100 000 British children were sent from Britain to Canada between 1869 and 1932. These children who became known as 'Home Children' ranged in age from as young as three to as old as 17 years. Conditions in Britain made it especially challenging for families to care for their children. Many were sent to orphanages or shelters as a way to survive. When these places became overcrowded, a plan was formed to send children from there to Canada to work on farms. The families who agreed to take the children were required to register them in school and ensure they attended Church. In return for food and lodging, the children would work on the farms. Some were adopted into families and lived many years as part of the family. Others were not well treated and faced many difficult hardships. The Middleville and District Museum is researching local Home Children and seeking information from the community to fill in many blanks in the lives of these children. The children pictured above were raised in the local area and have been a recent focus of the Museum's research. Other names are being discovered. On Saturday, September 24th, 2022, the Middleville and District Museum will be recognizing National Home Child Day by sharing historical information about British Home Children and details that have been gathered on the children pictured above. David Murdoch will be at the Museum (noon - 4 pm) to answer questions from the public and listen to stories about Home Children. Visitors interested in this subject should plan to attend to learn more and discover the resiliency of these children as they lived their lives. Refreshments will be served. We hope to see you!
'I want to be like a sunflower
so that even on my darkest days,
I will stand tall and find the sunlight'
In 1917, community members were welcomed to the Middleville Fair by beautiful posters designed to appeal to the audience of the day.
The Middleville Fair has a long tradition of entertainment for visitors of all ages. The earliest days focused on produce and livestock of the highest quality. Even this many years later, the exhibit halls will be laden with fine quality products for all to admire. Animals will be in the spotlight to delight the audience. Heritage vehicles and tools of all kinds will demonstrate how things used to be done. Of course, a homecooked turkey supper will top off a day of fun. Gates open at 10 am.
Fair Board Directors for 1930
How many can you name? We need your help! We have a few clues below to help you out.
The Middleville and District Museum will open early at 10 am to welcome visitors while a team of Museum volunteers will also be at the Fairgrounds to greet fairgoers. Look for our display table on the Fairgrounds or take a stroll down the road to the Museum itself.
We'll have the 'Directors of 1930' picture and list of names on our display table so drop by and help us match up the names. Hope to see you there!
The year 1820 saw the departure of several sailing ships from the seaport of Greenock, Scotland. The Commerce, Prompt and Brock made the challenging trek across the Atlantic to dock in Quebec City. Immigrants made the long and grueling journey by scow, wagon and walking from Prescott to Brockville and then northward to New Perth. By August, a supply depot and registry office had been constructed at the direction of Colonel William Marshall on the banks of the Clyde River in a newly surveyed township. Lot numbers were drawn in the new township and the newcomers made their way with guides through the dense forest in search of a surveyor's mark to claim their lot. This was the beginning of Scottish settlement of the Township of Lanark. The Middleville and District Museum will join other community members of Lanark Highlands in Beckwith Park at the annual Lanark County Harvest Festival on Sunday, September 11th, 2022 from 11 am to 4 pm. The Museum will have a display of Lanark Township history and Museum information. The Harvest Festival runs from 11 am to 4 pm and showcases local farmers and vendors celebrating local producers, food, music and history. This mainly outdoor event will provide fun for all ages. Drop by the Middleville and District Museum's display table to learn about what the Museum has to offer. Hope to see you there.
The Middleville and District Museum has several events planned for the fall months.
Be sure to mark your calendars and join us.
British Home Child Day
The history of British Home Children is not well known by most people in Canada. In the mid 1800's to the early 1900's, 100 000 British Children were brought to Canada and sent to farms and homes mainly in rural areas. The stories of these children have not often been told.
The Museum has been researching and compiling information on British Home Children who were raised locally. An exhibit celebrating the lives of these resilient individuals will be on display in September.
Please join us on Saturday, September 24th, 2022 (noon - 4 pm) to celebrate the lives of the local Home Children. David Murdoch will be on hand to answer questions. Visitors are encouraged to share names and stories they have of Home Children they knew. The information collected through this project will be preserved for future reference in the Museum.
Apple Cider Day
The Museum's old cider press will be pressed into action once again this fall. This popular family fun activity is returning to the Museum in October.
Families are invited to participate in this outdoor event on Saturday, October 8th, 2022 on the Museum grounds, noon - 4pm.
Come and join in the fun as we turn rosy apples into sweet cider. You can bring along some apples if you wish, but we'll have plenty on hand to try your hand at pressing cider. If you would like to take a sample of cider home with you, be sure to bring along your own container.
