Category Archives: Exhibits

Fish Artifacts at the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre in Owen Sound

By Wendy Tomlinson, Curator/Manager

These taxidermy mounts are of a German Brown Trout, Large Mouth Black Bass, and a Northern Pike. They were all caught in the Grey Bruce area, in the late 1920s. The (female) Brown Trout weighed two pounds, eight ounces, and was seventeen inches long when caught. This mount features a small donors’ plaque listing the donor as the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce. The large mouth bass weighed three pounds and was eighteen inches long when caught at Chesley Lake by George W. Williams using ‘bait’. Using a trolling rig, the pike was also caught by George W. Williams, in Chesley Lake in 1926. The pike is thirty-three inches long and weighed eight pounds when caught. While it is not known who the taxidermy artist was that created these specimens, they were most probably produced locally, and feature matching glass and oak cases. The fish are in good condition, but have discoloured somewhat, over the years. These specimens make a wonderful addition to the CWHC collection and will be featured in the 2018 summer exhibit, as they are a great example of sport fish that were commonly caught during that period in Grey Bruce.

Taxidermy is the art of preparing, stuffing, mounting and displaying the skins of animals, especially vertebrates. Preserving animal skins is a practice from ancient times and embalmed animals have been found with Egyptian mummies, and throughout many cultures around the world. In the 18th century, hunters began bringing their trophies to upholstery shops, where the upholsterers would stuff tanned animal skins with rags, straw and clay. Eventually more sophisticated lightweight wire frames, wrapped in cotton, supported the sewn skins and advances in preservation techniques produced more lifelike results. The Great Exhibition in London in 1851 included a large display of mounted birds by famed English ornithologist John Hancock, which garnered enormous interest and contributed greatly to the popularity of taxidermy during the Victorian era, when no parlour was complete without taxidermy décor.

 Since then, preservation techniques have greatly improved, allowing for better quality mounts using less toxic materials; however, the traditional method of retaining the original skull and leg bones of a specimen and using them as the basis for a mannequin made of wood continues. Modern taxidermists work with polyester resin, fibreglass cloth, manufactured Styrofoam mounts, factory produced glass eyes, artificial teeth, tongues, claws, beaks and legs are commonly used. Today, creating a trophy mount need not involve preserving the actual body of the animal. Instead, detailed photos and measurements are taken so that the taxidermist can create an exact replica in resin. The benefit of this is that no animals are killed in the process and this has somewhat helped take the pressure off endangered and protected species. In the world of ‘catch & release’ sport fishing, this is a prevalent option.

This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of The Grey County Historian.

Fish Tales Logo Exhibit 2018

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Made in Owen Sound – 2017 Featured Exhibit

 The special exhibit “Made In Owen Sound” will be in the galleries of the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre from May 20th to October 8th from 10 to 4 daily. 

Made in Owen Sound poster

The Beginnings of Industry

Early industries in the village of Sydenham tended to reflect settlers’ needs. The first industry may have been shipping, with the arrival of W.C. Boyd in 1841 aboard his schooner Fly. After setting up a store at 8th Street and 3rd Avenue East, he immediately began importing flour, sugar, butter and other staples.

By the mid 1840s, lumber and furs were the primary exports from the region, but it wasn’t long before tanneries, brickyards and mills began popping up in and around the bustling village. In 1858, George Corbet started the Grey Foundry. That same year, a Scottish immigrant, William Kennedy – who came to Owen Sound to install machinery at the Harrison Mill – liked what he saw and opened a planing mill, sash and wood door factory. By 1864, he had discontinued woodworking altogether, focusing instead on steel at the Sydenham Foundry (which later became Kennedy and Sons).

An 1866 guide to local industry listed 20 businesses:

Harrison’s Flour Mill
Harrison’s Saw Mill
Harrison’s Carding and Fulling Mill
Chatwin’s Cabinet Factory
Riddell and Secord Brewery
Rossiter’s Fanning Mill
Quinn’s Tannery
Lenfesty’s Pearlash Factory
Boyd’s Wharf
Owen Sound Iron Works
Frost’s Tannery
Sloane’s Melodeon Factory
Crawford’s Tannery
Frost Potash Works
Grey Foundry
Sydenham Foundry
Spencer’s Cabinet Factory
Malone’s Brewery
Dowsley Carriage Works
Miller’s Carriage Factory

 Arrival of Train Service

The arrival of the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway in 1873 did much to increase the scope of local industries: for the first time the lucrative markets to the south were accessible. Ten years later, the CPR took possession of the rail line and determined Owen Sound would be the terminus for its Great Lakes fleet. That’s when things really took off and products manufactured in Owen Sound began shipping world wide.

