Bonnechere Museum | Eganville Ontario

Photos Needed

Is Himself in?

There are so many expressions we treasure!  Since my father was clerk of the township and had his books and office in our home, and since I was the youngest, I was often the one to open the door for a visitor, although I was never quite sure whether it was to be a business call or a family visit. I knew it was business if the visitor asked, “Is Himself in?” Sometimes when I answered the phone, I was asked, “Is it Himself? There were other variations too.  If you had a flu or a sick bout that left you looking a bit pale and wan, a kind relative or neighbour might say, “Is it Yourself? My gawd but you look awful!”

Around March 17 these expressions are especially used and remembered. It’s a time that seems more like an extended celebration of the arrival of spring than a saint’s anniversary, although that may depend on whether you feel the magnetic pull of McHale hospitality in Douglas. In fact on March 18, I’m told, there is still another variation: “I’m not quite myself today.”

The word “quite” is another one to enjoy. It is really the word quiet, but pronounced “quite”. You have to know what’s being talked about to get the meaning just right. Not so long ago, I had a fine young bull for sale. When one of my own sons took a phone call from a man in Palmer Rapids, I heard my son asking in bewilderment, “Is he quite what?”  The man inquiring had asked, “Is he quite?”  It’s a moment like that which makes one realize there is indeed a generation gap and some of the traditional expressions should be explained and protected. The family roots section in Bonnechere Museum will have a collection of these local expressions. The ones we ourselves heard or used when we were growing up seem in later years to trigger fond memories and are still handy to sum up situations that are beyond easy description. The phrases were not always kind: “She made a Molly Hogan of it altogether;”  “Bad cess to the lot of them;”  “He’d offer you an egg if you promised not to break the shell;”  “He’d offer help if he was certain you didn’t need it at all, at all.”

Recent acquisitions

Some of the recent artifact donations have deep local roots. Karl and Mervin Fick donated a fine, working pump organ that used to be in a former Silver Lake church that has been disassembled and moved to Milton.  It will be enjoyable to have Mervin stop in to play from time to time. Loretta and Emerson Handke donated a Raymond sewing machine that served three generations: Emma Luloff Miller, wife of August Miller, senior; Joyce Layman Miller, wife of August Miller, junior; and Loretta Handke herself. Alcis Griese has donated his rock collection, even some polished stones, mostly from the area. From Mildred Drynan of Chalk River, the museum now has an extension table with pegged joints made by Charles Gustave Tiegs (1843 – 1918) of Grattan. Mildred is a daughter of Herb Tiegs, senior. Herb Tiegs, junior, was pleased to see the table. He said, “You know, I have eaten many good meals at that table.”

Photographs needed

Surprisingly, there have been few photos offered to the museum. These are precious to families. However, it is possible to make copies and return the originals. Some of the buildings and businesses and crafts of the area will be lost to us if there are no pictures. This is not a library, but a display museum. It needs a variety of photos: log drives, log jams, the fifth chute – especially the fifth chute since the museum is located “at the fifth chute” –  picnics, family gatherings, threshing, horses, the race track (There were two: one through the middle of Eganville!), the train stations, CP and CNR, and tracks and people meeting the trains, parades, celebrations, snowmobile racing, fire equipment, sports trophies and teams, deliveries, the inside of the post office, the rinks, concerts, to name a few possibilities.

The next phase

The second floor needs attention now. The rotated displays will be on the first floor organized by themes; for instance, farm tools, logging - old and new, house wares, garments, costume, special booklets, seals and stamps, rock collections, musical instruments. The permanent display will be on the second floor. However, donations are still needed to buy the second floor materials for remodeling and preparing walls for displays.

The target opening date is May 18. The sooner we receive artifacts, the more likely they can be recorded, numbered and displayed for opening day. If you use the internet, browse to the museum page or

Here are a few Irish wishes and bits of advice for the week of the 17th, offered, typically, half in fun and all in earnest. Would you believe that at all, at all?

As you slide down the banister of life,
May the splinters never point in the wrong direction!
God is good, but never dance in a small boat.
May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.