Unlocking Mysteries at the New Brunswick Museum: The Mystery of the Dentist’s Bag

Within the New Brunswick Museum’s collections is a dentist bag found in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The dentist’s bag came into the Nanaimo Community Hospice Shoppe in British Columbia. Inside was a copy of a wedding announcement from parents Dr. and Mrs. John T. Hazelwood of their daughter Effie Lucretia Hazelwood’s marriage to John Allen Clowes in October, 1913 in Saint John West, New Brunswick. The New Brunswick Museum was subsequently notified of this by shop manager Daphne Catteson.

Dentist's bag for blog

 

dentist’s bag, c. 1890
leather with metal
overall: 36 x 44 x 21 cm
Gift of the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society, 2015
NBM 2015.20

 

 

How did this dentist’s bag from New Brunswick end up in a shop in British Columbia?

Research by the NBM revealed that John T. Hazelwood was first listed as a dentist in the 1891-92 Saint John City Directory and that previous to this he had been a druggist in the city from 1881 to 1890. According to the New Brunswick Dental Association, John T. Hazelwood was licensed by an Order by the Governor in Council in 1893 but his practice was restricted to certain procedures. His pharmaceutical work may have assisted his entry into the profession. While there was an Ontario Dental Association from 1867 and The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario the next year, the Canadian Dental Association was only founded in 1902. Hazelwood obviously practiced without a degree and learned on the job within his restricted duties. He did not advertise himself as a doctor in the Saint John City Directory. This is an important reminder of a developing profession.

It was further discovered that Effie Hazelwood and John Clowes subsequently moved to British Columbia and the bag must have travelled with them. Dr. John Hazelwood is listed as a dentist in 1915 but not 1919; he passed away in 1926. The move of the bag to British Columbia would likely postdate his death and perhaps that of his wife Annie Garrison Rouse (d. 1943). John Clowes died in Comox, B.C. in 1945 and Effie Hazelwood in New Westminster in 1969. It’s likely the bag descended to Effie and thereafter to one of their children or a relative and eventually made its way to the Hospice Shoppe.

tag for blog 1

 

A typed note that was found in the bag probably from the last descendent.

tag for blog 2
 

Tag that was on the handle of the bag regarding its lock.

wedding invite for blog

 

 

 

A copy of the wedding announcement found inside the dentist’s bag

 

 

 

Hazelwwod with dog for blog

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. John T. Hazelwood with top hat and his dog, about 1900

parlour for blog
Dr. John T. Hazelwood performing hypnotism on a volunteer in a parlour setting about 1900.

From Shetland to the Miramichi – Uncovering a Bedcover’s Heritage

Dr. Carol Christiansen, Curator and Community Museums Officer at the Shetland Museum and Archives, in her latest book, Taatit Rugs: the Pile Bedcovers of Shetland (published in 2015 by Shetland Amenity Trust – ISBN 978-0-9932740-4-6) features an unusual New Brunswick Museum (NBM) artifact – an embroidered counterpane (or bed rugg). Originally donated as a floor covering by Margaret Keay and Janet Keay in 1961, its real function as a bedcovering was explained in the early 1970s when it was included in an exhibition on American bed ruggs at the Wadsworth Athaneum in Hartford, Connecticut. It was also featured on a Canada Post stamp in 1993.

Taatit rugs
Dr. Carol Christiansen. (2015). Taatit Rugs: the Pile Bedcovers of Shetland. Shetland: Shetland Heritage Publications.

The counterpane’s unusual production method – a double-looped embroidery with a short pile rather than the more common hooking – makes it a unique survivor among the New Brunswick Museum’s extensive bedding collection. Dr. Christiansen’s research on the “heavy woollen woven bedcover (rug) to which threads (taats) have been applied” led her to this wonderful early example.  Her interest has greatly expanded our understanding of the complex histories associated with heritage objects and has provided a revealing glimpse of Scottish immigration to the province.

At the time of the counterpane’s donation to the NBM, it was said to have been used by a Hutchison family of the Miramichi region of New Brunswick.  Further inquiry revealed that the great-aunt of the donors was Elizabeth Stuart (Stewart) Mackie (c. 1817-1867) who married Richard Hutchison (1812-1891) of Douglastown, New Brunswick, on 20 March 1843.  Richard Hutchison was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and immigrated to New Brunswick in 1826.  Elizabeth Stuart Mackie is said to have been born in Aberdeen, Scotland – her father was Alexander Mackie (c. 1781-1858) a native of Leith who had lived in Aberdeen and his wife, Elizabeth Stuart (Stewart) (c. 1782-1854).  The 1851 census indicates that they had immigrated to New Brunswick in 1832. Though not conclusive, this certainly gives our bedcovering a very strong likelihood of originating in Scotland and it significantly enhances the New Brunswick Museum’s ability to represent and discuss aspects of cultural transfer in the mid-19th century in the province.

