Here we are heading into the last month of this rotten year! When we set out on this pandemic journey in March, little did we think that nine months later we would still be in the throes of this ugly virus. As we look down the road we are wondering what Christmas is going to look like this year and bracing for what January will no doubt bring as an aftermath of the holidays. The relative carefree days of years past seem like a distant memory as we now tentatively move forward taking one day at a time.
As I write this (November 30th) I am reminded that today is St. Andrew’s Day. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and several other countries, (Russia, Greece, Romania and Barbados). Andrew was one of the original 12 apostles of Christ and was present at the last supper. In 1320 the Scots appealed to the Pope for protection against the attempts of English Kings to conquer Scotland and thus the Declaration of Arbroath was signed and St. Andrew was declared Patron Saint. Always looking for an excuse to celebrate, the Scots consider today a bank holiday and will hold feasts, haggis and whisky tastings and generally end the day with a good rollicking ceilidh! Just what we need in these dire times. The flag of Scotland, also called the Saltire or St. Andrew’s Cross, is supposed to signify how he was crucified on a cross of this form in Greece on November 30th, 60AD.
Now back to the present day…..the Friends of Fintry is working with the Okanagan Indian Band to erect a plaque acknowledging that both the Fintry Estate and Fintry Provincial Park are situated on the unceded ancestral territory of Syilx Okanagan Nation. This plaque will be in both English and the Syilx language and reminds our visitors of how culturally important the Shorts Creek delta is to the Syilx People. Erection and unveiling of this plaque will happen in 2021.
We, the Friends of Fintry, are embracing digital technology during these difficult times by holding our November Board Meeting via Zoom. All went well and we are going to continue with this method over the winter months or until Covid protocols change.
Our caretakers at the Fintry Manor House have settled in and seem delighted with their new winter hibernation location. The Ben Lee entrance to the Manor House has never looked so good!
And now we have an interesting tidbit from our Curator Dan Bruce re an item in our collection:
The Chelsea Pensioner’s Coat:
James Dun-Waters was more concerned with outdoor sports than academics when he was at Cambridge, and yet there was obviously an interest in some form of dramatic entertainment. This we know from a series of Eliot and Fry studio photographs taken in London, showing him in a variety of roles, dressed in costume, and seemingly with full make-up, preparatory to a stage appearance. One suspects that this became a more significant pastime during his life at Fintry, where home entertainment was the order of the day. Bearing this in mind, it is not surprising that various items of clothing, and perhaps other props were kept to hand, one of which was a Chelsea Pensioner’s coat.
We do not know how he acquired it, but it is now back at Fintry, through the good offices of Bob Kingsmill, after a slightly mysterious period of absence. The coat is in very good condition, with its brass buttons inscribed ” R C I ” Royal Corps of Invalids.
The Chelsea Pensioners are retired army veterans who live in the Chelsea Royal Hospital in London. The Hospital was founded by Charles II in 1681, construction being entrusted to Sir Christopher Wren, who had already done so much to rebuild London after the Great Fire. Still in use, and fully up-to-date, the building is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture. There are about 300 pensioners in residence, and they participate in events such as the famous Chelsea Flower Show, where, in full ceremonial uniform, they act as ushers and guides.
The Hospital celebrates May 29th, aka Founder’s Day, or “Oak Apple Day” in memory of the founder’s escape by hiding in a densely branched oak tree after the battle of Worcester in 1651 during the Civil War.
Now here is a much sought-after recipe from Dan’s kitchen!
For those who are thinking about Christmas baking, I hereby give out my Mother’s shortbread recipe.
6 oz. flour
6 oz. butter
3 oz. caster sugar (berry sugar)
2 oz. ground almonds ( 2 oz. cornstarch if necessary)
Crumble butter (cut up into flour using two knives) into even sizes crumbs.
Add sugar and ground almonds. Mix well, and put into an 8″ loose bottomed tin.
Press flat with a knife and put into 350 oven for about 1/2 hour or until pale brown
and crispish at the edges. When crumbling, keep it cold, do not let it get soft and greasy,
IF it does, add some cornstarch. DO NOT TOUCH IT WITH YOUR HANDS AT ANY TIME.
On this seasonal note, and on behalf of the Friends of Fintry board members, our Curator Dan and Business Manager Shannon, I would like to wish you all the very best this Christmas despite all that is going on in the world. Dwell only on the things that are important to you, like family, close friends and good shortbread!
As we start into another chilly month with gardens, trees and animals going into hibernation we should probably pay heed and follow suit in order to stay safe and healthy these next few months.
The lower floor of the Fintry Manor House is already in hibernation, but our Caretaker’s suite upstairs now has a couple installed who will look after things this winter. They look after another Provincial Park during the summer months so are used to the isolation and the responsibilities that go along with looking after an older building.
Despite our late start this year and with not being able to hold our usual three Fairs, we still managed to keep our heads above water. Our merchandise sales were good, entry donations were excellent and with being able to hire two students, our days open were more than when we operate only with volunteers. Membership was the one thing that took a hit this year as many people generally sign up or renew at the Fairs. Anyone who would like to renew or become a member and support all things Fintry can do so through our website www.fintry.ca. Fingers crossed that next year will be more “normal” …..Covid depending!
Following is another very interesting article by our very own historian Paul Koroscil….
Who knew that we had such a renowned architect creating these heritage buildings right here on the Fintry delta!
Stay safe everyone,
Friends of Fintry Provincial Park
James Cameron Dun-Waters’ Architect: J.J. Honeyman
By Paul Koroscil
J.J. Honeyman was born in Glasgow on April 9th, 1864. After architectural studies at Heidelberg University, Germany he returned to Glasgow in 1883 to article with Hugh and David Barclay rather than with his architect uncle, John Honeyman (1831-1914). Just a side note on John Honeyman. In 1888 he went into partnership with John Keppie (1862-1945). One of the draftsmen in their office was Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) who became Scotland’s most celebrated architect and designer of the 20th century. He was also known as an outstanding water colourist and artist. When John Honeyman retired in 1904, Mackintosh went into partnership with Keppie.
His first major commission was the Glasgow School of Art constructed between 1896-1909. It has been described as a Mackintosh masterpiece and his greatest design. I visited the School before the first fire in 2014. Unfortunately, a second fire occurred in June of 2018. However, there are plans to rebuild the School from original blueprints and it is estimated that it will take seven years to complete the rebuild.
On another occasion in Scotland my V.B.F (Maureen Montfort Selwood) and I visited Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh. The National Trust for Scotland acquired the House in 1982 as it was considered to be the finest example of domestic architecture by Rennie. The House was built between 1902-1904 for Walter Blackie and his family who owned a publishing business that ran from 1809 to 1991. The House is located in one of the wettest parts of Scotland and is situated on a “hill” overlooking the Clyde estuary. To cover the outside of the House, Rennie decided to use a new type of material, Portland cement. The result is that since its construction there have been major problems with dampness. To solve the problem, the National Trust commissioned architects, Camody Groarke to design and construct a chainmail “box”. Rachel Thompson, visitor services manager describes the “box” as “an amazing 165 tonnes of steel and 8.3 tonnes of chainmail mesh which makes up the “box” that now surrounds the House.” The “box” allows natural light to flood into the House, while encouraging it to dry out after decades of water damage. If you are in Helensburgh and you have a chance to visit the Hill House you will today encounter the “box”.
