A Victorian Social at the Randall House Museum in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

IMG_7885-001Recently, Man The Capstan attended a Victorian garden social event at the Randall House Museum in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. This was held in conjunction with their summer exhibit called “Dear Dottie”. Costumes were encouraged by the museum, and this happily offered us an opportunity to get into our Victorian duds and do some strollin’. It was a particularly special event for us because a number of the members of the Man Capstan Crew are descended from Dottie and her family.

SLR_4_6252-004In 2005 a collection of approximately 500 letters addressed to Dottie Stewart, were discovered in an old trunk in the attic of a Heritage home that had once belonged to the Stewart family of Grand Pre, Nova Scotia. The sheer amount of these letters reveal a wonderfully detailed picture of what life was like for the Stewart family, their friends and their relatives, in this rural farming community during the late 1800s. Spanning a period of almost 15 years of Dottie’s life prior to her marriage, they are indeed a special find, not only for her descendants, but for the entire community.

The Stewarts were predominantly farmers and orchardists, a fact that is often mentioned in the letters sent to Dottie. Among other things, they grew and harvested apples, as did many farmers living in the Annapolis Valley during that time period, and, as many still do to this day. The ancestors and descendants of this family farmed the same lands for a period of almost 250 years, and even today members of the family can be found in the area.SLR_4_5960-002

The letters have been transcribed by volunteers from the Wolfville Historical Society, and were used as a primary source for “Dear Dottie”. This exhibit focuses not only on the Dottie letters and her family, but also on the history and goings’ on of the community during that time. It sheds light upon their joys and  sorrows, their struggles, hardships and good times. It also divulges some of the very personal experiences of those who corresponded with Dottie.  You can view this exhibit until the 15th of September, at which time the Randall House Museum closes down for the season.

Recently the Dottie Letters have also been used as a resource for seven short educational videos called Discovering Voices, by the NS Dept of Education. Some of these episodes were filmed at the Randall House.scan0003-008

The Randall House is a lovely old house and well worth a visit if you are in town. It is owned and operated by the Wolfville Historical Society and curated and managed by Alexandra Hernould. The following is a brief history of the house that I have taken from the
Wolfville Historical Society Website.

“This property, like all the other land in Horton Township, was granted to the New England settlers known as Planters, who arrived from Connecticut in the 1760s after the expulsion of the Acadians.  A house on the property  is mentioned in the deeds as early as 1769 but it is likely that the large and imposing eight room residence with full attic and cellar was built at least a generation later by more established settlers.  Aaron Cleveland, a cooper, lived here with his family from 1809 to 1812, during which time he took out a large mortgage, and it is possible that he was the builder.  The house, which overlooked the harbour, the wharves and the bustling commercial centre of Upper Horton or Mud Creek, was strategically situated to be at the hub of village life.SLR_4_6267-002

The term “the Randall House” was first used  in 1812 when Charles Randall, carpenter,  coachmaker and member of another Connecticut Planter family, purchased it from Cleveland.  His wife Sarah Denison died shortly after the birth of their only child, Charles Denison Randall, and for a time father and son lived here alone.  They later moved to a smaller house on the property and rented the Randall House.  Among their tenants was the Rev. John Pryor, principal of Horton Academy and one of the founders of Acadia University, who is described as “a cultivated, courtly man”.  He and his family lived in the house and may also have used it as temporary classroom space for the Academy.  From 1835 to 1845 Mrs. Henry Best, widow of a Halifax naval officer, operated a seminary for young ladies in the building.

IMG_7896-001Charles D. Randall bought the house from his father in 1844, and moved there following his marriage to Nancy Bill, the daughter of a prosperous farmer and  member of the Legislative Assembly.  Members of the Randall family continued to live in the family home until 1927 when Eardley and Anna left the Randall House for the last time.  Eardley’s initials can still  be seen carved into the wall of the attic staircase.

The Charles Patriquin family purchased the house in 1927, restored it and installed its first bathroom.  The Patriquins are still remembered for their warm-hearted interest in young people:  there was a dress-up box for local children from which they could create Hallowe’en costumes, while Charles taught them how to care for wounded birds and animals.  He also looked after the ducks who spent the summer in the Duck Pond (the old harbour) and grew a productive garden nearby.  It was the Patriquins who expressed the wish that the house should remain unchanged in the community as a reminder of past times.