Christmas Past at the Museum
A Family Fun Event is happening just in time for the Christmas Card family photo! The Middleville and District Museum will be decorating its lovely, old schoolhouse door for the Christmas season. An event is planned for the last weekend of November.
Families can enjoy hot apple cider, gingerbread cookie decorating and , of course, posing for a great family photograph just in time for sending Christmas cards whether traditional or online.
Plan to visit us to see the decorations and join in the fun as we get ready for Christmas.
We hope you will be able to join us for some or all our events this fall. We look forward to your visit!
The Middleville and District Museum is excited to launch its History in a Suitcase Program for local schools in Lanark County this fall. As students head back to school, teachers will be able to access the suitcases and bring them right into their classrooms and use the contents with their students. Materials for activities will be included and , of course, a little history!
As students go back to school this fall, The Middleville and District Museum is eager to connect with classrooms around Lanark County. A project made possible with funding from Perth and District Community Foundation has been underway. Vintage suitcases are being packed with information and activities that reflect different themes. In one suitcase, the history of postal services in Lanark County at the turn of the century will be included along with letter writing activities and custom made Middleville and District Museum postage ‘stamps’. Students will learn about how mail delivery has changed over time and the way people communicated before e-mail. When students and teachers open the suitcase, they will discover the materials for writing and sending postcards. The postcards are made using the Museum’s photo collections inspired by the common practice of turning personal photos into postcards in the past. Another suitcase will include a class set of specially designed looms for weaving a bookmark. A supply of yarn is included to get these projects started. Students will learn weaving terms like warp and weft. This activity will lend itself well to teaching patterning while learning about how textiles were made in the early days of the County. The story of the Museum’s travelling barn loom will add some historical knowledge. Other suitcases will focus on topics like the General Store with a focus on measurement and money. Materials to practice the art of calligraphy will introduce students to cursive writing and how students completed their lessons in the one room schoolhouse. A case with environmental activities will provide an opportunity to learn about animal tracks and the historical relationship between humans and their surroundings and how they depended on the land for their everyday survival.
The suitcases will be available for teachers to sign out and have in their classrooms in the upcoming school year. A sign out system will soon be available on the Museum’s Educational Resources website page. The suitcases could also be available for home schooling programs.
The Middleville and District Museum is grateful for the support provided through funding from Perth and District Community Foundation for this project. The funding enabled the hiring of two students to prepare materials and compile activities. The project provides an opportunity for the Museum to connect with teachers and students throughout Lanark County.
One of the items that garnered a spot in the crowded travel trunks of the Immigrants that came to Canada in the early 1800’s was a musical instrument. Fiddles and flutes were common instruments that were brought and used for entertainment in the long, winter evenings and local community events. Music brought both solace and joy to the isolated lives of the settlers. Most communities had a great deal of musical talent to draw on for entertainment at social functions. Middleville had a string band formed in the 1870’s that was still in existence into the 1900’s. John Blackburn, George Affleck, James Borrowman, A.M. Blackburn, James Rankin, David Guthrie, Wm. Borrowman, John K. Affleck, William Middleton and James C. Kemp were members of the band.
A Grand Concert was planned for February 18, 1910 in the Town Hall in Middleville. The admission of 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children would help to raise funds to build 'granolithic' sidewalks in the village. The program promised ‘readings, recitations, dialogues, drills, vocal and instrumental music’.
In the Music Exhibit, The Middleville and District Museum has a cello made by John Blackburn, a dulcimer, a concertina accordion, a Victor record player owned by James and Mary Bowes and two flutes played by John Blackburn and Archibald Penman. There is a partial violin made by Thomas Pretty in the late 1800’s. The Rosetta Violin of 1896 and its story is a delightful artifact for music fans.
The Middleville and District Museum has several examples of sheet music from yesteryear.
Small communities might be fortunate enough to have a doctor in the neighbourhood while more remote settlers would need to make a long trip to fetch the doctor. Some doctors might have a horse and buggy to make house calls around the area. A doctor’s office would usually be a room in his house set aside for his medical books and to see patients. The tools available to a doctor could be intimidating to patients, but it was the only option available.
Electro Magnetic machines would be used to administer electric shock to patients in hopes of relieving all sorts of ailments like: paralysis, palsies, rheumatism, tumors, chilblains, inflammations, sprains and incontinence.
Some entrepreneurs took advantage of the vacuum in medicine and services and pedaled new products with claims of treating just about any ailment.
The greatest fear in a community was infectious disease. The ability to combat and stop the spread of disease was hampered by the lack of sanitary conditions available to people. Authorities would go to great lengths to stop and eradicate disease before it could wipe out a population. They took disease control very seriously.
