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.
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.
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.
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.
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.