As times change, things that were considered quite normal before can now be looked upon with a critical eye.  As we learn things techniques go through a metamorphosis and the new understanding leads to a change in procedures and means.  This is the advancement of society.

Join us today as we head back to our long running photoblog series “The Antiques Toad Show” where we take a close look at some of the antiques and artifacts on display at the Metchosin Pioneer Museum.  We are blessed to have such a great family in the Mudpuppy’s, and specifically The Curator, who gave us an opportunity to spend an afternoon inside the museum in private where we spent hours photographing the items.  It was an experience we will never forget.

Tools and Artifacts - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Tools and Artifacts – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Now, my background is in computer science and photography, and as such I have pretty much no clue as to what we’re looking at here today.  I can only surmise…  and am probably wrong.  Actually, in some cases in today’s post I actually hope I’m wrong.

I am very skeptical that medieval tools of torture would be on display in such a lovely little community museum, but at the moment I have no other explanation here.  No wonder people avoided doctors and dentists so avidly in the past.  Going to visit one of these specialists who in turn pulls out tools like this had to result in a rather unsettling feeling.

Tools and Artifacts - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Tools and Artifacts – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Who’s hands used these implements, and what were their stories?  Each of the wear marks represents an event, and given the rich textures on this implements you would have to surmise that the stories would be plentiful and fascinating, to say the least.

Tools and Artifacts - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Tools and Artifacts – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Once again, I have no clue as to what we’re looking at here, but I can honestly say I am rather happy not to be on the receiving end of this…

When you consider how delicate man, animal and nature truly is, sometimes it’s hard to imagine that we’ve made it this far, really.  The early colonial settling of Vancouver Island must have been quite the experience for the people who came here to dense forests and powerful oceans.  When you actually ponder what everyone went through in the early efforts, you can easily see how dangerous things must have been in those days.  Accidents were aplenty and strange unknown diseases affected many.

Tools and Artifacts - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Tools and Artifacts – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Some of the wear marks and natural weathering we found on the antiques on display at the museum were fascinating beyond words.  This magnifying glass may be very old in today’s standards, but it still has function as a working device.  The machining of this item is made more magical with the consideration of the times it was created in.  There were no CAD systems to do 3D modelling, there were no lasers to cut dies and tolerances were much higher back then due to intricacies in the manufacturing process.  Yet, today this glass remains as solid and useful as it was the day it was made.

Tools and Artifacts - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Tools and Artifacts – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Now, this isn’t my first rodeo around these here parts, but I have to admit I have no clue what we’re looking at.  I just loved the natural weathering found in the leather satchel that holds these implements together in a collection.  The tools themselves have plenty of wear marks, leading me to believe they are both well-loved and full of history.

Tools and Artifacts - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Tools and Artifacts – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

These sorts of things make my blood run ice-cold.  So, instead of thinking that we are looking at olden-thymes torture devices, let’s instead think of them as antique tongue depressors.  Much easier to digest.

I think for me, the fascination of the boxes and containers used to hold these devices has as much interest as do the actual items themselves.  Today, everything is shipped in shrink-wrap and plastic boxes, devoid of any character.  This box used to hold these items has just as many stories to share as the antiques it holds, and is also full of rich personality.  Who’s hands opened and closed this box countless times to access the items within?  These are questions that truly linger.

Tools and Artifacts - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Tools and Artifacts – Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

The mystery behind this specific device is really something else.  Again, we see an item here that was designed and manufactured in a time when things like this were considerably more challenging.  All these years later, it still looks to be in fairly good shape and is probably quite operational.  With a bit of a cleaning, of course.  This only adds to the interest, though.

As times change and we reflect on our past, it’s quite natural to take for granted many of the modern things we find ourselves surrounded by.  But, all these things came to be due to someone finding a problem and trying to solve it; such is human nature.  Through the act of learning and study, we find better ways to solve these problems, and parallel advances in other fields help to facilitate the design and manufacture process.  This is what we call progress, my friends.

