Lanark Museum – Our Visit to the Past

Lanark sign

Just a short drive from the pretty town of Perth, along the Lanark Road, lush, green, farmers fields welcome us into the Township of Lanark Highlands.  We follow the blue skies, and warm, summer winds, into the village of Lanark, and pull up near our destination –  the Lanark and District Museum.

Ann and Arlene in front of museum

Greeted warmly by Anne Graham, we make our way up the well-worn steps, into a very special place, where the caretakers and guardians of our history, preserve our memories, our stories, and our heritage.

 

Events board Lanark Museum

 

If you walk along George Street in Lanark, you will see a sign out front, greeting visitors,  listing upcoming events, and welcoming all, with no charge for admission, and donations accepted.  Anyone seeking knowledge, or in search of their history, is assured that they’ve come to the right place.

Not far from the front entrance, a plaque displays the names of those who went above and beyond, volunteering their time and expertise, throughout the decades, to keep the museum running smoothly.

 

volunteers Lanark Museum

 

A photo on the wall reminds us of those who played key roles in the earliest days of the museum.  Their foresight and dedication to preserving our local history leaves a lasting legacy, that will be enjoyed for many generations to come.

 

Key players Lanark Museum

 

Many of us have ancestors from the area who served in the military, and the Lanark Museum has many displays highlighting our local heroes.  Perhaps your ancestor is one of these soldiers who has been featured in the museum’s display cases.

War memorials Lanark Museum

 

The museum also features a number of Rolls of Honour, listing the names of soldiers from the area who fought bravely for our country.

 

Roll of Honour case

 

There are a tremendous number of local photographs.   It’s great fun to see the old cars, some of the buildings no longer with us, and even recognize some of the smiling faces in these photos.

 

Local photos

 

The museum is fortunate to have the help of two students for the summer.  Meagan was kind enough to document our visit using her photography skills.

 

Meghan Lanark County

 

There is a wonderful display of original telegrams, some sent, and some received, by the Lavant Station, many years ago.  These are real treasures, and give us some insight into the past and how different life was in those days!  There are lots of familiar surnames on these telegrams, and some even provide a window into our family histories!

 

Telegrams

 

Along with the countless documents displayed there are also some lovely artifacts.  The old wash bowl reminds us of the times before indoor plumbing was standard in our homes.  We can imagine how different our ancestor’s lives might have been, and how carrying water from an outside well into the home was a daily event for these pioneers.

 

wash bowl

 

If your ancestors lived in McDonald’s Corners there is a wonderful remembrance displayed, honoring those who served their country, so well, and so faithfully.

 

McDonald's Corners war memorial

 

There are also a number of displays listing those soldiers who attended specific area schools and the names of those who served.

 

SS8 War memorial

 

Another of the many area schools and their lists of those in service.

 

SS 12

 

The Lanark Museum has many, many of these displays, and this is only a small sampling of what is available to view.

 

SS13 Drummond

 

Being a history buff, it wasn’t easy to tear myself away from all of the exhibits in the museum, and get down to business, and read a couple of stories from my books.  I chose two stories from “Lanark County Kid – My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”.  I read one about a childhood visit to Lanark, and shopping for back-to-school clothing at the Kitten Mill.

My second story was “Balderson Cheese – Craving the Curd”.  Our family often went on Sunday drives, and a visit to Balderson for a bag of soft squeaky curd, was something not to be missed!  In the story, we go behind the counter, and watch the Master Cheesemaker, Omar Matte, and the others, while they stir the vats of heated milk, and then press the curds into big wooden circular presses.  Considering that the factory is no longer there, it is a precious memory to have witnessed this process.

 

book table Lanark Museum

 

There are some really wonderful displays highlighting the Kitten Mill, and those who worked there over the years.

 

Kitten Mill 1

 

The Museum has done a wonderful job of preserving the artifacts and documents from the days of the Glenayr Kitten mills, and reminding us of the impact to employment and the economic influence to the village.

