Thursday, June 22, 2017

Living History Weekend June 24 & 25

💣Living History Weekend💣

       The Tyrconnell Heritage Society invites you to join us for Living History Weekend June 24th -25th. We will be covering over 200 years of history from the French and Indian wars to the Vietnam wars. This years focus is the 'The Great War of 1914-18' with a replica WW1 trench!

 Military and civilian re-enactors will be on hand representing over 200 years of Canadian History. Join us for homesteaders, hands-on crafts, historic music, storytellers children's activities and even a scavenger hunt. All proceeds go to the Backus-Page House Museum.  The gates open at 10 am. Admission is $8 per person and children 12 and under are free! The Backus-Page House is located at 29424 Lakeview Line, Wallacetown, just south of Hwy #3. 


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Behind The Scenes With Sabrina

🌸 Behind The Scenes 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. 

        I started here at the Backus -Page House Museum just this Tuesday and oh boy, has it been a wild week of adventures. When I  started I was greeted by amazing staff members and was off on my first real task of the job…. clean the bathroom in at the lookout. The experience of being at the lookout is beautiful, the trees and plants and the view, but the look of the washrooms, absolutely terrifying,  the state of fish flies was unbearable, I could hardly breathe. I would step away from the washrooms, take a deep breath and charge in the porcelain mess that was the Provincial Park washrooms. The rest of the day seemed to go by without a hitch which made me happy. Later that day I actually came back after hours because we had some mediums come for a group tour. Mediums are people who are in contact with the spirits of the dead and communicate between the dead and the living. While they were here they gave us interesting insight into the past of the Backus-Page House Museum.

      Second day on the job, Wednesday, I have the keys in my hand, go to open the museum, run over to disable to the alarm, don’t hit the buttons fast enough. Set off the alarm. I then tried to get into the office. Hit a wrong button again, both the museum and the office alarms are going off.... I was terrified. A bunch of thoughts were running through my head, (OH NO im gonna get fired! Angela is gonna be so mad! Delany is gonna be so mad at me! WHAT IF THE COPS SHOW UP??). Luckily Delany came to the rescue and helped me call the alarm company and disable both alarms. She made sure that I knew everyone has set off the alarm before, and that now im officially an employee! It was also Weed and Wine Wednesdays which is when the volunteers all come, and help pull weeds, and we plant and water the gardens so they look stunning for all the visitors we have. Now we probably spent an hour or so pulling weeds before we gave up and needed to go inside into the air conditioning. The rest of the day was relatively quiet and I managed to get some work done.
        Thursday was a particularly quiet day so I set myself out on an adventure with my camera, I walked around the whole park, gathering videos and images of our beautiful landscape. One of the jobs I have at the Museum and park is to create video advertisements for multiple events and facilities the museum offers. One of which is weddings. So I was able to get some great footage of the park and I spent the day editing the footage and creating the video, which we then posted on our Youtube and Facebook page.

           Friday was a fairly interesting day, Catie Welch our president of the Tyrconnell  Heritage Society brought Angela overalls, unfortunately there was a huge tear in the backdoor of the pants, so I spent my morning hemming and sewing her pants to wear for Living History Weekend. Then I was roped into filling 100 WW1 replica sandbags with wood chips. We spent 2.5 hours filling them and then dropping them off at our new replica ww1 trench. The only way the 3 of us could all fit in Delany's car with the sand bags inside was for Catie to lay on top and have her legs sticking out of the window.  By the end of the 2.5 hours, Catie, Delany and myself were drenched in sweat and covered in dirt and dust.  It was a very eventful Friday, I went home and showered right away.
       Saturday, Angela and I spent the day in the museum doing work while there was a birthday party happening in the office. We are going to be having a booth at the Dutton Dunwich Canada 150 Celebration. We will be there from 1-6 on July 1st, with a selfie booth and a ton of fun activities. So come check us out!

      Well thats what my week has been like! Come check out the blog next week to hear about fun activities coming up and Living History Weekend!
Thanks for reading
Sabrina Merks

Friday, June 16, 2017

Introducing our 2017 Youth Council!

Are you between the ages of 13 to 18 years old and still need your 40 volunteer hours? Do you want to gain experience planning events, acting, or being a leader? If so we want you to join our Youth Council!

Join in the fun, volunteer in your community, meet other teens and learn some valuable skills too.

Coordinated by our staff, our Youth Council:
  • meets biweekly to plan a year-end event of their choosing
  • decides themselves what they want to do – get involved, have a guest, watch a movie
  • volunteer at the Backus-Page House Museum and community events as a group
  • contributes their thoughts and opinions on museum exhibits and programs
  • spends time having fun and experiencing the Backus-Page House Museum!

The Youth Council meets for two hours biweekly at the Backus-Page House Museum between June and September.New members are always welcome!

For more information on how to get involved, or to submit your registration form: please contact 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tourism Thursdays

Celebrate Canada 150 with a Historical Trip Around Elgin County

Museums and cultural attractions provide an important link to our region’s rich heritage and keep the stories of our past alive. From pre – 18th century Attawandaron villages to the enigmatic Colonel Thomas Talbot, the railway boom of the 1850s, and the agricultural roots of our community, these museums highlight the development of Elgin County through collections of artifacts, documents, and photographs.

