The November Octagon

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

The Octagon – November 2019  

Mother Nature has really been showing off her spectacular golden coat this fall and on one of my last visits along Westside road to the Fintry Manor House, I was overawed by the stunning golden and russet views around every corner. What a beautiful part of the country we live in.

We have now closed the doors for the last time this year on the Ben Lee Room, Dun-Waters’ Trophy room, Alice’s bedroom, etc., and all the wonderful stories that are part of this historical site. The Manor House has been winterized and we are now letting the collections rest for the winter months.

As we hunker down for what Old Man Winter is going to throw at us this year the planning has already started for next year. Our new Business Manager, Shannon, is bubbling over with ideas and suggestions for many new Special Events which will take place at the Manor House next year, so we will definitely have our work cut out for us!   Keep an eye on our website www.fintry.ca for teasers ……and info as it becomes available.

And now a word from our Curator Dan Bruce:

The Park is now closed for the season, and so begins the time for doing any necessary conservation, and making adjustments to the exhibits in the Manor. Several recent acquisitions have been introduced, however, our visitors have not yet seen the framed mirror that will be hung in the living room ready for the 2020 season. This is yet one more interesting item from Taylor’s Antiques in Kelowna.

Collecting seashells was a popular pastime in the Victorian age that provided something to do at the beach when sunbathing was not considered with the same enthusiasm that it is today Very often the shells ended up in boxes and soon forgotten or thrown out.  In some cases however, the multitude of shapes, sizes and colours sparked a deeper interest, resulting in considerable efforts being made to enlarge the collection.  What to do with them? Many evenings were spent devising ways to show them off. Some people had glass topped tables made, whereby the shells could be seen in a compartment under the glass.  Others filled cabinets fitted with a series of drawers to hold their collections. Enthusiasts were known to frequent the sea ports of Britain where they would eagerly question incoming sailors to see if they had brought back any exciting specimens from their voyages. This “market” quickly became known to mariners who could often sell their shells for considerable sums to serious collectors.

On a lesser scale, shells were used to decorate the home in various ways. Our new mirror is an example of this, as the frame is completely covered in shells, carefully arranged and stuck in place.  Perhaps the most elaborate and fantastic example of this is to be seen at Goodwood Park in Sussex. Here, the Duchess of Richmond and her two daughters, in 1739, started to decorate every inch of the interior of a garden pavilion, entirely covering all walls and ceiling with shells. They finished the project seven years later, having created something very likely unique anywhere in the world, and did very well by the makers of glue!

At Fintry, we have a small but very attractive glass fronted cabinet, which has stood empty in the living room all summer. This is now being restored by the removal of a lining of wallpaper, and the replacement of the glass shelving. The plan is to use it to exhibit a selection of shells that we have in the collection. It requires no stretch of the imagination to think that James Dun-Waters would have appreciated such a thing – the “Cabinet of Curiosities” was very much a part of the furnishings of stately homes, and in many instances formed the nucleus around which some of the world’s greatest museums came into being.

Many thanks to Dr. Bill Gibson of Lake Country who has kindly undertaken the restoration of this cabinet.

This has been a very busy and successful year as we continue to grow and promote  Dun-Waters’ legacy. We encourage you in addition to being a Friend of Fintry to consider being a Fintry volunteer. We have several different options and are always looking for assistance with events, guiding tours, gardening etc. I can be reached through the Fintry email: [email protected].

Stay warm…….                                                                                                                     

Kathy Drew, President

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

October Octagon

There is a definite chill in the air which signifies that Fall has arrived and it is time to get those winter woollies out!  The Manor House and Fintry Provincial Park will be closing at Thanksgiving for the season and what a busy season we had.  As we reflect back on those hot summer days we think of all the visitors from around the world who visited and toured the Manor House; some tours way over capacity as visitors were so eager to hear the Dun-Waters’ story. We hosted several bus tours from Seniors’ Residences on weekdays; these are always a delight as the seniors love to see the artefacts from their childhood.   We were delighted to see the figures for this past season show an increase in revenue from tours and gift shop sales despite the fact that due to a lack of volunteers, we were only able to offer guided tours on weekends. (With an exception for special advanced tour bookings for seniors and school groups.)

