Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Food for Thought – Feb. 18, 2022

To view the original article and others in this series visit the online Cottage Shack magazine

From my window I watch snow blow across the bay as I continue to work on projects brought home from the museum. Today, I am leafing through some vintage cookbooks from our copious collection at Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM). The pile grows higher as I add my own books to the stack. Alongside, I set my mother-in-law’s old tin recipe box, filled with family favourites.

I am quite sure many concoctions came out of Mother’s head, a memory from her childhood, something popular from her grandmother’s table, a favourite never written down, just passed along as oral history.

Eventually, tin boxes, filled with index cards filed under various headings, were used. Many of the cards have cheery salutations, written by the author, describing just how good the recipe is. Credit to the recipe’s creator was also often acknowledged. This additional provenance gives these recipes life beyond their ingredients.

The first cookbook I peruse is titled The Five Roses Bread and Pastry Book. It was printed in Montreal in 1913. Its age is not exceptional. Written recipes have been traced as far back as 1700 BC. Three clay tablets from that era are thought to contain the first known recorded “recipes.” Reputedly, De Re Coquineria (of Culinary Matters) was the first cookbook. It was written in Rome by Apicius in the first Century A.D.

Moving forward in history, the first known North American cookbook, written by Amelia Simmons, was entitled American Cookery. Previously, any cookbooks printed or used in the colonies originated in Britain or Europe.

As they were gaining popularity in Western cultures, cookbooks evolved from simple compilations of brief notes into detailed step-by-step instructions. Canada’s first known cookbook was titled La Cuisinaire Bourgeoise. It was written in 1825 by Menon. However, many feel that it was just a reprint of a French book. The first English language Canadian cookbook was called The Cook Not Mad or Rational Cookery. Like it’s French counterpart it was first thought to be a reprint, in this case, of an American book.

As the years passed many familiar authors and titles appeared on the culinary scene. Below is a short list of cookbooks in our collection at CCHM. Depending on your age, you may recognize one or more of these names from your mother’s or grand-mother’s kitchen shelf:

Fannie Farmer, Coronation Cookbook, Five Roses, Joy of Cooking, Better Homes Cookbook, Curity, Julia Child, Betty Crocker, Frugal Housewife.

We also have copies of recipe compilations produced and sold for fund-raising by local organizations such as, brownie troops, PTAs, church women, sports teams and auxiliary groups. It is quite moving to see a recipe written by a family member or friend in one of these booklets.

Another cookbook that I am studying, as I write this story, is typewritten and held together with binder rings. Some of its pages are stuck together, others show telltale signs of food stains. Perhaps these recipes were the “old reliables” of a former owner.

In recent decades there has been an avalanche of cookbooks, some of which are even too pretty to ever take their place on a flour-sprinkled countertop.

With technological advances many of the tools mentioned in older cookbooks no longer appear in today’s publications. Grinders, mashers, moulds, readers and hand-mixers have given way to food processors and a slew of older “Kitchen Aid” gadgets. Mrs. Catherine Woodrow’s life would certainly have been easier with these modern conveniences.

Stepping into the Homestead kitchen, you enter a world of simplicity and homeyness.

Please plan to join us at CCHM in the Spring and take a walk down memory lane.

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Lost Souls – Feb. 11, 2022

To view the original article and others in the 2022 series visit the online Cottage Shack magazine

As our little homestead winters beside the Coldwater River flowing under a magical glaze of ice, I tramp through feet of snow to gather up some old photo albums. Rummaging through the archives I am astonished at how large our collection is. My goal is to identify some of the people in these pictures, many of whom appear to have originated in England and Scotland, not surprisingly as many Scottish and English immigrants settled in Simcoe County during the mid to late 1800s. Too many of these photographs have nothing written on them to identify the subjects.

It would seem logical that our photographs were donated to Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM) by descendants of the people in the pictures. Over the last few years, we have even made a “montage” of these unidentifiable folks and asked our visitors if they recognized anyone. But we have had little success at identifying anyone.

As my sorting begins, I am haunted by one recurring characteristic. Few of the pictured men, women or children are smiling. So, I googled this phenomenon and found that this is “Time” researcher’s rationale. Apparently smiling for the camera did not become the norm until the 1920s. Since the first known photograph was taken by a French scientist names Joseph Nicephore in 1826 that is 100 Years of some pretty sober faces!

One reason for not smiling was concern about dental issues. Bed teeth led to closed-mouth grins.

Additionally, because it would often take so long to set the pose and to take the picture, the subjects often found it difficult to hold a smile.

