Canada Day 2021

Last Thursday was Canada Day…The equivalent of the 4rth of July for Americans. For many, it is just a day off of work. For some it is working for time and a half pay and a banked vacation day. May be it is the launching of summer holidays. To some, it is an excuse to get together with friends and family…COVID messed that up last year but it is slightly better this year…at least where I am.

Some people actually take the time to consider why we like Canada. The land itself is lovely with loads of scenic variety. We have plenty of resources: water, farmland, and oil to name a few. I’m pretty fond of our democracy and our health care system. We are known world wide for being fairly decent humans as a whole (but I’m the first to admit that not everyone is the stereotypical polite Canadian. We have our share of “butt orifices” too.) By enlarge, Canada has treated me and mine well.

But this year Canada has been forced to look at our butt holeary in a historical sense. We have to face the fact that in the not so distant past, Europeans sailed over here and looked around and thought “this is a nice place…I can use this.” And they started taking things: pelts, land, women…. And they abusively used the land, the people, the plants and the animals for their own gain. To the indigenous peoples, the colonizers were cruel, even when they thought they were being kind. Trading can be a nice thing…except when you are ripping people off and dealing in things that was ultimately harmful (alcohol for example). Sharing of ones culture and faith can be a nice thing if it is a mutual sharing but not when it is rammed down someones throat!

The ultimate example of this “ramming” was the residential schools which were started in the Victorian era (1890’s I believe) and continued into my life time. The idea was the Europeans weren’t going anywhere and in fact they were moving in like cockroaches. The indigenous would benefit from an education that helped them adapt to the Western way of doing things. Nice concept…NOT! The residential schools ripped children away from their parents-often under threat of incarceration if they did not comply. The children were stripped of their home, family, community and then stripped of all reminders of that. Their clothing, hair, adornments and mementos were removed. They were punished for speaking their own language. The treatment in general was neglectful at best and commonly it was abusive.

My ancestors were here for the start of this. Were they actively engaged in this? I don’t think so. Were they unaware of this process? Possibly. If they were aware of this, there is a good chance they thought this was a good idea. And that idea is unsettling. But, we Canadians can not say, “this was the past. Don’t hold our fore father’s past sins against us”. We can’t say it because this was going on, to some degree, in my life time. There are still people alive today that had to go to residential school and now are living with trauma. There are people alive today that were raised by people who were ripped from family only to be abused. How do you learn to parent in those conditions? The negative repercussions have rippled across generations marking the people even when they themselves haven’t been to residential school.

So why are Canadian’s thinking about this now? Because unmarked graves are being found at these residential schools. Some are saying “don’t automatically think they died from abuse and neglect”. That may be true but the questions remain: Why unmarked graves? Did they get an honorable burial? Were the people that loved them there? Did their loved ones get satisfactory information on the life and death of this child? Did the family get the opportunity to bring their loved one home for burial? Did they get the opportunity to set up a grave marker? And the ultimate question…why weren’t they safe at home in the first place?

So in their grief and outrage for these children and in the relived memory of their own trauma, the indigenous community spent Canada Day saying out loud that the creation of this country has not been a good thing for them and theirs. Colonization has not been a blessing. And the symbol of colonization…Queen Victoria…got knocked off her pedestal in front of the government building in my location.

Honestly, I’m surprised she has stood as long as she has. People around the world have begun to look at statues celebrating people and victories and realizing that not everyone is happy about the results of these memorialized events and people. The confederate statues in the States are the most obvious examples of this.

I don’t know the long term plans for this statue. I hope it isn’t destroyed. It is part of history. But have it displayed in a museum with perhaps the paint still on her (because that is now also part of the history that shouldn’t be lost).

The name of my blog is a play on the words “I want to be Victorian.” But in actuality that isn’t true. They health care then was dreadful. Though I would be part of the “in crowd” (white, middle class or better, and Protestant) I’m still a girl and therefore would be little better than property. If I lived in the Victorian era with my current world views I’d be even more horrified by the crap I would see in the 1800’s than I am seeing now! And I’d likely be put in a mental institution or jail for my radical thoughts. If I were Victorian, I’d have no internet (heaven forbid!), Netflix, electric sewing machine with dozens of stitch options, and no car.

I just like the clothes, furniture and architecture. But these things didn’t come about in a void. The clothing styles demanded top hats for men, which demanded beaver pelts, which demanded the fur trade which demanded the colonization of North America, which demanded the native population “problem” be dealt with.

I want to be respectful to the trauma of the original peoples. I’m not sure that the respect of that trauma wont taint my enjoyment of Victorian costuming. That’s were I’m at. Wondering how I fit into this fu*ked up world.