September 15th saw our Fintry Fall Fair take place in front of the Manor House ….in the pouring rain! In many years of the Friends putting on Fairs, this was the first real soaker. However, our hardy group of volunteers stepped up as usual and braved the elements, as did several vendors…… and the show went on regardless.  The Vikings, clad in body armour, were impervious to the weather, the Kalamalka Highlanders played on the verandah and Kilt 45 and others had everyone’s feet stomping as they entertained the umbrella covered crowd.  We actually had 130 people tour the Manor House that day, probably because it was a welcome relief to come inside from the torrential downpour! For those of you who missed the Fairs this year, we will be holding these events again next year (plus a few more exciting additions) with the first being held on Mother’s Day 2020.

With assistance from a Central Okanagan Foundation grant, we have now hired Shannon Jorgenson as our Business Manager. Her role is to come up with some new and different Special Events that will put Fintry on the map, so watch for exciting new happenings at the Manor House next year. Shannon is well known in the heritage community and we are delighted to have her and her expertise onboard.

Our Curator, Dan Bruce has unearthed some interesting facts about an item in our collection, as follows:

The Red Room, or Dun-Waters’ study contains ample proof of his interest in Ayrshire cattle and his generous support of the Armstrong Fair, perhaps better known as the Interior Provincial Exhibition, ( I.P.E.)  Here, amongst other things visitors can see an almost complete set of the Canadian Ayrshire Herd Books, a framed certificate of appreciation presented to him by the directors of the Fair, and the carefully mounted horns of “Lucky Girl”, one of the prized Ayrshires that called the octagonal dairy barn home.

The most outstanding of all the Ayrshire related items in the room is the “Hudson’s Bay Trophy”, a spectacular silver cup from the workshop of Omar Ramsden in London, made in 1924.   Three pieces come together to form the complete trophy. Firstly, the base is a circular stand of oak, custom made to fit the foot of the second piece, the  cup itself , which, if filled would hold almost a litre. (In this case perhaps Ayrshire milk would be less likely to spill than Laird of Fintry single malt).   Four lion masks support curled branches, that in turn hold the body of the cup whereon are blazoned the arms of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Around the rim an inscription reads  “Presented by the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay”   The third part, the crowning glory, is the lid. A solid silver Ayrshire stands on a pedestal set with garnets which rises from a wavy-rayed sunburst on the lid’s surface. On lifting the lid, the sun imagery is re-stated as the gilt inner surface catches the light.

The cup bears Omar Ramsden’s hallmarks, and also the Latin inscription that he used after 1919, “Omar Ramsden me fecit”,  Omar Ramsden made me.

Omar Ramsden was born in Yorkshire in 1873. His family were well established in the silversmiths’ world, and he followed suit. He spent some time working in the United States, but returned to England to set up a studio and workshop in London, where he created a wide range of silver objects until his death in 1939. After this, his wife, Annie, kept the business going for several years.  In 1898, he won a competition to design a civic mace for the City of Sheffield.    In 1921, he was elected a member of the Royal Miniaturists Society, who then exhibited over 90 of his pieces.

Today he is regarded as one of the masters of British silversmiths, his works being on exhibit in many museums in the UK and abroad.

Given the circumstances here, we may speculate that James Dun-Waters may have persuaded the HBC to sponsor this masterpiece to celebrate the Ayrshire cattle at the Armstrong Fair.

                                              ********************************

Still in the spirit of the season, I would like to thank all the hard working members of the Friends of Fintry as well as the numerous volunteers who made the three Fairs, held in May, July and September happen.

I am truly grateful to those of you who take time out of your already busy lives, to step up and take on whatever role needs filling…… rain or shine! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Kathy Drew, President

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park.

September Octagon

We are once again preparing for our last Fair of the year…..our Fintry Fall Fair which will be taking place on Sunday, September 15th with a wonderful new line-up of great musicians, including Kilt 45, some new vendors and the return of the Vikings as well as the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band.  Attached is the line-up of performers so you can gauge your visit according to what you want to see and hear! Of course Manor House tours will be running all day so if you haven’t visited lately this would be the day to come. Remember we are now wheelchair accessible (thanks to BC Parks) so everyone can view the interior of this historic house.

