Why Not Take a Hike?
The Middleville and District Museum received a $50 000 grant from the Regional Tourism Relief Fund in 2022 and the money allowed the Board to purchase items to enhance the outdoor space surrounding the Museum. A parking lot and circular drive was built to allow for event parking and to accommodate large vehicles such as buses and vans. Trees and shrubs were planted.
Picnic tables including an accessible table along with park benches were acquired. The Museum is hopeful that hikers and cyclists will be able to use the facilities as part of their adventures when travelling local byways. The Township of Lanark Highlands is collaborating with the Museum by providing a portable washroom on the grounds to be used when the Museum is closed. The washroom is wheelchair accessible. A large tent was purchased to provide shelter during events when inclement weather occurs. The opening weekend festivities went on as planned with the musicians and display tables all set up inside the tent for the public to enjoy. It provided a welcoming and comfortable space. It will be used for several events throughout the season and allows for events to go ahead regardless of a little rain.
The acquisition of additional land from Lionel Easton allowed the Museum to begin the process of developing the outdoor space around the Museum. This year, a garden has been planted to recognize this gesture and fittingly it is on the same ground that Lionel's late wife, Audrey Easton once tended a flowerbed.
It is the Middleville and District Museum's hope that the grounds around the Museum will be used by community members and Museum visitors. It provides a lovely rest stop for hikers and cyclists as well as a space where community can gather. Drop by to check out the ongoing development of this space.
Call in the Cows
Up until 1900, all farmers received the same price for their milk. They were paid by the weight of their milk. This was known as the ‘pooling system’. This encouraged farmers to supply the cheese factory with as much milk as possible. Milk wasn’t shipped on Sundays so this resulted on low cheese scores on Monday as the milk was not as fresh. In June 1900, 15 600 pounds of milk was delivered to the Middleville Cheese Factory in a day.
Dr. Stephen Mouton Babcock (1842-1931), an American Agricultural Chemist had
developed a precise method for determining the butterfat content of milk in 1890.
He donated his test to the dairy industry rather than obtaining a patent and profiting from it on his own.
A small sample of each farmer’s milk was ladled into a numbered bottle for butterfat content testing purposes. A Holstein was able to produce milk with a butterfat content of 4%.
Middleville Cheese Factory Report of 1933 reported 770 042 delivered to the factory by local patrons. The average price paid to farmers for their butterfat during the season was 17 cents per pound.
The Middleville and District Museum has many artifacts used over the decades in milk testing and production. There are many booklets and pamphlets on techniques of milk, butter and cheese production in earlier days. Be sure to browse the exhibit on your next visit.
For centuries, stands of white pine covered much of north eastern North America along with other tree species. White pine grows tall and straight. In fact, the white pine is the tallest tree that grows on the continent. White pines have been known to live for 450 years and grow to heights of 230 feet in the air. Few branches grow on the bottom two thirds of the tree as the top of the tree rises toward the sunshine. It prefers sandy, moist loam for soil. Underneath the pine, the needles drop off and create a bed around the base of the tree. These needles are acidic and create a layer that smothers other growth. This layer of needles serves as an adaptive feature. A grove of pines smothers other growth around the trees and allows them to flourish by choking out other species. That allows large stands of these towering giants to thrive. The thick canopy created by the tops of the trees creates a shady environment on the ground. Wildlife including squirrels are quite at home under the pines and make use of the pine cones sometimes collecting the shells or scales in a midden to store them for another day. Look carefully for a stock pile of pine cone scales on your next hike through a pine stand. A sassy squirrel may be nearby ready to scold intruders
Today, about one percent of old growth forests remain. By the 1830’s, white pine and other trees were being logged extensively in Ontario. In 1842, demand for square timber doubled and the white pine was especially sought after because of the tall, straight growth. Special barges were built to transport the maximum number of square logs at a time. The British Royal Navy required long, straight timber for mast building. One report cites 5 850 000 feet were sold annually. In the mid 1860’s, 1 541 000 feet of timber went down the Mississippi.