1961-42(3)1961-42(4)

1961-42(13)
Maker Unknown (probably Scottish ?)
Counterpane (taatit rug or bed rugg), 1800-1850
Embroidered wool on tabby weave wool
221 x 157.5 cm
Provenance:  Used by the Hutchison family of Douglastown, New Brunswick [Probable line of family descent: Richard Hutchison (1812-1891) and Elizabeth Stuart Mackie Hutchison (c. 1817-1867); to her sister, Alexina Stuart Mackie Keay (1831-1909) and her husband, Reverend Peter Keay (1826-1873); to their son, Richard Hutchison Keay (1864-1944) and his wife, Ada Margaret Fraser Keay (1871-1957); to their daughters, Alexina Margaret Keay (1904-1987) and Janet Elder Keay (1913-2000)]
Gift of Margaret Keay and Janet Keay, 1961 (1961.42)
Collection of the New Brunswick Museum

Peter Larocque, Curator of New Brunswick Cultural History and Art, New Brunswick Museum

 

 

New Brunswick Museum’s Spirit of the Season

New Brunswick has holiday traditions that have long been celebrated and handed down from generation to generation. Drawing on the collections of the New Brunswick Museum Archives and Research Library, here are several enchanting holiday memories of yesterday. 

Included in the NBM Archives and Research Library holdings are a variety of beautiful historic photographs and published and unpublished items from holidays past, each containing an aspect of the New Brunswick story. These stories include a range of Acadian, Scottish, English, Irish and other traditions from yesteryear.

“A Visit from St. Nicholas” – in the New Brunswick Museum Archives

This poem, written by Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863), also entitled “Twas the Night before Christmas” is familiar to many………but did you know that there is a New Brunswick connection?

At the NBM Archives, in the Odell family papers, there is a handwritten version of “A visit from St. Nicholas”. It was written in 1825, and very likely the handwriting is that of Jonathan Odell’s daughter Maryl. The Odell family were Loyalists who came to New Brunswick from New York in 1784 and the Moore and Odell families were friends in pre-revolutionary times. Jonathan Odell was the first Provincial Secretary of New Brunswick and was Clement Moore’s godfather. The families continued to correspond in the decades after the Odells left New York.

Clement Clarke Moore was proficient in languages and music and graduated from Columbia College in 1798. He became a professor at the General Theological Seminary, of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York City and continued to serve as professor of Oriental and Greek literature until his resignation in 1850. He had also studied Hebrew, and in 1809, he published “A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew language” in 2 volumes.

The original poem “A visit from St. Nicholas” was written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822, as a Christmas gift for his children; it was said to have been transcribed by a guest of the household and given by her to the press in Troy, N.Y and  was published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel,  Dec. 23, 1823. Since it was not a scholarly publication, as other material written by Moore, he was not anxious to acknowledge it publicly. However, in 1844 it was included in a collection of his poetry.

The NBM Archival collections include this and other correspondence between Clement Clarke Moore and the Odell family.

Odell-F15-5 pg1Excerpt: Poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore handwritten by Mary Odell, ca. 1825. Odell Family fonds F15-5

The collections that help discover the spirit of the season in New Brunswick also include greeting cards, postcards, letters, songs and poetry, expressing seasonal greetings and sentiments; historical photographs; ads for outdoor activities such as skating and sleighing; menus from hotels and other establishments holding seasonal dinners with menu items such as: reform sauce, corned tongue, Kummel Eckau ice cream, picalli, nesselrode, crapaudine and Victoria sauce; and examples of what local businesses and merchants were selling for the holiday season.

Listed below are a glimpse of collections portraying some holiday traditions in New Brunswick.