Kitten Mill 2

I think that many of us remember visiting the factory outlets, and all of the wonderful knitted clothing produced locally.

 

Kitten 3

 

One of the special highlights for me was a visit with the Shamrock Quilt.  While we can’t be sure of the date of its origin, I recall seeing it displayed at the museum many, many years ago, and was delighted to see it once again.  This quilt is embroidered with the names of local families.  If your family lived in the area it would be worth the trip to see this marvelous quilt, and discover your ancestor’s name embroidered in green.

 

Shamrock quilt 1

 

The Shamrock Quilt holds a special connection for Doris Quinn and myself.   My Dad’s Aunt, Julia Stafford, married William Quinn, and both the Quinn and Stafford families are among the many, many, names on this precious artifact.  It was a wonderful moment to be able to stand beside Doris, and see those names from the past, those who are no longer with us, but remain forever in our hearts.

 

Shamrock 2

Photo below:   Julia Stafford and Bill Quinn, on their wedding day, Sept. 14, 1909.

Julia Stafford Bill Quinn

 

The following, are just a few squares, a small sample from the quilt, to show how the names have been stitched and displayed.

 

Shamrock 3

There are many other squares that were not photographed.  Anyone with ancestors from this area may want to visit the quilt themselves for a more in depth look.

 

Shamrock 4

 

Another square of the quilt, but the quilt is enormous, and would be best viewed in person.

 

Shamrock 5

 

A final square from this historic piece.  Hopefully the museum will photograph and digitize the entire quilt.  That might be an interesting and very worthwhile project for the summer students!

 

Shamrock 6

 

The late afternoon held a wonderful surprise – a visit from an old friend Susan Newberry Sarsfield.  It was a real delight to visit with Susan, her Mom, and her daughter!

Susan at the Museum

 

Like all good things, our visit to the Lanark Museum came to an end, and our host Anne Graham, kindly walked us out and into the sunny July afternoon.

It was a day filled with history, and the importance of preserving our past.  There are few tasks more essential than being the caretakers of our heritage.  The Lanark Museum is the proud custodian of our region’s artifacts, memories, stories, and treasures.

 

street in front of museum

Many thanks to the kind folks at the Lanark and District Museum for hosting us, and sharing their collection of priceless treasures.  Thanks also to the visitors who stopped by to share some stories and recollections.   Anne, Norma, Gene, Doris – it was so nice to spend time with you – thanks for helping to make our day special.

 

As we said goodbye, and headed down the highway,  we are struck by the pristine beauty of the Lanark Highlands, the clear waters, the fresh air, and the greenery as far as the eye can see, on this beautiful summer day.

 

Until we meet again…..

 

 

Country road summer

 

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com
Stories for the Lanark Museum readings from:
“Lanark County Kid:  My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”
‘Lanark Sweaters – Soft as a Kitten’
‘Balderson Cheese – Craving the Curd’
ISBN 978-0-9877026-16

Local History Comes to Life at the Book Launch for “Lanark County Connections”

The warm September weather last weekend brought residents and visitors alike to the historic streets of Perth, Ontario.  One of the liveliest spots on Saturday was The Book Nook, situated along picturesque Gore Street, as they hosted the launch of “Lanark County Connections: Memories Among the Maples”.

LCC book launch purple coat and ArleneLCC book launch Arlene & Leslie

Leslie Wallack, owner of The Book Nook, displayed stacks of all five books including “Lanark County Kid”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle” and “Recipes & Recollections”. They were artfully arranged on a rustic table, the perfect place to chat, and have the book personalized, or signed as a special gift for friends or family, in the upcoming holiday season.

LCC book launch visitors from Toronto # 2LCC book launch Shirley's grandaughter

Book lovers and well-wishers came from near and far, to be among the first to read the latest release “Lanark County Connections”. Chapter 1 begins with the story of Antler Lodge, an old-style dancehall. Beloved in its hey-day, it was known as ‘the place to go’ to hear some of the best country music in the Ottawa Valley.