In 1984, the pinus strobus, white pine species became the official Provincial tree for Ontario. This gives the pinus strobus some protection. There are rules around the harvest of this species.
If you want to view the tallest white pine in Ontario, Gillies Grove, Arnprior claims a white pine that soars to a height of 150 feet. That tree has endured through recent history and stands as a testament to a time gone by.
The Middleville and District Museum has chosen to add a white pine branch to its logo because of this tree’s historical significance to the area. Many local communities were sustained by the logging industry. The Museum has a Herron Mills exhibit featuring the artifacts of logging days. A special display outlining the history and significance of white pine can be enjoyed by visitors. Be sure to find out more when you visit the Museum this season.
An old artifact is a new resident of the Middleville and District Museum. Nestled into a cozy alcove sits a special addition to the Museum’s Collection. A call from Michael and Petra Sidon of Schomberg, Ontario (west of Newmarket) began a journey home for a beautiful old stove from their house to Lanark Highlands. The Sidons delivered the stove just in time for it to be included in the Museum’s new season. This homecoming for the stove is confirmed by the label stamped into the iron that reads: Clyde Foundry, Lanark, CW 1858. The stove was manufactured when Ontario was still known as CW (Canada West). The Clyde Foundry is believed to have been built on the banks of the Clyde River in Lanark Village on Clyde Street which was an unofficial street just off Mill Street. An advertisement says it is located beside Young's sawmill which was located in that area. According to an article in the Lanark Era of 1896, the Clyde Foundry was built in 1863 by James Dobbie. This is after the stove was manufactured so it is likely that the foundry was officially built to accommodate the growing stove business. After the death of James in 1869, his son, Alexander Gardiner (A.G.) Dobbie, took over the management of the foundry until selling to Thomas Watt and son (James). Thomas had 20 years of experience in the foundry business. The foundry produced stoves, ploughs and did some repairs. The ‘Fire King’ was the first brand manufactured by James Dobbie. It boasted an extra large fireplace and was reported to be a ‘very good baker’. Thomas Watt made several models of stoves. ‘Reliance, Defiance and Mystic’ were cooking stoves. The Defiance was described as a ‘low-oven stove with large fireplace and a good draught system’. The Reliance was similar with an elevated oven-stove and marketed as ‘second to none for cooking purposes’. The ‘Mystic’ was available in two sizes: ‘25 and 31 with swinging covers, sides in two sections and said to be an excellent heater’. The stoves manufactured at the Clyde Foundry were made of No 1 Scotch Pig Iron. The guarantee for every stove extended to cover the first heating. Any cracks as a result of the first heating would result in a full stove replacement. Imported stoves had no guarantee so were a more risky purchase. Even then, it paid to shop locally.
The Middleville and District Museum has five old stoves with three being currently on display. The cabin has a Thomas Watt stove with swinging doors opened by a pedal at the bottom. The schoolroom includes a stove that was used to keep pupils warm throughout winter months.
Be sure to take note of these old iron standards on your next visit to the Museum.
The Portland Cutter donated by the Moulton family last fall has taken its place in the Museum to delight visitors who can envision the family wrapping up in buffalo robes and beckoning the horse to carry them over the snowdrifts with sleighbells chiming as they made their way to a neighbours home. Take note of the unusual side doors and look for the eagle head rein holder.
The arrival of a uniform worn by Janet James in World War 1 inspired a new focus on the Bluebird Nurses of WW1. The Museum already had her Bluebird nursing uniform on display. Her trunk, uniform and items of memorabilia from her nursing career are great additions to the exhibit. Be sure to check out the new artifacts and information about Canada’s Bluebirds.
Come out and see these new additions (and some old favourites) in the Middleville and District Museum on opening day, Saturday, May 20th. The festivities begin at noon with treats and visitors can enjoy live music during the afternoon. Hope to see you there.
In Ancient times, festivals were held to honour the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.
'Mothering Sunday' became a time for parishioners to return to the Church in their home vicinity for special services. Over time, children began presenting their mothers with flowers as tokens of appreciation. In the 1870's, there was a 'Mother's Day' Proclamation' asking mothers to promote world peace.