1946-11
Unknown
Photograph
Interior View of Victoria Skating Rink, Saint John, New Brunswick
c. 1870
1946.11

1987-17-379
Valentine & Sons Publishing Company Limited
Postcard
The Christmas Market, Fredericton, New Brunswick
c. 1910
Dr. William Francis Ganong Collection
1987.17.379

NANB-SJGenHosp-15
Unknown
Photograph
Nurses, Student Nurses and Children enjoying Christmas Festivities, Saint John General Hospital, Saint John, New Brunswick
c. 1950
Nurses Association of New Brunswick fonds
NANB-SJGenHosp-15

NANB-SJGenHosp-115
Louis Merritt Harrison
Photograph
Nursing Singing Christmas Carols, Saint John General Hospital, Saint John, New Brunswick
Miss Louise Peters, Associate Director of Nursing Service in centre
c. 1955
Nurses Association of New Brunswick fonds
NANB-SJGenHosp-115

New year's card 1Printed Eph-F101-3
A sample of the collection of seasonal greeting cards at the NBM Archives

Printed Eph-F76-8
1900 menu card of the Royal Hotel, Saint John, N.B.

1967-81-1-2
Unknown
Photograph
First Load of Christmas Trees out of Fredericton, New Brunswick being shipped to Boston, Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) No. 71
Merryweather, Fireman and Robert Donaldson, Engineer
11 December 1905
George L. Brown Collection, gift of Charles A. Brown,1967
1967.81.1.2

Within the NBM Archives, in the Saint John Jewish Museum archival collections, there is also material relating to the celebration of Chanukah, the festival of lights, by the Jewish community. In November, 2016, watch for a blog on Chanukah in New Brunswick.

The Clement Clarke Moore handwritten poem “A visit from St. Nicholas” will be on display, with several other seasonal pieces from the NBM Archives, at the NBM Exhibition Centre, from Tuesday, 15 December 2015 to Sunday 3 January 2016.

 

Cabinets of Wonder – Some Thoughts on Crustaceans and Molluscs

As New Brunswick’s provincial museum, the New Brunswick Museum partners with institutions and communities to collect, preserve, research and interpret material to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of New Brunswick provincially and globally. One such initiative is the Cabinets of Wonder exhibition at the Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, NB where a selection of the New Brunswick Museum’s collection of fine art, decorative art and scientific specimens complementing the exhibits from Mount Allison University’s collection are featured until 29 November 2015. The exhibition brings together art and science under common themes to showcase the fascinating relationships between these two disciplines.

Peter Larocque, NBM Curator of New Brunswick Cultural History and Art, curated the New Brunswick Museum display for Cabinets of Wonder. “The inspiration for the Cabinet of Wonder of the New Brunswick Museum comes from a small Jack Weldon Humphrey gouache painting, Crustaceans in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum”, said Peter Larocque. “Modest in its approach to abstraction, its shapes and colours suggest the creatures – crustaceans as well as molluscs – that are resident in the myriad niches found along the shoreline boundaries of Humphrey’s maritime painting places. Traditionally, within the conventions of various systems of symbolism, the attributes of tenacity, protection, fertility and resurrections are associated with the aquatic animals represented. One might argue that these traits also form a construct for considering museums themselves as well as the expectations inherent in their primary purposes – preservation, presentation and interpretation. The rationale for this tableau, then, is the relationship between the diversity of the artifacts and specimens found in the New Brunswick Museum collections and the institution’s role as a repository of material information, a maker of culture and as a place for the exchange of ideas.”

1
Jack Weldon Humphrey (Canadian, 1901-1967)
Crustaceans, 1952‑1953
brush and black ink with gouache on wove paper
support: 24.9 x 32.4 cm
Gift of Lawren Phillips Harris, 1987 (1987.21)

“The selection of objects for this cabinet speaks to the enduring part that the natural world plays as inspiration for styles and fashions in the fine and decorative arts”, said Peter Larocque. “The variety of ways that this is demonstrated is vast; objects might imitate natural forms, actual creatures (or sections of them) may be incorporated into an artifact, or natural items can be transformed by human agency.”

2
Belleek Pottery Company (Irish, founded in 1858)
Neptune pattern Tea Service, 1955‑1965
Porcelain            
Overall: 14.5 x 22.5 cm [teapot], 6 x 10 cm (sugar bowl), 8.2 x 11.5 cm (creamer)
Gift of Frances Meltzer Geltman, 1995 (1995.46.4.1-3)

The above tea service is indicative of the ongoing fascination with natural forms and technical virtuosity. The pattern of these pieces, Neptune, reminds the viewer of classical mythology and a close association with the sea.