Now back to J.J. Honeyman. In 1889 he emigrated to Canada, crossed the continent on the C.P.R. and landed in Vancouver. Shortly thereafter he made his way to Vancouver Island and ranched with John Baird on Ployart’s Swamp near Black Creek in the Comox Valley. In 1891, Honeyman established his architectural practice in Nanaimo, first for a year in partnership with F.T. Gregg and then afterwards on his own. On January 12, 1892 in Nanaimo, Honeyman married Mabel Dempster, also a Scottish immigrant. They settled on a ranch called “Tarara” and commenced their family, which eventually numbered four daughters and one son. Honeyman enjoyed rugby and considered himself both a Conservative and a Presbyterian. He was a modest man; when asked if he could provide examples of his professional competence, he replied “I really don’t know. You might ask one of my clients.” Honeyman’s commissions at this time included the A.R. Johnstone block in Nanaimo, 1893, a school in Cumberland, 1895 and Nanaimo Central School 1895-96.
In 1897, Honeyman moved to Rossland where his largest and best-known individual project was the Rossland Court House. Walking up to the front of the Court House, which is located on Columbia Avenue at the corner of Monte Christo Street on a rise above the downtown core, one has a feeling that this massive, dominant structure certainly symbolizes a deep respect for the rule of law and the English origins of the provincial legal system. The historical significance of the building has been exemplified by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada by designating the Court House a National Historic site and recognizing J.J. Honeyman as the architect. (See wall plaque on front entrance of the building).
The Court House was designed in 1898 but not completed until 1901 as a result of the first contractor’s inability to carry out the task. By the time of completion, the building’s cost rose from $38,500 to $58,122 proving that public works cost overruns are by no means new in British Columbia. The edifice featured a symmetrical front facade, corner towers with steep bell-cast roofs and an arched entry and window openings. Pinkish-tan brick cladding was used above the base of local dark granite.
The main court room features an open timber roof, cedar paneling and stained glass windows by Henry Bloomfield and Sons, bearing the provincial arms and those of Sir James Douglas, the province’s first governor, and Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, British Columbia’s first judge and subsequent Chief Justice.
In the present era one of the platforms promoted by political parties at the Federal, Provincial and local governments and various Societies is reconciliation. One of the debatable current actions of promoting reconciliation is the removal of statues of prominent Canadian leaders who, during their time carried out an injustice. An example of this action took place in 2020 when the Law Society of B.C. approved the removal of the Begbie statue from the Law Society foyer.
In a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun, (September 12, 2020) Craig Ferris, President, Law Society of British Columbia, explained the rationale for the decision the benchers made for the removal of the Begbie statue from the Law Society foyer. He indicated that it was because the necessary work of the Law Society in addressing reconciliation, was hindered by the prominence of a statue that made an important segment of the public feel unwelcome when visiting our offices. He emphasized that the Law Society must be an open and inclusive environment in order to do its job on protecting the public interest in the administration of justice for all. The debate about the historical legacy of Chief Justice Begbie reflects the different views about the man and his work, but, the debate should not impede the Law Society from being open and able to fulfil its mandate to protect the interests of all the public. I wonder, did the Law Society miss the stain glass window in the Rossland Court House and other Court Houses constructed during that era; for example, the Fernie Court House and if so, are they going to remove the Begbie windows?
While in Rossland, Honeyman also designed a number of residential properties, for example a home for his wife’s brother Charles Dempster. Also, it is probable that Honeyman met George D. Curtis who would eventually become an architectural partner. Curtis was born in Ireland on August 1, 1868; his family had been officers in the Royal Navy for generations. He studied at London’s Finsbury Technical College from 1884-85 and for the next three years he articled with a London firm. In 1889 he emigrated to Canada taking up survey work in the 1890’s. The C.P.R. had built a branch line to Nelson, which had become an important West Kootenay mining supply centre and by 1897 Curtis opened an architectural office there. He undertook various commercial, religious, residential and public commissions in Nelson, Rossland and Greenwood. His projects in Nelson included St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, (1898-1900), a good example of a Gothic English perpendicular parish church, while his Cathedral of Mary Immaculate, (1898-99) is a mature example of Roman Classicism, favoured by the Catholic Church in Canada at the time. In Greenwood, Curtis designed the City Hall, built in 1902-3 as the provincial government building and courthouse and a public school.
As they crossed paths in the Kootenays, they both decided that there was a greater business opportunity on the coast. They both decided to move to Vancouver and in 1902 they established their architectural partnership. In Vancouver their firm established itself as one of the most prominent and prolific firms in the city. They were responsible for a number of churches, public buildings, private residences, apartment buildings, industrial structures and banks.
Honeyman and Curtis undertook a number of projects for the C.P.R. Curtis took over the supervision of the original portion of the Empress Hotel in Victoria when Francis Rattenbury (at the time the most recognized architect in B.C.) resigned in 1906, and continued to supervise the ongoing expansion programme, 1909-1914, that included two new wings and the Crystal Ballroom, all designed by W.S. Painter. In 1911 they designed an addition to the Hotel Vancouver for the C.P.R. Corporate clients included the Bank of Montreal, for whom they designed a stone-clad Temple Bank at Main and Hastings, built 1929-30, that marked the end of the local use of classicism. Its columned entrance, pedimented doorway and sculpted heraldry were intended to invoke confidence and a timeless sense of stability. Also, they were responsible for the building of two other Bank of Montreal structures, one on Main Street at East Broadway, 1929, and another on Main Street near Prior Street, 1929.
Another of Honeyman and Curtis’s landmark projects was the Vancouver Fire Hall No.6, 1907-09, located in the West End. At the time of its construction it was the “only fire hall in the world completely equipped with Auto Engines”. This brick and stone building has a metal tile roof and strong horizontal emphasis, contrasted with a vertical hose tower. The partnership also received a number of church commissions. St. John’s Presbyterian, 1909, in the West End was an impressive stone Gothic Revival structure with a tall corner turret. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1925, in North Vancouver reflected Christian Sciences’s preference for classically inspired forms. Another notable church was Shaughnessy Heights United Church, built in 1928-30; a beautifully proportioned stone-faced structure reminiscent of a traditional English parish church.
Most of their initial residential commissions were in Vancouver’s West End. From 1912 until 1929 their domestic work was located in Shaughnessy Heights, Point Grey and North Vancouver. For Matthew Sergius Logan, lumberman and Parks Commissioner and advocate of the Stanley Park sea wall, they designed a grand Craftsman-style home on Point Grey Road, 1909-10. The Shaughnessy home of industrial supplier, Bryce W. Fleck, 1929, in the Tudor Revival style, includes bay windows, stained glass and curved gable above the entrance.
The firm’s prosperity, allowed the partners to build their own substantial homes and establish vacation properties for their families. In 1908 Curtis cleared land outside Comox and in 1912 built a small cottage; this property is still owned by the Curtis family. In 1913 Honeyman built his own home in Kerrisdale, which he called Kildavaig after a Scottish home in which he had once lived. By this time, Kerrisdale had become a desirable location, “Just far enough from the noise and bustle of the city for peace and contentment”. Kildavaig stands in excellent condition today. In 1929 he also built a cottage at Hood Point on Bowen Island, used by succeeding generations of his family.
