Items that people have possessed tell a story. Sometimes these stories are overt, sometimes they are wrong, but almost always an impression has been left behind. You can look at a destroyed car and immediately know it had an unfortunate incident with a tree. You can look at a diamond wedding ring and know it was once someone’s happiest moment. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper and look past the obvious to find these stories. The one common thread is that each item has its own memory of the events that brought it here today.

Today’s post finds us sharing another installment in our running photoblog series “The Antiques Toad Show” which features a large set of photographs we captured while having private after-hours access to the Metchosin Pioneer Museum. The father of our dearest friends the Mudpuppies is the Curator of this wonderful facility and through him we were given an entire afternoon one day to explore it from top to bottom. It was a real highlight for us and continues to be something we look forward to as we roll out these pictures and stories.

Vancouver Island is a very interesting place to explore. Europeans came to settle this area just a little more than 150 years ago, which in the big picture of things is a drop in the bucket of time. Yet still we find a countless supply of things to photograph and stories to share. It seems that when the settlers came, they brought along all sorts of things from their homeland; including disease.

In 1883 the Albert Head Quarantine Station was opened to serve as a collection and checkpoint for all newcomers to the area. Shortly after it opened, it was deemed inadequate and was summarily replaced by the William Head facility. Thirteen families lived on the island to provide support and service, and as a result the island had its own school and church. Our best friends family, the Mudpuppies mentioned above, have direct relatives who formed part of this community.

Antique Badge Machine - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Antique Badge Machine – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

This desk was used to create identification badges for residents of the island. Employing a Pako photo processor, this machine is a wonderful example of an historic artifact that is very meaningful to our area. The challenges and difficulties the early settlers encountered were only made more difficult by the unforgiving land and the scourge of diseases brought over from Europe. For many of the local indigenous people who lived here for thousands of years before the arrival of the settlers, these diseases had never been encountered before and in some cases nearly wiped out ancient civilizations. No one ever professed that researching our history would result in a clean and sanitized story being revealed, and the truth is quite often the opposite.

Antique Badge Machine - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Antique Badge Machine – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

At first glance this may seem like just another museum artifact. It’s through the act of research that it takes on a life of its own and through that a deeper understanding of how it was used and what it meant to the people of the time. To those just landing on our shores, having a badge made in this machine was not good news. Almost 150 years later now, this artifact becomes a cornerstone of the area’s history, and with it events that must never be forgotten.

Antique Wheelchair - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Antique Wheelchair – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

This wonderful antique wheelchair came from the same place. When we found this item we were absolutely enthralled with it. The intricacies of its design and the engineering feats it represented for the times really struck us almost immediately. Once again as we spent time with it photographing it, we could sense some of the stories that it held within. At one point, the Curator himself mentioned that there is even a chance that his family members who lived on the island may very well have used this. The enormity of the meaning behind this took a little time to sink in fully, and once again we find that learning about the history only serves to create stronger connections.

Antique Spinning Wheel - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Antique Spinning Wheel – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

The stories this antique spinning wheel tells are much happier in nature due to the purpose of the artifact itself. Yet somehow its stories are no less interesting or captivating than the ones shared above. Several spokes from the wooden wheel are missing; why? Where did they go? Careful scrutiny reveals really fascinating weathering evident, and you just know that each of these spots is the direct result of someone using this device to make clothes, bed sheets and all sorts of other linens for the settlers of that time. It leaves you with a strong feeling that if you just spend some time with it, it will slowly share all its secrets with you.

This direct link with our past is so important. When you think of all the technology we find ourselves surrounded by, you also begin to realize that most of these items are a direct result of things that were learned through the inception of previous incarnations, and through the act of learning we find progress. Truth and reality can be harsh, but only by facing these issues head on do we learn and find our way forward into the future.

Thank you so kindly for taking the time to visit us here today, we hope you enjoyed this post. We really do love to hear from all our visitors, so please don’t hesitate to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have.




  1. avatar Fred Norris says:

    Wow you really hit a home run with these artifacts Toad!Your storyline provides some interesting background to the images that you have masterfully captured and presented ,maintaining the high standard that the followers of your blog have come to enjoy.Cheers Mate

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      That’s awfully kind of you, my friend, thanks! That really means a whole lot to us, coming from you! Many thanks for your kind visit and wonderful comments, Fred. 🙂

  2. This is a very interesting place. You really captured the essence of the museum. I wonder what people will think of the stuff we have now in 150 years. I hope you have a wonderful weekend my friend!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      No kidding, eh, Michael? I’ll bet when people were inventing this stuff 150 years ago they had no idea we’d be so fascinated with it today. It’s kind of a key thing we really enjoy with our work here at The Hollow, that’s for sure! Many thanks for your kind visit, good sir!

  3. avatar Mark says:

    Well you’ve combined two things I love – photography and antiques! Good job and very interesting.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks SO much Mark, that really means a lot to us here! Many thanks for your kind visit and comments!

