Middleville & District Museum

12 Aug 2015

We Cracked It!

Last Sunday, at the Middleville and District Museum, the dastardly deed was done: Don and Mark Hagan cracked the oldTownship safe that originally came to the office about 1905.

The idea for holding a safe-cracking Museum event came from Middleville’s Emma Schonauer, eight years old, who visits the Museum often and became curious about what might be in the huge old safe. Thank you, Emma!

People from the area came to the Museum to watch the safe-cracking team at work – and work they did, patiently  drillingout the old lock. Everyone was invited to enter a draw by offering their best guesses about what would be found once the safe was opened. Frankly, no one was sure there’d be anything in there at all – but lo and behold, the rusty, dingy safe turned out to be full of all kinds of old records. The records, which at a glance seem to include receipts, bills and birth and death recordscan’t be examined closely at this point, as they are too fragile to be handled. The museum will be consulting people with expertise in preserving such material to explore the finds in more detail.

Joyce Tennant was the lucky winner of the draw, and was happy to be given a Museum T-shirt as her prize.

A big thanks to the Hagans; to Clarence Gemmill and Trevor Porteous for providing terrific music for the event; and to the community for coming out to take part in an historic Middleville moment.

    Mark Hagan behind the drilling.

    A rapt audience!


    Inside the safe - old Lanark Township documents dating from the 1800s. 

    Joyce Tennant

    Don Hagan, Alice Borrowman, Emma Schonauer, Mark Hagan

7 Aug 2015

A Big Thank You

Thank you so much.

Algonquin College Masonry Class at Work

Sixteen students from the historic masonry class at Algonquin College (Perth) are spending their final days of the course at the Middleville Museumon a field placement. Under the supervision of their instructor Darren MacDonald, they are busy removing old mortar and repointing the exterior side walls of the old schoolhouse using hydraulic lime. Last year a different group did the same work under the windows. According to MacDonald, the old building is in good shape. 
This excellent program at Algonguin not only educates and trains much needed masons but also provides a service to historical organizations to make upgrades to their facilities that would otherwise be completely unaffordable. 
Other sites that Algonquin students have been involved with include the Mississippi Textile Museum, the old Beckwith United Church, the Perth Museum (Matheson House), and the Smiths Falls Railway Station (theatre).
While most of the projects are local, Darren has just returned from Churchill Manitoba where he and six students worked on a battery wall at historic Cape Mary for Parks Canada.
The Museum Board and all of its patrons are grateful for all the hard work put in by the students, their instructor, and the college to make these projects happen. The walls look amazing as all the old plaster comes off. With any luck, we may be able to get the front wall done next year!

25 Jul 2015

Treasure found in Massachusett State Safe

Will we find treasure in the old Lanark Township safe. See for yourself on Sunday August 9 at 1 p.m. at the Museum. The Museum opens at 11 a.m.

Photos from the Massachusetts's safe

The following excerpt is from a piece in the Boston Globe by Joshua Millar from 2013:

"The items included Confederate money from 1864; a weathered ledgerbook, dated 1896-1899, outlining pay for “Massachusetts volunteer militia service in Spanish-American War”; World War I savings bonds; boxes of old checkbooks; and metal stamps with the engraved signatures of former treasurers, including Foster Furcolo, who became the state’s 60th governor in 1957.
Also interred in the safe were a very old photograph of an elevated train, a 1936 stock certificate from the Boston Beer Co., and a role of magnetic tape from 1971, probably containing old computer files from the era long before thumb drives and cloud computing.
No one could say for sure why such an eclectic collection of items found itself socked away in this one safe.
Mixed in with the papers was an assortment of items that looked as if they were out of a thrift store, what MacDonald called “costume jewelry.” They included a bronze cross necklace and a Masonic ring, probably left in a long-ago abandoned safe-deposit box.
But perhaps the most intriguing item, provenance unknown, was a note inked in elaborate cursive script on a small piece of aged paper dated 1787: “Voucher for rations delivered at the Port of Williamston.”
Treasury staff members said they had no idea where the item was from or its significance. But that note and other historical documents from the safe are set to be examined this week by a specialist from the state archives.
The jewelry, they said, will be turned over to the unclaimed property division, which will auction it off on eBay. With nothing to identify its rightful owner, MacDonald said, there is not much else that can be done."

21 Jul 2015

Heritage Day 2015

Once again, a big thank you to all the volunteers and participants who made this such a successful day. See you again next year!

20 Jul 2015

Safe-cracking Techniques: FYI

Who knows how Dan Hagan will open the safe?! This article explains some possibilities; some unlikely and some quite possible. See for yourself and then join us on August 9 at 1;00 p.m.
It'll be a blast (umm, I don't mean that exactly!)


Not Dan Hagan, by the way.