3
NBMG 3636
Phylum Mollusca, Class Cephalopoda
‘ammonite’
Overall: 13 x 12.4 x 4 cm
Location unknown
Donor and date unknown
From the collection of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick

The coiled shells of fossil ammonites are common in rocks of Jurassic and Cretaceous age. New Brunswick has few fossils from this part of geologic time, but the New Brunswick Museum collection has a few ammonite specimens, mostly donated by members of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick in the 19th century.

“Some items were chosen for their aesthetic value; others for the contemplation of their function”, he said. “In total, these specimens and objects are brought together as a record of the passage of time. They reflect the evidence of past millennia, reference classical mythology and are signposts of our conspicuous use of natural resources. This evocative combination of items calls attention not only to their innate allure but also to their fragility. Implied in this gathering is the location necessary for the enjoyment of close inspection and observation. What better way to envision the role of the museum?”

4
Maker Unknown (Barbados)
sailor’s valentine, c. 1830‑1880
cedrela wood, paper, cotton batting and glass
25.4 x 49.6 cm
Gift of Frederick G. Godard, (7085)

Produced from the early 19th century and celebrated for their intricacy and sentiment, sailor’s valentines have become synonymous with the separation and uncertainty that characterize seafaring life. Produced in the West Indies, particularly Barbados, these souvenirs were purchased by sailors passing through as conspicuous signs of affection for sweethearts and cherished family members.

5
Mrs. Lolar (Passamaquoddy)
Sea Urchin pattern basket, c. 1908
dyed and woven ash splints with sweetgrass
overall: 9 x 21 x 21 cm
Gift of Mrs. H.R. Wilson, 1909 (5197.2)

Composed of the finest splints of ash and twining plaits of sweetgrass, this basket reflects the Passamaquoddy First Nation’s intimate knowledge of sea life in their traditional territory along the northern coast of the Bay of Fundy.   It is based on the shape of abundant green sea urchin whose habitat includes the intertidal zone of the rocky shoreline.

6
Maker Unknown (Japanese)
Presentation Gift to Commemorate a Contribution to the Building of a New Church, Umikami County, Chiba Province, Japan, before 23 November 1925
Carved shell
overall: 19 x 22 x 2 cm
The Loretta L. Shaw Collection, 1939 (32622)

The surface of this shell lends itself to artistic expression. The natural shape of the shell is respected and enhanced with the addition of koi subtly carved into the lustrous bands of nacre. The combination of imagery and material denote perseverance and strength – appropriate as a gift to a Canadian missionary intent on bringing Western-style education to Japan.

Up at Bat: NBM Zoology Summer Students Prepare Pre-White-nose Syndrome Bat Specimens

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) has been decimating eastern Canada’s bat populations for the past six years. White-nose fungus, which thrives at low temperatures, often leads to hibernating bats waking up, flying into the cold, and freezing to death. In Canada, WNS was first discovered in Ontario and Quebec in 2009. In the Maritimes, the disease first appeared in New Brunswick and in Nova Scotia in 2011, and Prince Edward Island in 2013. The situation has grown dire; while NBM Zoologist Dr. Donald McAlpine and NBM Research Associate Karen Vanderwolf once found approximately 7,000 bats a year in the 10 hibernation sites in New Brunswick that they monitor, they found only 20 bats in the same caves last year. WNS affects primarily the Little Brown Bat and the Northern Long-ear Bat, although Big Brown Bats are also affected to a lesser extent. The decline in the bat population is expected to carry financial repercussions for agriculture and forestry as fewer bats will be consuming fewer crop and tree-damaging pests.

NBM Zoology Summer Students Maddie Empey, Alyson Hasson, and Neil Hughes have been working this summer to prepare and catalogue some of the approximately 7,000 Little Brown , Northern Long-eared , and Big Brown Bats from Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces in in the NBM freezers. These bats were all submitted by members of the public for rabies testing to a federal lab in Ottawa between 1996 and the early 2000s, before WNS was discovered in Canada. The bats at the NBM are those that tested negative for rabies.

The data collected from these bats will enable researchers to compare genetic variation in eastern Canadian bats before and after the introduction of WNS to the region. Among surviving bats, for example, there may be certain similarities in genetic makeup. Other research may use samples of fur to determine the levels of toxicants, such as mercury, that have been acquired by bats from the environment.

