Monday, 25 May 2015

Heritage Preservation Assistant, Paint, John's Thoughts

I am back for my second season as a painter at Parkwood NHS. I am also an interpreter, providing tours, at the Estate,  when not completing paint projects. I have found that my position as a painter has given me an unique insight into the building/structures on the property, as it as forced me to carefully inspect the property, observing and appreciating the fine details of the construction of Parkwood.  As I return to my second summer at the Estate, with a renewed sense of confidence and vigor, I am pleased to be back, meeting with senior staff, mostly, Brian and Samantha,  about paint colour selection and techniques, and Alanna, to select and highlight what her concerns are, as the summer season Guest Experience Ambassador.

Our early focus has been the business office porch, which historically, was the domain and entry of
the house staff, and Curator Sam is anxious to reinstall the clothesline, for interpretation reasons, telling part of the Estate story which has been lost or ignored since 1972.

I have also been busy at the Teahouse Restaurant, as we get ready for the season opening, next week, on June 1.

I'll be checking and posting on a somewhat regular basis, as the projects keep rolling out.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Visitor Experience Ambassador, Alanna's Thoughts

For two months this summer I have been given the opportunity to work with Samantha as a Guest Experience Ambassador. This means I have to try and look at Parkwood from the guest’s perspective rather than the tour guide. Imagine making that switch after working here for just over 5 years! I thought it would be a little tricky to do, but it turns out that by being a tour guide, I have the opportunity to witness the guest experience through giving tours of the property and being in the gift shop. What I have learned from this has helped me to look at ways of improving guest experience and addressing different things to help make Parkwood even better. I love being able to give tours and take people on a walk through history and I also love being given the opportunity to try and develop new programs and approaches to how we run things here too. Ask the staff, I get way too excited for garden tour training and cleaning windows. In the last two weeks alone, I’ve helped plan and organize for our upcoming Victory Garden Party, work on some preventive conservation aka housekeeping with Alyssa, research parts of history that I never really knew much about, fought technology (and won!), and so much more. I find I’m digging deeper into the history of Parkwood, learning more and more about the property that I never knew.
For example, did you all know that the Oshawa Generals hockey team was created by R. S. McLaughlin? The original team was composed of all GM employees! I’ve been telling everyone about that. I’m excited to contribute more ideas to Parkwood and I hope that my experiences help to improve the experiences of others!

My highlight this week: Finding and watching WWII propaganda films that were produced by R.S. McLaughlin (on our YouTube channel). They are simply a delight to watch! Check it out!!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Curious Curator:July 1941 Cap-Chat, Quebec

Cap-Chat, Quebec was RS McLaughlin's private fishing camp along the Gaspe Peninsula, a 39-mile stretch along a "salmon river", which the McLaughlin Family frequented several times a year.

It is documented that Cap-Chat was one of RSM's most favoured locations, and this statement may be accurate, if one takes a look at the murals in the Billiards Room, by Frederick Challener, and how the images that flank the fireplace, capture and tell the Cap Chat story in a prime real estate location.
Several years ago, I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of the Cap Chat Historical Society who had in their possession the "McLaughlin Camp Kills Ledger" from the mid thirties through the sixties, when the family and friends/guests frequented the camp.  Through museum and heritage minded courtship, a copy of the ledger was swiftly provided to Parkwood and what a gem it is!
The ledger not only provides insight into the successes, and failures, of fishing seasons, and skill sets, but also provides a glimpse into the entertaining and friendship stories of the McLaughlin's. The names listed provide another layer of rich commentary upon the images that the photographs in the archives tell us, along with some of the interesting remarks, that are notated on the right side of each page in the ledger.

Today, I am going to share with you four days of the July 1941 page. A little glimpse into how some of my curator days, where and when I have a few hours away from other museum duties, I delve into the names on these pages, and begin to research, analyse and ponder through the information I can gather, the stories of how the hours and characters played out on the banks of the river.

July 5 through July 9, 1941 saw RSM entertaining; RCH Cassels (typed Cassele on the page); J. Lyle and A.E. Dyment during their visit and it appears they have a very successful time in the various pools. Sounds like a great trip! Shall we look at the guests visiting? 

John Lyle, architect- John Lyle was an architect that RSM had hired through the late 20s and 30s to work on the Parkwood Art Gallery space, the Formal Garden and his second bedroom suite. I found it interesting that Lyle was a guest of RSM to Cap Chat during this period.

RCH (Robert Cecil Hamilton) Cassels*- Barrister and President of the Royal Canadian Golf Association  * no photograph found

A.E Dyment- politician, lumber baron, stock broker founding, Dyment, Cassels and Company.  His brief bio, compliments of DBS Heritage Biz website;
"Dyment quickly established himself in the elite of Canadian business circles. By 1915 he was Vice-President, Canadian General Electric Co.; Director, Royal Bank of Canada, Dominion Sugar Co.; Vice-President, Maritime Coal, Railway & Power Co.; President, Dyment Securities, Loan & Savings Co.; and Vice-President, Canadian Theatres, Ltd. In 1925, he became chair of Canadian General Electric, a post he held until 1941. Dyment also went on to become vice-president of the Royal Bank of  
                        Canada. (red highlights indicate the companies RSM sat as a director, also) .Dyment was winner of four Kings Plates
Albert Dyment became a director and ultimately president of the Ontario Jockey Club,  serving in that capacity from 1924 to 1942 and then as honourary president from 1943 to 1944. 

The pinnacle of Dyment’s sporting career came during the Royal Tour of 1939. As President of the Ontario Jockey Club, it was his privilege to escort King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the royal box for the 80th running of the King’s Plate at Woodbine."  Top Stockbroker in History

Nora Underwood, in her 2001 article on the McLaughlin Foundation, A Driving Force, references that it was at Cap-Chat where RSM developed his idea for the creation of the McLaughlin Foundation in 1951, and I have to wonder how many other ideas saw their fruition at Cap Chat, especially with such an interesting array of minds gathering.

When I delved further in the 1941 pages, I see that after John Lyle leaves the party, another architect, this one located in Montreal joins the group.  This makes me wonder if RSM is thinking projects, perhaps the family mausoleum project at Union Cemetery is on his mind. This project is eventually awarded to John Lyle, but it is a curiosity.