LCC book launch Diana Sawyer Margery ArleneLCC book launch Ute and Arlene

In another story, the reader is introduced to the wealthy Stewart family of Perth, and learns of a scandal involving the much-publicized court battle to determine the rightful heirs to the McLaren Distillery fortune.   In the chapter featuring Matheson House, now the Perth Museum, readers share in a ghostly encounter with a restless spirit, set in the lush gardens of this historic property.

LCC book launch Helen Don Arlene seatedLCC book launch Kevin Bower Arlene Fran

In one of the more light-hearted tales, the author takes the reader on a laid-back bus tour, set in the 1970s, as it weaves its way through Drummond, Ramsay, Darling, and Dalhousie townships, on Lanark County’s back roads, meeting some delightful local characters, and visiting some lesser-known scenic gems.

LCC book launch Arlene at tableLCC book launch Arlene & Tracy

Readers are encouraged to scan through the index at the back of “Lanark County Connections” to see if they recognize any of the local names featured.

LCC book launch Peter and familyLCC book launch Arlene & Kevin

Special thanks to those who travelled considerable distances to attend the book launch; the new faces and the more familiar faces as well, and to all who made the event such a great success!

LCC book launch visitor from radio broadcase

www.staffordwilson.com

Lanark County Quilting Legends – of the 1950s, 60s and 70s

Almost every family had one – a quilter; someone who could take random bits of cloth, even scraps or rags, and turn them into a work of art. They were the creative ones; usually the quiet ones, sitting off in a corner, away from the crowds, working on their quilting blocks, embellishing their squares of cloth with embroidery, and intricate stitchery. They were the serious ones, labouring with precision, ensuring that their stitches were evenly spaced, even in places hidden deep within the seams of the cloth.

Ladies quilting # 2Ladies quilting # 3quilts at the fair

These quilters were the unsung heroes of home crafting. Blessed with nimble fingers, tireless hands, and meticulous sight, they turned the family’s cast-off clothing and abandoned fabrics into beautifully designed bedcovers; fit for the coldest Eastern Ontario winters. Often young, inexperienced hands worked alongside older, farm-weathered hands, at community quilting bees. The older ones were the masters, the coaches, and the instructors, guiding the young ones on the finer points of their art.

quilting at the frame

 

Pattern:  Parasol Ladies

umbrella ladies quilt

Pattern:  Log Cabin

log cabin pattern

 

Pattern:  Double Wedding Ring

Double Wedding Ring

Many of these artisans were sociable, and organized quilting bees, welcoming all of the ladies in the neighbourhood. They assembled quilting frames, and set up sturdy, wooden chairs all around, inviting the experienced and the not-so-experienced, to join the circle.

ladies around quilting frame

There were lively conversations along with occasional laughter and story-telling, mixed in with the stitching. The quilting bees always ended on a high note – with hot tea poured lovingly into delicate china cups, served alongside decadent homemade cookies and squares.

cookie and tea

 

A few quilted on their own, but many were members of local churches, community organizations, or Womens’ Institutes.

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Eleanor Conboy’s Quilts

Eleanor Conboy  (Eleanor was the daughter of George Garrett and Edith Armstrong)

Eleanor Conboy (1922-2015) was an avid quilter, and good friend to my mother.  They often worked at the quilting ‘bees’ together, at neighbour Lottie Jordan’s house.

Many thanks to Trina McMillan Conboy for sharing the photos below, of some of Eleanor’s beautiful quilts!

Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 1     Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 2

Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 3   Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 4

Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 6   Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 7

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Some of the most active quilting groups

in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in Lanark County:

 

Balderson Women’s Institute

Bethel Women’s Institute

Calvin United Church – Calvinettes, and U.C.W

Drummond Centre Women’s Institute

Elphin community quilters

Flower Station community quilters

Glad Tidings Tabernacle Church, Ladies group, Perth, ON

Harper Women’s Institute

Hopetown community quilters

Innisville – St. John’s Women’s Association

Lanark – Catholic Women’s League

Maberly United Church W.A.