IMG_7890-001Photographs of the Society’s original museum, the T.A.S. DeWolf house, now hang in the front hall with a framed square of the pictorial wallpaper-all that remains of Prince Edward’s gift.  The Randall House is arranged and furnished as an early Wolfville residence and most of the furniture and artifacts have been donated by local people.  A temporary exhibit room in the back parlour features changing displays which relate to the town and surrounding communities.”

The Wolfville Historical Society is always looking for new members and volunteers.

Don’t forget to click on the pictures to see their full sizes.267352_620477654640513_1444852717_n-001

Unveiling the New Town Crier Uniform for Lloyd Smith

SLR_4_3472-005The Town Crier Uniform, that I have been working on for Lloyd Smith, these past almost six months, was unveiled on May 18, 2013, amidst much to-do at the Convocation Hall at King’s Edgehill School in Windsor, Nova Scotia. It was a most appropriate place for this event, which was well attended by Lloyd’s many supporters.SLR_4_3471-010

The Hall is almost one-hundred and fifty years old, so a very good setting for this 18th century Uniform. So wonderfully Gothic, it is stunning both inside and out. I had never visited this building prior to this event and I was so impressed with the beauty of this old place, that I had to do some research about it. The Convocation Hall at Kings Edgehill School is renowned as Canada’s first library Museum building. Made of sandstone it was designed by architect David Stirling, and built by George Lang, who was a Stonemason.SLR_4_3641-003

This incredible building took six years to complete between 1861 and 1867 and was built on the original campus of King’s College School which was founded in 1788. In 1923 King’s College moved to Halifax but the school continued at it’s present location. Originally a school for boys, King’s Edgehill School is the oldest private residential school in Canada. This is a beautiful place, lovely buildings, beautiful expanses of green and even a great view.

Convocation Hall is valued as a rare example of nineteenth century Gothic Revival stone architecture. It, and all land within a distance of 10 feet surrounding the building is designated as a Provincial Heritage site.SLR_4_3648-002

Today it continues to function as a library and is the oldest library built for that purpose in Nova Scotia. SLR_4_3528-002It is also used as a gathering place for various events.

Although King’s Edgehill is a private school you can tour this building by appointment, as well as several other nineteenth century buildings on the property including a lovely Chapel, and the Head Master’s home.

Lloyd Smith is celebrating 35 years as the official Town Crier for the Town of Windsor. He is also the official Town Crier for the Apple Blossom Festival, where he will be wearing this new uniform in public for the first time at the Coronation of Queen Annapolisa 2013, on May 31st. He is Honourary Town Crier for Kentville, Kingston, Greenwood, New Minas, Hantsport and Wolfville, as well as the Counties of Kings and West Hants.

SLR_4_3526-003Many dignitaries were present for the unveiling of this new uniform. MP Scott Brison was not able to attend but sent along a very nice congratulatory letter.  MLAs Jim Morton and Ramona Jennex spoke, so did Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley and Kentville Mayor Dave Corkum. Many more supporters and council members, past and present, of the various communities that he volunteers his talents to, were also present.

Ed Coleman, who is the official piper for Acadia University and a well known columnist in the valley, was present to pipe and escort Lloyd into the hall. There was an honour guard from King’s Edgehill, and fellow Town Crier Gary Long and his wife Sara. Gary is the official Town Crier for Berwick and Canning. His wife Sara accompanies him to most events and is always dressed in period costume herself.SLR_4_3543-002

Roger Taylor and the Horton High School Senior String Ensemble were present to provide beautiful period music which everyone very much enjoyed, and which did certainly lend a certain ambiance to the occasion. Jason Calnen from Light and Lens Photography was there to take the official photographs, and David Bannerman served as Master of Ceremonies. Even I had a role to play and was there to speak about the construction of the uniform.

Lloyd’s oldest uniform was presented and donated to the Hants Historical Society.

It was a rather fine afternoon and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Don’t forget to click on the pictures to view them in full size; and come again, for I will soon be writing a post that will focus on the construction of this beautiful uniform.SLR_4_3558-002

Red and Black Victorian Walking Gown – Ensemble

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I made this striking gown to sell in my Etsy shop, but as soon as my daughter Shara saw it,  it became hers. I would say it has “attitude”.  She looked so stunning in it that I had to give it to her, and in retrospect, perhaps I made it for her without realizing that I was doing so!  Shara and her husband like to do a little Steam Punk once in a while and this gown lends itself  to that, as well as to a strictly Victorian look. Shara therefore considers it a pretty versatile addition to have in her historical wardrobe.SLR_2_5600-2 It did look wonderfully festive when it was worn to the Victorian Christmas at the O’Dell House Museum.