The Fintry Manor House has become a popular place for residents from Care Homes to visit. Last week we once again welcomed a group of seniors from a Kelowna Care Home. They were very grateful to have this ramp which enabled those with wheelchairs and walkers to come into the Manor House to view and learn the history of the Dun-Waters era. They enjoyed a picnic on the veranda before the tour and I know they enjoyed reminiscing over some of the artifacts from this bygone time, but which they remembered using as youngsters. We always enjoy hearing their stories and we learn from them as well!

We are in the final stages of hiring a Business Manager to help us with our Special Events program, courtesy of a grant which we obtained through the Central Okanagan Foundation.  Next year you can expect to see many more different events held at Fintry in addition to our three Fairs.

Our Walking Tour brochure has now been printed (thanks to BC Parks) and is available in the Manor House and in the box by the front steps. This has a numbered map of the Fintry Estate so one can go for a wander and read about the history at the different points.

Our Curator, Dan Bruce has shared the following with us:

“ Long term planning, and a little bit of luck”

Several years ago there was a scheme in Kelowna to introduce peregrine falcons to the city, hoping they would use the Landmark Square and perhaps other high-rises as nesting sites. The falcons did not agree.    One of the birds mistook a reflective glass surface for open space, with fatal results. The bird was given to the Fintry Estate as a specimen, and our Volunteer taxidermist, Joanne Beaulieu prepared it as a mount for exhibition.  I had asked her to use the pose in which John James Audubon had painted this species in his monumental work, “The Birds of America”.


The creation of “The Birds of America” is an epic tale in itself. Audubon was born in Haiti in 1785, emigrating to France, then to America in 1803. His career as an artist culminated in the series of over 400 paintings depicting North American native birds.  Unable to find subscribers, or the expertise he required to engrave and publish the paintings in America, he took them to England in 1826, where he found the support and was able to complete the project.  The Peregrine Falcon, or Great Footed Hawk was plate number 16 in the series.

Audubon’s great project brought him international fame, scientific honours and modest fortune before his death in 1851. His work revolutionised bird illustration forever.  Plate 16, depicting the birds in lifelike, if gory action, made the older idea of a “bird-on-a-perch” boring. Plate 16 is pivotal.

Between 1971 and 1972 the Dutch publishers Theatrum Orbis Terrarum and the Johnson Reprint Company of New York collaborated with the Teyler’s Museum of Haarlem, Holland to produce a new edition of “The Birds of America”. Limited to 250 copies, it is an exact reproduction in colour, size and paper quality of the 1834 Havell edition published in London under Audubon’s supervision. The Teyler Museum copy was purchased from Audubon’s son in 1839.

Late one evening, while “surfing the ‘net”, I came across the website of a high-end art dealer in New York. Normally not the kind of place I can afford to even breathe in, but I went in anyway. A few random single plates were on offer from the Dutch reprint edition, and YES ! number 16 was available.  The following day, confirmation of the order arrived from New York, and the new Peregrine soon took wing for the Okanagan.   As you view the framed plate above the fireplace in the Dining Room, give a thought to those who were involved in the apparently simple task of hanging it.  Sometimes the simple tasks can be deceptive!

In asking Joanne to copy Audubon’s pose for the mount, I did hope to find a way to draw attention to the species, as well as the significance of Audubon’s work. Of all the prints available, number 16 was pure luck!

Remember:

The Fintry Fall Fair on Sunday, September 15th  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A special note…..if you renew your membership at the Fair, it is valid until April 30, 2021!

Kathy Drew, President,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park.

FINTRY  FALL FAIR, SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 15 2019

                                                          MUSIC SCHEDULE

10:00 A.M – 10:45 AM –  Brad Ulmer and guests  – funky country songs from Falkland, B.C.