18 Jul 2015

Do You Know What's In the Safe?

Many years ago, when the Township Hall was in Middleville, a very large safe guarded the municipality’s valuables. Time passed, the Municipal Hall relocated, and the safe was moved to the Middleville & District Museum. Unfortunately, the combination for the safe was lost in the transition.
Fast forward to Sunday, August  9.  The Museum has invited Don Hagan, a ‘safecracker,’ to try his hand at opening the safe, and the public is invited to watch the event. Curiosity has been building as to what will be found inside: Perhaps some old money, no longer legal tender? A gold watch that was to be given to an employee on his retirement? Stock certificates for a defunct corporation?
Or...maybe there will be nothing – nothing at all – inside.
You never know. Come and watch with bated breath! The safe will be opened at 1:00 o’clock; if you’re at the Museum before then, you can take your best guess as to what will be found, write it down on a ticket (to be provided) – and see if you guessed right.
A prize will be awarded to the first correct guess drawn!
And while you’re there, take the opportunity to wander around the Museum and see its amazing collection of local historic artifacts. Don’t forget that the tickets for the Museum’s annual Quilt Raffle (to be drawn at the Fall Fair in September) will be available. As well, Claudia Smith’s wonderful collection of stories, gathered from descendants of this area’s original settlers; museum T-shirts, which always attract attention; and several other books and monographs  of local historic interest will also be on sale.
The Museum is open Friday through Sunday, and Holiday Mondays, from Victoria Day to Labour Day; hours are 11:00 to 3:00. For more information, see our website (http://middlevillemuseum.blogspot.ca/) or call 613-259-5462

4 Jul 2015

Heritage Day

Things took a little longer back in the day. Come to Heritage Day on July 11 and see how things were done ... from spinning wool for clothes to old washing machines and the farm equipment used to put food on the table. 
Everything is happening at the Middleville Fairgrounds and the Middleville Museum with free transportation between sites. 

Admission is $5 for the day. See you there!

13 Jun 2015

Family History Day

Drop in for a chat about your Lanark area family history from 11 to 3 on Sunday June 14 with David Murdoch.

1 Jun 2015

Family History Day

Somerville, Blackburn, Affleck, Rodger, Rankin, Yuill

These are just some of the family names esily recognized as coming from the Middleville area.
If you would like to know more about these or other local families - Borrowman, Dodds, Mather, McKay or Penman or your own maybe? - come along on Sunday June 14  from 11-3 to find out what we know (or can find out for you) at the Museum.

Two of the photos below were taken between 1890 and 1920 in Lanark Township by Rev. A. Macaulay and/or Russell Borrowman. The museum has an extensive collection of glass negatives that reveals a rich portrait of community life at the turn of the last century.

P.S. If you recognize any of the faces, we would love to hear from you.

18 May 2015

Opening Day

Many thanks to our visitors to the Museum yesterday who came for tea and stayed for the auction. A special thank you is due auctioneer, Alex Cuthbertson, for the donation of his time and expertise. Thank you also to those who donated items for the auction. 

It is always good to see people connect with the Museum and its displays and with each other over tea and treats. 

We are looking forward to hosting many more visitors during our season which runs until the Monday of Thanksgiving weekend.

12 May 2015

Athabaska – The Story of a Painting

This oil painting is one of a series commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway for the lobby of the Banff Springs Hotel in the 1930s.Tha artist, Margaret Lougheed, was the aunt of Peter Lougheed, the former Premier of Alberta.

When the hotel was renovated in the early 1950s, the paintings were put in a CPR storehouse in Calgary and forgotten. This one was rescued by a railway worker who took it home and put it in his garage. Eventually, it came into the hands of Max Sutherland of Nepean who had it cleaned, restored and offered for auction in its original frame.

Now is a chance to bid on a bit of genuine Canadiana. It speaks of the days when the great railway hotels were a Canadian institution; when many dreamed of a train trip through the Rockies; and when the trains travelled coast to coast and all points in between.

10 May 2015

Items for the Museum Auction, Sat. May 16th

5 Rockwell plates with documentation. 1) Portrait of a Bridegroom
                                                                      2) Light for the Winter
                                                                      3) Waiting on the Shore
                                                                      4) Pondering on the Porch

