Summer Reading and Writing Museum Style!

Summer Reading and Writing Museum Style!
By Bria Stokesbury

Museums and heritage centres are great places for historical research, but in summertime when our thoughts turn to the beach and day trips your local museum can also be a great source for reading material to tuck in your backpack and inspire weekend poets and explorers. Biographies, the stories of our local communities, tales of adventure and daring-do, or simply how to make “mosquito paste,” can all be found on the shelves of your local museum gift shop, just waiting to be discovered and savoured as summer reading.

Sometimes museums and the collections they house inspire stories for future writers or even offer writer’s workshops to help new authors with writing skills, like the one coming up at Prescott House, “Romancing The Writer,” on August 24 (check it out at prescotthouse.novascotia.ca). For your enjoyment we offer a small sampling of poetry and stories from books available at the Kings County Museum in Kentville: from the beauty of Cape Blomidon welcoming us back to our beloved Valley to the historic homes that line our streets and towns, there is much to discover and enjoy both inside and outside of the walls of your local museum, and buying locally helps support your community museums!

“Cape Blomidon”
by Gordon Hansford, 1987

I was born in Wolfville, on the Minas Basin Shore
I can still remember the stormy days
When the wind and waves would roar
While off on the northern horizon
Stood Cape Blomidon’s massive form
Watching o’er the turbulent waters
And the wild and raging storm.

I remember too the summer days
When basking in the sun
Old Blomidon stood in a drowsy haze
Watching the strong tides run.
I still recall the bright clear fall days
When the air was cool and clear
And her old red cliffs and green clad heights
Seemed to be very near.

I often thought of Blomidon,
When I was far away
Hoping that I would soon return
That on some happy day
I’d come over the hills from Halifax
And see her waiting there.
Like a good old friend to welcome me
A sight so warm and fair.

I’ve travelled in far countries
And seen some marvellous sights
But none can compare to Cape Blomidon
And her tree clad sandstone heights.

From Verses From The Valley by Gordon R Hansford.

Insect Repellents

“…A few generations ago people generally coped with biting insects with homemade concoctions, many of which were prepared from natural ingredients found in the fields and woods. Of course some of those old-time repellents were made from ingredients that are noxious and not that good for your health. In a 1913 outdoor manual, for example, some of those questionable concoctions included ingredients such a creosote, carbolic acid, ammonia, camphor, and tar soap. One recipe in the manual for “mosquito paste” calls for mixing three ounces of tallow with one ounce of camphor, one ounce of pennyroyal, and one ounce of creosote of carbolic acid.”

From Gone Fishin’: Fishing Stories of Kings County, Nova Scotia by
Ed Coleman.

Historic Kent Lodge

“In 1761, John Atwell arrived with other Connecticut Planters in Horton…There he built a modest cottage over an Acadian foundation at the corner of the lane leading down to the Cornwallis River from the old French road. … (The house later named the DeWolf House) was one of the stopping places on the horseback journey of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, from Halifax to Annapolis in 1784…The building is once again known as Kent Lodge and it is one of the most celebrated and cherished of Wolfville’s historic homes.”

From Witnesses To A New Nation: 150 Nova Scotia buildings that saw Canada’s Confederation of 1867, published by The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia.

Photo credit: Paul Illsley