When a family contracted a contagious disease, the entire home would be quarantined and the extreme measure of fumigating the premises would take place. The Museum has a Formaldehyde Generator Fumigation Device that was capable of delivering formaldehyde into a space through a long a pipe. This would be used to rid a room of infection. In some cases, following a serious infestation of disease, entire houses would be burned to the ground in an attempt to stop the spread of disease.
The medical display at the Middleville and District Museum has many interesting items on display. Information about local Doctors and Nurses is noted and several books about home remedies and general health advice in the early 1900's offer visitors a glimpse into early medicine. Drop by to check it all out.
Agriculture has seen many changes since the early days in Lanark Township. The Middleville and District Museum has information, books and artifacts to guide visitors through the transition from the early days of farming to more 'modern' farming techniques.
This summary of the census report of 1851 records the farm's animals and produce. It is thought to be typical for a farm at that time in the Galbraith area.
This information is from the Collection of research papers by Ralph Manning available at the Museum. Mr. Manning once owned this particular farm in later years.
The Middleville and District Museum has six volumes of the Ontario Agricultural Commission Report of 1881. These books contain much information on the state of the land and agricultural progress of the settlers in each of the local townships and are helpful in researching aspects of settler life at the time.
The following McCaulay-Borrowman photos in the Museum's Collection depict some of the day to day agricultural chores that made up the lives of those in the community at the time.
Harvest time would bring the community together to share in the work and also provide a much needed social time.
The Middleville and District Museum has many artifacts used in agriculture over the generations. Visitors can even see a hay fork suspended from a beam.
The cut outs found on a few barns in the area have been preserved in the exhibit. The Ireton Brothers sawed a diamond cross pattern in the barns they built. This diamond cross pattern was salvaged by Dwight James when he dismantled the Charles Pretty barn in Rosetta. The heart cut outs from a log stable were rescued by Claudia Smith
A Grain Fanner was a standard piece of equipment on most farms.
The Grain Fanner pictured was donated to the Museum by Bob and Elmer Reid.
Grain was put in the top and then screens and levers could be adjusted according to the type and quality of the grain. The ‘fan’ blew the lighter chaff and poorer quality seeds out the back while the heavier grain kernels were shaken through the screens and out the front at the bottom. This could be used as feed or for next year’s planting grain.
A Tiffin Tin would be an early version of our modern day thermal products used to keep the much needed hearty meal hot for a farmer working all day in the fields.
The Middleville and District Museum has many items on display to interest those with a curiosity about early agriculture. Drop by and have a look.
Marking one hundred and fifty years is cause for quite a celebration, but few could ever have imagined what would unfold when the planning committee started to draw up ideas for what would become known far and wide over the next decade as 'PIONEER DAYS'. The year was 1970 and Middleville, a community located in the 'middle' of Lanark Township, set out to commemorate the arrival of the mainly Scottish immigrants in 1820 to the area. It was recorded that Middleville boasted about 90 residents in 1970. The community had a reputation for pulling together and getting things done. Dignitaries were invited, a parade was planned and the call went out across the Township to dust off antiques, tune up old engines and plan to celebrate everything from yesteryear. Word travelled fast and owners of antiques from all around the area started to get ready to head to Middleville on August 2nd and 3rd. What happened next was truly astounding.
The weekend programme in August of 1970 promised a little something for everyone!
The event kicked off with a good, old fashioned country dance in the hall on Saturday night. Then Sunday would start off with a interdenominational Church Service honouring the strong ties the immigrants had to their faith. Following that, the crowd was treated to displays of antique steam engines, horse and dog powered mechanisms and demonstrations of just about anything the pioneers had done in their daily lives. There was lots of food on offer catered by local Women's groups and a chicken barbecue that quickly became a highlight. The days were filled with contests like catch the greasy pig, bubble gum blowing, wood chopping and sawing. There were prizes handed out for best costumes and several beard growing categories. A stage was filled with musical acts from the area. All the village's various halls were filled with displays of handicrafts and memorabilia. The old stone school was re-opened with a historical township school display. This school later became the original space for what is now the Middleville and District Museum.
The parade on holiday Monday was a highlight not to be missed! In one year, 265 entries made their way from one end of the village to another delighting crowds that lined the streets.
When the dust settled on the event, the villagers knew they were on to something and plans began for a second 'Pioneer Days' celebration. The first years' estimated attendance was about 10 000 people. Original sponsors, the Lanark Township Volunteer Fire Department, were able to use proceeds from the event to purchase a new pumper truck for $6000. The second year's proceeds allowed for much needed renovations to the fire hall and some additional equipment. The second Pioneer Days had a well known special guest speaker, Dr. Charlotte Whitton, who recounted 150 years of Lanark County's history to a crowd of about 3000 at an open air interdenominational Church service.