The one commission outside the Lower Mainland that Honeyman undertook was related to his life-long Scottish friend James Cameron Dun-Waters. He would design and construct a house and a barn on Dun-Waters’ Fintry property. The design of the Manor House in 1911 was a sprawling Tudor Revival house. This first house burned down during renovations in 1924. He designed a second house to replace it, with rich materials and spaces, including gracious verandahs. Of particular interest was Dun-Waters’ trophy room, with trophy heads hung on the walls and the construction of a separate cave where his prize Kodiak bear would stand on moss-covered boulders; with a waterfall flowing down the rocks and disappearing under the floor inside the cave off the trophy room. I wonder, did Dun-Waters come up with the idea of a cave to display his prize trophy or did Honeyman? I think I will go with Dun-Waters. In National Trust estates in England and in Scottish Trust estates I certainly have come across trophy heads on the walls in some estates but I have never come across a cave designed within a trophy room to house a prize trophy.
To house Dun-Waters’ Ayrshire cattle, Honeyman designed and constructed a barn. Honeyman decided to build a polygonal barn, (usually more than four angles and sides) and the architectural pattern he chose was an Octagon (eight angles and sides). The octagonal design appears to have its origin in ecclesiastical structures. In 1970 archaeologists found the remains of an octagonal Romano-Celtic temple, dated AD325 in Chelmsford, Essex. Almost five hundred years later, probably one of the finest built octagonal structures built, is Charlemagne’s palace chapel, (now the cathedral) at Aachen (now Germany).
One of the outstanding examples in England is located in the mediaeval village of Pembridge, Herefordshire. Beside the Church of St. Mary the Virgin stands the Bell Tower, a separate building with an octagonal design. The structure dates from the early 13th century though only the four huge timber corner posts remain from the original building. It was restored in 1898 and 1957. On entering the belfry with its massive wooden beams, I had the eerie feeling that reminded me of standing in the middle of the Fintry barn. Structurally, the octagonal Bell Tower is related to the wooden stave churches of Norway. The irony of this comment for me relates to my sabbatical at the University of Oslo where on a weekend venture with my V.B.F. we came across one of these magnificent octagonal stave churches.
In the 18th century, polygonal buildings experienced a revival however, not in ecclesiastical buildings but in farm buildings, particularly “cow houses”. As a result of agrarian reforms in Britain new innovations in farming led to the development of new model farm buildings. One such building was the “cow house” constructed in direct response to the wintering of cattle. Most of the “cow houses” in the beginning had an interior design which was circular, octagonal or hexagonal in form. Also, architects argued that these types of structures provided the most efficient use of space for the smallest amount of material. However, they had less appeal to the average farmer who found the design too complex and the initial construction costs higher than average. Despite these costs they became very popular with architects between 1800 and 1937. At this time there were more than 30 pattern books published devoted to farm buildings in Britain.
Capitalizing on the success of British architects the idea of polygonal barns diffused to North America and flourished throughout the 19th century. In the United States numerous polygonal barns were built in New England and the Mid-Eastern States. In the 1880’s the idea of polygonal barns diffused across the border and began to appear in Eastern Canada and then across the Prairies to British Columbia. In 1995, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada commissioned a survey of polygonal barns constructed between 1888 and 1925. For British Columbia the study indicated that there was only one octagonal barn. It was located at 7071 No. 9 Road in East Richmond. It was known as the Ewan Cattle Barn, a 12-sided structure measuring 50 ft high and 100 ft in diameter and built of local red cedar. Alexander Ewan was born in Aberdeen, Scotland and emigrated to B.C. in 1864. Economically, he became involved in the fishing and agricultural industries. He built one of the largest canneries on the Fraser River and in 1893 on his 640 acre farm, he constructed his octagonal barn to house and feed up to 100 head of cattle. The inventory seems to have missed the Dun-Waters’ Fintry octagonal barn. When Dun-Waters commissioned Honeyman to build a barn, Honeyman must have known of the popularity of polygonal barns and particularly those using the octagonal pattern. In fact, the Crown Lumber Company, 1900-1915, advertised an Octagonal Pattern No. 3381 plan of a ready-made (today prefabricated) polygonal barn.
Honeyman’s Fintry barn contains 2,784 square feet including the silo area. It sits on a 20-inch high concrete foundation, and the floor area and feeding troughs are also constructed of concrete. Each of the 15 stalls contains a stanchion and there are three milking pens and a calf pen. The exterior of the barn is covered in fir board and batten. Undoubtedly, Dun-Waters was quite pleased to have such a distinctive barn to service his initial herd of 17 pedigree Ayrshires. Also, the cattle must have been pleased! Over the next few years, Dun-Waters expanded the herd and by 1931 he had 130 Ayrshires, probably one of the largest herds in Western Canada. On your next trip to Fintry do not miss taking a tour of the magnificent Fintry barn.
For Honeyman and Curtis the numerous commissions of the 1920’s fell off dramatically at the beginning of the Depression. Along with others in their profession, their partnership was devastated by the Great Depression, and they both retired by 1931. Honeyman died at home in Vancouver on February 18, 1934. Curtis, in ill health, retired to Comox in 1931 and died there on September 8th, 1940. Honeyman certainly had an interesting architectural career and I hope you enjoyed the script.
Just a final thought. Since Honeyman is recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in Rossland, the Fintry Board of Directors might want to consider a plaque recognizing his work on Fintry’s unique Octagonal Barn and the Manor House!
The photos of the Rossland Court House were taken by my V.B.F.
We are really appreciative of these last days of warmth and sunshine, but as the leaves turn golden and slowly drift from the trees, we are reminded that autumn in all its glory is on its way.
At the Fintry Manor House we have had an extraordinarily busy month as staycations seem to be the order of the day this year. People are exploring what is in their backyards and some are discovering Fintry for the first time! The Fintry Campground closes Thanksgiving weekend and so too will the Fintry Manor House, so you have one more weekend to come and refresh yourselves on Dun-Waters’ history, grab that Laird of Fintry T-shirt or one of our books, e.g. Trips and Trails of the Okanagan.
This month, we have a real treat for you! Our Vice-President and historian Paul Koroscil has made many trips to the UK over the years researching Dun-Waters’ life before he moved to the Okanagan. Following is a compilation of some very interesting facts and recollections as he walked in Dun-Waters’ footsteps.
Stay healthy everyone,
Friends of Fintry Provincial Park
Researching James Cameron Dun-Waters. Some recollections in England and Scotland by Paul Koroscil
One of my major research interests was emigration and resettlement in B.C. in the 19th and early 20th century. If the researcher explores the movement of immigrants from the homeland to the new environment knowledge of the immigrants’ social and economic background prior to emigrating provides the researcher with possible clues to understanding their adaptability and success or failure in their new environment. It was this research niche that I decided to embark upon and hopefully my findings would result in a small addition of knowledge to the settlement area. Hence, the publication of two editions of “The British Garden of Eden, Settlement History of the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia.” Why the Okanagan Valley? A number of reasons certainly influenced my decision to explore the past. However, probably the major reason for my interest in the topic relates to my critic and very best friend (V.B.F.) Maureen Montfort Selwood whose family heritage is embedded in England and Scotland and emigrated to the valley in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century. Another significant reason relates to the fact that every year we have returned to the U.K. to spend time visiting her relatives and at the same time, it gave me the opportunity to return to England where I lived as a post-doctoral student at the University of Cambridge. Thus these early visits to the U.K. during my research semesters were spent gathering material on individuals for the “Garden of Eden” book. One of the individuals that I chose to research was James Cameron Dun-Waters.