This year we celebrate Canada's 150th Birthday. Elgin County Tourism has decided to create a one of a kind museum passport. When you present the passport to any of the 11 museums in the Elgin County area you will receive a stamp, and a chance to win a prize from each location. Every location has a different prize as well. The more museums you visit the better chance you have at winning multiple amazing prizes. 

The Museums you can visit are as follows:
  1. Backus-Page House Museum
  2. Port Burwell Marine Museum
  3. Gay Lea Dairy Heritage Museum 
  4. Elgin County Museum
  5. The Arts and Cookery Bank
  6. Elgin County Archives
  7. Elgin County Railway Museum
  8. Ye Olde Forge and Anvil Museum
  9. Edison Museum of Vienna
  10. Aylmer- Malahide Museum & Archives
  11. St.Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre

for more information and location of each museum.

Whats Happening at the Backus-Page House 

Along with the Great Museum chase of the 21st century the Backus-Page House will be hosting an event June 24th-25th called Living History Weekend.This year we will be covering over 200 years of military history from the French and Indian Wars to the Vietnam Wars. With various activities everyday from scavenger hunts for the kids and merchants for the parents and to top it off reenactments of the Vietnam War for the whole family to enjoy.

The gates open at 10 am June 24th and 25th. Admission is $8 per person and children 12 and under are free! Food and fun awaits you at the The Backus-Page House,  located at 29424 Lakeview Line, Wallacetown, just south of Hwy #3.

Thanks for reading
Sabrina Merks 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

World War Wednesdays: Deafness and the First World War

Deaf munitions workers in London, England, Action on Hearing Loss
     According to a chapter called "Military Service and Training for Deaf People" by the Canadian Deaf Culture Center, "many people erroneously believe that deafness prevents a person from becoming involved in military training and service." In Canada, there are numerous records of the wartime service of deaf people, and sources from Great Britain have also surfaced in recent years. I thought it would be interesting to spotlight those individuals this week, and hope it adds a new dimension to your understanding of wartime recruitment and service as it did mine.

     When the First World War broke out, sentries were deployed across England amidst a tightening of security. For many deaf people, however, the new rules were not made clear, and they often paid for that with their lives. Historian Norma McGilp, who is herself deaf, reflects that "Deaf people walking along the road were told to stop by sentries. But when they continued to walk, they were shot... There are a number of stories about deaf people being randomly shot while walking home from work, cycling, or generally getting on with life." Reports describing these instances peppered the pages of local and national newspapers at the start of the war, but by September 1914, the British Deaf Times had published a set of warnings to its readers not to go out walking alone or near railway lines, stations, and public buildings, and advised them to be accompanied by a hearing person whenever possible.

     In addition to these challenges on the home front, deaf men who wanted to serve in the military faced strict recruitment rules and rigorous medical testing. Despite this, many in both Britain and Canada made it to the battlefields and served their countries proudly. The BBC writes that a deaf volunteer battalion was formed in London, England, training personnel in drill and tunnel digging. A number of deaf people were also employed in factories as munitions workers, making and testing shells, fuses, and manufacturing everything from tools to wheels.

    Howard Joshua Lloyd of Brantford, Ontario successfully enlisted in the army and served in France during the war. Called "Howsie" by his friends, his hearing was damaged by a bout of whooping cough when he was two years old. As a teenager, he quit school to work and support his deaf parents. The first three times he applied, Lloyd was unsuccessful in enlisting. He was finally accepted in the summer of 1916 when he signed up to become an infantry man in the 215th Overseas Battalion, and was then transferred to the 125th Battalion in England. In February 1917, he was again transferred to the 38th Battalion in France, where he served for three months in the trenches of the Arras Sector. The following is an excerpt from an unedited account of Lloyd's experiences:
     His deafness was too well known in Brantford for him to pass his physical education. On one occasion when he tried to enlist there, the doctor was chewing gum. Howard, watching lips and straining ears in his effort to pass the examination, finally asked the doctor to remove his gum so he could understand what was being said. It came out, again, then that he had defective hearing and he was hastily shown the door.
  Howard trained in Canada for six months and then in England for one year. He spent one and one-half years in France, in the war zone, four months of which were in the front-line trenches. On such forays he was loaded with hand-bombs or grenades and could carry no other weapon. He and his fellow bombers were each defended by a bayonet-man, who kept a pace behind the bombers to protect them from rear attack. They would wait for darkness and then stealthily cross No-Man's Land and enter the German trenches. Once there, the bombers disposed of their lethal weapons where they would do the utmost damage- tossing them into huts, gun positions and supply dumps- as speedily as possible before hurrying back to their own lines.
  Howard was wounded only once. A German egg-bomb sent a piece of shell into the back of his neck. These bombs were treated with some kind of poison which set up an infection. While the wound itself was not serious, the infection caused by the poison put him in a front-line hospital for two weeks. 

     Ultimately, over 700,000 British soldiers lost their lives in the Great War and an estimated nearly two million were left disabled. According to Peter Browna deaf historian at City Lit, an adult education college in London, England, approximately 30,000 of those soldiers were deafened. As a result, 31 centers were established across England to teach them lip-reading and assist them with adjusting back to civilian life. 
     Research credits to "The untold stories of deaf people in WW1" by William Mager for the BBC  and "Military Service and Training for Deaf People" by the Canadian Deaf Culture Center.
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)