With each successive year, Pioneer Days drew bigger crowds, welcomed more activities and exhibits and became a must see event of the summer. Countless volunteers worked endless hours to put on a great show. Entertainment talent and exhibitors came from far and wide to be a part of this event. It grew and grew.
As many things do, Pioneer Days eventually ran its course after a decade of tremendous success. The time commitment for volunteers became too onerous and eventually the community made the hard decision to discontinue this phenomenal enterprise. Pioneer Days will long live on in the memories of those who were fortune enough to have attended. Just the mention of it brings a flood of memories of a time when a little hamlet of about ninety, swelled to tens of thousands of visitors every summer for a glorious weekend of celebration. The Middleville and District Museum has a collection of memorabilia of Pioneer Days and is planning a special exhibit next season. It will be sure to bring back a few memories of a bygone time.
The Middleville and District Museum is home to many modes of transportation. From large to small, these vehicles have moved people from one place to another for generations. Most of them have been replaced by fancier versions, but these specimens pay tribute to the ingenuity of our ancestors who needed to get from here to there. Enjoy a trip down memory lane in the photos of these historical vehicles. Then drop by the Museum to get a closer look.
This 1922 Model T Ford Car owned by Arnold Gibson of Hopetown is popular with visitors to the Museum. Arnold drove this vehicle during the years from 1932 to 1954 when he worked as a lineman for the Hopetown Telephone Company.
This 1918 Chevrolet Model ‘T’ Truck is one of 900 built. The chassis was often purchased and the owner could build a vehicle body to suit their own particular needs. Some were made into fire trucks, delivery trucks and medical vehicles. Clive Rodgers bought and began to restore this chassis in 2002. The next eight years were spent sourcing parts and in some cases making them. The completed project resulted in a truck that resembled the one pictured in an advertisement for this vehicle in 1918.
The Royal Mail Stage was used for the ‘Conveyance of His Majesty’s Mails’ in 1912 between Lanark and Middleville. This Stage was driven by John E Blackburn. Letters were collected by mail drivers on rural mail routes and delivered to the Middleville Post Office. The Royal Mail Stage was used to transport these letters in locked mailbags to the Lanark Post Office. The Stage was replaced by a cutter in winter months. A second seat could carry passengers and some parcels for a small fare. A trunk attached to the back carried the mailbags. Villagers could listen for the horn sounded as the Mail Stage approached its destination.
1919 McLaughlin Cutter Made by McLaughlin Carriages, Brockville
Cutters were smaller and lighter vehicles than sleighs. A buffalo robe and a warmer drawer for inserting heated bricks or coals to keep feet warm were necessities for any length of trip.
This early Fire Vehicle was not used as a mode of transportation, but nevertheless, was of great importance to the community. A 60 gallon Fire Extinguisher on wheels was bought in 1930 and was drawn by manpower. Soda and sulphuric acid were mixed with water to produce the chemical that forced the water out of the nozzle on the end of the hose. This was considered a huge step up from previous fire fighting equipment in the village which consisted of special pails and ladders kept in the local stores and Church shed. The pails had an extra handle on the bottom and thereby could not be used for any other purpose to ensure they were always ready in case of fire.
This Farm Wagon, belonging to Archie and Bella (Baird) Gibson of Lot 17, Concession 1, Lanark Township, was used to take grist to Hopetown mill and peas to Herron Mills to make pease brose. The wagon was also used to haul milk cans and as a general vehicle to carry other cargo and passengers on a second seat.
Carts drawn by oxen were used for a variety of jobs. In one case, the Reid family, of Lanark Township, used one to travel all the way from Middleville to Sarnia, Ontario in 1844. The trip probably took about 40 days one way on a bumpy trail.
The Museum's ox cart is from the mid 1800’s and originally came from the Rodger farm in Arklan. Restored and donated by Bob Reid of Middleville.
Young's Hearse from the late 1800's was owned and operated by the Young Funeral Home in Lanark Village. It was used for funerals throughout Lanark Township. A team of all black horses with black draperies were used to pull the hearse. It had buggy wheels for most of the year and a set of runners for winter funerals. A child's funeral would have white horses pulling the hearse. Long lines of buggies carrying family, friends and neighbours would follow the hearse in a long procession along the roads to the burial ground or cemetery. The hearse is owned by descendants of the Young family originally from Rosetta and is on display at the Museum.
The Museum is a great place for vehicle enthusiasts to visit and admire these historical gems. Plan to drop by and see them up close and marvel at the detail of the craftsmanship. Hope to see you soon.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.