
fortress-city with more than 300 homes and 5,000 people. The
fortifications cost so much that King Louis XV said he expected
to awake some morning in France to see the walls looming on
No other place in America has seen so much fighting or so
many sieges as has Fort Anne, Nova Scotia, where building
started in 1635. Visitors may enter the powder magazine, built
of stone shipped from France in 1708. The original door is
still in place, supported by one French and one English hinge.
Quebec City is full of memories. Its walls, completed in
1832, cost $35 million, and its gates are attractive. There
are houses in which Montcalm lived, and one in which report
has it he died after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
Tablets mark the place where, on the last day of 1775, the
two founding races of Canada united for the first time to
defend their country. A combined French-English garrison beat
off an American revolutionary force led by General Richard
Montgomery and Benedict Arnold.
The first Fort Chambly, Quebec, was built in 1665 by a captain
in the Carignan Regiment. By 1711 the solid stone structure,
the walls of which remain today, had replaced the wooden fort.
The Americans captured the fort in 1775, and upon retiring
in the following year destroyed everything that would burn.
Fort Lennox, on Ile-aux-Noix, near Montreal, was built by
the French in 1759, and for nearly a year held up the British
advance from the south. Rebuilt in 1775, it was used as the
American base for an advance on Quebec. In 1812 the British
built the present fort and occupied it until 1869.
One of Canada's most impressive war memorials, because sensitive
thought went into its construction, is at Crysler Battlefield,
near Upper Canada Village. The battle, in which a British-Canadian
force of 800 routed an invading American force of 4,000 that
was marching on Montreal, was fought on Crysler's Farm, now
flooded. By a stroke of genius, the top soil from the battlefield
was trucked to high ground and built into a mound. The memorial,
an obelisk built by the Government of Canada in 1895, was
brought out of the valley and erected on the mound.
Fort Wellington, at Prescott, has been partially restored.
From it, in the War of 1812, British and Canadian troops sallied
out to capture Ogdensburg, and in the invasion of 1838 to
repel the Americans under Von Schoultz.
Fort Henry, at Kingston, was started as a blockhouse to
protect the naval dockyard. When Colonel John By began construction
of the Rideau Canal to provide a safe inland passage from
Lake Ontario to Ottawa and Montreal, the stone fortress was
raised to guard the canal's Ontario end. Wholly restored,
the fort offers many souvenirs of the past century.
Fort York, Toronto, was established in 1793, and played
a prominent role in the War of 1812. Fort George, at Niagara-on-the-Lake,
was built in 1797 and destroyed by the Americans in 1813.
Its blockhouses have been restored, and its powder magazine
When Sitting Bull and the Sioux under his command crossed
the boundary into what is now Saskatchewan after the Battle
of the Little Big Horn, the North West Mounted Police established
a detachment at Wood Mountain. From this post, of which one
building has been reconstructed, a handful of police controlled
the proud and powerful Sioux Nation.
Fort Steele is being rebuilt a few miles from Cranbrook,
B.C. Some twenty houses and buildings have been restored.
Sites and plaques
The use of historical plaques is justified when nothing
but the site of a building is to be found.
The national and provincial plaques mark places where diligent
research has placed an "X" to say that here a man died bravely,
and there a treaty was signed or a battle fought.
These plaques should be easily read. Some, like our national
markers, may be artistically pleasing, but their small raised
lettering is hardly decipherable. They fail in their duty
Without buildings, but still a memorable spot marked by
a plaque, is the site of the Parliament Oak at Niagara-on-the-Lake.
On May 1, 1793, there was passed on this spot the Seventh
Act of Parliament, freeing the slaves in Upper Canada. Thus
Canada became the first British possession to provide by legislation
for the abolition of slavery, 79 years before slavery was
abolished in the United States.
Cemeteries, too, have their tales to tell of the heroic
past. In the old burying ground at St. Andrews West in Ontario
is the grave of Simon Fraser, great explorer, the first to
descend the Fraser River. Here, too, is a memorial to Miles
Macdonell, who was superintendent of Lord Selkirk's Red River
Colony in Manitoba.
Thought kindled by all these memorials will inspire Canadians
in their second century as a united nation to actions worthy
of such forefathers.
On the occasion of the Centenary of Confederation, everyone
who can do so will wish to visit the Legislative Building
in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. There is the room
in which delegates discussed the Union of British North America.
A plaque on the wall reads: "In the hearts and minds of
the delegates who assembled in this room on September 1st
1864 was born the Dominion of Canada." A plaque on the table
marks the spot where the Articles of Confederation were signed.
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