With the I.T. revolution and digitization one could argue that the researcher does not have to leave his/her home office to gather information/data on a particular topic. One simply needs to use one’s computer, iPad or telephone to research the topic. However, if the researcher is investigating a particular individual’s homeland and lifestyle the I.T. revolution/digitization does not include material that may not have been digitized in archives, museums and private collections, nor does it include the individuals one meets during the research in the homeland. This was certainly the case in my experience researching Dun-Waters.
Dun-Waters’ educational background included Wellington College and the University of Cam- bridge. At the age of 14 he was enrolled at Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire.
The college is located on a 400 acre estate and the main college building was designed by John Shaw Jr. the architect chosen by Prince Albert. The imposing brick structure reflects the French Rococo design while the chapel was designed by George Gilbert. On the estate a number of residential houses were used to accommodate the students. At the entrance to the main building is a large plaque stating:
“On the 24th January, 1859 our visitor, Her Majesty Queen Victoria opened the College as a national monument to the Great Duke of Wellington on the 21st June, 1909. Our visitor His Majesty King Edward VII presided at the Jubilee Speech Day.”
On spending a day in Crowthorne my V.B.F. and I met John Edwards, Secretary, old Wellingtonian Society. He took us on a historical tour of the college and one could imagine the daily student life of Dun-Waters who was at the college from 1879-1881. It was during this time that Dun-Waters developed a passion for sporting activities, such as track and field, rugby and cricket. The only disappointment of the tour related to the residential house, Davenport, that Dun-Waters resided in at the college. John Edwards said that Davenport was demolished but he would find a photograph of the house and mail it to me. On my return to Canada I did receive a photo of Davenport, Dun-Water’s residential house. It was truly a memorable day at Dun-Waters’ Wellington College. After leaving Wellington College at the age of 19 he was admitted as a pens (pensioner – an ordinary fee-paying student) to Jesus College, University of Cambridge in1884. The athletic skills that he developed at Wellington College continued at Cambridge where he distinguished himself in sporting achievements rather than academics. For example, in 1884,1885 and 1886 he ran an athletic blue (mile) and in the 1884 event he set a Jesus College record of four minutes, forty-four and four-fifths seconds, beating second place finisher C.E. Tyndale-Biscog. On the following day the 14th November, he won a three- mile race beating Tyndale-Biscog by 20 yards in seventeen minutes and three-fifths seconds. Another sport that he exceeded at was cricket. In a match between Jesus XI and (Trinity) Hall XI played on 4th June 1887 he was well on the spot with the ball and took altogether nine wickets in this match. Dun-Waters’ outstanding athletic achievements at Jesus College was recognized in 1886 when he became President of the Cambridge University Athletic Club.
As President he would have been involved with two major sporting events, rugby at Twickenham and the Thames Boat Races between the Blues and Oxford. At a dinner at Kings College I sat beside Gerald Davies, one of the rugby players, who was playing in the annual match and after he graduated he would become a rugby reporter for The Times newspaper.
He indicated that I would thoroughly enjoy the match that attracted 50,000 spectators.
So, I followed in Dun-Waters’ footsteps to the annual match and imagined he was cheering for the Blues as I did.
Being at Cambridge, like Dun-Waters, I experienced other aspects of student life such as visiting a favourite pub (a definite) or attending a guest University lecture (a possibility for Dun-Waters). However, Michael Clegg, a long-time former Board member of the Friends of Fintry, was a student at Jesus College and would undoubtedly have experienced Dun-Waters’ daily routine at Jesus.
Another aspect of Dun-Waters’ life that I wanted to explore were the homes that he lived in.
In this regard, I was very fortunate to meet a gentleman, Douglas S. Wilson, who in retirement was a local historian. He had a son on Vancouver Island and on one of his trips to B.C. he visited Fintry. The first home (estate) that Dun-Waters inherited was Craigton House in 1888.
However, Douglas Wilson pointed out that the Victorian home was demolished but he was kind enough to provide me with a photograph of the home. Also he provided me with a Xerox copy of a private typescript on the history of Fintry, Stirlingshire. Recently a copy of the typescript was given to our Curator Dan Bruce for the Fintry archives.
In 1890 Dun-Waters acquired his second home, Culcreuch Castle (estate) which comprised some 6,000 acres for £58,000 from Lady Hume Spiers.
On another occasion visiting Fintry with my V.B.F., I made arrangements to meet two colleagues. One colleague was on sabbatical at the University of Dundee and the other colleague and his wife were in Scotland to attend a Highland Cattle meeting. We met my colleagues at an appointed time at the Fintry pub and I then took them on a field trip of the Culcreuch estate. I also arranged to book accommodation at the Culcreuch Castle Hotel. Staying in the Castle and noting the various rooms of the house and having breakfast in the dining room certainly gave me a feeling for Dun-Waters, living in his second home. Just an interesting note on Culcreuch…..in September of 2006 The Times listed
the 13th century hotel in Stirlingshire for sale. The advertisement stated: What you get: Four-teen twin, double or family rooms, eight self-catering lodges, conferencing and banqueting facilities plus 86 acres. Where it is: At the foot of Campsie Fells, near Fintry which regularly picks up the award for Scotland’s Best Kept Village; 20 miles from Glasgow, 42 from Edinburgh. Up- side: Become a Baron! As the ancestral home of the Barons of Culcreuch, the title comes with the sale. Downside: Expect plenty of visitors – at the moment it is a hotel complete with bar, restaurants and staff. Cost: £2.5 million. Contact: Knight Frank, www.knightfrank.com.
One sporting activity he developed a passion for was fox hunting. In 1898 he decided to pursue this activity in the rolling countryside of Shropshire. He rented Lutwyche Hall, Easthope and he accepted the position of Master of Wheatland Hounds. During the hunting season Dun-Waters and Alice commuted between Culcreuch Estate and Lutwyche Hall. In 1901 he decided to move permanently to Shropshire. After disposing of his land holdings, he acquired his third permanent home Plaish Hall, Plaish, Church Stretton in 1902. Plaish Hall is probably the finest Tudor designed home in Shropshire. On moving to Plaish he was asked to accept the master- ship of the South Shropshire Hunt Club where he enjoyed a great deal of success as he received the loyal support from landlords and farmers, as was evidenced by the almost entire absence of barbed wire in the country.
The feeling I had for Dun-Waters’ third home was certainly there but a stronger feeling was for the location of the house and the surrounding undulating landscape. Standing outside the home, I could just imagine Dun-Waters leading the fox hunt with his dogs which he felt were the best hounds in England. On another part of the property was a substantial kennel built for his hounds. As an aside, on another visit to Plaish we visited the owners of the kennel property and they indicated that the building had been renovated and they turned the former kennel into a Bed and Breakfast. Not far from the house, Dun-Waters set aside a graveyard for his beloved dogs. He put down a small slab of cement for each dog. While the cement was still fresh he used his finger or a stick and carved the name of the dog. What I found interesting about this procedure is that he did the same thing for Alice’s grave, where she is buried on the front lawn of the Fintry Manor House.