In 1905, Ann Jarvis died and her daughter, Anna decided to recognize her mother's life long work to improve the lives of mothers and thereby their children. She worked to pay tribute to her mother and in 1914, an act of Congress recognized a day to celebrate mothers. This had been a wish of Anna's mother. That was the birth of the Mother's Day we celebrate today.
Mothers were often recognized for their longevity and tributes were paid by taking generational pictures.
Ornate portraits with commemorations of a mother's life were often framed after a mother had died such as the one for Grace Patterson Affleck.
This commemorative portrait reads:
In Loving Memory of Our Dear One
Mrs. William Affleck
Died Oct 16, 1901
Aged 85 years.
"We loved her, yes, we loved her,
but Jesus loved her more,
and He has sweetly called her,
to yonder shining shore.
The golden gates were open
a gentle voice said, "come"
and with farewells unspoken,
she calmly enter
As we remember our mother's this Mother's Day, we reflect on the important contributions mothers have always made. Happy Mother's Day.
Youth Go Back In Time
The Middleville and District Museum has artefacts and events that appeal to all ages. This season, the Museum will welcome two groups of youngsters for tours and activities. A local Scout group will be at the Museum for a tour and some activities in mid May. In June, a school group from Carleton Place will have a fun day of activities at the Museum.
The 2nd Almonte Beavers group will attend in the evening for a special tour designed just for them. They will do a craft activity and conduct their regular program at the Museum. The school group will enjoy outdoor games, learning activities, a craft and a picnic lunch.
For groups of students and youth, the Museum is able to provide a craft space and outdoor activities as well as using the schoolhouse room with desks for a customized lesson. Youth learn many different aspects of life in the early 1800's through to the early 1900's. Volunteers provide information and lead activities. The expanded outdoor space allows for use of the picnic area. New picnic tables and benches provide ample seating and lunch areas for larger groups. A new bus circle allows for easy access by larger vehicles. If you know a group of youngsters interested in history, let them know the Museum has something to offer. Contact the Museum volunteers through our e-mail or social media to discuss possibilities. email@example.com
Be sure to check out the Educational Resources and Kid's Corner webpages on the Museum's website to find information and activities.
A Sound Constitution Was in Order!
The Baptist Churches of Middleville have a long history. A log building with four-sided roof that came to peak at a centre point was constructed on the East half of Lot 15, 6th Concession in the area known as the 7th line corner where it meets Wolf Grove Road. The pews were hewn boards that sat upon wooden blocks. When it was first used, it was non-denominational.
On July 5th, 1834, a meeting was held to establish this building as a Baptist Church. The attending people adopted a Constitution with two guiding principals and five Articles of Faith to guide their Congregation.
Constitution drawn up by founding members of the Baptist Church on Saturday, July 5, 1834
Article 1: The Church shall be an independent Baptist Church, possessing the sole power and right of managing all her own concern, both spiritual and temporal, under Christ our Head, meeting every Lord's Day and attending to the things according to the pattern of the First Churches.
Article 2: Persons who give credible evidence of piety shall be admitted as members of this Church on profession of their faith and attending to the Ordinance of Baptism by immersion of water.
The congregation met in this building until 1859 when a second building was constructed on a second site.
Middleville Baptist Church on left and former manse on right. Photo 1905 Pictured: at door, Mr. Nichols (brother), Reverend Nichols, Crawford Dodds, at fence: Addie Allan, Clara Croft, Mrs. AH Croft, Evelyn Rankin, Jennie Affleck, Maggie Blackburn, Agnes Affleck, in buggy: Tena Dodds, Mrs. Reverend Nichols, Nichols children and dog named Faust
In 1850, a plan to purchase property on Lot 15, 5th Concession in the heart of Middleville was discussed. A deal was struck to purchase the land in 1856 from Mrs. Borrowman. The names on the deed were James Affleck, Crawford Dodds and William Rankin. Logs were prepared to build the new Church which was completed in 1859. This building was used for worship until 1886 when the new frame structure was built. This last frame Church had a platform at the front where the pastor mounted two steps to the pulpit. Behind the pulpit was a sliding door that opened to reveal a galvanized immersion tank sunk into the floor. It had a wooden cover with two parts that lifted off and the tank was filled with water when there was to be a baptism Persons to be baptized descended wooden steps at one end and exited up wooden steps at the other end. The women's long skirts dripped water all the way down the aisles as they emerged. Other baptisms were conducted at a place along the Clyde River.