  4. avatar ehpem says:

    I am enjoying this series Toad and seeing how HDR can be used to such good effect for artifacts, especially when the processing is handled so sensitively. Great artifacts too – can’t be too many of those badge machines left in the world.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      That means so, so much to us my good friend, you have no idea! Thank you! I was totally amazed by the badge machine, that’s for sure. I love how these things really tell such interesting stories, it’s a great way to stay in touch with our past. Thank you once again for your visit, Ehpem!

  5. Great story and photos again Toad! That wheel chair looks like it wants to stand up, and move itself, and that spinning wheel is fabulous! We went to the SLAC arts festival tonight and I was able to introduce my daughter to the amazing genius of a Loom that an artist uses to make rugs. Her I always thought myself capable because I could put a bike together for Christmas morning without too many extra parts…
    Have a great weekend my friend.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      OK, that’s funny Howard! 😀 Thanks so very much for taking the time to come see us here today, and for leaving these wonderful comments that everyone will enjoy! You, sir, are the real deal!

  6. Another great set from this wonderful museum Toad. Loving these shots, keep them coming

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you, Chris, that really means a whole lot to us amphibian types! We sure do appreciate all your friendship and support, it really means a whole lot.

  7. avatar paula masterson says:

    In addition to the wonderful images and inspirational use of subtle HDR, I just want to thank you for taking the time to look so carefully at artifacts from our past that have so much to tell us about about who we are. Sometimes I feel our hyper, high-tech society forgets these things. This is just so wonderfully refreshing. I am truly looking forward to the next posts!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      That is so, so kind of you Paula! That really means an awful lot to us, thank you sincerely for both taking the time to visit and for leaving us your really wonderful comments here! We’re looking forward to seeing you again here!

  8. As always I very much enjoy the images in this series. I have never seen an antique wheelchair and think this model looks much better than the new ones. Nothing compact about it, but in those days the chair probably did not have to fit in the family car.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Yep! No family utility vehicle back then, that’s for sure, Joseph! Many kind thanks for taking the time to pop on by and see us here, it really means a lot to us Joseph!

  9. avatar Edith Levy says:

    I love the history behind all these items. You can almost imagine what life was like in those years. Another wonderful instalment Toad. You’ve brought these pieces to life.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You are so, so kind Edith, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts! It really means a lot to us to have your friendship and support here, I can’t even find the words to properly express it. Many thanks!

  10. avatar LensScaper says:

    The more I read of your work and research, and the accompanying images, the more I realize how important ‘oral’ history really is, and how careless we are with it. My parents are long gone but we have inherited many items from them – many now older than a hundred years and I am sure that at some time (more than once) they told me about them: where they came from, their age, their history. And those facts went straight in one ear and out the other. And now it’s too late. Those facts cannot be reclaimed. It’s a sobering thought that if something has historical significance, even within the family, we should write it down.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      What wonderful comments, Andy. Wow. How can we even begin to thank you for taking the time to visit us here, and for leaving these utterly profound thoughts for everyone to consider. It truly means so very much to us. This feedback is the exact sort of thing that gives us confidence and passion to move forward with our work. Many, many thanks, from the bottoms of our hearts!

  11. avatar Adam Allegro says:

    Oh man, that wheelchair is something else, Toad! Well done as usual my friend. This fantastic museum continues to surprise me!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      We’ve got so much more coming, Adam, please keep your dial tuned to our station! 🙂 Many thanks for your kind visit, sir, and for taking the time to leave us your comments!

  12. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    What a wonderful look into the past Toad. Great images as always as well as a wonderful back story. Yes they do tell stories but you words make them come alive.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much, Len, that just means an awful lot to us here! Much appreciated!!

  13. avatar Jim Nix says:

    the comp and the color contrasts in that first shot just really make it for me Toad, nice series again!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You, sir, are both a scholar and a true gentleman! Many kind thanks for your visit and comments here, Jim, we sure do appreciate all your support!

  14. It’s always so humbling to look back at items like these which at the time were most likely cutting edge, or at a minimum, commonplace for the times. It makes me wonder what things we use today will end up in a museum in 100 years.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Since we’ve started working on these projects, this exact concept is something I’ve come to ponder a lot lately, Steven. I totally totally agree with you on this! Many thanks for your visit and support here, my friend, that sure does mean so much to us!

  15. avatar Rich McPeek says:

    Wonderful series of shots and story Toad! Great work!

  16. avatar Perry Bailey says:

    Another terrific set Toad. I really enjoy the Antique Toad Show series, keep ’em coming!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks SO much Perry, we sure do appreciate your visit and comments here, my friend!

  17. avatar Athena says:

    Darling, that spinning wheel never did any work. It’s been bodged together from several other wheels and the crucial bit, the flyer, is gone. No bed sheets, er yarn, made by this wheel, sad to say.

    • And here we have an expert voice weighing in!! Thank you Athena for taking the time to pop by and clear this up. We are quite sure all our visitors will appreciate your terrific comments, as do we. 😀