Thursday, July 25, 2019

Durham And Elgin

This impressive sleigh is part of the collection inside this portion of the Canadian History Hall.

For decades in the first half of the 19th century, the move towards responsible government ebbed and flowed in Canada. Government from far off London, with governor generals who from time to time weren't listening, fueled resentments and rebellion in 1837 and 1838. The push was to make colonial governments answerable to the people, as opposed to solely responsible to the Crown.

This British coat of arms dates to the era, and originally resided in Montreal.

Out of the rebellions, Lord Durham, the governor general at the time, made recommendations in what was called the Durham Report. Among those steps enacted was a union of Canadian governments, an ungainly arrangement at the time that nonetheless started to pave the way for Confederation. A portrait of Lord Durham is found here.

Co-premiers of the government, Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine began taking steps to move towards a formal responsible government. They were supported by the governor general of the time, Lord Elgin.

This is a bust of Lord Elgin, aka James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine. He also happened to be the son of that same Lord who made off from Greece with what are today the Elgin Marbles. 

Out of the move towards responsible government came the move towards Confederation of Canada and our Founding Fathers. One of those was Thomas D'Arcy McGee. An Irish radical in his youth who came to see the merits of the British Parliamentary system, he was an eloquent speaker and friend of our first prime minister, John A. Macdonald. McGee was assassinated in April 1868 after years of bad blood with the Irish nationalists he had turned his back on. One of them was convicted and hung, though he might well have been innocent. A portrait of McGee resides here.

Here we have a view of the original Centre Block, built in mid-century. This would later burn in the 1916 fire.

I finish for today with something entirely different. This is an elk skin of the Blackfoot tribe, residents of the Canadian prairies. It was typical of that tribe to use this as their winter count- a depiction of an event in a given year that particularly stood out, done in a spiralling out circle. This one shows how important the horse became to the people over time.


  1. The sleigh is very impressive, and I love the coat of arms.

  2. ...what a sleigh to take a ride back in simpler times.

  3. The sleigh is impressive indeed. The elk skins at the end of your post are exquisite.

  4. Did I write an essay on Lord Durham and his report back in history class? Maybe, maybe not, but I remember studying it.

  5. @Lady Fi: thanks!

    @Iris: so do I.

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Tom: definitely.

    @David: I think so too.

    @Anvilcloud: I likely did.

  6. Development of the Canadian independence was long but interesting.

  7. The drawings on the skin are wonderful!

  8. So glad to have visual guides and your summation of Canadian history. All of which were completely unknown to me!

  9. Another set of interesting artifacts. That sleigh however takes the prize. It's gorgeous.

  10. Intriguing history ~ love the sleigh ^_^

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  11. I adore the Elk Skin at the end of your post. It is beautiful.

  12. Beautiful sleigh, nice work.

  13. I love these historical artifacts and the history that goes with them. Great photos William!

  14. @Red: quite true.

    @RedPat: I agree.

    @Barbara: thanks!

    @Sharon: that it is.

    @Carol: thank you!

    @Parsnip: thanks!

    @Bill: definitely.

    @Denise: thank you!

  15. The elk skin drawings are incredible.

  16. Thank you for the brief Canadian history lesson.

  17. i wanna go for a ride. looks like fun. we never have enough snow around here. my Mom has antique horse carriage bell and i think we had that much snow way back then? really? apparently so. love the history. thanks for sharing. ( ;

  18. Thanks again for the interesting information. I am amazed by the sleigh, and that decorated elk skin. :-)

  19. Great photos, love the sleigh:)

  20. @Marie: I think so as well.

    @Kay: you're welcome.

    @Beth: thanks!

    @DJan: a pleasure to show it.

    @Rosie: so do I.

  21. This really is quite fascinating. I'm learning a lot about the history of my neighbor to the north -- thanks!

  22. The sleigh is beautiful. I had a chance to ride in simmilar sleigh only once...