One humorous anecdote suggested that smiling with a wide toothy grin was associated with madness, rudeness or drunkenness. So, many photographers would encourage their subjects to look formal and refined, as if they were posing for a painting.

One farmer was quoted as explaining, “I can’t smile; life is just too damn hard!”

One visitor to (CCHM) suggested a unique and unexpected reason for an expressionless stare. Drawing attention to a photo of a young girl that hangs in our sewing room, the gentleman quietly informed us that she was actually dead when her photo was taken. Here was a picture of one of the Woodrow family granddaughters. Her name was Catherine and she died at age 12. We are fortunate to have that information written on the back of the frame.

Apparently, it was common practice to put a picture of a deceased on the death announcement and funeral card. If no picture existed, the local photographer was called upon to pose the deceased and capture their image. This would clearly explain why Catherine was not smiling!

While searching about CCHM for old photos, I discovered that, among our substantial collection, there are surprisingly quite a number on funeral cards, primarily within the Robinson Funeral Home display which includes an old pump organ, embalming tools and a wicker body basket. The rich history of this memorabilia will be covered in a future article.

Upon examining another small stack of pictures, I was impressed by the lovely clothing that many of the people were wearing. However, many of the men were photographed in tattered and torn shoes. Again, with a little research, I discovered many people did not have the type of attire suitable for picture taking. So, an accommodating photographer would keep on hand a small collection of suits, collars, shirts, vests and jewellery to dress the subjects. Just don’t look at the shoes!

As time went on, advancements in the field of photography showed no limits. Having one’s picture taken became increasingly popular even though few people owned a camera. Our collection reflects the craze. We have boxes of photos and albums covering everything from babies to Ballerinas.

Our daguerreotypes (metal plate images) are quite interesting. This unique photographic process was prominent in 1840s and 1850s. Each image is one of kind and is produced one a silver copper plate. These small pictures were very fragile and survived best when framed. We have some excellent examples in our vintage camera display.

So, back to the task at hand. Although, I have found some pictures of the same people, I have not yet been able to identify any of hem. If you have roots in this community, perhaps I am looking at one of your ancestors. A trip to the museum may be in order for you to help us put names to these lost souls.

By Patricia Turnour, Curator

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: A Helping Hand – Feb. 3, 2022

To view the original article and others in the 2022 series visit the online Cottage Shack magazine

“When we have lost sight of the past, we have lost the ability to look forward intelligently.”

One of my many responsibilities as a director and a volunteer at the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM) is to have a solid base of knowledge about the historical artifacts at the museum. Well! Easier said than done! When one begins to research any of the artifacts; say, farm machinery, clothing, books, furniture one can very quickly find oneself going down a rabbit hole . So, the rabbit hole I would like to share with you is the plethora of small, single cylinder gasoline engines that came on the market in the late 1800’s and, in some cases, before.

Lots of PHD papers have been written on the subject of the industrial revolution and of innovative creations of machinery such as the Balun and Watt steam engines of the period 1760 to 1775 or the power loom designed by Edmund Cartwright in the 1780’s. Some eve have been written about the impact these innovations had on rural communities.

The development of better casting methods and more precise machining processes improved the ability to build a more efficient steam expansion engine as far back as 1712. Much later came the development of the internal combustion engine. In some schools of thought the advent of steam power had more impact on urban and rural communities than the computer chip.

I am not going there! Instead, I would like to look at how the single cylinder gasoline engine became a helping hand in the rural community. Try to imagine doing everything by hand: grinding corn, cutting wood, pumping water and thrashing wheat, to mention a few.

One manufacturer’s name that has stood the test of time is Briggs and Stratton. We see it today on our lawn mowers, root-tillers, water pumps and other devices. Stephen B. Briggs and Harry Stratton formed the company in 1908 – evidence that some things do survive, if only in name. Meanwhile, most of their competitors have either turned their attention to other products or have a long since faded away.

As farming became more of a business, increasing productivity and expansion was a way to success. Small gasoline-powered engines afforded a farmer time to address other work on the farm like mending fences, maintaining structures, mucking out the barn. He would have had to weigh the purchase cost of an engine against the benefits to the farm operations as this would have been a substantial investment in those times. If he were looking to purchase a one-half horsepower New Holland engine in 1912 his cost would have been $57.50. What would the equivalent of that be in today’s dollars?

When I looked at the Hercules and Fairbanks Morse engines at CCHM, I marvel at the number of small engine manufacturers that operated in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It appears almost every letter in the alphabet was used in the company names including ‘X’ in Xargill Mfg. Co, U in Utica New York 1904 and ‘Y’ in Yonkers Mfg. Co. of Yonkers, New York 1885. What a competitive industry! So, I think it is clear there was a demand for these products both in small industry and on the farm.