The last Baptist Church in Middleville was closed in the early 1970's. It was only used for occasional special services after that time. In 1995, the Church was sold and is now a private dwelling.
The Baptist Manses
There were two buildings used as a Baptist Manse. The first is a log cabin originally built on Lot 16, Concession 7 and then moved to Concession 8 along the Galbraith Road. This building has been moved a third time and now sits inside the Middleville and District Museum as an example depicting log cabin living in the late 1820’s and ‘30’s.
The Baptist Manse was constructed beside the Church in the village. It was later sold to Arthur and Ethel Croft and used as a private residence.
The Baptist Churches of Middleville and their manses were an important part of the community for many decades. When you visit the Middleville and District Museum, be sure to look for the history and artifacts of the Middleville Churches in the Museum's Church exhibit.
Nature Has It All!
Earth Day is a time for reflection on how the people who have come before us interacted with their natural surroundings. Indigenous people relied on the environment for food, clothing, spiritual guidance and renewal. Where they lived and their travel patterns were governed by the cycles of nature. Their hunting activities moved with the seasons and the migration of animals. The phases and cycles of the moon were named according to their activities at certain times of the yearly cycle. Learn about the names by clicking the link.
Indigenous Moon names
Their diet depended on the seasonal availability of food they foraged from nature. They followed the cycles of the trees to harvest maple sugar in the spring. The sugar was stored over summer and winter months to sweeten and also preserve food. They used smoking techniques to extend their food supply. They harvested and dried herbs and other plants for flavouring and medicinal purposes. Honey was gathered for sweetening and medicine.
When Indigenous people hunted, they utilized all parts of the animals. They used every part of the plants and trees they gathered and cut so that nothing was wasted. They cared for the earth as it cared for them by providing everything they needed to survive.
The settlers learned to be frugal with their resources as there was limited access to supplies. They used the sun to dry and preserve their food. Cold cellars were dug into the ground to take advantage of the natural coolness of the earth and use the cold temperature to keep food from spoiling in the summer heat. They learned to harvest and use the plants they found around them. Their diets were governed by what items were available seasonally. Their homes were built to take advantage of the southern exposure. Door yard gardens were planted to make good use of the warm temperatures beside the building. These gardens produced herbs to provide flavouring and much needed medicinal ingredients. Gardens were crucial to sustain the family and seeds were carefully kept for future crops. A few potatoes would be saved to use as seed potatoes to produce the next crop. They would be careful not to use their last seed or plant. Several plants were used to create colour for knitting and weaving projects. The Museum has an informative display of some of the materials used for natural dye.
Many decades ago, people knew how to live in harmony with the natural world around them. Today there are people who embrace sustainable environmental practices. It is definitely more challenging in the busy world we live in now. Earth Day is a perfect time to think of how what the people before us did out of necessity and how it was actually a way to live a satisfying life in harmony with nature. Take some time to enjoy the nature around you on Earth Day!
Six Decades of Dedication
The strength and heart of an organization can be seen in the hours of dedication its volunteers commit to it. The Middleville and District Museum has attracted and sustained a long list of individuals and families that have answered the call for decades. In fact, for six decades now. The faces may change over time, but the resolution remains constant. Generations of families have been a part of building, developing and sustaining the Museum. New people join in to keep the Museum moving forward while always maintaining the principles of the past. New technology and outreach blend in with the tried and true processes of a phone call or hand written note. Bringing people together to share in a community based endeavour has always been at the center of the Middleville and District Museum’s mandate.
