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Previous Artifacts of the Month

featured artifact

featured artifact

The featured artefact for May 2014 is this early 1900s Mercury Stereoscope, which is on display in our new exhibit, Toys and Games of Mississippi Mills. The stereoscope was a remarkable invention of its time. By viewing the double-imaged stereograph cards through the device’s binocular lenses, a child could glimpse a 3-D scene. Stereoscopes were very popular before the advent of convenient and safe travel, as people could view countries they would never be able to physically visit. This included British battles in far-off lands, such as the Boer war in Africa. Photographers could capture moments of war and render them into stereographs, which children could then view, seeing the bravery of their troops in action. This stereograph card shows a drummer boy in the Boer war amongst his commanding officers, writing home to his mother after a victory in South Africa. By viewing these cards, impressionable British children could see thrilling scenes of victory in 3-D. Apart from its use as a toy, the stereoscope saved many lives during World War II. Using photographs gathered by pilots flying over Germany, the Allies could compile stereographic images and maps which showed the enemy territory in a three dimensional picture, revealing contours and mountains where weapons could be hidden. This boosted British bombing accuracy and allowed the Allies to destroy many German weapons before they could be used. Today the stereoscope has been succeeded by the Viewmaster, which is also on display.

featured artifact

The featured artifact for the spring of 2014 is a Royal Blue coloured Eye – Washer.

An antique eye-washer works a bit differently than an eye-washer today. To remove debris from an eye in the Victorian era you would need to use one of these small eye-washers, you would go to your local general store or Doctor and you would buy the eye wash fluid that you would put into the eye-washer. When the eye-washer was needed a person would fill it up with the fluid and hold up the cup to the appropriate eye until the debris that was lodged in the eye was removed. The eye-washer could also have been used as an early way to apply eye drop fluid or other forms of eye care.



July 2013

For this month, the featured artefact is a Northern Electric NEMD 2900 switchboard.

This switchboard was manufactured in Canada in 1952 by Northern Electric (who later shortened their name to Nortel) but unfortunately we do not know in which area it was used.

Operators would see a bulb light up above a subscriber’s line when they place a call, and would connect a wire into that line and speak with the subscriber directly. Once they know whom the subscriber wished to call, they would ring that line, and if someone picked up they would connect a wire between the two parties, and the call would begin.

In Lanark, most telephones operated on party lines, wherein several households would have phones connected to the same line, greatly simplifying the process of eavesdropping and lowering the high cost of phone service.

Record Player

This month our feature artefact is this Birch Model #500 Portable Phonograph.

The wind-up Birch #500 was manufactured by Boetsch Bros in New York. Not much is known about Boetsch Bros’ Birch-Brand Phonographs. At the start of the Twentieth century, there were a large amount of small manufacturing companies producing phonographs, thus individual histories are difficult to trace. This model was likely produced sometime between 1920 and 1940, as during this time, personal phonographs were increasing in popularity. Furthermore, this model bears a hand-crank, indicating it is an earlier technology that predates automatic turntables.

Museum Moving

A previously featured artifact was a photo of Museum moving day.

On July 19, 1979 the North Lanark Regional Museum suffered a devastating fire. The beautiful red brick building, formerly S.S. #11 Ramsay, was completely destroyed, along with the archival material and artefacts collected since the museum’s opening in 1971. Thanks to the generous support of the Drummond family, a new building was brought to the site. A dedicated group of volunteers from the Historical Society reopened the museum in 1980. This photo shows the Drummond Brothers Ltd House Movers transporting the new museum!

Moulding Plane

The featured artifact for Oct 2012 was a Moulding Plane.

Moulding planes were blocks of wear resistant hardwood, often beech or maple, which were worked to the shape of the intended moulding. The blade was likewise formed to the intended moulding profile and secured in the body of the plane with a wooden wedge. A traditional cabinetmaker’s shop might have many, perhaps hundreds, of moulding planes for their full range of work to be performed.

Dazey Churn

The featured artifact for Sept 2012 was a Dazey Butter Churn.

The Dazey Churn and Manufacturing Company was one of the most prolific makers of butter churns. This model, #40, was probably produced between 1906 and 1912 and cost about $2.75 at the time. The hand-turned paddles were moved through the cream quickly, breaking the cream up by mixing it with air. This allowed the butter to be made faster than by simply agitating the cream, which was the case with the older models which consisted of a wooden container and plunger.

Flag Proclamation

The featured artifact for July and August 2012 was an archival copy of the Proclamation of the Official Flag of Canada, a document which bears the signatures of both Queen Elizabeth II and then-prime minister Lester B. Pearson. The original proclamation dates to January 28th 1965: the day when our distinctive Canadian flag became the official representation of the Canadian nation. Prior to this proclamation, Canada used an adaptation of the Royal Union Flag. The push for an official, flag unique to Canada, was a major point of interest for Lester B. Pearson; and this document marks the culmination of both his and nation-wide efforts.

Pocket Camera

The featured artifact for June 2012 was an Eastman Kodak No. 2C Pocket Camera. The Eastman Kodak Company was established late in the nineteenth century, and by the late 1890’s they had manufactured their first compact “pocket” camera. The Pocket camera was ideal for its ability to be easily transported. The No. 2C Pocket Camera was a later improvement of their first model and was manufactured between 1926 and 1932.


The featured artifact for May 2012 was an 1895 “Eclipse” miniature cast iron cook stove. It was donated in memory of Mrs. Jeanette Duncanson Peterson who played with the toy as a child.

Hemming Bird

The featured artifact for March 2012 was a "hemming bird", used to hold cloth while sewing. It was brought to Canada by the Teskey family in the 1820s. It survived the museum fire of 1979.