“This is a unique sample, in that it is probably the largest collection of those bat species most heavily impacted by WNS taken immediately before onset of the fungal infection,” said McAlpine. “Once archived in the NBM these samples will be a source of research data for many, many, years.”

“It’s really satisfying to know that you’re contributing to such research,” said Maddie Empey.

photo 1
NBM Summer Student Maddie Empey holds samples of skinned bats.

Students start by measuring the bats. Measurements include the length of the whole body, the tail, the hind foot, the forearm, and the tragus (a flap of skin in the ear involved in echolocation). Each bat is also weighed.photo 2photo 3

photo 4photo 5

The bat skin is separated from the body. Although the wing bones remain with the skin, the remainder of the skeleton is retained for later cleaning and preparation.

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Each bat skin is spread and pinned to dry. Once dry, the skin will be placed in a clear Mylar envelope, and stored for future reference.

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Tissue samples—small bits of muscle—are removed from each bat carcass, placed in 98% ethanol and stored in a freezer. Tissue samples from each bat are archived at -80o C in the NBM tissue collection for eventual genetic analysis by an NBM research collaborator at Trent University.

photo 11

Finally, bat carcasses are placed in the dermestid beetle colony—or “bug barn” to be skeletonized. The beetles eat the flesh only, leaving perfectly cleaned skeletons. Once cleaned by bugs, the skeletons are removed, frozen, thawed, and frozen a second time to make sure that no beetles, eggs, or larva make their way into the NBM.

“If any beetles come in here [the NBM] they’ll just eat anything and everything,” said Empey.

Once the skeletons are cleaned and frozen, they are ready to be archived in the NBM collection to be used as reference for research.

photo 12photo 13photo 14
Clockwise from top left: NBM Preparator Brian Cougle with dermestid colony; Cougle holding dermestid beetle larvae; Empey with a freezer in the NBM necropsy lab.

To learn more about the New Brunswick Museum’s role in leading the White-nose Syndrome research watch the video “White-nose syndrome discovered in NB”.

 

 

 

Conservation Work: An Acadian Memento Mori

As New Brunswick’s provincial museum, the New Brunswick Museum not only works with in its own collections but also provides support to other museums across the province. For example, a memento mori— or death memorial—owned by the Musée Acadien de Caraquet was in need of restoration for exhibit at the Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton. NBM Conservator Dee Stubbs-Lee was able to provide the necessary conservation treatment for the artifact to go on display as part of the upcoming exhibition Always Loved, Never Forgotten: Death and Mourning in Acadia.

Little is known about the memento mori except that it is in memory of an Anna Duguay, wife of Alf. LeBoutillier, who died on June 8, 1910 at the age of 26. The memorial depicts a graveyard scene with a large wax cross, a smaller cross, and a casket enclosed under a glass dome. Furthermore, the memento mori is embellished with a hairwork garland, which appears to be made using the hair of at least 14 individuals.

“If you look carefully you can see the hair is not all from one individual: there are a number of different colours and textures of hair,” said Stubbs-Lee. “As I was examining it for my condition report, I noticed that there are a number of little tiny numbered squares of paper. It’s possible each number refers to a different individual.”

Memento Mori 1Memento Mori 2Memento Mori 3Memento Mori 4Clockwise from top left: the memento mori after treatment without dome; the memento mori after treatment with dome; detail of  paper banner providing information on Anna Duguay; detail of hairwork.

The first challenge presented by the memento mori fell to NBM Conservator Claire Titus: transporting the artifact to the NBM Collections and Research Centre in Saint John without damaging it. The memorial was best kept upright with the glass dome in place to provide protection for the wax cross and hairwork. However, the glass itself also had to be protected from breakage and from contacting the artwork inside. Titus thus transported the memento mori in a large Rubbermaid container with acid free cushioning materials in order to absorb vibration caused by movement.

Once the artifact arrived in the Conservation Lab in the NBM Collections and Research Centre, Stubbs-Lee took over the work of the conservation treatment. Various elements of the memento mori were in need of treatment: the glass needed to be cleaned, the textile element washed, the crevices vacuumed of mould and insects, the paper stabilized, and the cracked wax filled and stabilized. All of this had to be done with minimal contact to the fragile hairwork, which was in relatively good condition despite being slightly chewed by insects in some places, but brittle with age.

A treatment proposal was developed and approved by the Musée Acadien de Caraquet before proceeding. First, Stubbs-Lee cleaned the glass dome with vinegar and then used a surgical scalpel to remove hardened dirt. She then dry-cleaned and removed a layer of purple chenille yarn that encircled the graveyard scene. It was extremely dusty and been infested with mould and insects.