Inspiring woman

As seen in the Winnipeg Free Press, November 12, 2019. Written by Shannon Sampert

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Mr Wheeler wrote letters to newspaper editors and the Free Press editor put the letter on Ms. Parker’s desk.  She started a campaign of articles and editorials about the value of having a Canadian climbing club (much more patriotic than joining an American club) and thus the club was formed.

Winnipeg Trolly

I had a Victorian at Heart outing scheduled for last week.  Lottie wasn’t planning on coming and Shirley, unfortunately had to back out.  You know how it is…the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Hubby stepped in and was my date.  He wasn’t going in costume and though he said I could, I opted against it.  Three or more in costume is an event, an occasion, a club.  Two in costume are good friends with a slightly different idea of fun.  One person in costume is odd.  One person in costume with a non-costumed escort is some one with mental capacity issues out with their caregiver….

The outing was with Winnipeg Trolley tours and they were featuring a ghost tour.

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The trolley’s are made to look like the old street cars we used to have here…just with motors.  They would have been a hoot in Edwardian or late Victorian gear. All wood inside…nice!

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There were stories of local ghost sightings while we drove around the city and a few stops where we got out to see some sights before they shut down for the winter.

7 Oaks house…

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Dalnavert House…done up like a house in mourning.

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All in all, a pleasant evening.  I think it will be worth it to try this event again, and hopefully, with the girls in costume.

 

Tea time Edwardian style

Lottie and I went out for tea this past weekend (we missed you Shirley!)  We went to MacDonald House in Stonewall.

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The house is an Edwardian house with the claim to fame of being the home of one of our war heroes.

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We had a lovely tea and quiche meal.

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After tea, we wandered around through the tea house’s gift shop.  We found a mirror where we could photograph ourselves together.

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After that we went across the street to a second hand store.  It was a pleasant day pretending to be ladies out for tea and shopping.

As promised, the first outing of the season

In honor of her majesty’s birthday, Shirley, Lottie and I headed out to Lower Fort Garry to enjoy the PERFECT costuming day!  The sun was out.  The sky was blue.  The air was warm and there was a slight breeze.  We missed the main rush of people so there was lots of room for photos.  PERFECT!

Lottie and I wore 1840’s and Shirley wore 1850’s.  Nothing new on either Lottie or myself but Shirley was sporting a knitted vest and a misers purse that she had made this past winter.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from my camera and Shirley’s.

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Look at that sky!

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Not a bad shot for a camera phone!

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Shirley and I being patriotic!  I loved Shirley’s little basket of wool.

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We all wanted photos next to the old wagon wheel by the blacksmith’s shop.

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I loved how Lottie’s white dress contrasted with the grey wood.

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I loved this staff person’s dress.  I don’t think she will love how her eyes look in this photo!  Hahaha…Sorry about that!

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Practicing before the big lawn party!

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A game of trundling.

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Gretel, dear, could you do an old lady a favor and peek in the oven and see what is in there.  A little further dear, if you would be so kind.

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Me want it!

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There was a display marking some of the Fort’s other uses once it was no longer needed as a Fort.  A prison, insane asylum and auto enthusiasts club were its former uses.

Color in 1919

One of the dresses on display for the Costume Museum’s homage to the 1919 strike is this little number!  Super cute!

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I don’t know what job this striker would have had but she would have been stylin’!  May be she was upper class with a bent towards helping the down trodden.

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I adore the flower pattern and the necklace chosen to accent it is pretty nice too!

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I don’t know if the hat is a set with the dress but it is a perfect pairing!

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The color scheme reminds me of these photos taken over my house a few days ago.  The plan is to move in the next year or two and I shall miss this little lake out my kitchen window!

In other related views from my window…

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…meet Groucho.

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Now that he is named, he has become my “outdoor pet”.

Stay tuned for my next post!  Victorian at Heart will be starting its costume season today!  It is the perfect day for it I think!  Sunny but not too hot!  Yeah!

The newspaper drawings

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The back cover of my carte de visite book had some news paper clippings stuck on the back.

I’m going to try and figure out who they are.
The guy on the top left is Charles Tupper and he was Prime Minister of Canada for a very short while in 1896. He is connected to Hugh John MacDonald, the owner of Dalnavert house. Hugh’s partner in his law firm was one of Tupper’s sons and Charles Tupper himself, made Hugh the Minister of the Interior in April 1896.

Here is a photo of the two together. (A copy of this hangs in Dalnavert).

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The next drawing is of Benjamin Disraeli who was a Prime Minister in the United Kingdom.  There was a street in Winnipeg that eventually became a Freeway called Disraeli and it was named after him.  Here is the photo the drawing was likely rendered from.

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The guy on the bottom left is Fredrick Temple also known as Lord Dufferin.

