As gathering around the picnic blanket gives way to cuddling in front of the fireplace, we are beckoned indoors once again as shadows fall on the landscape and blue sky turns to grey. Now while that can certainly conjure sad images of little faces pressed against the window with smiles rightly turned upside-down, we just can’t help but be happy. For us, this is a perfect excuse to visit one of our very favourite places one last time, the Metchosin Pioneer Museum, and our dear friend who keeps it running, the Curator. If you have missed any of our previous posts on this wonderful little place, you can see them here: “The Antiques Toad Show“.
This fantastic old chest may be empty now, but I just cannot quiet my imagination as I ponder what kind of adventures it has seen through the years. Vancouver Island has been home to First Nations Peoples for thousands of years, but the influx of characters that was later to arrive on its shores would have undoubtedly brought with it many of these boxes, filled to the brims with all sorts of treasure more precious than gold, to their new homes that would be fashioned from the very same wilderness they sought to tame.
Perhaps this one belonged to a young bride who sat upon it as she looked out over the endless miles of ocean, unable to imagine what to expect of her new home but amply supplied with all of the required items to make even the starkest dwelling comfortable. Dainty doilies ready to showcase vases full of wild flowers, recipes handed down from mother to daughter for generations guaranteed to make any new husband the envy of his peers, books of poetry and art to adorn the shelves and accompany steaming cups of tea on rainy afternoons, snippets of fine fabrics ready to transform into ruffled curtains and fancy aprons, all lovingly layered without an inch to spare in the little cube that holds her whole life.
Or maybe it belonged to a brave young man, coming to a strange new place with nothing more than a head full of dreams and a heart full of courage, ready for the experiences that can only be born of a reckless willingness to leap into the unknown. We cannot know for sure what story this beautiful antique chest would tell, but I can’t help but feel that no matter what the contents, it was always packed for the next grand exploit.
The image of this old Singer sewing machine takes me instantly back to my grandmother’s house. She was the quintessential little French housewife, and taking care of four rambunctious boys and her very large extended family that always seemed to be visiting kept her days filled with a million details to appropriately fuss over. Everything was homemade, from the wild strawberry jam and buttertarts that frequently decorated my face to the knitted socks and slippers that made you sail across the kitchen floor. I am sure that she would have thought that this sewing machine was nothing short of a time-saving miracle. With its big, heavy cast iron floor pedal, it was like watching a superhero on some strange flying machine to see her ninety-five pound frame literally kick that thing into action, knees flying wildly up and down until finally the calamity would cease and a new pair of pants would emerge.
Presented with this, I am certain that any of today’s youth would look at you with both eyes bulging, wondering what to do with it. It may have the signature keyboard that we are all familiar with, but that is definitely where the similarities with the modern day computer end. When I remember playing with one of these many years ago, fingers barely long enough to cause the key to strike the paper, I could never have imagined how far technology would bring us in such a short time. The clamorous symphony of noise that used to fill every office space has slowly been replaced by the quiet clicking of the digital keyboard, taking with it a simpler time and a sense of nostalgia that can only be achieved when a few of the characters on the letter are crooked and the typist’s fingers are stained red and black.
Thank you for taking a walk through time with us today at the Metchosin Pioneer Museum. This will be the last of our running series “The Antiques Toad Show“, so we genuinely hope that you have enjoyed visiting this eclectic little museum and that along the way this charming community and its unique and diverse people have found a tiny place in your heart. Really, we are all part of the same community no matter where we live, and we are just so grateful that we get to share that with dear friends like you.
Until next time!