McMartin House, Perth, ON

St. John’s Church Perth – Catholic Women’s League, Perth, ON

Port Elmsley Women’s Institute

Rideau Ferry United Church Women’s Group

Salvation Army Church, Perth, ON

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Women’s Missionary Society, Perth, ON

St. James Anglican Church, Perth, ON

St. Paul’s United Church, Ladies group, Perth, ON

Watson’s Corners U.C.W.

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The highlight of the year for many in farm country, was to enter quilts, sewing, needlepoint and other handy-work into the local fairs with the hopes of winning a first prize, second prize or third prize ribbon.

Fair quilt display

Many of us who lived in rural areas looked forward each year to the local agricultural fairs.  Our mother, Audry Stafford judged the quilts at area fairs, and those as far away as Madoc and Tweed.

Perth Fair logo on blue

prize ribbons
Audry Stafford judging a quilt

(missing text – First Place awarded to Gladys Haughian)

Whether quilts were entered in the local Fairs, raffled as church fundraisers, or created to keep family members warm on those cold Lanark County winter nights, – they each had their own unique beauty.

Some area quilters were known for their meticulous stitching, their creative designs, or how quickly they could complete their work.

Some quilters were so skilled that they even made the headlines of the local newspapers.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Port Elmsley Womens Institute

Completes Quilt at One Sitting  ! ! !

 

Port Elmsley quilters complete

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Do you remember some of Lanark County’s Quilters

of the 1950s, 60s and 70s?