                                                                       5) Dreaming in the Attic
Painting by Margaret Lougheed, commissioned by the C.P.R. for the Banff Springs Hotel, 1920
Picture of girl & chicks, 24”x 32” – very old
Kirstead print of Buttermilk Falls at Snow Road
Framed photo by B. Kubicki  from her recent showing
2 paintings donated by Nora Shorkey, an accomplished local artist.
 2 ) Your Family History researched by Genealogist David Murdoch (usual value $200 to $400)
4 hardcover cross stitch pattern books
3 long white hand-stitched christening dresses, very old
Camisole, lace top   plus the lace top (only) of another
Boys 2 pc. Harris Tweed wool suit with velvet collar (coat and pants with braces) --fit about a 5 year old??
2 multicolored hand knit shawls
Hand knit ivory wool cardigan with matching scarf
Round Table cover, ecru, crocheted, 80” diameter, excellent condition
Dresser scarf & doily, hand-made, like Battenburg lace
Lacy white window toppers  2) 76’x20” deep
1)      172”x 20” deep
2 regular & 2 reversible Jackets & 2 vests made by Catherine Kelly, size 12 to 14 Womens

Royal Doulton Figurines
Hummel Figurines
Kirstead Collector Plates
2 vases & 0ne pair of candle holders by sculptor, Hanne Lawrence, Ottawa
Shillcraft wall hanging of violets
Maple Syrup-- Donated by Karen Ennis
                       -- Donated by Thompsontown Maple Products
Hand-knit alpaca socks, donated by Susan Berlin
Wooden article made by Sandy McAdoo of McAdoo Construction
Basket from Balderson Cheese
Lawn ornament made by Dale Burnell
One copy of Claudia Smith’s book, “When The Sugar Bird Sings”
4 sheets of glass—40”x65” –1/2 inch thick
3 sheets of slate  -- 47”x70” – (2 are ¼ inch thick & third is 1/2 inch )
Additional items arriving daily

7 May 2015

Opening Day Reminder

All roads lead to the Middleville & District Museum on Saturday, May 16 from 11:00 - 3:00
See you there!

27 Apr 2015

Opening Day Tea and Auction, Middleville and District Museum

Mark your calendar: as it does every year, the Middleville and District Museum invites you to its Opening Day Tea, which will be offered on Saturday, May 16th. But this year, there’s an additional draw: the Museum has scheduled an auction of heritage and modern works of art and hand-made textile items.  Alex Cuthbertson will be the auctioneer. Among the items to be auctioned are:

·         Pair of water-colour flower paintings by Nora Shorkey (http://www.norashorkeyart.com/paintings/) ;
·         Hummel and Royal Doulton figurines;
·         Keirstead collector plates;
·         Hand-knit shawls;
·         Hand-made jackets and vests; and
·         Exquisite hand-stitched children’s long dresses (probably over 100 years old)
·         Local Maple syrup;
·         Hand carved woodcrafted item by Sandy McAdoo

plus many other items. All will be on display for viewing from 11:00 a.m. until the auction begins at 1:00 p.m.

While you wait for the auction to start, you’ll want to see at least the highlights of the Museum’s collection: for example, the completely reconstructed and furnished settlers’ cabin. As you enter its low doorway, you’ll immediately see and feel how pioneer families lived, in small log buildings that sheltered not only their domestic lives, but also the household industries that made survival in the wilderness possible.

As you can imagine, in those pre-electronic days, mail delivery was a crucial factor in maintaining family ties, and also in allowing people in isolated communities to order essentials that couldn’t be made locally. The museum houses the Royal Mail coach contracted to John E. Blackburn in 1912 as well as a 1918 Model T Chev truck, carefully restored by Clive Rodger.

The original part of the Museum’s building was once the Middleville school, and one of the classrooms has been re-created there – including the children’s desks and their schoolbooks. A look into one of the grade seven grammar books is very likely to be intimidating to modern readers!
Remember that there will be several Museum items for sale: tickets for the annual Quilt Raffle (to be drawn at the Fall Fair in September); Claudia Smith’s wonderful collection of stories, gathered from descendants of this area’s original settlers; Museum T-shirts, which always attract attention; and several other books and monographs  of local historic interest.

And if you have family roots in this area, ask for David Murdoch, who will be at the Museum; he’s in charge of the Museum’s extraordinary collection of family histories, photographs – and often, just plain good stories.

14 Apr 2015

Opening Day

It won't be long one before we open our doors for the season. Come and visit us starting Saturday May 16!

11 Aug 2014

Guns of August

2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War.  On Saturday, August 16, from 1 to 4 pm, the Middleville Museum will present a picture of what the war meant to small towns in Eastern Ontario - particularly, to people who lived in and around Middleville at the beginning of the second decade of the 20th century.

2 Jul 2014

Highlands Heritage Day - In motion

Once again the village of Middleville should be your family destination on July 5, 2014, 9:00 - 4:00, for the second annual Highlands Heritage Day - in motion. 

The Middleville and District Museum and the Middleville Agricultural Society will take you back in time to catch a glimpse of the life and celebrate the accomplishments of Lanark settlers in the highlands in the late 1800s and early 1900s .

