Divine inspiration sometimes comes at the oddest times. I really hope the title for today’s blog post is as funny to you as it was to me when it jumped into my head the other morning in the shower. I am not sure I totally understand what it means, but it does bring a smile to my face when I think of it!
We find ourselves back at the Metchosin Pioneer Museum today, continuing our photoblog series “The Antiques Toad Show“. This series showcases a set of images we captured at the museum recently one day after the facility had closed. We were given full access by our best friends (the Mudpuppy’s) dad who is a Curator there. What a great afternoon we had exploring the place and capturing a huge series of images.
At first blush, you may think we’ve got us a picture of a pair of old and well-worn chaps. You’d be right on that, but as with any really good story there is much more to it. We’ve got history, a protagonist and an antagonist to add a bunch of spice to today’s post.
The early days of settlement out here in Western Canada were not at all unlike the stories we all heard growing up of the Wild, Wild West. You had saloons, gold rushes, ranches, good guys, bad guys, train robbers, bank robbers and a bunch of folks who were just trying to live their lives as they went about settling this area for themselves and future generations. No doubt many stories of grand adventure were shared over a glass of Sarsaparilla at the local saloon, and no doubt some of those stories were embellished to add flavor and texture.
A lot of the stories were true.
These old chaps have quite the history and in all actuality form the foundation of some of our local BC history here. We asked for some details on the story of these chaps from The Curator, and he shared this information:
The “Leather Chaps” were donated to the Museum by a former employee of the Fernie Sisters who had a Farm with a Tea and Scone Business on William Head Road. The former employee claimed they had belonged to the Fernie Sister’s father, William Lewis Fernie, formally with the B.C. Provincial Police and in this capacity their father was instrumental in the capture in 1906 of the infamous train robber Bill Miner (the Gray Fox) near Kamloops B.C. Mrs. Fernie and daughters Mary and Daphne came to Metchosin and purchased their 5 acre property in 1943. Google confirms the fathers involvement in the arrest.
Oh, the stories these chaps could tell. The weather up here, particularly in the winter, is quite the formidable foe. Tracking a man across the rugged landscape would not be an easy feat, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s hard to think of the effort and challenges that faced these early settlers and law-men as they set about creating the foundation for the province. Today when we need a quart of milk, we hop in our SUV’s and head out on a paved road complete with traffic lights. We stop at our local grocery store or corner store, which are all heated and rather comfortable inside. We wander up and down the isles of the big box stores looking for deals. Sometimes we even come home with stuff we’ve bought that we have no real need or proper use for, and at least in our case, some of this stuff begins to fill a closet somewhere in the house.
Nothing of the sort existed back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s up here. Survival required a lot of effort and energy, and comforts were undoubtedly something that was not often thought of or considered.
As we stood in the museum taking the photo of these chaps, we all paused and thought of the story of William Lewis Fernie and how a single event that occurred a hundred years ago is now a pretty interesting and important cornerstone in our local history. In some ways, the world we live in today, all the comforts and joys we experience, are all due in part to the efforts of such men back then. If I was wearing a cowboy hat that day, I most certainly would have tipped it in honor of William and all the effort he went through to help create something that means so much to us now.
Maybe one day someone will see one of our photographs and pause for a moment and be thankful that we preserved and documented our current surroundings. As the relentless hands of time march on and generations come and go, and particularly as I get older and form a stronger appreciation for those who preserve this history to share with us and future generations, I become much more aware of the truth of the world as it was back then and as it is today. In some ways these are sobering thoughts.
We feel ever so lucky to have had the chance to visit the museum and spend some quality time photographing as many of the fabulous artifacts as we had time for. The time just flew by and we came home with a memory card FULL of images to share with everyone, but we also left behind some others that we just simply didn’t have time or memory card space for. Perhaps one day in the future we can head back there and do this again. I have no doubt I could spend an entire lifetime in this museum wandering around taking in all the details and items on display. And taking in all the history and meaning behind those items for the folks who once owned and used these things. In the meantime, we thank so very much The Curator for the chance, the encouragement and opportunity we had this wonderful day.
Thanks so very much for your visit here today, we certainly appreciate it. Please feel free to leave us any comments you may have as we truly love to hear from all our visitors.