Every Act of Generosity Counts
"Everyone has something to give and every act of generosity counts!"
Created in 2012 as a way to encourage people to give of their time, money and support to worthy causes, Giving Tuesday has grown to a worldwide movement.
The Middleville and District Museum is once again participating in the Giving Tuesday campaign that culminates on Tuesday, November 29th, 2022.
The Museum exists and thrives because people generously support the ongoing sustainability of the building and the preservation of its artifacts and genealogy records. . Without donors, the Museum would not survive. The public supports the Museum by visiting to view the exhibits, attending fundraising events and volunteering time and services.
The Middleville and District Museum has a volunteer board of directors supported by a multitude of regular and occasional volunteers that care for the Museum with countless hours of service. The Museum also benefits from a strong group of donors of money and materials. For large projects, the Museum relies on financial support from individuals and grants from many organizations and all three levels of government. Many local businesses donate building supplies, gravel and tools. Carpenters and retired craftsmen donate their time and expertise.
A few examples of donations that assisted in hosting the public events this season were bags of apples by McLaren Orchards, Solar Roasted Coffee by Fluid Coffee, baking by local volunteers, materials to dress scarecrows and bales of hay, This all helps the Museum provide fun events for the community.
The Middleville and District Museum is very grateful to have so many generous supporters and donors. Thanks to all those who contribute to the Museum's mission of preservation and education.
Home is Where the Heart Is
Some visitors to the Middleville and District Museum are delighted to find a photograph of a structure built and lived in by their ancestors. The Macaulay-Borrowman Photography Collection includes a few old buildings that testify to the existence of early housing in the area. Other photographs of homesteads are tucked into the pages of family histories waiting to be discovered by a young descendent. Some of these buildings are made of stone and have stood the test of time. Others are log and with a little care over the generations have survived. In many cases, what remains are a few corner stones on a site where a family once built a life that sustained them. The Museum's photo collections have representations of all of these cases.
top row: Watt Homestead, Paul Homestead, middle row: James Homestead, Yuill Homestead, bottom row: Aitken Homestead, Smith Homestead
In the case of the McNichol Homestead, the Museum has the corner stone of the chimney that can be seen in the picture of the cabin. The chimney remained standing tall long after the cabin was taken by time. Descendants of the family brought the corner stone of that chimney to be preserved in the Museum and viewed by generations of the McNichol family.
Be sure to look through the scrapbooks, family histories, albums, photography collections and boxes of photos on your next visit to the Museum. Maybe you'll find a hidden treasure.
A Blanket Tells a Story
In September of 1820, a little girl was born in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland. She grew up to be Janet Paton Beaton. Married to John Beaton at 19, she had two children and a newborn baby when she emigrated to Canada in 1841. It was during the sea voyage that an ordinary, white, woollen blanket became part of a story that is both tragic and a testament to the reality of so many young mothers. An outbreak of measles on the boat claimed the lives of at least fifteen children on board including Janet’s infant son, John. Janet was determined to bury her baby on land rather than the common sea burial that was the rule. She held tight to her baby wrapped in the woollen blanket and disguised the fact that the child had died. When the boat docked and the passengers disembarked, Janet and her husband were able to bury their son on land. Janet’s story is a view into the difficult hardships the emigrants faced a they travelled from their homes in the old country to a new home in the wilderness of a new land.
Janet and her young family found their way to the area now known as Clayton where they lived until moving to Darling Township in 1858 where her husband, John, was a school teacher. Janet lived until 1903.
The blanket that Janet wrapped her baby in to conceal his death on the boat, has survived and is displayed in an exhibit of blankets and shawls that belonged to strong, pioneering women in the Middleville and District Museum. It stands as a link to our past and gives us a view into both the tragedy and resiliency that were a part of their lives.
You can read more about Janet and her family on our Down Memory Lane webpage found on our Collection webpage. Down Memory Lane is a page devoted to family stories.
Thanks to the research and writing of Mary Beth Wylie and Darlene Gerow Jones (Great, Great Granddaughter of Janet Paton Beaton) Janet’s story is brought to light.
The Middleville and District Museum has always had a tradition of welcoming visitors outside its regularly posted hours, but this year, there's an added bonus. The installation of a heat pump in the Spring of 2022 to supply warmth to Rooms 1 and 2 has made it possible for the Museum volunteers to welcome visits, by appointment, in an extended time frame. Previously, the Museum would be very cold as the fahrenheit began to drop outside. This year, parts of the Museum will remain warm. This allows the volunteers to continue to meet and work onsite rather than packing up all items that would perish in the cold and working on Museum projects from an alternate location. This is a game changer! It also allows researchers and visitors who cannot make it to the Museum in summer months to come to the Museum. Room 3 (cabin room) will not be heated so visitors must gage if part of the Museum will be enough to see. There's lots of history and research material in the heated portions of the Museum. We will continue to leave our water on as long as the weather and heat pump permits. Please check our website homepage for the status of our availability to welcome visitors to Room 1 and 2 (old schoolhouse with research materials and first addition housing vehicles and many exhibits).