Much of the focus of CCHM is on our agricultural heritage, so our interest in this technology pertains to its application to farming. Here are some examples: to power a water pump for livestock and the homestead; to power a beet or corn grinder providing better silage for the livestock; to power a 32-volt generator of the time for lighting the barn; to power a buzz saw providing fire wood; and to power a saw mill for lumber to sell or use on the farm. How many of these jobs could be done by hand? All of them! But when this technology became available productivity increased significantly.

If one of these small engines failed, all these tasks could still be done by hand, though not a desirable prospect. I wonder if the same thing could be said when a computer chip fails in modern machinery!

Times have changed, but not so the pursuit of more efficient and more powerful devices. The idea of a machine freeing us from manual labour is not a new concept. In 1678, French physicist/inventor Jean Hautefeuille proposed the use of a gunpowder motor to pump water from the Seine to Versailles. No doubt the learning curve was steep. The lessons of many failures ultimately led to technological advances in this exciting bygone era. The American Book of Gasoline Engines has 584 pages cataloguing a plethora of small engines.

We strive to preserve this intriguing history at CCHM with documentary evidence and with functioning examples of old engines. Their preservation and the story of their development is a responsibility that we do not take lightly. Without small collection, we like to think we are honouring this legacy.

Our collection consists of: a 7 H.P. Fairbanks Morse-powered buzz saw purchased from Chris Janson with funds donated by Tom Smith; a 5 H.P. Hercules-powered buzz saw donated by Jack Bird, and a 7 H.P. Fairbanks Morse-powered turnip and corn grinder Donated by Frank Janson.

Visit the museum on one of our event days and hear a popping emanating from these wonderful examples of a time one can now only imagine.

CCHM is very fortunate to have members that are so knowledgeable about our artifacts and exhibits. Much of my research for this article stemmed from dialogue with Frank Janson whose hobby is building and restoring antique small engines. Frank has a collection of some thirty plus engines, most restored and running. Thanks for sharing, Frank!

If any of our readers have information or artifacts that they would like to share with us, please feel free to contact Richard at

By Richard Jolliffe

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Teacher, Teacher Can You Teach Me! – Jan. 20, 2022

The Schoolhouse Series – Part 2

To view the original article and others in the 2022 series visit the online Cottage Shack magazine

As curator of the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM), I have had the opportunity to welcome into our collections so many amazing artifacts this past season. Our co-op students have done a great job researching them and creating signage and labelling. The A-Team group of volunteers have worked hard to provide additional storage and display areas for our ever-expanding collection.

Already we are planning World War 1 and World War 11 displays, a new veterinary office and a lovely picnic area by the river. Even through the winter months, all of our dedicated volunteers are planning and preparing for next season’s displays and events.

Part 1 in this series was about our “Eady” schoolhouse. As the resident schoolmarm, I re-create a typical day in the late 1800s. Being a city girl, I lack the personal experience of a one-room school. My program, instead, is based on research and the heartfelt memories of many of our visitors. An abundance of old textbooks, slate boards, desks and inkwells are part of our assemblage of favourite treasures. The entire room is reminiscent of bygone times.

Our schoolhouse is open to visitors every museum day. The school program is available each Tuesday (Community Dat at CCHM), each Wednesday, and at special event days. We also accept reservations for families and small groups.

The children’s school day begins with me wandering the yard, ringing the leather-handled bell. Students responding to the bell line up outside the schoolhouse entrance – boys in one line, girls in another. As it was believed that cleanliness is next to godliness, each child’s finger nails are inspected. I am certain that the nail polish I see was not an issue in the 1880s.

As the students enter, girls are told to curtsy and boys to remove their hats. Upon finding a desk they then read the wall chart that enumerates the school rules. In my previous article I told of these rules, but suffice it to say here they were very strict. Some children get a little overwhelmed by them. I reassure them that we are just taking a flight into make-believe. Once we have settled in, the girls are invited to don one of our pinafores. We have yet to come up with something special for the boys to wear.

Roll Call follows in which each child is required to stand up and address the teacher with “Good Morning.” At its conclusion we all stand and sing “God Save The Queen” while I hold up a picture of Queen Victoria, the reigning monarch of the day. Unfortunately, not many Canadiana children today are familiar with this anthem, so I usually end up singing a solo.

Next comes a Bible reading, often by a senior student. In the one-room school it was common for teacher to regularly call upon the older students to assists him or her with the younger pupils. As an example, I often have the Olmert students lead in the singing of “O Canada” – even though it did not officially become our national anthem until 1980.