While on a visit to Glasgow, my V.B.F. and I visited the Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park. However, being in Glasgow Dun-Waters was on my mind and I made my way to the Glasgow Herald. I met the editor who was very accommodating discussing the history of the Herald. I then spent time in their library/archives room where the editor pointed out the historical sources of the Herald. Sitting in the room I could imagine Dun-Waters, who was a major shareholder in the Herald, making his way from Culcreuch to attend an annual meeting in the board room of the Herald.
After a Friends of Fintry board meeting Dan Bruce, our Curator, gave me a short piece of correspondence with the name Lochinch Castle and suggested on my next research semester to gather some information on the castle. Dun-Waters became convinced that Ayrshire cattle, which he had on his estates in Stirlingshire, would thrive in the Okanagan.
In a conversation with Elizabeth Long he stated:
“The Ayrshires are Scotch cattle and good cattle,” he explains, “So why should not Scotsmen in this country grow Ayrshires? Then, too, pure bred cattle are the only thing the Old Country farmer has to sell to this country, so why should not Scotch farmers in Canada buy them?”
His enthusiasm for Ayrshires led him to develop one of the finest herds in Western Canada. Knowing the breeding quality of Ayrshires coming out of Southwest Scotland, Dun-Waters made arrangements on at least three different occasions to purchase cattle from the 12th Earl of Stair, John James Dalrymple (1879-1961) of Lochinch Castle and Castle Kennedy, Stranraer, Wigtownshire.
Victorian Lochinch Castle was located at either end of an isthmus between two lochs, (the White Loch on the west side and the Black Loch on the east). The two-storey with a basement home was designed by Brown and Wardrop and was built in 1864-8 of cream coloured Lancashire stone. Architecturally it has been described as depicting a “relaxed Baronial manner with a few French touches, the mingling of styles perhaps an allusion to the Franco-Scottish alliance of the clients, the tenth Earl of Stair and his wife Louisa, daughter of the Duc de Coigny”.
Dun-Waters also revealed another aspect of his character in his Ayrshire promotional campaign; he was generous. In 1929 he offered to help fund the purchase and transport of 24 cows and one bull of registered Ayrshire cattle from the best herds in Scotland for the Departments of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, University of British Columbia. John Young was recruited by U.B.C. Professor H.M. King to develop a dairy farm which would support a teaching and research programme at U.B.C. In June 1929, Young, with cattle and family, boarded a ship in Glasgow and arrived ten days later in Quebec City. After six weeks of quarantine the cattle were put into rail- cars and trained to Vancouver. They arrived on August 10th in the middle of the Canadian Pacific Exhibition (now the P.N.E.). Following a pipe-band led parade through the exhibition, they were then trucked to their new home at the University Farm in Point Grey. On my visit to Lochinch Castle I went out to the home farm to search out the cattle operation. Unfortunately, the Ayrshire cattle had been replaced by a Holstein-Friesian herd. However in my research I was able to dis- cover a June 1931 photo of Ayrshire cattle grazing by the loch side at Lochinch Castle.
I will end my short précis of some recollections during the Ken and Jan Waldon regime (the founders of the Friends of Fintry). After a Fintry board meeting Jan asked me to search out some background information on Alice on my next research visit to the U.K.
Alice was born on June 19, 1866 to Charles William Orde and Francis Isabel Orde (nee Jacson) at Nunnykirk Hall in the sub-district of Rothbury in the County of Northumberland. The Hall lies in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside 10 miles from the market town of Morpeth. Nunnykirk Hall was one of John Dobson’s finest early country homes. In 1825 the Hall was rebuilt for William Orde on his inherited 2,500 acre family estate that included six farms.
“Very nobly Greek, with exquisite ashlar (square hewn stone) masonry. The stonework of much of the house has banded rustication after the fashion of French Neo-classical architecture. The five-bay centre of the Garden Front was a Queen Anne house which Dobson refronted and to which he added (two) lower projecting wings. The ground floor between the wings has an Ionic loggia of four columns”. The home is still owned by the Orde family but it is now leased out as a special needs school.
Growing up at Nunnykirk, Alice probably had the same feeling for the outdoors and eventual interest in a sporting life as Dun-Waters. For me this feeling for the latter case was confirmed when I had a visit with Michael Orde. In his home there were a number of large prints hanging on the walls of a room depicting the chase of the foxhounds. In every National Trust estate home that my V.B.F and I have visited there was always a room or a hallway that displayed an individual family portrait painting in an extra-large gilded frame. Again, in Michael Orde’s home I was quite startled to see a very large portrait painting of Alice hanging on a wall leading up to the second floor of the house. The next time you visit the Manor House at Fintry you can view a small replica of this painting.
On the 11th December, 1888, a year after leaving Cambridge, Dun-Waters married Alice. The marriage took place at St. Mary the Virgin, Parish Church of Morpeth.
“The event had been looked forward to not only by the people of Morpeth, but generally throughout the county. The hour fixed for the ceremony was half-past two o’clock. Long before that hour the church, with the exception of seats reserved for the wedding guests, was filled with a deeply interested congregation, while the long walk laid from end to end with carpet, from the main road to the south of the porch was lined on both sides by some hundreds of people.”
The interest in the marriage was no doubt due to the fact that her father was a prominent lawyer who held such offices as Justice of Peace, High Sheriff and Chancellor of Quarter Sessions for Northumberland from 1854-1873. Undoubtedly, the Orde family was part of the established elite and the marriage was certainly the social highlight of the year in Morpeth.
Walking up the long pathway from the road to the church, I could well imagine the people lining that pathway and Dun-Waters and Alice coming out of the church and walking on that carpeted pathway.
In conclusion, I hope that you enjoyed the read.
Just a few comments: In researching Dun-Waters and following his footsteps certainly was an adventure for myself and my V.B.F. Collecting non-digitized material at libraries/archives proved to be successful most of the time. Also, I was able to photograph the buildings and landscapes associated with Dun-Waters which reinforced my imagination during a particular time in his life.
Finally, I must say that one of the pleasures doing the research were the people I met who were extremely kind and helpful.
It is hard to believe that summer is all but over and we are heading into fall….with a little trepidation however as to what the following months will look like. The good news is that we at Fintry have survived what we thought was going to be a catastrophic summer. With not having Fairs and with limits (COVID protocols) on the numbers of visitors we could have in the Manor House, we were anticipating a disastrous year. However, thanks to the hard work of everyone (staff and volunteers) pulling together we have had quite a remarkable summer with small tours (up to six people) of the Manor House every 20 minutes as well as tours of the Octagonal Barn. We will be continuing with Manor House tours Saturdays and Sundays (from 1 – 4 pm) until the end of September, so there is still time to come visit us!
A large part of our success this summer was the addition of our two interns Rachael Moores and Morgan Marshall. Thanks to a grant through Canada Summer Jobs we were able to employ these two wonderful students and they were instrumental in our being open for more hours. Sadly, they will both be leaving us this week and going home to continue with their studies and we wish them every success in their future endeavours.
Following is some info courtesy of our Curator Dan Bruce, on an interesting item in our collection:
“One of the less noticeable items that has returned to Fintry thanks to Rod and Karen Stuart is a small photographic reproduction of J.M.W. Turner’s masterpiece, commonly known as ‘The Fighting Temeraire’. The photo is in sepia tone, and is in the original oak frame, with the maker’s label on the back, “W. A. Mansell & Co. Art Publishers, Photographers, and Frame Makers, 271 and 273 Oxford Street”.
