Sunday, 28 February 2016

Mission Soda Sign

 This cardboard advertising sign for Mission soft drinks came to my house from the Sinclair home in the late 1980's. The colour on it remains bright and it hangs in my basement to hopefully keep it that way.  It was in the attic of their house but I'm not sure where or who might have aquired it. I have been unable to find a similar one searching online.  EBay has several bottles, crates, openers that advertise this brand but nothing like this one.  This blog says Mission Soda made soft drinks from 1929 through1970 and like most smaller bottlers, was bought up and amalgamated into Coke and Pepsi bottlers.

Cleo Moore (1924-1973) was an actress in the fifties known as one of he blonde bombshells following the trend of Marilyn Monroe. This video from YouTube highlights her movie career

When I saw the Mission Beverages clock pictured below at ebay,  I knew I'd seen it somewhere in my childhood before.  It is posted for sale at $225.00! Was it in Glinz's store or Freida's cafe in Oak River?  Does anyone else remember?

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Brandon Normal School Class of 1941

My Aunt Doris Henry was proud of her time at Brandon Normal School and being a teacher myself, I am glad many items remain for me to tell her story. Aunt Dodie, as we always called her, had saved many keepsakes including the framed class photo above where she is shown under the word "Normal".  To her left is another former Oak Riverite, Elsie Henry (later Cory), daughter of Charles Henry.  I recall her saying she and Elsie "were the cornerstones of the school"!

Brandon Normal School began educating teachers in 1912. The history of the term "Normal" seems to be that their purpose was to establish teaching standards or "norms" so that education could be similar from place to place.   B.J. Hales was its first principal and continued for the next 27 years.  He was instrumental in developing an institution to prepare teachers destined for schools in rural Manitoba.  He felt that native flora and fauna were critical parts of the curriculum that country school teachers needed to educate their students and he took a particular interest in developing the grounds of the school to model for future teachers what their own school grounds could mirror.  His extensive collection of taxidermy animals and birds is now at the Brandon General Museum and Archives.

The Normal School building is situated on 11 acres in Brandon between 10th and 11th Street and Queens and Hill Avenues.  It was the former location of Patmore Nurseries until the building began construction began in 1911.  I have attended a few Professional Development sessions in the building and it is a beauty!  A pamphlet published by the Manitoba Historic Branch in the 1980's describes the building as follows:
The two storey structure measured 15.24 by 13.1 metres and was constructed of reinforced concrete with brick walls and tile partitions.  Four entrances led to the central octagonal rotunda from where easy access could be made to the various rooms on the first floor.  These included two large classrooms with cloakrooms, a laboratory with a large conservatory, reading room and library, general business offices and private suites for teachers.  The basement contained a gymnasium, manual training classroom, caretaker's quarters, boilers, fuel and fan rooms and a lavatory.  The second floor contained the classrooms, a room for home economics, a museum and a large lecture hall.  The exterior finish of the school, simple in design, was constructed of brick with stone trim.  

In 1943, the building was turned over to the Department of National Defense and in 1946 it became the Department of Agriculture headquarters. Winnipeg became the only Normal School in the province at this time in order to centralize and in 1958 it was renamed the Manitoba Teachers College. Brandon College brought back teacher training in the 50's.

The 1940-41 school year saw Clarence Moore as principal.   Miss Yeomans taught physical training "P.T." including a Sports Day at the Brandon Fair Grounds to prepare the girls for the Field Days their country schools would participate in. Miss Pilling instructed in academic subjects as well as sewing and home economics, useful skills to have once the girls found a husband and were discouraged from returning to the classroom. Miss Smith instructed Music and Miss Harrison covered teaching methods, administration and discipline.  English, Art, Geography, History,Math, Health, Science - the list goes on.  There was also a "Model Room" where students were brought in for practice teaching opportunities under the guidance of an instructor.  Much of this information came from poems written by Thelma Meadows Davies for the class reunions that Dodie had saved.

Dodie kept the receipts for her schooling - $105 for the year.  She would have likely lived nearby -  room and board, or "light housekeeping" as it was known.

The Class of '41 Graduation Exercises were held on Wednesday, June 25th, 1941 at 8:00 pm where 62 girls were awarded with various medals and prizes and listened to Hon. Ivan Schultz, Minister of Education, address the proud families and the graduates. Marionette plays, folk dances, singing and more rounded out the program that closed with God Save the Queen.  It would have been a mix of emotions to be looking ahead with excitement and nervousness but sad to be missing the connections that had been made over the year together.

Doris taught in schools at PenrithWhite Bank Lea, Strathclair, Neepawa, and Lavinia.  The links take you to the Manitoba Historical Society Website information about each school, an invaluable resource for me when writing this blog.  She is pictured below on the steps of Lavinia School and the farewell letter she received was saved with her Normal School mementos.  