For accessories, I bought a plain black, buckled, ladies felted top hat to go with it. I decorated it with red lace, black french netting, a few cocky feathers, a black net train and a big red rose. It also has a black parasol and matching reticule. Shara also wears netted black crocheted gloves, and a black beaded choker. Black brocade Victorian style booties complete this ensemble.

IMG_0014-002This Victorian walking gown consists of a polonaise and a walking skirt. I find it has a French feeling to it and  I also like it as a riding habit. The skirt, which is made from a black embroidered taffeta, has one large ruffle and is trimmed in black and red venise laces and satin ribbon. It is slightly trained at the back.

SLR_2_5437-002The polonaise, is made in a rich blood red and black shot striped taffeta and is fully lined and boned. It incorporates both the bodice and the over-skirt and has a nice large bustle, as well as a pleated basque at the back.  It is trimmed with matching black venise lace, tulle lace at the neckline and sleeves, and  ruched black satin ribbon. I had about a half yard of a very long, red, 8 inch venise lace, which matched the red of the taffeta exactly, so I added that to the front of the polonaise as well. I find it really stands out against the black of the skirt. This bodice closes at the front with black satin fabric self made buttons.

I’m planning to make a variation of this ensemble again as it is so striking. I have more of the striped taffeta, not only in the red but in a blue as well.

Don’t forget to click on the pictures to get the full size and effect!SLR_4_2486-002

The Waverley Inn, Halifax, Nova Scotia

SLR_8460-003While attending the Festival of Tall Ships, Man The Capstan, had the opportunity to stay at The Waverley Inn in Halifax. This Inn is tucked away at 1266 Barrington Street, and is a reasonable walk to the waterfront. There are many other Hotels and Inns in this downtown core, but none offers quite the same experience and ambiance of this unique three story bed and breakfast.

waverly1-001Once an elite Victorian private residence, the Waverley Inn is definitely pretty special, especially if you’re like me and prefer smaller and more intimate places to stay, and particularly if they are historical houses.

Lobby-I-001This house was built in 1865-66 by a wealthy merchant named Edward W. Chipman and his wife Mahala Jane Northup. Interestingly both these last names are listed in the family trees of certain Man The Capstan Crew members. Could there be a family relationship there? Perhaps!

The Chipman home was purported to be one of the most expensive and extravagant homes in the city of Halifax. Mrs. Chipman was a very fashionable lady, who was well known in Halifax society and she immediately began to host many dances and social events. These were attended by not only the local society, but also by the officers who were stationed at the Garrison. Hence, it seemed just the place for a group of Royal Navy Re-enactors like us, to spend a night or two.Roman-Sisters-II-001

Unfortunately, Mr. Chipman’s dry goods business failed and in just a short while (1870), the family could no longer afford this home. It must have been heartbreaking to see their lovely home turned over to the Sherriff of Halifax. Much of the furnishings were seized, and the house was sold at auction where it was bought by a real estate speculator named Patrick Costin.SLR_8285-001

He sold the house to two spinsters named Sarah and Jane Romans, who had been operating their father’s business, The Waverley Hotel. They added a new wing to the rear of the house and in October of 1876 they moved into their new location. Since then the Waverley has functioned as an Inn, owned by a variety of different owners. In 1960 the Sterling Hotel Company purchased it and did extensive restorations.

SLR_8270-001Today this house still operates as a lovely historical Inn, and Man The Capstan certainly enjoyed their stay there. We stayed in the Vanderbilt room, and the twin room right across from it, and were indeed very comfortable. The house is filled with antiques and period furniture, and beautifully decorated with the opulence of the Victorian period.  The breakfast room downstairs offers a healthful and generous breakfast with lots of variety. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the rooms are beautiful and very clean. I would definitely stay there again, and would recommend it as a place to stay if ever you are visiting Halifax , Nova Scotia.

Don’t for get to click on the pictures to get their full size and effect!waverly4-001

The Stately Queen Anne Inn

queen_anne-002In October of 2012, my husband and I, with my brother and his wife, had the opportunity to stay at the Queen Anne Inn in Annapolis Royal. This was the second time I had stayed there, and I must say that I am in love with this stately and grand old mansion. Although we did not attend in our historical duds on this trip, I deemed it worthy to write a blog about this wonderful place!