Memento Mori 5Memento Mori 6Left to right: NBM Conservator Dee Stubbs-Lee dry-cleans the chenille in the crevasse with vacuum and dental tools; adult carpet beetle carcass and larval casing found during examination and cleaning.

The chenille was then wet cleaned. Before submerging the fabric in water, Stubbs-Lee conducted a spot test with warm distilled water in an eye dropper to make sure that the purple dye would not run. Then it was immersed in a bath of warm distilled water and a mild conservation detergent. Distilled water is used in conservation treatment because it contains fewer impurities, such as metal particles, which can damage an artifact over time. After being washed, the chenille was pinned out and dried.

Memento Mori 7Memento Mori 8Left to right: the chenille submerged in distilled water and a conservation detergent; the chenille pinned out so that it would not shrink while drying.

A number of fragments of paper inscribed with parts of names were found within the artifact. Unfortunately, missing sections and poor condition of the paper meant these could not be restored, but they were carefully documented and retained for research.

Memento Mori 9
Photo: inscribed paper fragments being examined under the microscope.

Stubbs-Lee then went about stabilizing cracks in the large wax cross. Some time since its construction, the memento mori had been exposed to extreme fluctuations of temperature: heat, which partially melted the wax, and cold, which likely contributed to the cracking.

“In conservation we try to use materials similar to the original because it reacts the same way to the environment”, said Stubbs-Lee. The exact composition of the original wax was unknown, so one of Stubbs-Lee’s aims was to fill in the cracks with a material that was stable but slightly softer than the original wax. This way, that any future damage would be absorbed by the new materials, not the original artifact.

“Whenever I put a fill in an artwork—in this case the wax—you want to make sure that the adhesive or the material that you put in there is more vulnerable than the original,” she said. “That way, if something is going to let go then it’s going to be the new material, not the original material adjacent to the repair. Stronger adhesives, for example, are not always better.”

Stubbs-Lee used dental tools to fill the primary crack with surgical cotton, a sheet of sterilized cotton manufactured for medical applications, but useful for a variety of applications in the conservation lab. The cotton filling will be easy to remove in future, if necessary.

“One of the guiding ethical principles of conservation work is the idea that everything you do to alter an artifact should be permanently reversible in the future,” she said.

Stubbs-Lee then covered the cotton with a layer of orthodontic wax, gently pressed into place using tweezers. The wax was covered with a layer of silicone covered Mylar (a clear polyester film) and then touched with a warm tacking iron on low heat to make it flow into the crack.

“I had to warm the wax just enough to slightly melt it and have it flow evenly into the area I was filling, being very careful to not also melt the adjacent original wax of the artifact,” she said. “The silicone coated Mylar will not stick to the wax, and creates a totally smooth surface for molding the wax. I then used a variety of small tools and my fingers to shape the wax into the same profile as the original artifact.”

Memento Mori 10Memento Mori 11 and 12Clockwise from left: Detail showing a large crack in the wax cross before conservation; positioning surgical cotton fill in the large gap; softening wax infill using tacking iron on low setting.

As a final part of conservation treatment, Stubbs-Lee made recommendations for future care and handling of the memento mori, including recommendations about light and temperature.

“A key part of conservation work is the cleaning and repair of pieces. That is an important part of what we do,” she said. “It’s often what attracts conservators to the field — but conservation is really much more holistic than that. A lot of our job is predicting all the factors that put an artifact at risk of damage and figuring out what we can do to make those things less likely to happen.”

The conserved memento mori can be seen at the Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton from October 7, 2015 to April 17, 2016.

 

The NBM Quilt Collection: Stories from the 18th Century to Contemporary New Brunswick

Quilts tell stories, especially those of their makers. The New Brunswick Museum is fortunate enough to have a collection of these stories stretching from the twenty first century all the way back to the 1700s.

The NBM acquired its first piece of bedding in 1927 and has since acquired 411 quilts among other bedding items. Back when the NBM quilt collection was in its infancy, quilts were generally seen as quaint home furnishings: records of the colonial era or pioneering spirit. A tradition in New Brunswick that a woman prepare a dozen practical quilts and a 13th elaborate quilt for her trousseau meant that quilts were common household items.

photo 1

The oldest quilt in the NBM Collection. Maker Unknown, 1770-1800    (found in Campobello, Charlotte County, New Brunswick). The John Corey Domestic Textiles Collection, 2003. Hand-sewn and hand-quilted wool whole cloth with wool batting.

It wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s that quilts were viewed with newfound importance, as a revival in quilt making corresponded with the feminist movement.

“Now we look at quilts in a far broader way […] as one of the ways that we hear women’s voices from the past,” said Peter Larocque, NBM Curator, New Brunswick Cultural History and Art.

“As quilts are examined more and more, we’re able to gain access to how women lived, how they worked, how they communicated. So those quilts have become more than just objects, they’ve become statements.”

Photo 2Photo 3

A crazy quilt by Violette Emily Dibblee and Carlysle Eulalie Hopkins, Saint John New Brunswick 1886-1888. Gift of V. Hazel Dibblee, 1952.
Violette Emily Casey married Beverley Newton Howard Dibblee on 29 March 1886 in Saint John, New Brunswick. This unusual quilt incorporates portraits of “Vie” and “Bev” in the form of photographic images printed on silk.

Photo 4Photo 5Photo 6

Quilt by Celia Elizabeth Lapointe and William Edward Lapointe, St. Marys, York County, New Brunswick, 1940-1950. Gift of Susan Steen, in memory of Celia Elizabeth Whitlock Lapointe and William Edward Lapointe, 2009.
This quilt was a joint project of husband and wife. He did the drawings onto the pieces and she embroidered them and made them into a quilt. Cartoon characters featured include (left to right) Popeye and “Der Inspector” from the Katzenjammer Kids.

Many of the NBM’s quilts were donations of John J. Corey, a historical consultant from Butternut Ridge, Havelock, who developed a specialization and interest in textiles. Corey not only collected historical quilts, but also designed quilts and had them produced. For example, the below quilt on the left is a historic quilt by Tressa Annie Thorne, while the quilt on the right was designed by Corey and appliquéd by Retta Lucy Hicks based in the earlier quilt.

Photo 7 Photo 8

Left: Tulips Quilt by Tressa Annie Thorne, 1920-1930. John Corey Domestic Textiles Collection, 2003.
Right : Tulips Quilt , appliquéd by Retta Lucy Hicks after Tressa Annie Thorne. Quilted by Middle Sackville Baptist Ladies’ Aid, 1970-1985. Gift of John J. Corey, 2013.

While the NBM has a superb collection of historical quilts, it’s also working to keep the collection up to date with contemporary New Brunswick quilting. Late member of the Marco Polo Quilters Guild Kathy Coffin approached the NBM about adding a contemporary quilt to the museum collection every two years through the guild’s biannual show. Coffin designed and sold a block based on the provincial flower and used the funds from the pattern to purchase the first piece for the biennial, juried New Brunswick Contemporary Quilt Award.

Photo 9 Photo 10Photo 11

The First three winners of the New Brunswick Contemporary Quilt Award.
 Left: Railways in a Northern Land by Donna K. Young, Fredericton, NB, 2004. Marco Polo Quilters’ Guild New Brunswick Contemporary Quilt Award, 2011.
Centre: When Compasses Collide by Juanita Allain, Riverview, NB, 2002-2006. After Sheila Wintle. New Brunswick Contemporary Quilt Award, purchased with funds provided by The Marco Polo Quilters Guild, Donna K. Young Marilyn Peabody, Maggie Coffin Prowse and the Fundy Sewing Guild, 2013.
 Right: Baltimore Bouquet by Gail Fearon, New Line, NB, 2011. After Mimi Dietrich. New Brunswick Contemporary Quilt Award, purchased with funds provided by Juanita Allain, Marilyn Peabody, the Woodstock Quilt Guild and John J. Corey, 2015.

The most recent winner of the award was Baltimore Bouquet by Gail Fearon of New Line, New Brunswick. This quilt is based on a mid-19th century style of quilt that incorporated a sampling of different blocks. Called Baltimore Album quilts, they became extremely fashionable along the eastern seaboard. This quilt is an especially valuable addition to the NBM collection since there are no historic examples of Baltimore Album quilts represented in the collection.

Photo 12

Baltimore Bouquet on display at the NBM with (left to right) Gail Fearon, award recipient; Carolyn Wishart, President of the Marco Polo Quilters’ Guild; Peter J. Larocque, NBM Curator, New Brunswick Cultural History and Art.