For those who wanted art without the expense of original works, engravings became available and later, photographic reproductions such as this were easy to come by. In the case of this picture, the original was never available at any price. Turner refused to sell it, but included it in his bequest to the nation. It can now be seen in the National Gallery, in London. A very much reduced sepia photo however does scant justice to the magnificent original, recently acclaimed as Britain’s most popular painting, and featured on the new twenty-pound banknote. A multitude of studies have been made of it, and various aspects of its symbolism pointed out. The famous old warship is being towed by a dirty looking steam tug to the breakers yard for demolition. The event caused widespread dismay at the loss of a ship that suddenly became symbolic of a glorious naval tradition, now steam was taking over from sail. Turner makes the message clear when seen in colour, the Temeraire gleams, almost lit from within, while the tug is dark, sooty and belches smoke.
Apparently, the crew of the ship gave her a nickname, a common naval practice. They called her the ‘Saucy’, almost a translation of ‘temeraire’ It may not be coincidence that Gilbert and Sullivan opened ” H.M.S. Pinafore” with the chorus….
“We sail the ocean blue
And our saucy ship’s a beauty,
We’re sober men and true,
And attentive to our duty. . .”
There once was an original John Hoppner painting at Fintry, (now being taken care of by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). An original Turner, even if available, might have stretched the Laird’s pocket book too much. According to Boris Johnson, the last major work by Turner went for twenty-nine million pounds at auction.”
In closing I would just like to thank all those who attended the Friends of Fintry Annual General Meeting in mid-August and also a big thank you to the four new board members who have joined us. We are delighted to have you onboard as we move this Fintry ship forward!
Summer has finally arrived and we are delighted that life at Fintry is taking on a little bit of normalcy. The Manor House is now open for modified tours Thursday thru Sunday from 1pm to 4 pm and the Octagonal Barn is open Friday thru Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. This is all possible because we have hired (through a Canada Summer Jobs grant), two very capable students, Rachael and Morgan to complement our usual contingent of volunteer tour guides. The students are staying in the Caretaker’s suite on the top floor of the Manor House, which we have furnished and equipped for them.
Rachael is a recent graduate from the Museum and Gallery Program at Georgian College in Ontario. She moved to the South Okanagan last September for an internship with the Oliver Heritage Museum & Archives, and is very excited for the opportunity to share her love of museums with the community here.
Morgan has recently completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of British Columbia Okanagan with specializations in History and Art History. This upcoming fall she will begin an Interdisciplinary Master’s Program to continue her undergraduate research.
When they are not assisting with tours, the girls are working on research programs, organizing the collection, digitizing and cataloguing old Fintry photos, all under Dan’s tutelage. They are excited to be at Fintry and we are excited to have two motivated and capable students to assist us and spread the word about all things Fintry.
And from our Curator Dan Bruce…..
“Somewhat limited by the present health issue, we have done our best to provide reasonable access to the Manor House in a real sense, and using the ‘virtual world’ as a supplement. The one-way tours do include some new facets and re-arrangements. Visitors can see the recently restored cabinet with the shell collection in the Living Room, and the white wicker furniture in the Sun Room, visible through the window by the front door. Mrs. Dun-Waters’ Sitting Room is too small to allow the currently fashionable distancing, but it can be seen by going out onto the veranda, and viewing it through the bay window. The Dressing Room, leading to the Trophy Room has had to be re-configured to act more as a passageway, but guests can now see into the ‘mystery closet’ high on the wall to the right of the Trophy Room door. Anyone is free to guess what the purpose of this can have been . . . no prizes for the correct answer, because we do not know what it was for either.
Later this month I shall attempt to put the newly cleaned Golden Eagle up above the doorway in the Trophy Room. I do hope that that is not going to be one of those things that appear to be so simple, but in fact turn out to be epics best left untold.
We have just been presented with a Fintry treasure, a volume of “Songs of the Hebrides’, with an inscription, “To Ishbell Gray from J. C. Dun-Waters, with love. ” Ishbell was the daughter of Angus Gray, the very capable Manager of the Fintry Estate in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. This was given to us by Carmen Gingles of Edmonton, Ishbell’s neice.
Some pieces have been moved from smaller spaces into the Living Room so that they can still be seen, such as the amazing Westinghouse fan, (patentedin 1916). This still works, has several speeds, as well as being able to oscillate from side to side. The fan reminds visitors that all such electrical gadgets were able to operate at Fintry, powered by the Pelton wheels over by the barns.
I have formulated a reply to the persistent question posed by visitors, ” Is this house haunted?” “Yes . . .by Okanagan Spirits “.”
Our membership numbers and our tour revenue have both taken a hit because of Covid-19, so we encourage you to bring your summer visitors to Fintry for the day; bring a picnic, hike up the waterfall, explore the labyrinth, go for a swim and enjoy the natural surroundings of this lovely heritage site.
I would like to remind our members that the Friends of Fintry Annual General Meeting will be held at the Manor House on Saturday, August 15th starting at 10 a.m. If your membership has lapsed, you can renew at the entrance before the meeting. Covid-19 precautions and physical distancing will be in effect to keep everyone safe.
We are limited as to the number of people in the Manor House at one time, so it would be helpful if you could pre-register for the AGM by emailing [email protected] or by phoning myself at 250-542-4139.
We look forward to seeing many of you on Saturday August 15th.
Summer is here and it is really strange not to be living half my life at Fintry welcoming visitors and doing tours. However, there is a glimmer of hope as we are going to open towards the end of July for modified self-guided tours of the Manor House and Octagonal Barn. By then the two students that we have hired will be in place, ready to answer questions, give presentations etc., all adhering to Covid-19 protocols. This summer is going to be very different from past seasons but we are delighted just to be open and to be able to share this historic site even if it is on quite a different level from our usual tours. All of the self-guided tours this year will be by donation and we are asking that debit and credit cards be used for merchandise purchases, as another level of safety for our workers and volunteers.
Unfortunately, all of our Fairs have been cancelled for this year. These fairs provided us with the means to pay our expenses and utilities throughout the winter, so we are reliant on donations to carry us through these difficult times. If you cannot visit Fintry this summer, donations can also be made through our website www.fintry.ca . Our website has also been revamped, thanks to our hard-working Business Manager Shannon, and now virtual tours of the Manor House are available with the click of your mouse while staying home and staying safe!
We were saddened to hear that a past Board member, Michael Recknell has passed away. Michael was a wonderful supporter of Fintry and did much over the years getting the Fintry Fairs going and being a man of incredible foresight and enthusiasm for all things Fintry. These past years he and his wife Joan, still attended our Fairs even as it became more difficult for them due to ill health. The Board of the Friends of Fintry would like to acknowledge and thank his generous gesture of requesting that family and friends donate to the Friends of Fintry in his name.
As Curator of Fintry, Dan Bruce often undertakes some strange duties in order to keep the collection in tip-top condition, and this following article describes one of the trickiest and time-consuming jobs that he has had to do……
The eagle is probably the bird most frequently used as a symbol, emblem and metaphor in our own traditions, and those of many other cultures as well. Aquila chrysaetos, the Golden Eagle faces the congregation in numerous churches as its spread wings support the lectern bible. The same bird topped the battle standards of imperial Rome, and also the flags of Napoleon’s armies, (one can be seen in the Waterloo picture in the Red Room). Almost every one of the native North American aboriginal groups held a special regard for the eagle, either the Bald or the Golden, and the Golden clutches his snake on the coat-of-arms of Mexico. The last Aztec emperor was Cuauhtémoc, “Descending Eagle”.
