|Pioneer Life in the Homes and Woods of the Queen Charlotte Islands|
|The museum has insights inside!
|That today's necessity was only yesterday a mere convenience is brought
sharply into focus when you browse through the assortment of tools and toys of pioneer life displayed in the Port Clements
Unless you're looking for a prehistoric laser or television it is pretty obvious that pioneering life offered most of the comforts of modern life and a slightly less convenient form.
|On washing day, the wooden washing machine seen here could do the job perfectly well. All
that you would lack is the ability to toss in the duds, start it and forget it. In early days there was no service
specialist to call if the machine didn't work; on the other hand it's got a big handle on the side to pump to make the
innards go around. So you won't be stuck, just slower.
Our wooden washer is right up to the minute, built in 1912, and the museum has a display of plungers and scrub boards and wringers that were around before the washing machine and still work today. Of course, you'll have to squish 'em and scrub 'em and wring 'em instead of sitting down to watch Oprah. But if there's no Oprah, you might as well get some good aerobic exercise, right? (You're welcome.)
Wash day explains pioneer life in a nutshell. All the 'modern' comforts are there in a less convenient form. Want french fries? Try our french-fry potato cutter. Gotta iron the clothes? Check out this kerosene-fired patent iron. Or the solid metal one that sits on top of the woodstove.
|When it gets dark, the pressure gas lamps make as much light as an electric
bulb. Bit chilly? Take this axe, firewood warms you twice: Once when you cut it and once when you burn it.
The really well-equipped home had one of our gasoline or diesel single-cylinder light plants. Super heavy and not modern looking but not clumsy, just strong. They'll go 25 years between overhauls. Truly!
Some of the stuff in the museum is broken and repaired because that's the way things were. You could get a huge range of tools and equipment but it might take months to arrive. We have some old catalogues that are humdingers, big as Manhattan phone books, and full of things designed to last for decades. You break it you fix it or you do without.
The home entertainment centre is a windup Victrola with shellac 78s. Maybe it's not Hi-Fi, but at least it doesn't play rap.
Sewing machines were probably treadle operated and they worked fine with practice. Word processors couldn't correct errors, so you needed to learn to type carefully. The non-electric cash registers from the store actually made the famous Ka-ching! sound when you opened them -- isn't history grand!
Need a griddle. Got one. Bucksaw? Take your choice. As you walk around the displays, you get a little flash of insight from recognizing what some of those pioneer items did. Enough little flashes add up to a picture of life in Port Clements 50 or 100 years ago.
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