At the Museum you will see demonstrations of many homecrafts such as weaving, bobbin lace making, rug hooking and spinning. You may be surprised to discover what animal "hair" is being spun into yarn.

The fair grounds will be host to a myriad of old tractors, trucks, hit-and-miss engines and other interesting farm equipment, with working demonstrations.

Children can participate in traditional heritage games such as a sack race . The "older children"  can compete in x-cut saw, nail driving and kettle boil competitions.

Entertainment will be on hand at the fairgrounds and both locations will have refreshments available for a small price. Be sure to stay for the ham and beans supper at 4:00.

Parking is free and a "taxi" wagon will shuttle you between the parking area and the two sites.

See you in Middleville!

15 Jun 2014

Where to Buy "By Word of Mouth"

We recently launched Claudia Smith's new book By Word Of Mouth at our Season Opening Tea. If you haven't got your copy yet, it is now being sold at several locations for $14.95. You can pick up a copy at the Middleville and District Museum, The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte, Mill Street Books in Almonte, The Book Nook in Perth, or The Lanark Era. If you can't make it to any of these locations, you can also purchase it online by emailing maborrowman@gmail.com. Shipping and handling will be applied to those ordering it online.

23 May 2014

Family History Day

Do you have family history in Lanark County? If so, you're in luck! Sunday, June 22 will be The Middleville and District Museum's very first Family History Day. David Murdoch, our Board member and experienced genealogist will be on hand to provide ancestry information for families with Lanark County roots. If there are artifacts in the museum that are related to your family history, we can direct you to see them. We would like to make this event a 'show & tell', so if you have any family documents or photos, feel free to share them. Entry is free of charge and donations are always welcome. Tea, coffee, and snacks will be available upon donation. The event will be held from 1-4 pm at The Middleville and District Museum.

On the same day, we are partnering with the Middleville Community Centre for their Strawberry Social, which will be held from 12-2 pm. There will be a barbeque lunch, strawberry shortcake, and refreshments for sale. There will also be musical entertainment provided by Alberta and Friends and balloon animals and face painting for children. All of the proceeds will go towards kitchen improvements at the Middleville Community Centre.

Why not spend the afternoon of Sunday, June 22nd in the friendly village of Middleville? Hope to see you there!

Pictured is Wendy Phillips, a former board member and frequent visitor who likes to play violin for our guests.

18 May 2014

Open for the Season


This year our Season Opening Tea appropriately fell on International Museum Day, May 18th, May being Museum Month. It promises to be another great season with many planned events throughout the summer and fall.  We hope you will join us.

June 22 —  Family History Day:  Let us help you research your family history.
July 5 — Heritage Day "In Motion"
August 17 — Guns of August:  100th Anniversary of WWI.  How the Great War affected our community.
September 13 — Middleville Fall Fair: "The Tradition Continues"
October 12 — Apple Festival: Celebrating local and heritage apples!

17 May 2014

Claudia Smith Book Launch and Opening Tea

The Opening Tea on Sunday, May 18, starts another great season of the Middleville Museum with a special event.

We are proud to present a new book by Claudia Smith - an acclaimed author of local history.

By Word of Mouth , the newest addition to a long list of books written by Ms. Smith is an anthology of her work written for the Lanak Era over the last 23 year.

Please join us for the Book Launch and signing on May 18, 1-4pm at the museum.

6 Oct 2013

Thanksgiving in Lanark highlands

Aah, the crisp clean air, the warm sunshine of dog days, the unmistakable smell of fall, a key of geese in the bright blue sky, and all punctuated by the spectacular fall colours.  It's what makes autumn in Ontario worth putting up with the winter in Ontario, and no place better to experience it than a drive through the Lanark highlands - where maples abound and small towns welcome you.
Thanksgiving weekend is the traditional closing weekend for the Middleville & District Museum so we invite you to combine your drive through the stunning fall colours of the Lanark Highlands with a visit to the Middleville & District Museum.  Enjoy hot apple cider and treats, as well as videos from days gone by.  Thanksgiving Friday through Monday 1-4pm.  

The Museum will close until Victoria Day weekend but we always welcome your inquiries at 613-259-5462 or middlevillemuseum@gmail.com

20 Sep 2013

2013 Quilt Raffle Winner

Congratulations to Marilyn Hagan of Perth for winning this year's beautiful Log Cabin Quilt.  Marilyn bought the winning ticket at Perth Independant where she works.  Thank you to all the museum supporters who worked on this project - from the ticket sellers to quilters.
We also send our gratitude to all the folks who purchased tickets and made this fundraiser another successful one.  The 2014 fundraising quilt project is already underway.  If you would like to contribute a block to this community endeavour contact us at middlevillemuseum@gmail.com or phone 613-259-5462.  Looking forward to another beautiful quilt in 2014.