It should be, and indeed is, that Fintry has its own eagle. The late Gordon Peacock of Armstrong donated his collection of eggs and some mounted birds to Fintry, and that included a Golden Eagle, mounted (a la Cuauhtémoc) with wings fully spread in descent, 76 inches tip to tip. This specimen is of some age, but apart from being extremely dusty, it is in very good condition. I have been spending some “isolation time” cleaning it, preparatory to putting it up in the Trophy Room. The plan is to replace the peacock, (perhaps to Gordon’s amusement) above the doorway with the recently cleaned eagle. The problem with the peacock is that it was mounted as if in flight, but not with thought given to the train which would stream straight behind a flying bird, and not droop to one side. With luck, the eagle will fit into the space above the door.
Live eagles can frequently be seen in the Park at Fintry, although the Bald Eagle is more common than the Golden. Being a North American endemic species, the Founding Fathers of the United States chose the Bald Eagle as the national emblem. This apparently was done over the objections of Benjamin Franklin, who preferred the Wild Turkey in that role. Doubtless there are many, both then and now who are relieved that Franklin was overruled.
Any visitors to Fintry now will notice with regret the loss of the veteran Douglas Fir that grew just to the north of the Manor House. That tree fell earlier this month, after having stood there for just about 100 years. It fell to the east, and landed on part of the labyrinth, but it also came down on the London Plane tree that was planted by Ben Lee and Mark Flanagan in 2009 as part of Fintry’s 100th anniversary. Incredibly, the main stem of the Plane still stands, and with some TLC and careful pruning, the tree will almost certainly recover.
The Friends of FintryAnnual General Meeting will be held at the Fintry Manor House on Saturday, 15th August, 2020 at 10.00 a.m. We invite all members to attend. If your membership has lapsed you can renew at the door before the meeting or through our website www.fintry.ca. We will be adhering to physical distancing and hand sanitizer will be available. We are in urgent need of new board members so If anyone is interested in joining the Board, contact us through our email: [email protected] for an application form or phone me at 250-542-4139 for more information.
I hope that everyone is weathering the storm well as it seems that the worst is over (for now) and a small sense of normalcy is starting to happen.
At the end of May, we were thrilled to hear that The Friends of Fintry were successful in their application through Canada Summer Jobs and we hope to hire two students in July to help with cataloguing the collection and to perhaps do modified tours of the Manor House and Octagonal Barn, adhering to the Worksafe BC guidelines. This will be quite a challenge particularly in the Manor House, but we are working on a plan!
We are doubtful that our September Fair will happen as we will still be governed by the “up to 50 people” policy laid out by BC Health. Our AGM normally held at the Manor House in June has been postponed to August, date TBA.
In the meantime, we would like to remind you that all memberships expired at the end of April, 2020 and we would be delighted if you would renew for another year. We do depend on our membership for not only their financial contribution, but the number of signed up members helps us when applying for grants, etc. Signed up members also receive the Octagon every month which keeps one apprised of upcoming events and lots of other interesting tidbits, such as this one following……..
An article written by our Curator Dan Bruce regarding a portrait in the Manor House living room…….
When Albert, 4th Earl Grey gave a portrait of himself to James Dun-Waters, he was following a long-standing British tradition. The exchange of “pictures” was a token of friendship or esteem in the pre-photograph age, a custom that perhaps finds modern expression in “Facebook”. Henry VIII ordered a portrait of Anne of Cleves to be brought for his approval before agreeing to marry her. (That episode went sideways, although not disastrously).
John Singer Sargent, an accomplished American artist gave great satisfaction to his sitters on both sides of the Atlantic during his working life, ca. 1880 – 1920. “High Society” were anxious to have him immortalise them on canvas, and he was kept extremely busy with portraits, but also produced landscapes and scenes of the first World War. Some of his hunting camp scenes would certainly have earned the approval of James Dun-Waters. Sargent was asked to paint the Coronation Portrait of Edward VII, a request which with due modesty he declined. He was offered a knighthood in 1907, but his American citizenship prevented his acceptance.
At Fintry, Sargent’s portrait sketch of Earl Grey hangs in the living room, and is one of several copies ordered by Grey to be given out as required. The National Portrait Gallery in London has another copy, however, theirs is autographed with Grey’s signature only, but no date as ours has.
“Earl Grey” brings tea to mind but the famous tea with the bergamot essence was created under mysterious circumstances long before this earl was born. Albert, 4th Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada met James Dun-Waters at Cambridge University. The must have become good friends, as Dun-Waters came to Canada as the Governor General’s guest. This is the Earl Grey that sponsored the Grey Cup, a large and somewhat contentious silver vessel, seldom if ever filled with tea!
Next time you are in the Manor House, watch out for this Earl Grey portrait hanging to the right of the fireplace in the Living room.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…..” Charles Dickens.
As we continue through this difficult time we are looking ahead and forever hopeful that the worst is now over. It would appear that we are nearing the end of some of these restrictions that have transformed our lives over these past few weeks. At Fintry we are sad that it has meant the cancellation of our Mother’s Day Fintry Fair, our new event The Fintry Fusion Art Show in June and probably the July Summer Fair as well. Tours of the Manor House, even after the Park opens, will also be in jeopardy.
In the meantime, check out our website at www.fintry.ca to keep apprised of what’s happening and have a virtual tour of the Manor House.
The Friends of Fintry has applied for several grants to assist us over the coming year……some of which were in the works before Covid-19 came along. We have applied for a Gaming Grant for our Education Outreach program, two students through the Canada Summer Jobs program and funding for a Syilx Okanagan Territory Recognition plaque through Heritage BC. In these uncertain times all we can do is hope that we are successful and can move ahead with some, if not all of our intentions.
Following is another curious account of an artefact in the Fintry collection……courtesy of our Curator, Dan Bruce.
“The “Cabinet of Curiosities” was a feature of many aristocratic homes in England and Europe from late mediaeval times onward. Consisting of collections of natural objects and artefacts from a variety of sources, this is where the origin of museums is to be found. Going even further back, the church, and many secular rulers assiduously collected relics of saints, and other religious tokens. The cabinets ranged in size from a modest small cupboard, to whole suites of rooms. Of the more famous ones, that of Sir Hans Sloane in London (1750’s) became the foundation of the British Museum, and in Philadelphia Charles Willson Peale’s collection (1820’s) was the first of several in the United States. Such a cabinet would have been very close in concept to the “Trophy Room”, a feature that Fintry shares with numerous stately homes in the U.K.
A bezoar stone is one of the items in the glass fronted showcase in Fintry’s Trophy Room. These were regarded as a valuable substance to be included in various preparations used in mediaeval medical practices. They were said to be found in the stomach of certain animals, and their rarity was of course emphasized to keep prices high. The specimen at Fintry, shown with pens for scale, was donated by the Hanson Family of Barnum, Kaycee, Wyoming. Several years ago, Leif Hanson noticed what he (understandably) took to be eggs, while working cattle on the familyranch. Returning to the spot he at once realised that the group of ball-like objects were not eggs. With a great deal of care, one was cut open to reveal a very tightly compacted mass of dark brown hair. These enigmatic items were carefully kept and during a visit with the family, I was asked for an opinion. After a bit of research and consultation, I was able to suggest that they were bezoar stones, i.e. hair-balls from the stomach of a bison that had died there a long time ago. The egg-like outer coating is apparently the result of a calcium build-up and the churning action of the animal’s stomach. The Hanson family kindly agreed to part with one of the stones for Fintry, the only one that has been given away.”