10:45 AM – 11:00 AM – Ruby Kaltainen – performing pop hits

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM – VIKINGS

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM – Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band

12:30 PM – 1:15 PM – Fritz van’Thullaner – performing classic soft rock

1:15 PM –   2:00 PM – VIKINGS

2:00 PM –  2:30 PM – Kilt 45 – 4 male singers performing Scottish favourites

2:30 PM –  3:10 PM – TRISKELE – a celtic band

3:10 PM  –  4:00 PM –  Crimson Skies –  classic soft rock

The Octagon for August 2019

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

The Octagon – August, 2019 

Greetings Friends,

The month of July has been very busy at Fintry. The weekend tours have been full to capacity with people and campers from all over the world coming to hear the Dun-Waters’ story. The Fintry Summer Fair held on July 14th was one of our best ever with a constant stream of visitors touring the Manor House, checking out the vendors and enjoying the music. The weather co-operated and from the comments we received it seemed that everyone had a good time.

We now are in the planning stages for the Fintry Fall Fair to be held on Sunday, September 15th.These Fairs are an important source of revenue for the Friends of Fintry and we are very grateful for your support, so mark the date on your calendars and bring your friends and family for a fun day at Fintry.

Earlier this year we applied for a grant through BC Parks “Parks Enhancement Fund” for the printing of a walking tour brochure. We wish to announce that we were successful in obtaining funding for this endeavour (which is now at the printers) and we would like to thank BC Parks for assisting us with this. This walking tour brochure will give informed access to the various historic and natural features of the Fintry Provincial Park.

We have also been successful in obtaining a grant through the Central Okanagan Foundation (COF) which will enable us to hire a Business Manager. We are extremely grateful for this grant, as this will lighten the load for us volunteers  as we expand our special events programming.

And now some musings from our Curator Dan Bruce:

“Take the time to smell the roses on your next visit to Fintry!   We know that when the Dun-Waters were in residence, the Manor House was surrounded by about five acres of ornamental gardens. The present extent of the lawn, mostly on the east side of the house is essentially the same as it was at that time. Over the years, several changes took place, which is to be expected, gardens being living entities.    The pathway from the front steps leads straight towards a gravel circle, in the centre of which stands the sundial.

                                                           Serene he stands among the flowers

                                                           And only counts the sunny hours

                                                           For him dark days do not exist,

                                                           That brazen faced old optimist.

The sundial was returned to Fintry and replaced in its original position in honour of Arthur Bailey, Baron d’Avray,  Chevalier de St. Louis, who lived for many years at Fintry and was the last owner of the property before it became a BC Park.   At one time, the stone pathway was lined with small flowering trees.    Just to the south-west of the sundial, there stands a gigantic Douglas Fir.  This tree has survived a traumatic experience, having lost the greater part of its height in some unknown mishap. Lateral branches continued to grow, somewhat unusually for a Douglas Fir. These branches increasing in size became unwieldy, and some of them broke off in a wind storm.  Rather than see the tree cut down and removed, the Friends of Fintry asked the assistance of Cody Tree Services of Kelowna to see if this veteran could be saved. Simon Carrol, Cody’s top arborist came and assessed the situation, installing a series of steel cables that hold the surviving branches safely together, thus giving the tree anew lease on life.

Two specimens of the climbing rose “Bobbie James”have been planted to go up the tree. This rose variety was discovered as a seedling growing in Lady Serena James’ garden in Yorkshire, UK in 1961. It is named after her late husband, the Hon. Robert James.  In a good location, “Bobbie James” will reach a height of at least 25 feet.

The roses along the front of the Manor House are for the most part David Austin’s English roses, raised at his famous nursery in Shropshire.  At the north-east corner of the veranda is “Pat Austin” a coppery coloured rose raised in 1995 and named in honour of David Austin’s wife.  Next comes “Miss Alice”, a pink one chosen for Fintry because the first Mrs. Dun-Waters name was Alice. Then follows “Charles Rennie Mackintosh” raised in 1988 and named after the Scottish architect and designer who, among many other things, created the tower on the office of the Glasgow Herald newspaper, of which James Dun-Waters was the major shareholder.   The very dark crimson rose next to the front steps is “Tradescant”,  introduced in 1993.   On the south side of the veranda, you will find the white flowered Madame Hardy, raised in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris in 1832, which shares the space with the strawberry pink Madame Isaac Pereire, also raised in France, but a bit later, in 1881.”