The Museum survived the challenges of the past few years and has renewed its energy with a vigorous new slate of activities planned for all ages to enjoy in the 2023 season that runs from opening weekend on May 20th to the end of November with a Christmas themed event.
The Middleville and District Museum has no paid staff and relies solely on the many hours of work logged by the volunteer Board of Directors and all the people who step up to open its doors to the public each weekend and support the running of monthly events. Everything that happens at the Museum is the result of a volunteer's generosity.
It has been said that it might be hard to find community these days, but if you look for it, it will present itself. That holds true for the people who look to the Middleville and District Museum for community and find it there. Strong ties, connections and bonds are often formed by the people who come together to sustain the Museum.
Volunteers usually get involved thinking they will find one thing by volunteering at the Museum and end up finding something completely different.
Whether you have 4, 40 or 400 hours to spare, there is a place for you at the Middleville and District Museum this season. The team of friendly and focussed volunteers who keep the doors open and the pubic coming back for more are eager to get started on a new season full of visitors either returning to a beloved place or discovering this gem for the first time.
Check out our volunteer webpage, middlevillemuseum.org to find out all the opportunities awaiting volunteers at the Middleville and District Museum this year. Whether you bake, build or design, there is a role for you. If you love photography, gardening or researching, give us a call. We welcome those with a skill to organize and plan. We need people who enjoy meeting the public and engaging with visitors. We have a diverse roster of events planned with opportunities for a wide range of participation. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see what you can do to lend a hand while you join in the fun.
The Middleville and District Museum has a long history of volunteers who have cared for it over the decades. The current Middleville and District volunteer Board of Directors wishes to thank the many, many volunteers who have been a part of the Museum's history! Happy Volunteer Week, April 16th - 22, 2023.
A Place Called Porcupine Mountain
An oral history tells of Algonquins who made their way from the eastern Quebec regions down the Ottawa River to the Mississippi River when the waterways began to melt in spring. From the Mississippi, they travelled along a smaller river that led them to a pair of lakes. At the south end of the narrow lake, they found a natural rise in the landscape that is known locally as Porcupine Mountain. (C. Smith) A grove of tamarack trees provided food for many porcupines as well as valuable items for the Algonquins. The porcupine quills could serve as needles for stitching and decorative pieces. The tamarack wood was useful for constructing things like snowshoes. The inner bark could be scraped, ground and added to flour. The fresh, spring tree needles were boiled to make a soothing tea. Boiled spring shoots made a nutritious food. The lake nearby provided opportunity to fish and the surrounding forest had plenty of wildlife for hunting. At the base of the natural rise in the land, very large maple trees were abundant. This area was naturally sheltered and made an ideal place for a spring camp and an excellent area to harvest maple sugar.
The following map shows Taylor Lake with the area of Porcupine Mountain being located at the bottom of the map. The map indicates the existence of maple and tamarack trees in that area. A small cottage is indicated by a square at the top, right corner. . This would have been the cabin of Joe Baye. For a clearer version of the map to view these details, click on the map.
It is said that the Algonquins harvested the maple sugar from the trees by making a horizontal slash in the bark of the tree with an axe. A flat piece of birch bark, wood chip or reed was wedged into the cut and positioned on an angle to direct the sap that flowed from the opening to a birch bark trough placed at the bottom of the tree. Birch bark is pliable and liquid proof making it useful for this purpose. When the settlers arrived in the area, they watched as the Algonquins heated rocks in the coals of the fire and then placed these hot rocks into the sap in the birch troughs. They repeated this process until the water content of the sap had evaporated in steam and left a concentrated, sugary substance in the trough. This substance could be scraped out and packed into small bark molds called mokuks. They used this sugar substance to sweeten and preserve their food.
Eventually, as they became available, iron pots were suspended over fire and used to boil sap. Then long, flat pans known as ‘finishing pans’ were placed over dug out troughs with stones placed around the edges to hold the pans over the fire below.
The Middleville and District Museum has an informative and interesting display of maple sugar artifacts. Be sure to check it out on your next visit to the Museum.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.