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit us here today, we really do appreciate it.  We love to hear from all our visitors, so we encourage you to leave us any comments you may have!




  1. As far as the subject matter is concerned, the tools look very similar to tools I have seen in a carpet installer’s bag, which, as an aside, makes me think i’d rather be operated on by a good floor installer than a drunken surgeon. What matters is that these are beautiful images that tell a medical story from not all that long ago. A top posting.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      😀 What awesome comments to receive today, Joseph, thanks so much for taking the time to pop by and see us and leave these for everyone to enjoy!

  2. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Here is proof that you know how to spin a yarn almost as well as you can photograph them Toad. You have turned not knowing just about everything that appears in this post and have made it fascinating. Have a great weekend, my friend.

  3. avatar Adam Allegro says:

    Well done! You can still turn the mundane and regular in to beautiful and interesting! I have been MIA for a while but look forward to catching up! Nice work guys!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so much, Adam, I know you’ve been busy traveling and shooting and all that, but we sure have missed you! Thanks for taking the time to pop on by today and for leaving us your awesome comments here!

  4. Always fascinating to see how things have evolved. It makes me wonder what people will think about the technology we use today 100 years from now. Great post my friend! Hope you have a great weekend!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      We had a great weekend here, Michael, I hope the same is true for you! I love your sentiments about considering what people will think of our technology in 100 years! Makes you stop and think sometimes, eh? Thanks again, we really appreciate your visit today!

  5. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Holy cow! I’ll have nightmares now! Kind of wish most of those images were a bit less sharp and descriptive, but, as usual, they were far too easy to look at and prompt wonder at what uses the items may have had. Very cool post Toads!

  6. avatar Edith Levy says:

    OMG thank god for modern medicine. I always look forward to the Antiques Toad Show. Super post and images.

  7. avatar LensScaper says:

    Oh My God! Speaking as a retired Doc I could offer a few opinions on the use of some of these instruments of torture but I’m not sure that your readers would be interested to read them – their blood might run a little too cold for comfort. Suffice it to say that your writing as always is illuminating and fun to read.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Eep, I suspected as much here, Andy, thanks for taking the time to visit and NOT leave any gory stories behind! LOL 🙂 Your ongoing support & friendship really means an awful lot to us my friend, thank you!

  8. avatar ehpem says:

    Toad, I like to think you slipped in a wood-carvers kit amongst the medical stuff. My favourite implement is the metal handled table knife converted into a small gouge – for wood working, I hope. Perhaps Andy will correct me. In any case, it must have been very high quality steel.
    Great pictures btw, I had my first foray into HDR processing last night, and with every hour of head scratching my appreciation of your technical mastery goes up a notch.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I’m humbled and honored by your kind comments today, Ehpem, thank you my friend! And thanks for letting us know what some of these items are, it really adds so much to the story!

  9. I love this series Toad, only trouble is I have run out of superlatives to describe just how good the images are

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You sir, are the best of the best Chris! Thanks so much for your continued friendship & support, it means so very much to us!

  10. Seeing equipment like that makes me question why Purell hand sanitizer wasn’t invented earlier. Great work with this post my friend.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Ha! Great comments, Steven, thanks so much! I always really appreciate it when you take the time to pop on by and visit us here!

  11. Thank goodness for the advances in modern medicine! Like you, Toad, I do not wish to think what some of these items were used for. Yet again a great post bringing to life the artifacts that you have captured so well.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks ever so kindly there, Mark, we really appreciate all your encouragement and support! 🙂

  12. avatar Jim Nix says:

    some awesome details here Toad, nice work!

  13. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Yet another fun post to read and the images are, well, very thought provoking. I would not want to be on the business end of any of these instruments. 🙂

    Nicely photographed, as always.

  14. Great series and presented well, these old treasures have allot of history behind them