Who knew that we had such an abundance of famous roses surrounding the Manor House. So as Dan says, take the time to “smell the roses” on your next visit as they do have absolutely beautiful aromas unlike many of the roses of today.

Enjoy your summer,

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

Octagon for July 2019

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

The Octagon – July, 2019        

Greetings Friends,

It has hard to believe that half the year is now gone and (dare I say it) the days are getting shorter!

The Friends of Fintry held their Annual General Meeting on the 15th June at the Manor House and it was great to see so many of our wonderful members in attendance.  Our guest speaker, Steve Fleck, Executive Director from the Vernon Museum and Archives, regaled us with ways that we (all heritage institutions) can work together for better promotion. He suggested ways that we could partner together for some exciting new programs…….so stay tuned!

Just a reminder that we rely heavily on our membership base for grants, etc  so if you haven’t yet renewed for this year we encourage you to do so either on-line through our website (www.fintry.ca) or at the Fair on July 14th.  Memberships expire on April 30th of each year and entitle you to free tours throughout the year!

Our regular tours are still happening every Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 pm and at 2:30 pm. and are being very well attended, many at capacity. Tours cost $5.00 per adult and $2.00 for children and students. Those under five are free and if you are a member of the Friends of Fintry there is no charge.  We would love to extend these tour days into weekdays as well but unfortunately we have a dearth of tour guides so are very limited in the days we can be open, not to mention the distance we have to travel to host these tours.

Our next event is the Fintry Summer Fair to be held on Sunday, July 14th from 10-4 pm on the grounds of the Manor House. We will have live music, lots of vendors, children’s activities and tours of the Manor House, so bring those summer visitors and spend a fun day at Fintry.

We are very grateful for the donation of 39 perennials (plus a flat of geraniums) from Nicholas Alexander Landscaping in Vernon which have been planted around Alice Dun-Waters’ gravesite – a wonderful addition to the heritage roses which are blooming profusely just now.

Now here are some more exciting updates and insights from our Curator Dan Bruce:

Good news for those who have been waiting to have tours of the octagonal dairy barn. This has been closed for some time due to the fact that vandals had forced the original sliding doors open, which destroyed the bearing wheels and the track on which they ran. After repeated break-ins we had sealed the doors to prevent any access at all, fire risk being the chief concern.

BC Parks have now made a temporary access doorway so that we can resume barn tours. While closed to human entry, smaller wildlife had an easy time of it in the undisturbed barn, and a thorough clean-up was required.   The Ulfhethnar Viking Re-enactors came out and spent an afternoon inside, exchanging brooms and shovels for their swords and axes. They made short work of the clean-up, and with the direction and assistance of Rod Stuart who came up from Okanagan Falls, the barn is now presentable again.

Our caterer’s kitchen, just off the Ben Lee Room has now been inspected by Interior Health and given the approval for use.

Wire has been added to the steel frame around Alice Dun-Waters’ grave so that the roses can be encouraged to climb up and cover it. This was intended from the start, but the very poor soil in that part of the garden has been a problem.  Board members Kathy and Keith have added plant material to the grave site, generously donated by Nicholas Alexander of Vernon.    We are also trying to get the “Bobby James” roses to climb up the venerable Douglas Fir on the main lawn.  So far, they have not shown much enthusiasm for the climb.

Those who have read the Sherlock Holmes tale “The Hound of the Baskervilles” may remember a line right at the end where, having cleared up the matter of the Hound, Sherlock suggests that he and Dr. Watson have a relaxing evening.  He says “Have you heard the DeReszkes?”    This is a reference to the then very popular DeReszke brothers and their sister, Polish opera singers working in London.  A Russian cigarette maker created a blend of tobacco that would not damage Jean DeReszke’s voice (or so they thought). He was allowed to market his cigarettes as “DeReszke, the Aristocrat of Tobacco”.  James Dun-Waters smoked DeReszkes as well as a pipe.  We have one of the original cigarette tins that was used at Fintry.    It is just possible that like Sherlock Holmes, James Dun-Waters may have heard the DeReszkes on stage.