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He was a Governor General of Canada and he is also connected to Hugh John MacDonald.  As the Governor General of Canada, Lord Dufferin had contact with the Prime Minister and Hugh’s father, John A MacDonald.  Lord Dufferin made John A the god father of one of his children. There are a few things in Winnipeg named after this guy and his family…including our old train named the Countess of Dufferin now being stored in the Union Station Rail Museum.

The next guy was John Campbell the Marquis of Lorne, husband to one of Queen Victoria’s daughters.  In 1878 Lorne was appointed governor general of Canada by British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, to succeed Lord Dufferin.

The last guy is Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar Collage. He doesn’t seem to fit the pattern and I can’t even guess why he is there. Most of these guys are major political characters in Canada’s history.  All these political types hung out with each other and with royalty.  And for some reason, the owner of this album found it significant to include these pictures in a family album.

Where was I?

In my last post I shared the photos of my completed Olive Dress.  What I didn’t tell you was where I was when those photos were taken.  I was actually an unpaid extra in a movie about the 1919 General strike in Winnipeg that became a very prominent event in the history of Canada. 30 thousand workers from many classes and ethnic groups came together and marched and basically shut down the whole city.  The strike was so effective that the Canadian government (for fear that there would be sympathetic strikes across the country) became involved and the leaders were arrested.

The scenes I and the other extras were involved in were the street marches and the rush of deputized RCMP’s on horseback who were sent in to break up the strike. This resulted in several injuries and one death.

Three perks to the event…

  1. New life experience to add to my memories.  Not a bucket list thing but pretty cool non the less.  I wonder if this film will ever move beyond film festivals to a venue I might actually see it.39976357_2194916177204057_72800769409024000_o
  2. I found a person that might actually buy some of my costumes off of me.  I have about 3 that I’m not really in love with anymore and if I made something that I liked better, I’d be happy to part with them.
  3. I actually got offered a job.  It is to work as a casual seamstress in the costume department.  The deal is that if a production requires more costumes than the costume department can crank out, they will call on casuals to step in an help out.  The money could be quite good, and according the person I spoke to, they always need help.  Since I’ve never sewed for other people, this is a daunting thought!  I’m curious enough to want to ask more questions but scared enough to believe that I wont go for it.39953553_2194288170600191_7851649054055333888_n

I wish I had some more photos to share with you but something went screwy with my camera and I lost all my photos.

Few of my favorite things: Sir John A MacDonald’s clock

In the study at Dalnavert Museum there is a clock on the mantle.

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Dalnavert was built by Hugh MacDonald, the only surviving son of Sir John A MacDonald, first Prime Minister of Canada.

There only a few pieces in the museum that belonged to the family (most of the original items in the house were auctioned off after Hugh died and his wife sold and moved out).  The clock on the mantle is a MacDonald family heirloom.

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It was once in Hugh’s father’s office.  I’ve been up close to an item owned by the first Prime Minister of Canada.  So cool!

Doors Open 2018: Kildonan Cemetery and Church

In the past few years, I have volunteered at the old jail for Doors Open.  This year I decided to change it up.

On the Saturday my costume group, Truly Victorian, went to 3 venues.  And on Sunday I volunteered at Dalnavert House museum.

The cemetery and church was the first stop.  Lottie and I went in 1840’s attire and Shirley was in later styles.  3 2

Of course when one goes to an old cemetery, one wants to see old graves.

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There are the sad ones of dead babies.

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The ones that reveal family tragedies.

The above stone shares of one man’s losses. His 24 year old wife died Feb 21, 1890.  Six days later, their daughter died at only 45 days old.  4 years prior, they lost a 12 day old baby girl.

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There are the stones that make you angry. Like this repaired one. There were several like this that possibly fell victim to vandals.

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And there are the ones that are creative and beautiful.

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The church, built in 1852, is under restoration at this time but we were allowed to go in and see it.

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The balcony was off limits as it is no longer safe.  But the main floor, in spite of needing a little TLC is in good shape. b

The stain glass, which was added in the 1920’s, was my favorite.

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And of the 4 of them, this was my favorite both in terms of the picture itself and because I recognize the Henderson name as I lived a few blocks from a street named after that family.  And on Henderson, there is a church named after the pastor that originally founded this church, John Black.

When we were done looking at the interior of the church, we walked around the exterior to see the work that had been done.

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On the right side of the photo you see the west side wall still covered in stucco. The left side of the photo shows the north wall with the stucco removed and the tyndall stone revealed.

For those of you who liked to be a bit grossed out, I have to show you what I saw next to the door on my way out of the church.

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Dozens of Lady Bugs.

I used to like Lady Bugs but last year they introduced an Asian variety to our city in hopes of controlling aphids.  Those little devils bite.  I can’t tell if these are the Asian ones or the nice kind but even the nice kind are gross in huge bunches!