SLR_4_1321-001The Queen Anne Inn is designated a Provincial Heritage Property and this applies to both the building and the land upon which it sits. It is located at 494 Upper George Street. This is the main road running through Annapolis Royal. You will find the Inn just outside of town and set back from the road, in a beautiful garden setting. One of my favourite things about the gardens, are indeed the stately old Elm trees that still grace this property. In Nova Scotia, we have lost many of our Elms to the Dutch Elm disease; it is certainly a special treat to see these glorious stately trees, all awash in the golden glow of fall, towering even taller then the center tower of Queen Anne herself.

SLR_4_1324-002If you love old architecture and historical places, this is the place for you! Considered an excellent example of the Second Empire style, this Inn was built as a private residence by William Ritchie in 1869. He had it built for his son Norman as a wedding gift, however, and very unfortunately, Norman’s wife Fanny died only 10 months after they were married, and before the house could be completed. Norman never lived there and the house stood vacant for a period of time. After several years William Ritchie and his wife opened the house as a an upscale boarding house. In the years ensuing, after the Ritchie’s deaths, and to the present time, the house has been used a parsonage and in 1897 it became St. Andrew’s school, a private school for boys. The school closed it’s doors in 1906 and again the house stood vacant for a time.

SLR_4_1274-003In 1921 the building was converted into a hotel called the Queen Hotel and it has served as such for over 90 years and with various owners operating it. Today it is called “The Queen Anne Inn”, the Proprietors or Inn keepers are Greg and Julie. They are friendly, fun, laid back, and full of information about the surrounding area. Greg is also a chef, so the food is of course delicious, served beautifully in the large dining room, and with good humour to boot. They go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable and offer many unique and personal services to their guests, such as special food requirements and so on.

DSC_1609-001Upon occasion you can also rent the entire Inn for a special event, such as a wedding or business conference, which they will cater. The rooms are large and elegant, most with private sitting areas, and each one beautifully furnished with antiques and curiosities of all sorts. The bathrooms are modern and well equipped with large jacuzzi baths as well as showers in many of the rooms.

Considered one of Nova Scotia’s finest, plan to stay here for a night or two if you are coming for a visit to the Maritimes. The Queen Anne is open from early May to late October, and there is lots to do and see in Annapolis Royal, and the surrounding communities. We found the rates very reasonable, and you just can’t beat the ambiance and historical appeal of this wonderful Inn!IMG_1922-005

A Victorian Christmas at the O’Dell House Museum

SLR_2_5614-003The O’Dell House Museum is situated at 136 – George Street, in the beautiful and historic town of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. This very interesting Victorian house Museum, circa 1869, is now owned and operated by the Annapolis Heritage Society. Graced with beautiful period furnishings, art, photographs, and history, as well as a Genealogy Centre and Archives, this is a pretty special place.4460170492_4bb3e7fd52_z-001

Each year, “A Victorian Christmas” is hosted here, an event that is held over a period of two weekends in late November and/or early December. Two Christmases ago, Man The Capstan decided to attend. (yes I know this blog was a long time in coming, but better late then never), and did we ever enjoy it! For this outing, we donned…what else…but our Victorian bustle gowns! Our Royal Navy Captain and Marine Major, altered slightly, the way they wore their uniforms. The beauty of them is that they can be worn in several differing ways, which really helps when using them for different time periods.

SLR_2_5637-001The ambience, warmth, and beautiful period Christmas decor of the O’ Dell house, make this event well worth attending. The heritage society does a wonderful job of it, spending days collecting Christmas greenery from the surrounding woods, and then countless hours more in decorating the house with these natural treasures.

photo_1272856_resize-001Boughs, wreaths and bouquets of evergreen, holly, boxwood, moss and pine cones fill the house, adorning each doorway, staircase and mantle. Delightful touches such fruit pyramids on the dining table and sideboard, and dried floral bouquets brighten each corner of the house. An old fashioned Christmas tree with homemade and antique ornaments graces the lovely parlour. The golden flicker of candlelight, the fragrance of evergreen, and scents of baking and apple cider assail your senses as you enter. There is much laughter and conversation, and singing of the  traditional carols. You really feel as though you have stepped back in time! What a treat! The crew of Man The Capstan truly appreciated the efforts made and were definitely in our element.SLR_2_5624-001

Once a thriving Tavern and Inn, the O’Dell House was owned and built by Corey O’Dell in the 1860s. Corey who was born in St. John, New Brunswick on June 27, 1827, arrived in Nova Scotia in about 1849. He was a Pony Express Driver for the Kentville-Victoria Beach part of the Halifax-Victoria Beach run. This service was short lived and he returned to New Brunswick the following year.

