Capes Escape: Women’s History Month

Image from The Land of Plenty

October is Women’s History month in Canada and this year’s theme is Strong Girls, Strong Canada: Leader’s From the Start. Here’s an interesting related story about the Capes sisters – two young women who were way ahead of their time.

Katherine and Phyllis Capes sure made the front page headlines in the Toronto Daily Star newspaper back in August of 1933. With $8 between them and 30 pound packs on their backs, they hitch hiked their way across the country. In total, they had 28 traveling days. They slept most nights in their sleeping bags in or outside any type of building. On average, they only walked up to five miles a day; the rest of the time they hitched car rides or rode the freight rails. They started their adventure by hitching rides up to and through the Crow’s Nest Pass and then learned how to ride the freight trains from Kenora onwards. With help from motorists, trainmen and hobos, the Capes sisters made their way across the country, quite an adventure for two teenage sisters back in the 1930s.

Before Television: Halloween Decorations

CDM 991.74.59

As this image from the mid-1920s shows, people went hog wild with party decorations before television!

The scan is from a glass plate negative in the museum’s collection and it certainly highlights the decorators’ creativity in using items that were probably both store bought and homemade. Exact location of the get-together is unknown – only that it was somewhere on south-central Vancouver Island.

According to the Comox Argus of 1925, the Comox Valley was partying for Halloween around that time, too.

The Union Bay CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training) hosted a party at the school hall whose “costumes and decorations were in keeping with the season. Refreshments were served in the “serviette and toothpick” style”.

Courtenay had several children’s parties and the paper noted that this “would take a good many of the youngsters off the streets. Gates were found on telephone poles and other unaccustomed places and signs were misplaced but otherwise the night was peaceful enough”.

Envisioning the World at Royal BC Museum

Royal BC Museum hosts the world’s earliest printed maps

Hartman D. Schedel, German, 1440-1514
Untitled Map of the world
Nuremberg, Germany, 1493

Victoria, BC – The new Royal BC Museum season opened October 4th with Envisioning the World: The First Printed Maps, 1472-1700 an exhibition of thirty rare world maps drawn from the Wendt collection, complemented by a 1696 double-hemisphere map from the BC Archives collection.

The exhibition includes the first world map ever printed, a simple woodprint, which illustrates the cumulative history of many of these maps. First drawn around 150 A.D. the map was re-discovered in 6th century Alexandria, Egypt. Then Isidore of Seville, a Christian scholar, added the names of Noah’s three sons, each on his own continent. In the 1450s – when printing technology was developed in Germany – this became the world’s first printed map when it appeared in one of Isidore’s books.

Also included in this exhibition from the Sonoma County Museum, California is The Peutinger Table, the world’s first printed road map, redrawn in 1598 from a Roman 5th century map used by the emperor’s couriers. The printed map in this exhibition was published in Antwerp in 1624 and is a series of panels covering more than 112,650 km (70,000 miles) of Roman roads from southern England in the west to Sri Lanka and the River Ganges in the east.

Remarkable leaps in human thought coincide with the emergence of printing, the growth of humanism, and the explosion of scientific discovery beginning in the 15th century,” said collector Henry Wendt in describing these maps. “They capture magical moments in human understanding.”

Lorne Hammond, History Curator, Royal BC Museum, added “This exhibition reveals the earliest centuries of our exploration of our planet’s geography. The printed maps are a visual feast in which the modern world emerges from the dialogue between theologians and astronomers, mathematicians and explorers, in masterpieces of cartography.  With these maps we begin to truly comprehend the nature of our world.”

The Sanson/Jaillot 1696 map from the BC Archives provides a record of how little of the BC coast was charted at that time. It is one of more than 178,000 maps, atlases and related drawings in the archives.

The optional MP3 audio tour of Envisioning the World features short interviews with experts and the character voices of some of the most famous contributors to this body of knowledge. The 104-page exhibition catalogue provides rich detail and is available at the Royal Museum Shop.

This exhibition was organized in a close collaboration between Henry Wendt and the Sonoma County Museum, California. Envisioning the World will continue at the Royal BC Museum until January 27, 2013.

News Release from the Royal BC Museum

It’s All There in Black and White: Lest We Forget

This November 7th, 1980 Comox District Free Press article speaks to us of the sacrifices made by the young men from our community and the woman who was not willing to let us forget. Though the Courtenay and District Museum has moved from the Native Sons Hall to the former Post Office, Ruth Masters book “Lest We Forget” is still on display to honour these men.

Click for Larger Image

Click for Larger Image

Upcoming Lecture: The Fort at Yorke Island, 1937-1945

During World War II, one of Canada’s least known military fortresses was built on Yorke Island, BC, just six kilometers northeast of Kelsey Bay. The fort was armed with guns, searchlights, examination vessels, and upwards of 500 men. From 1937-1945 this was Canada’s key western defence against Japanese attack.

Life for the soldiers on Yorke Island had to be self-sufficient, but there was plenty of interaction with the local population. The locals never forgot these soldiers, who sometimes took shots at them, but who were also grateful for their hospitality when so far from home.

Click here for Details