Lavinia, Man
June 28/46
Dear Miss Simms
We your friends are gathered here this afternoon, to bid you farewell, and to express in a tangible way, our appreciation, for your efforts on behalf of the children of our community.
We have watched your cheery disposition and ready smile, and have felt benefitted, by your presence amongst us.
As we journey through life, we often find it necessary to change our place of residence, and while we miss the old friends, we increase our circle of friendships in this way.
While your departure will be our loss, it will also be someone elses gain.
We shall often think of you, and hope you will at times remember with pleasure your stay at Lavinia.
Wherever in the future your lot may be cast, we trust you will find it above expectations.
As a token of our appreciation, we ask you to accept this gift.
The Lavinia Community

Graduates seem to have felt a real sisterhood and kept in close contact over the years.  The reunion photo above is dated 1966 and they occurred regularly after that.  Dodie is fourth from the right in the back row.  Lists of classmates' addresses, married names and reunion location details are part of the envelope of saved items.  The clipping below from 2006 would be from their 65th and last one Aunt Dodie would attend.  She is wearing the blue blazer in the middle row.  They seem to be a creative bunch, with poems and skits and other entertainment planned and a determination to stay in touch.

I know Aunt Dodie would be glad to have this special group remembered and hope I've given you a picture of their time at "Normal"!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Dishes from the Sinclairs

My cousin received the set of dishes to which this gorgeous teacup belongs from the home of our shared Sinclair relatives; Nellie, Jessie and Bill in the late 80's.  Previous recent blog posts also highlight the Blanket Box and Book of Clippings from their home.  I was curious to see what I could find out about the set online.   The Sinclairs did not have any children of their own and upon their passing, the household belongings were distributed to their many nieces and nephews and their families.  The cup itself did not have any markings but the saucer had the stamp pictured below on the bottom.

Online research finds it to be the stamp of the J. H. Weatherby & Sons factory from Hanley, England. The trade name was Falcon Ware and this name applied to a number of patterns including some that were referred to as restaurant ware.  The factory where the pieces were made is featured online today as an abandoned photographic interest,  the business closed in 2000.  This particular pattern of white with a blue and gold ring wasn't anywhere that I could find online.  


I had decided that I wasn't going to find it but "something" made me dig out an old Eaton's mail order catalogue from 1939 that had also come from the Sinclair house (above) and flip through it.  Lo and behold, on page 233, there it was - Blue Band! A 73 piece place setting of these dishes for 9 people also included a cream and sugar, 2 platters, covered vegetable dish, pickle dish, gravy boat, 60 pounds in all for the amazing price of $16.75.  Shipping from Winnipeg was an extra charge and if my calculations are correct, that would have been around $1.00. According to the Bank of Canada Inflation Calculator, this set would be about $300 total in today's money!

This is not the first time that I have stumbled across the answer to a research question by chance.  I have come to believe that such overwhelming coincidence is just not possible!  "Someone" is guiding my research and I appreciate their help to tell the stories of these items from the past of my family.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Simms House 1926


This year is the 90th Anniversary of the construction of the house I grew up in.  Mail order houses were all the rage in the 1910's and 20's but this one doesn't seem to have come in a kit.  The link here talks about both Eaton and Aladdin homes, the latter had models called Berwick and the Edmonton that have similarities to this one.  The lumber itself must have been purchased from somewhere other than Hume's Hardware in Oak River.  There were lumber mills near Riding Mountain National Park that likely was the source of it.
It was built by Thomas Hayhurst with some help from others as is detailed in a page of a  notebook of my Grandpa Simms'.
The total amount for his labour (along with his helpers) on the next page of the notebook dated September 28, 1926 is a whopping $278.00 for 25 days!  There is also a listing of supplies purchased from Hume's Hardware that I think I've transcribed fairly accurately below.

Cement 39 bags paid
Cement 47 Bge 1926
July 24 Keg 4 inch spikes
“           14 window frames
“            2 door frames
              3 plank 8 X 12
              8 rolls tar paper
              2 Kegs 2 ½ in nails
              8 thousand shingles
              1 piece 1.2 X 14
              1456 ft siding
              100 lbs spikes
              50 ft 4 V joint
              18 lin ft 1 X 8 sel
              36 lin ft 1 X 6
                5 lbs 2 in nails cn
Aug 6      4 bunches shingles
“               1 roll tar paper
"      7        40 tin shingles
                 And 8 ft X 10 ft tin
(second page)
7 -              50 tin shingles
11               1- 6 X 6 newel base
“                  1 5 X 5     “          “
“                  132 ft ¼ round
“                  2 ½ lb 2 ¼ inch finishing nails
13                2 ft stepping
17                Keg 2 ½ inch nails
18                steps for attic
20                 lath nails 24 lbs
26                1200 bricks 8 bags lime
1                    3 M. Lath 6- tile
                      350 ft stripping
Sept 9            3 thin ? chimney
Sept 23 –       100 ft striping 2 M
                       Lath 2 Windows 2 set
                       Latches and Hinges
Oct 14            1 bag cement
                       15 lbs lath nails
29                   15 lbs lath nails
Nov 22            60 bags plaster
Dec 2               50 bags 2 large

A man referred to as Call Bearsto was also paid $35.00 for work on the house and Aunt Dodie remembered him as was mentioned in this blog post about her Dad. 
Other documents survive from the history of the house.  The first receipt below was supplies for finishing the upstairs and a furnace was installed later the same year.  Before the doors and framing were added upstairs, the rooms were separated by curtains.  Dad slept in the northeast bedroom and the hired man, George Evans, had the room with the attic stairs in it.  Robin's egg blue bathroom fixtures were later added to this room in 1964 and the tub and sink are still the originals!  The present porch was built in 1951 to replace one with openings to the north and south.  The north side was closed off in the winter but in the summer it was open to give access to a summer kitchen to be used to keep the heat out of the house. 