In closing I would just like to remind everyone of the Fintry Summer Fair to be held on Sunday, July 14th from 10-4 pm on the grounds of the Manor House. We are always in need of volunteers to assist in various areas that day, so if you would like to lend a hand, please contact either myself (Kathy Drew) at 250-542-4139 or Dan Bruce at 250-766-2081. We can assign an area of interest to you,  for all or part of the day…..no experience necessary!

Hope to see you at the Fair……..

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

Fintry Octagon – June 2019

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

The Octagon – June, 2019        

The first Fair of this year was held on Mother’s Day in May. It was a glorious day and was very well attended…….. also lots of vendors set up on the lawn, music all day long, Vikings and Bagpipes!  A big “thank you” to all our volunteers who stepped up to help with set up, take down, security and with tours of the Manor House. These events require a lot of planning and we would never be able to execute them without your assistance.

 Our next Fair is on Sunday, July 14th so mark your calendars, and bring all those summer visitors to visit this hidden gem of the Okanagan.

Our Education Outreach Committee has been on the road giving presentations at various Retirement Residences as well as hosting some senior and school groups at the Fintry Manor House. It is a great opportunity for reminiscing for the seniors…… and for the students, it fits right in with the current school curriculum showcasing “Pioneers and Explorers”.  

There is also a photography display at the Westbank Library (until the end of May) of old road building machinery, the Fintry Packing House and apple picking at Fintry.

Our regular tours are still happening every Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 pm and at 2:30 pm.  Tours cost $5.00 per adult and $2.00 for children and students. Those under five are free and if you are a member of the Friends of Fintry there is no charge.

Our Curator Dan Bruce has been doing some research on a couple of interesting items which are on display in the Manor House.

During her declining years, Alice, the first Mrs. Dun-Waters needed a wheelchair.  The original one, or ones have not survived, but we do have an example of one that may have looked somewhat like hers. The one now to be seen in Alice’s sitting room was offered to us some time ago by Randy Smith of Blast from the Past Antiques in Vernon. It did indeed appear to be a 1920’s model, and after being expertly re-upholstered by our Volunteer, Tony Durante, it became part of the furniture.    Interestingly the chair has a maker’s plaque on the back, a small piece of French ivory inscribed  “By appointment to the late King George VI, invalid chair manufacturers, Carters (J. & A.) Ltd.  65 Wigmore Street London W I “     King George VI did not die until 1952, so the plaque implies that it was made after that date.  One wonders why such an “old fashioned” type of chair would have been made then.   We have discovered that the Science Museum in London has an apparently identical chair in their collection, and I have written to ask if theirs has the same plaque. In due course, they will answer, and we may be able to say more about this item in a future Octagon issue.

Prominent in the “Dressing Room”, just before entering the Trophy Room is a print of one of the most famous animal paintings ever done in England, Sir Edwin Landseer’s “ Monarch of the Glen”. It is probably safe to say that very few Scottish households are without a copy of this in some form or other.  The painting was completed in 1851, and intended for the Palace of Westminster. It has been pointed out (no word play intended) that the red deer stag depicted has 12 points, making it a “Royal Stag” as opposed to a “Monarch” which must show 16.   Art critics have been very scathing about this painting, along with other works by Sir Edwin, but then criticism is easy!  The painting has passed through several hands since it was created, one of the most recent being the Dewar’s Whisky manufacturers. They put it up for sale a year or so ago, and it was purchased by the National Gallery of Scotland, for some four million pounds, thus keeping this iconic highland image in the public eye.    Sir Edwin Landseer was a favourite artist with Queen Victoria, and another claim to fame is that he was responsible for the four massive bronze lions that sit at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

A big Thank You to BC Parks and Encan Construction who have now installed an entry door to the Octagonal Dairy Barn, enabling us to conduct barn tours once again. The barn has been out of commission for some time, due to excessive vandalism with the original doors.