In spite of an unusually cold spring, the plants around Alice’s grave are showing signs of life. Kathy, Dinham and Dan spent time on Sunday last at Fintry training the climbing roses up the steel framework around the grave. This involved putting up temporary wire supports to get the climbing stems up to the top of the structure, a job to be done before the leaves develop. No- one was on hand to appreciate the daffodils, but members can be assured that they are all doing well, and the deer seem to have left the plant material alone. For the first time, certainly due to Kathy and Keith’s work last Fall, the roses have reached the top of the framework, and are now extending over the arch at the entrance. The lavender along the front of the Manor House has come through the winter just fine, and should be thick enough to really reduce the weed growth in the front border.
Well, here we
are midst one of the most catastrophic times our world has ever seen…..it feels
as if we are living in a scary movie with no ending. While the world is spinning out of control… we are
safe and the only thing we can control are our own actions by staying home, not
mingling with others even if they appear to be healthy and washing your hands!
When I wrote the last Octagon my bags were packed
and I was anticipating a trip to see family in the UK, but two days before I
was due to fly I could see the writing on the wall and cancelled
everything. So glad I did!
Like everything else around us, all Fintry meetings,
activities etc., including our annual May Fair, have been put on hold but we
are hopeful that we can salvage some of our summer if things get back to normal
Now for some
uplifting news…..huge congratulations to Okanagan Spirits Craft
Distillery (OSCD) for their spectacular collection of awards in the recent
trade show in Austria. Not only did “The Laird” take a Double Gold among all
the other triumphs, but OSCD made the news in spite of the media’s
concentration on another topic. James Cameron would
have a bit more than a smile on his face now!
Still on the subject of alcohol, Dan Bruce our
Curator, has sent me some info on another product from Okanagan Spirits…….Absinthe.
The “Oxford” defines “taboo” as something set apart or prohibited, so
one might wonder why Okanagan Spirits chose that word (one of the few in the
English language that is taken from the native language of Tonga) as the name
for their Absinthe product. The name evokes some of the
mystique that surrounds this particular drink which was most fashionable in
France and Switzerland in the mid nineteenth century. It became almost a cult,
and was blamed, without any really valid reason for a great increase in
alcoholism in continental Europe at that time. England had no cause
to point a finger however, as London had had its own devastating “love affair”
with gin in the preceding century.
Such was the craze that developed for absinthe that the authorities
finally banned its production and use at the end of the nineteenth century in
Europe and the United States.
It was said that those who overindulged would have visions that often
included the “Green Fairy”, a fair damsel, dressed in green, the colour of the
drink when mixed with ice cold water. Beautiful, but with a decided tendency to
lead astray, the Green Fairy may be represented by the Art Nouveau porcelain
figure in the dining room at Fintry. . . her skirt shaped to hold the sugar
cubes that some drinkers liked to pour their absinthe over.
Wormwood is a Mediterranean herb, Artemisia absinthinum, which is used
in the production of absinthe, although the dominant flavour is that of
anise. Other species of Artemisia are foundlocally, the familiar sagebrush of the dry
areas of the BC interior. They are vastly different from culinary sage and it takes
a skillful distiller to incorporate Artemisia into something
palatable. I would suspect that absinthe was probably not used at
Fintry, especially given the availability of the original Laird of Fintry
scotch. Some well- known characters that did commune
with the Green Fairy were Picasso, Verlaine, Manet, Baudelaire, Degas, Oscar
Wilde, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Edgar Allen Poe, to name a
few. Visit Okanagan Spirits either in Kelowna or Vernon
when opportunity presents and have a taste, a sip of history indeed.
The birds are still singing, the spring flowers are
blooming and new life is emerging all around us. Try to keep your spirits up,
stay healthy, stay safe and we will get through this.
feel that we have turned the corner and Spring is on the horizon. The garden is
coming back to life with crocuses and tulips poking through the leaf mulch and I
have even found some blooming snowdrops!
“March” into this new season, plans are afoot for live-in caretakers, for
students to assist with tours and for some new events at the Manor House, as
well as a wedding in April! We are
excited to get back into the Manor House after this long period of hibernation
and are planning the first Spring Clean on Friday, April 17th.
Remember, we are always looking for volunteers!
Friends of Fintry had a table at the Heritage Week kick-off in the Kelowna
Community Theatre and it was a most successful day with many people visiting
and sharing different aspects of our heritage. Thanks goes out to Shannon, Dan
and Gwendy for manning the Fintry table and for imparting their Fintry
knowledge to the visitors.
our Curator, would like to share some interesting facts about a picture that we
often get asked about during tours of the Manor House………
“There is no evidence that James Dun-Waters was particularly interested in boxing, but there is an interesting link between Fintry and the early history of the sport. In the “Red Room” there hangs a small photographic reproduction of a portrait of the bare-knuckle boxer, Richard Humphreys. In 1787, Humphreys posed, (one could not say ‘sat’) for the then fashionable artist, John Hoppner, a painting done perhaps as a result of his widely admired prowess in the ring. The painting had a number of owners in England before being bought by James Dun-Waters in 1888.
Upon his removal to Canada, the picture accompanied all the other
household items and was hung in the Fintry Manor House. One of the many
items that was rescued during the 1924 fire, the Hoppner was taken into Kelowna
when Margaret, the second Mrs. Dun-Waters moved after James’
death. In 1951, Margaret put the painting up for sale, and it
was boughtwithout hesitation by the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. An article in “Country Life”
magazine enabled me to discover what had happened to it, a “good news/bad news
“ situation. Good in that we know where it is, and that it is being well cared
for, bad in that we will never see its return to Fintry. I made
contact with the Met. and asked about getting a photo of the piece. Their
response was that policy was not to supply images for permanent exhibit, but
when I reminded them of the history of the painting, they immediately agreed,
and sent a digital image with their compliments.
Richard Humphreys rose to fame as a prize-fighter in England, and
perhaps his career would have been longer had he not challenged Daniel Mendoza,
the young Jewish boxing prodigy from the East End of London. They
fought on a number of occasions, but September 27th, 1790 was the day on which
Dan Mendoza beat Humphreys into a state of semi-consciousness, his final fight.
Boxing was chiefly the business of marginal society at that time, with many Jewish and Gypsy people involved. The Jewish community of London were ecstatic over Mendoza’s whole career, and especially his victory over Richard Humphreys, a feat that earned him the public approbation of the Price Regent, and King George III.”
Now when you look at this picture hanging in the Red Room at the Fintry
Manor House you will appreciate a little more of the history on how it arrived
few weeks I will be going to Scotland to visit my Scottish relatives and while
there, will be taking a road trip to meet with the Museum people in Fintry,
Scotland. Some of the Scottish Fintry Museum committee have visited “our”
Fintry so it will be most interesting to see what info they have on Dun-Waters
as he owned a large estate in Fintry before moving to Canada at the beginning
of the century.