He came back to Nova Scotia in the late 1850s with his wife and family to live in Annapolis Royal. There he purchased the property where the O’Dell house now stands. The house has fourteen rooms, including the tavern, which later became a grocery store, six bedrooms, dining room, front parlour and kitchen. It is situated near the waterfront, a short distance from the wharves in an ideal location for trade. Corey died March 14, 1887, a wealthy man.

SLR_2_5650-001The O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre are open year round.

The open hours for the O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre are:

Summer (from late May to early September):
Every day – 9 am to 5 pm
Winter:
Monday to Saturday – 1 pm to 4 pm
(weather permitting; a call ahead is advised). Closed Sundays.

Admission for the O’Dell House Museum and the Genealogy Centre is by donation; the suggested amount is $3.00.

French Provincial At The K.C. Irving Centre

The 65,000 square foot K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre at the Acadia University in Wolfville, has to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the Annapolis Valley. I really love this place and it’s wonderful architecture. Built in a classical almost Georgian styling, it nonetheless offers state of the art research and technology. There is a grandeur about it that is unsurpassed, yet all the while it maintains a comfortable and homey, well lit, conducive to learning environment. study irvingFirstly it is a place for study, research and instruction of the natural sciences, but it is also a place of gathering for both the University and the surrounding communities, and is a well used event and conference centre. It is a lovely place for a wedding reception for example.

The K.C. Irving centre was constructed in 1999 and along with the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens was built and donated to the University by Jim, Jack and Arthur Irving in memory of their beloved parents. The Irving family’s attachment to Acadia University began many years ago with K.C,  (Kenneth Collin) who attended there, and has continued with sons Jack and Arthur who are graduates there-of. Arthur is also the present day Chancellor of the University.

I had always wanted to do a shoot in this fantastic building and upon the completion of my 18th century French Provincial/Colonial Gown and matching Gentleman’s Coat, I once again began to imagine how wonderful these pieces would look with the Irving Centre as a back drop.

So,…I asked Man The Capstan crew members, my son David and good friend Katherine, to model these pieces and it did seem quite right, since, after all,  they are both Acadia University Alumni. Katherine gained permission from the building’s manager for us to take some photographs there. It was great fun and such a beautiful and appropriate setting.

This 18th Century gown and coat were created using a printed and embroidered fabric which I found locally at a home decor place. I have often found that the greatest fabrics to make 18th century clothing from are drapery type fabrics. Such was the case with this beautiful striped Antoinette blue and embroidered gold cotton. It caught my eye the moment I walked into the shop and I had to have it! As a matter of fact I bought enough to make two gown and coat sets! Which is indeed a good thing since they have already both been sold. I am obviously not the only one who loves the blue and gold stripe combination.

I trimmed the gown with ivory and gold Venise laces, beige Chantilly lace and satin ribbon. It is paired with an ivory brocaded petticoat or underskirt which is also trimmed in gold Venise lace. Also sold with this gown was a matching ivory chiffon fichu or neck scarf. I did purchase a plain 18″ flat crown straw hat to go with it and this I decorated with matching fabric, ribbon, Venise lace and one ivory ostrich feather.

When I make these gowns I try to make them so that they will fit at least several different sizes and I accomplish this by lacing the back of the gown and using about a three inch modesty panel so that the laces can be worn completely closed or open to varying degrees. I also do not attach the over skirt fully to the bodice and allow a portion of the skirt to remain free at the back closure. Using ribbon drawstring the skirt can be drawn tight or loosened and I find this feature effectively prevents the unsightly gaping and/or pulling that one often sees with these dresses. The bodice is fully lined and boned as well which gives it good shaping and structure. The matching Gentleman’s coat is lined and trimmed with matching gold Venise lace and brass coloured nautical anchor buttons and sells with a jabot. The pockets are faux. David is wearing his own breeches, waistcoat, shirt and boots.

We had a great time at Irvng Centre, and really, it was difficult to get any bad shots, the setting is so spectacular! Above is a photo of the wonderful winding staircase.

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