Depending on how long the students are with me, our daily schedule typically includes all or part of the list below:

  • Printing/Cursive Writing – always hold your pencil correctly, keeping you head up and use your right hand.
  • Reading in small groups with the teacher (Ontario’s Reading Program Texts)
  • Arithmetic – doing sums
  • Tour of the museum
  • Storytime
  • Crafts (prepared by my co-op students)
  • Singing time
  • Archaeology – digging in our sandbox for buried treasure
  • Recitation -poems and verses are taught and recited

To complement these mainly academic pursuits, music has an important role in our program. Having been a music teacher and choir director, I use my experience to introduce the children to songs of by-gone days. I also use puppets to engage the students. We attract many passing visitors when the schoolhouse bursts into song. I also play old-time records on the record player and have the students march around the room following the leader.

I have been told that in the past students would march around the room for the main purpose of keeping warm. Next season I hope to incorporate a rhythm band into our march.

At recess on Community Days, we provide snacks, but often families bring picnic lunches. After eating, we go outside to enjoy such games as Tag, Red Light/Green Light, Hide and Seek, Duck/Duck/Goose and a Tisket/a Tasket. We sing “Farmer in the Dell,” “Punchinello” and “My Bonnie.” Parents and grandparents often join in the fun.

At the days end we return to the schoolhouse to tidy up and collect the student’s work. After singing a goodbye song, the students are asked what chore they would have to do when they got home to the farm. I am always amazed that so many children have embraced the pioneer spirit and answer with jobs such as feeding the horses, cleaning the barn and collecting eggs.

On days when the homeschooling groups come, up to 40 children experience pioneer school day. At the end of these days, I feel like the actual 1880s teacher must have felt at the end of her day. Exhausted!!

Check out our website and make a plan to visit our olden day Eady schoolhouse when we reopen in the Spring.

By Patricia Turnour

(My next article will examine the life of the pioneer school teacher.)

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Our Schoolhouse Rocks – Jan. 14, 2022

The Schoolhouse Series – Part 1 – By Patricia Turnour

To view the original article and others in the 2022 series visit the Cottage Shack online magazine

As curator of the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM), I have many opportunities to research and restore our precious artifacts. I wholeheartedly thank everyone for thinking of us as the forever home for their treasures.

As we begin a new year, I would also like to share my appreciation for our wonderful volunteers. We are like a colourful quilt made up of a patchwork of friendly, talented, caring people.

Being curator does keep me busy, but I still manage to find time for my other occupation, schoolmistress. Having being a schoolteacher for almost 40 years puts me in good stead for this position.

We have a unique schoolhouse attached at one end of our display barn. Not that long ago, it had a gravel floor, gaping holes beneath the wall boards, a leaky roof and sagging rafters. The room was also shared with an abundance of wildlife.birds nesting in the corners of the ceiling were a common site. Bats also enjoyed hanging from the rafters.

However, things were about to change. We began with minor repairs to the schoolhouse walls. It took the vision of our A-Team to really get things going. After much blood, sweat and tears (literally) the current “school” emerged (perhaps the subject of a future article about the A-Team).

Today the school house proudly boasts a shiny new metal roof and a display wall for maps and pictures. It houses a well-loved collection, from times long past, of local pictures, textbooks, story books and memorabilia. Perhaps our family name is inside one of the covers. Our oldest book is entitled The Plays of William Shakespeare (1811).

And here my story begins.

Our previous school teacher was “Miss Grace” Willmott. She is fondly remembered by many young visitors whom she put through the paces of a typical pioneer school day. “Miss Lorraine” Garside often served at her side as her educational assistant. These lovely ladies still do help in the schoolhouse on special days and tours.

Today, though, it is I, Miss Patti who now takes centre stage as schoolmistress. In yesteryear my day would have started long before the arrival of the schoolchildren. Lighting the wood stove, pumping water from the well, preparing the lamps and ensuring that lessons have been planned for all eight grades, just to name a few!

When visitor children come to our school, I explain that we are imagining attending school in the village of Eady in the 1800s in the original Eady SS #14. Our records indicate it was built in 1879. Mr. Alpine was the first teacher whose wages were $360 per year. Some of the original teachers were Dan Coffey (1907), Miss Amy Weaver (1916) and Miss Alma Walker (1922). Unfortunately, that school burned down in March 1925, so classes were temporarily kept up at the Thompson house. A new brick school was soon constructed and remained in service until 1963. Eventually, it evolved into a private home.

Most of the children attending school back in those earlier times would have come from farm families and with a great distance to walk. My mother attended a one room country school and I have certainly heard just how far and how deep the snow really was.