Wiring the house for electricity happened in June of 1948 and the barn and pump house were done at the same time. Parts, labour and all came to a grand total of $220.00.  From electric labour saving devices to entertainment, the Simms house would have seen a big change.  

With upgrades and tender loving care from my parents, it continues to serve them well.  Dad has lived there all of his 83 years and Mom for over 55 years. I haven't lived there for almost 35 years, but it's still "Home" to me! 


Monday, 8 February 2016

The Blanket Box and what was in the Seat Cushion

When the farm home of my Great Aunt Nannie Sinclair was being cleaned out in the late 1980's, I fell heir to the blanket box pictured above.  I have been calling it a trunk but as this website explains, trunks were made for travelling so would have had handles and straps.  The purpose of this chest would have been for storage and even for extra seating.  It has casters on the bottom to roll it from place to place.
 It would appear to be homemade with dovetail joints and a leather harness strap to hold the lid up but the latching mechanism would have been store bought.  Although the outside is repainted, the inside is the original colour. There is a small box built into the right side to hold small items and contained an old set of false teeth when I first got it.  (Have I really thrown them out?  I can't find them....)

The box had a fabric gathered skirt and seat cushion on it and I remember it sat at the top of the stairs in the Sinclair home (pictured below). My younger sister used it as a pattern and made me a new skirt and recovered the seat cushion in the same fabric.  Fast forward twenty some years later and I decided to take off the fabric and the old one was in the garbage before I got curious about what was in the seat cushion for padding.  It was VERY dusty but look what I found!  A crazy quilt!

This website  says this form was most popular at the turn of the century an often included silk and that the stitching was what made these works of art even though it was practical in nature.  Small and irregular scraps could be used up and attached to a plain back without anything in between. 

 I know my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Henry Sinclair (above) was known for her sewing talents and I imagine her along with daughters Mary, Jean, Ellen and Lizzie working on it and then using it to pad the blanket box seat cushion when it was worn out.   I think this would be beautiful as a wall hanging or perhaps pieces of it framed but haven't got around to it yet.  I'd be glad to share if any cousins have an idea for it!


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Story of the Basket

In this day of manufactured goods, we don't think that items have histories but the last few blog posts on 52 Ancestors cover things instead of people.  The stories of these things help me understand the times my ancestors lived in and appreciate the items they had and the stories behind them.

The basket in the picture above always hung at the farm of my Aunt Dodie and Uncle Sam Henry in the back kitchen of their farmhouse.  I remember it holding rags and towels that were used for all sorts of things around the house and garden.  At some point, she must have brought it into town when they moved to Oak River and it hung in their garage.  After she passed away in 2010, my Dad brought it to his home and told me the story that went with it.  
Donald Simms
He thinks he may have been 8 or 10 years old which would be in the early 1940's.  His father Alex died in 1941 and this must have been a sad and stressful time for the Simms family; five children and Mary (Sinclair) Simms.  Dad recalls Aboriginal people often went by their house in wagons full of adults and children with their dogs following along.  He remembers their own dog Skipper barking like mad at the strangers coming up the lane.  

Dad holding a duck in the doorway of the "summer kitchen".  Skipper and a turkey in a staring match!

His mother would never let them go without giving them something to eat and she did that day, perhaps some homemade bread, or biscuits and some meat from her meagre supply.  They went away happy but Dad recalls them returning to the house a short time later with the basket, which they made using the willows between the Simms quarter section and the next.  
The basket currently hangs in his shop in the barn and it holds much more than rags now - a fantastic story! 

The Story of Grandma's Silverware

Silverware - still searching for the name of the pattern.  Who knew there were so many?  

After Jeannie Milne died in 1948, my Grandma Frances Milne Kinnaird did all she could to help out her dad, Alex Milne and his son Jim who were farming nearby.  She often took them meals, did their laundry, and did anything for them while she was busy with her own chores and family.

Frances with two oldest children, Marjorie in arms and Keith.

Alexander and Jeannie had a large family of eight and apparently Alex regretted not being able to give his children much as they grew and had families of their own.  One can only imagine living in those times with a large family and depending on farming for their livelihood.  Luckily for them, living on a farm meant they could try to be self-sufficient with much of the food and were able to sell the surplus for other necessities.  This self-sufficiency came with hard work and frugality at every turn.
Jeannie and Alex Milne
Aunt Marge tells me her Grandad, Alex decided to buy Frances, his eldest daughter, a set of silverware. He ordered a set of William Rogers silverware from the Eaton's catalog and Aunt Marge recalls it came in a cardboard box, which has long since worn out.  The silverware itself remains in use in the home of Frances' children Marjorie and Margaret as well as her son Keith's children. Every object has a story and I'm glad this one was shared with me.