Mrs. Ralph Affleck

Mrs. Alexander

Mrs. Elsie Anderson

Mrs. Ralph Barrie

Mrs. E. Benedict

Miss Jean Blair

Mrs. Bothwell

Mrs. Boyce

Mrs. F.J. Byrne

Mrs. Mildred Briggs

Isobel Cameron

Lillian Cameron

Marguerite Cameron

Mrs. Stewart Cameron

Mrs. Walter Cameron

Mrs. Joseph Chamney

Mrs. Charlton

Mrs. R. Charlton

Mrs. Churchill

Eleanor Conboy

Mrs. Conlin

Mrs. Cooper

Mrs. Charles Crampton

Mrs. George Crampton

Mrs. Clarke Devlin

Mrs. Cecil Dobbie

Mrs. Hilda Donnelly

Mrs. M.J. Donohoe

Mrs. Barbara Dowdall

Mrs. Betty Dowdall

Mrs. H. Duby

Mrs. Clarence Ennis

Mrs. H. Ferguson

Mrs. Dave Foster

Isobel Foster

Marlene Foster

Mrs. B. Fournier

Heather Fournier

Mrs. M.J. Furlong

Maria Fyfe

Miss Mae Gallinger

Mrs. Gamble

Mrs. Clifford Gardiner

Mrs. Lillian Gardiner

Mrs. Oliver Gardiner

Mrs. Thomas Gardiner

Mrs. Adam Geddes

Mrs. Aldon Gray

Mrs. Beverly Hall

Mrs. Earl Hallaren

Mrs. Charles Hermer

Mrs. George Ireton

Mrs. A. Ireton

Mrs. Harry Ireton

Joan Irvine

Mrs. James

Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Keays Jordan

Marion Jordan

Mary Jordan

Mrs. Edward Joynt

Mrs. Kennedy

Mrs. W.P. Kilfoyle

Mrs. Keith Knapp

Mrs. James King

Mrs. Violet Kirkham

Ethel Korry

Mrs. John Larmon

Mrs. Manion

Mrs. C. Matheson

Eleanor McInnis

Mrs. Alex McIntyre

Mrs. McPhee

Mrs. Charles Miller

Edith Miller

Mrs. Ernest Miller

Mrs. Forrest Miller

Mary Miller

May Miller

Mrs. Robert Moodie

Mrs. Eleanor Munroe

Miss Ursula Murphy

Mabel Palmer

Mrs. John Pennett

Mrs. Thomas Phelan

Mrs. Lester Polk

Mary Popplewell

Mrs. Ed Rathwell

Mrs. John Reid

Christine Rice

Florence Rice

Miss Jean Riddell

Mrs. Norman Richardson

Jean Scott

Dorothy Scragg

Eleanor Senkler

Mrs. H. Shaw

Mrs. A.M. Sheppard

Miss Elspeth Smith

Mrs. Somerville

Miss Spence

Audry Stafford

Mrs. Frank Stead

Mrs. Harold Stead

Mary Stewart

Mrs. Stokes

Mrs. E. Thompson

Madge Thompson

Bertha Toutant

Mrs. John Vanden Bosch

Mrs. George Wales

Mrs. Mabel Walroth

Mrs. H. Warwick

Mrs. Sadie Watson

Mrs. Allan Weidenmaier

Mrs. Fred Weidenmaier

Mrs. W.G. Weir

Mrs. Wilfred Wesley

Alice White

Mrs. J. White

Mrs. Roy White

Mrs. Murray Wilson

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quilt pattern book

vintage quilt books

Quilt pattern in Perth Courier

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15 Characteristics

of an outstanding Quilter:

  1. They possess the patience and commitment to complete a long-term project such as a quilt
  2. They have the skill and precision to produce work with fine craftsmanship
  3. They have an artistic eye for good design
  4. They have tremendous self discipline to produce consistent stitching throughout the piece
  5. They have a natural gift of creativity and originality
  6. They have a rare ability to see connections in patterns, and to draw ideas from many sources
  7. They possess a high level of esthetic skills in order to situate patterns to set them off to their advantage
  8. They have the ability to focus on solutions, not on regrets. When they make mistakes, they learn from experience
  9. They experiment with open minds in order to improve
  10. They meaningfully communicate with others in the quilting circle to share ideas
  11. They create designs that have the power to withstand time
  12. Their works are easily distinguished from others of their own time
  13. They have the ability to portray light, perspective, color and space
  14. They teach others and pass down their knowledge
  15. They inspire others to be the best they can be!

These quilting legends of Lanark County passed down their knowledge, and left their legacy in the form of the beautiful quilts that they produced. They were the gifted artisans of their time, and will be remembered for their delicate stitching and colourful designs, works of art that will be handed down through families, for generations to come.

***If you remember a Lanark County quilter, or a quilting organization, (1950s-70s) that has not been mentioned in this article, please send their name in the ‘comments’ box below, and they will be added.

To discover more about quilting in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in Lanark County, read “The Quilting Queens of Lanark County”, from “Lanark County Connections – Memories Among the Maples”

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Book Review – OTTAWA LIFE MAGAZINE

Ottawa Life Magazine reviewLanark County Connections small book cover

“Lanark County Connections – Memories Among the Maples”

In her latest collection of short stories, Ottawa author Arlene Stafford-Wilson remains loyal to the past; faithfully reconstructing the rural Ontario of her childhood. She has crafted these stories, once again set in Lanark County in the 1960s and 70s, with attention to detail; so that people and places, lost and gone in the real world, remain alive on the pages.

As the book begins, the reader is invited to step back in time to enjoy some carefree summer evenings at an old style country dance hall on the Rideau Lakes, known as Antler Lodge. Perth is the setting for another story, where the reader is transported back to an elegant mansion in the 1960s, where the secrets and scandals of its wealthy inhabitants are revealed. Also, in this collection, the author shares an eerie encounter on Gore Street, with a restless spirit, who walks the halls of their childhood home. In one of the more light-hearted tales, the author takes the reader on a laid-back bus tour, set in the 1970s, as it weaves its way through Drummond, Ramsay, Darling, and Dalhousie townships, on Lanark County’s back roads, meeting some delightful local characters, and visiting some lesser-known scenic gems.

The lives of ordinary people sing out from these historical stories, which take place over two decades of closely observed regional life. As in her previous books, the author weaves the names of local people throughout the stories, and includes each name in an index at the back. You may even find your own name in the book!

(Author of “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid” & “Recipes & Recollections”)

http://www.staffordwilson.com