A recent addition to the library at Fintry is a copy of the official souvenir programme for Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1936 in almost mint condition. This is something that James Dun-Waters may well have attended.

A reminder to all our members that the Friends of Fintry Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday, June 15th, 10 a.m. at the Fintry Manor House. All members are urged to attend …..there will be a draw and refreshments after the meeting.

Kathy Drew, President

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

Octagon for April

Greetings Friends and hello Spring!

Yes…..Spring  finally did arrive and already my garden crocuses are blooming and the bees are as busy as…well… bees!

We, at Fintry are also busy  bees and looking forward to another busy season with requests already coming in from various tour groups.  Seniors’ residences are keeping our Education Outreach Coordinator, Gwendy Lamont and Curator Dan Bruce on their toes with requests to bring their extensive knowledge and some Fintry  artefacts to their homes’ Activity Days.

I am going to put a shout out at this juncture for anyone willing to lend a hand with our Mother’s Day Fintry Fair (Sunday, May 12th) as several of our regular helpers are going to be away on holiday. No experience necessary, we will just slot you in for a few hours as a body in the Manor House for security or at one of the entry tables. (Call Kathy at 250-542-4139 or email [email protected])  It is always a fun day with a full roster of entertainment already signed up. 

Our Curator, Dan Bruce has once again been doing some research and has uncovered some interesting facts about one of our more popular specimens in the Trophy Room of the Manor House.

In a previous issue I wrote about the giraffe in the Trophy Room, a truly excellent example of local taxidermy.   A short while ago I was asked to give a “Brown Bag Lunch Special”,  a mid-day entertainment hosted by the Penticton Museum. It was great way to get re-connected to our colleagues at the south end of the Lake.  I used the title “Outpost of Empire” to introduce the Fintry Estate, its history and cultural origins. 

On that occasion, I was able to get some more detail about the taxidermist who worked on the giraffe.       Abraham “Abe” Braun was born in 1917, in the Ural Mountains of southern Russia, and immigrated to Canada in 1924 — that pivotal year at Fintry when, among other things the Trophy Room was added to the Manor House.   Settling first in Manitoba, he took a correspondence course in taxidermy.  After several years, the milder climate of the Okanagan lured him westward, where he almost certainly excelled his instructors and developed his taxidermy skills into a successful business.   Not a hunter himself, a number of his clients were, and he also mounted specimens that were killed on the highways. Specimens also came his way when animals died at the Okanagan Game Farm, as in the case of the giraffe.     Abe died in 1985, and we are fortunate that by means of his skill, we can still appreciate and learn about a variety of creatures that passed through his hands.

It is perhaps fitting that a recent acquisition in the Manor House re-affirms the Russian connection. Visitors will now see a porcelain Polar Bear, created by the Lomonosov  Porcelain Factory in St Petersburg. Founded in the 18th Century, under the regime of the Tsars, the factory has been kept in production by the Soviet government, and still operated today.

Mark Taylor, of Taylor’s Antiques in Kelowna has donated a photo showing Earl Grey, the Governor-General and friend of James Dun-Waters, taken by the Norwegian photographer, Erling Olav Ellingsen. It is inscribed “ Earl Grey and party at King Solomon Dome, August 18th 1909”.  This visit then took place some three months after the presentation to Dun-Waters of the autographed portraits of Grey, 10th May, 1909.  (King Solomon Dome is the supposed origin of the gold deposits of the Klondike).    I cannot be sure that Dun-Waters is present in the picture, but it’s possible he may have been involved.   The photo has had some water damage, but this is limited to stains in the upper part of the picture, looking as if a serious thunderstorm is about to break on His Excellency’s parade, however, the important lower half is crystal clear. Our photography wizard volunteer, Lynda Miller will be able to clear the skies with photo-shop.

In closing I would just like to remind everyone of the dates of our Fintry Fairs this year.

Sunday, May 12th (Mother’s Day)

Sunday, July 14th

Sunday, September, 8th

Mark them on your calendars and if you can help out at all, please give me a call.

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park.