The above text is from panel two.

Check out the artefacts highlighting industry in Owen Sound. 

 
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The Art of the Sailor – Exhibit for 2016

Mosaic article- May 2016 — reprinted with permission

written by Wendy Tomlinson, Curator and Manager

Art of the Sailor logo

The Community Waterfront Heritage Centre’s fascinating 2016 summer exhibit, The Art of the Sailor celebrates the timeless techniques of the sailors’ traditional folk arts – tattoos, scrimshaw, and knot tying, through an entertaining blend of artefacts, archival photos, and interactive elements. Share the story of your tattoo, design your own ‘flash art’, and try you luck at the ‘6 Knot Challenge’.

Discover the link between today’s vibrant tattoo culture and the maritime history that influenced it. For sailors, tattoos were a method of making something permanent in an otherwise unpredictable lifestyle and to document their own histories- receiving certain tattoos for crossing the Equator or the International Date Line. Certain images were believed to be good luck talismans and would save them in a shipwreck.

Like tattoo art, scrimshaw requires highly skilled artisans and the use of pigment, but instead of skin, images are etched on whalebone, whale teeth and ivory. First practiced by 19th and early 20th century whalemen, traditional scrimshaw pieces of this rare art form depict maritime life and whaling.

Ropes and knots are among the most ancient technologies ever developed by man, and were an essential part of life onboard a sailing vessel. Fancy knotting on a sailor’s ‘ditty bag’ would serve as his résumé. The ditty would have been the first test of an apprentice seaman: before he could be trusted with the fabrication of a sail. Likewise, on a vessel, fancy knot work is something akin to “boat jewelry”. Generally made during idle hours, fancywork is a visible token of pride and respect for the ship.

The Art of the Sailor will be at the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre, from May 29, 2016 until October 10, 2016.

Community Waterfront Heritage Centre celebrates and preserves the marine, rail and industrial history of the City and surrounding communities. For more details visit waterfrontheritage.ca, like us on FaceBook, call 519-371-3333 or email info@waterfrontheritage.ca. Community Waterfront Heritage Centre is located at 1155 1st Ave West, Owen Sound and is open daily from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving, or by appointment.

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30 People 30 Pieces Display – The People

In 1985, a group of dedicated Owen Sounders came together to create a museum in the old CNR station. In 2015, we celebrate their foresight, along with three decades of community support that brings us to the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre. 30 People 30 pieces is a unique exhibition that matches some of our founders and builders with our significant artefacts. – Exhibit opened – July 4 at 2 p.m.

30 people exhibit logo

The Founders and Builders
#1 Peter Bowers

#2 Wayne Brown
#3 Marg and Don Capel
#4 Ken Carr
#5 Syd Jackson
#6 Daphne Johnson
#7 Donald McKay
#8 Betty Moran
#9 Paula Niall
#10 Murray Telford
#11 The Weaver Family
#12 Lloyd & Muriel Brannick
#13 Steve Briggs
#14 Scott Cameron
#15 Cliff Denny
#16 Izetta Fraser
#17 The Harrison Family
#18 Jim Henderson
#19 Wayne and Ken Hillyer
#20 Orris Hull
#21 Ross Kentner
#22 Wayne King
#23 Sean O’Donaghue
#24 Pat and Don Nicol
#25 Mary Smith
#26 Ken Thomson
#27 Ted Tizzard
#28 Owen Sound Transportation Company
#29 City of Owen Sound
#30 Residents of The City of Owen Sound (CWHC)

Be sure to visit the exhibit to see the artefact with which each founder or builder is paired. Some items are from private collections. Most are from the CWHC collection.

See examples of items on display Preview 1, Preview 2, Preview 3

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