Visiting children are also given a quick course on “School Rules.” The students take turns reading the Rules chart aloud. There are many sources online for this information.

Children must:

  • Obey your school master and accept his punishments
  • Help and love each other
  • Refrain from fighting and teasing
  • Be silent during lessons and speak only when spoken to
  • Not leave your seat without permission
  • Raise your hand and stand to speak
  • Always write with your right hand
  • Remember cleanliness is next to godliness
  • Stand when an adult enters the room

After reading these rules, the children do look a little worried about the consequences of misbehaving. On this note, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. One such punishment is the infamous dunce chair. Once seated there. A pointed hat is placed on the naughty child’s head. He/she is stuck there until the teacher has determined that he/she has learned his/her lesson. There is never a dearth of eager students willing to demonstrate this.

Another punishment involves me putting three dots on the chalkboard placed about a foot apart and directing the miscreant to put a finger of the right hand on the right dot, a finger of the left hand on the left dot and their nose on the middle dot. Again, no lack of volunteers (even the parents join in). I am certain that the consequences of misbehaving in the early days were a little more severe! Spare the rod, spoil the child comes to mind!

And so, our school day begins; and that is the subject of my next article, “Teacher, Teacher Can You Teach Me,” part 2 in this series.

In conclusion, I would just like to thank the many visitors who have walked down memory lane with me and shared their schoolhouse experiences. Being born and raised in the city, I did not have the opportunity to attend such an inspirational place. We truly appreciate your memories and musings.

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Coldwater Canadiana – Jan. 7, 2022

(An Organization for Our Community) by Lynda Whitson

To view the original article and others in the 2022 series please visit the Cottage Shack online magazine

Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM) opened to the public in Canada’s Centennial year 1967. But did you know that the folks who originated the not-for-profit Coldwater Canadiana organization in 1964 had no idea at the time that they would become the owners of the old Woodrow Homestead, now the flagship of our unique museum?

Digging through our wonderful archives reveals to those of us who are newer members of the organization the true origins of how our beloved museum and the organization who runs it came about. In the early 1960s a famous local singer and actress by the name of Isabel Alonso had the brainchild of an idea for celebrating Huronia region’s history, heritage and culture. The plan was to have the headquarters in Coldwater and for the organization to sponsor a wide range of cultural events.

Following a meeting in the autumn of 1964 a board was formed including the founding members: Rev. Doug Jacques, Ruth Woodward, Morley Yon, Mary Lovering, Bill Wyley, Earl Brandon, Harvey Wallace, and Eileen Peters. The organization enthusiastically undertook a number of events in the following years that included sponsoring baseball games, parades, horse races and, perhaps most notably, funding the monument to George Gray (1865-1933), who held the shot – putting record of Canada and the United States for 17 years, is enshrined in the Canadiana Sports Hall of Fame.

The organization helped to fund themselves by opening a store selling consignment goods of local and Canadiana type crafts. The store was rented somewhere on the south end of the Main Street (if anyone remembers where, let us know) and was named Cowan’s Trading Post after its historic namesake at the Chimneys down river from Coldwater.

In 1966, the organization became aware that the Woodrow Homestead was for sale. The Coldwater Canadiana group, who had so far only dreamt of having a museum, did not hesitate but acted to purchase the lovely historic home. In July of 1966 for an approximate price of $3,000 the old log structure and 6.2 acres on the Coldwater River became the property of the organization who then began the process of lovingly restoring the building closer to its original appearance.

First off, they removed the pine siding which covered the beautifully dovetailed log construction. The rear section of the home, which is the oldest and quite possibly dates back to the 1830s, needed the most tender-loving care. In all likelihood the original floor was first but it had been covered with pine boards which were quite rotten. These were replaced with a stone floor. The focal point of the room was and still is its stone fireplace. This had been completely covered over and the members of the organization were delighted to reveal the original fireplace with its unique pine mantel. One can imagine the Woodrow family cooking and warming themselves around the hearth a century and a half ago.

The newer front addition built by the Woodrows, circa 1864, was spruced up and included further exhibits and a gift shop. The organization continued to collect historical artifacts for display and were soon hosting events, Devon teas and expanding with more and more historic buildings coming on site to join the original log house.

To this day we are all thrilled to be part of sharing this treasure from our past. The log house remains a testament to time. From its early wilderness days located on the ancient trail between the Narrows and Georgian Bay, first trodden by the generations of Indigenous people, it witnessed the trail becoming a stage coach road, funneling in settlers and soldiers. And now the old log house watches as trans-Canada traffic races by in the thousands every single day.

Come take a walk back in time with us when CCHM reopens in the Spring.