Although, visitors could still wander through Room 3, the temperature will soon be very cold. Fortunately, there is plenty to see in Room 1 and 2. Researchers will be warm and comfortable in Room 1 with access to records.
If you would like to visit the Middleville and District Museum during the next few months, be sure to contact us through e-mail or by phone. Our volunteers will do their best to accommodate a time for your visit.
Please note: since this was originally posted, we have taken steps to winterize our space. Room 2 is still accessible, but has a large tarp from floor to ceiling to contain heat in a smaller area. Visitors are still welcome to access Room 2, but should speak to a volunteer about their visit ahead of arrival.
Sweet Treat of Autumn
The only apples truly native to North America are crabapples, sometimes called ‘common apples’. These apples are tiny, tart and often grow in the wild. Old, craggily trees can be found in long abandon orchards on early homesteads. Indigenous People are said to have tended to crabapple trees in ‘forest gardens’. They used all parts of these trees. The tough hard wood made strong tools. The fruit provided food and the bark was used for tea and its medicinal properties to treat many ailments. The acidity of crabapples provides a natural preservative which was beneficial for storage over time. The fruit becomes sweeter as it is stored.
The Hudson Bay Company planted crabapple trees near forts to combat scurvy. When settlers arrived, they carried seeds and sometimes even apple tree saplings with them. The first real orchards they established as part of their early agriculture were in the eastern regions of Canada including what is now known as the Eastern Townships. Most of these trees were planted in the late 1800’s. Crabapples were popular for producing cider because of the high level of natural tannins they possessed. As tastes changed, sweeter ‘dessert’ apples became popular and more widely used. Heirloom apple varieties included Golden Russet, Ribston Pippin, Duchess, Snow and Wolf River.
It took one third of a bushel of apples to produce a gallon of cider. The apples were washed, cut and ground into a mash of pulp containing the skin and flesh. This mash was traditionally wrapped in straw and then as time passed, in cloth as it was squeezed to extract the juice. The remaining pulp was called ‘pomace’ and would be fed to farm animals as ‘mash’.
The first commercial cidery in Canada was established on the Saanich Peninsula in British Columbia in 1928. Today, the vintage apple presses that required lots of manual labour have been replaced by machines with hydraulic power. The pure apple juice that is produced by an apple cider press is pasteurized for commercial consumption. To preserve fresh, raw apple juice, it should be heated to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. It can then be stored in sealed, sterilized bottles to be enjoyed throughout the winter months. The pasteurized juice can also be frozen for use at a later date.
The Middleville and District Museum will be using its vintage Apple Press to turn juicy apples into a sweet, liquid treat. Visitors are invited to bring their own containers for a sample. At the event, on Saturday October 8th, 2022, sweet baked, apple treats will be enjoyed by visitors. Recipes, activities and a craft for kids will add to the fun. Come out and enjoy this free, outdoor event at the Museum. Noon – 4 pm. Of course, the Museum will be open to visitors, as well.
The Middleville and District Museum includes the education of visitors in its mandate. It provides information about the significance and harvest of wild rice by Indigenous Peoples in an exhibit by using the voices of Indigenous Peoples to share knowledge of this subject through short videos.
Manoomin (man-oo-min) (Ojibway language) is the only wild grain that is indigenous to North America. Manoomin is not only a very good source of protein, but also has great significance to the Anishinaabeg and is a crucial part of their migration story on Turtle Island (North America). Elders recount the story of ancestors being instructed to head west until they found the food that grows on water. The story tells that they travelled until they found the lake now called Rice Lake.
Manoomin is so important to the Anishinaabeg that it was the first solid food given to their babies (as mazaan, or broken rice) and the last food an Elder was served before passing to the Spirit world.
Manoomin once grew in abundance in shallow lakes and rivers. It provided food and habitat for many wetland fowl and animals. Manoomin is harvested in late August and early September during what is known as the manoominike-giizis or wild rice moon.
Wild rice can be spotted by canoeists and kayakers in some of the shallower waterways in Lanark Highlands. To learn more about wild rice, be sure to visit plentycanada.com where you will find a comprehensive history and report of the subject.
Stories To Be Told
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'
Come to the Fair!
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!
200 Years and Counting...
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.
Save the date...
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!
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.