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Rare Boer War Discoveries
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Below are some of the key items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Rare Boer War Discoveries (Feb. 2006)


Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada - 1886

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, ON Canada, c 1880
Orig. watercolour - Size - 14.5"d
Found - Burlington, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, ON Canada, 1917
Orig. reverse painting on glass - Size - 24"
Found - Milton, ON
original metal frame, and bowed glass, dated 1917
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, ON Canada, c 1887
Orig. litho - Size - 19 x 25"
Found - Peterborough, ON
Family Herald & Weekly Star issue, 1887, in original frame, glass & back, lithographed by the Burland Litho. Co, Montreal
A gift, from the Family Herald and Weekly Star to its subscribers, was this large lithograph. The intent was to give ordinary Canadians a large picture they could frame and hang in their parlours to give focus for their pride on a national building most would never see. It worked. This litho - one of two in fine condition, in the Museum's collection - survived in its original frame, glass, and backing for some 120 years!
The view here looks from Major's Hill Park, where the guns below are standing, watched over by an artilleryman in 1870s uniform and sword.

The locks of the Rideau River step down at the end of a cross country system of rivers and lakes, connecting Kingston on Lake Ontario, with a canal that was built to allow shipping to go "overland" through British territory instead of along the St. Lawrence River where Americans could threaten trade and the safety of civilian traffic. A British engineer, Colonel By, superintended the work, in the 1830s, and so in his honour the capital became briefly known as Bytown.

On Barracks Hill, the Parliament Buildings were planned in the 1860s, as the seat of government for the Dominion of Canada, a union of four British Colonies. The capital was planned here, in the remote interior, to be out of gun range of the Americans, which torpedoed the capital hopes for cities along the more settled St. Lawrence waterway, shared with the warlike Americans, like Toronto, Kingston, and Montreal.

A wonderful discovery is this watercolour of the bay below Parliament Hill, at the foot of the Rideau Canal, which pours into the Ottawa River.

This scene was painted in the 1880s by a very skilled watercolourist, who forgot to sign his or her work, like so many others omitted to do in the 19th century.

The picture was painted at a proud and prosperous time. In the 1880s Canada had seven provinces; the transcontinental train was completed, connecting Canadians from one side of the continent to the other, with a ribbon of steel.

The lumbering industry was booming, and the bay below Parliament Hill was usually covered with huge rafts of logs, being lashed together for floating down the Ottawa River to Montreal and then Quebec.

The Parliament Buildings were only twenty years old, and had a magnificent view over the river, and the Quebec hills on the other side. Inside, the voices of Canada's most eminent parliamentarians of the 19th century echoed off the walls: Sir John A Macdonald, Sir George Etiènne Cartier, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier

In their off hours the men walked on a path - now in disrepair -that once snaked across the face of the slopes of the Hill.

Families went for gay outings to the Park below; men still do. Happily some things never change.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Platter, Parliament Hill, Ottawa, ON Canada, 1884
Orig. platter - Size - 12.5" x 15.5"
Found - Napanee, ON
Manufactured by MB&C, RD7624 (1884)
A magnificent, heavy commemorative platter, of the old Parliament Buildings, 120 years old and counting. This one is in fine condition, having escaped cracks, repairs, scratches, and crazing, that have disfigured or destroyed most of these historic ceramic pieces.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Souvenir Footed Cup, Parliamentary Library, Ottawa, 1920
Orig. souvenir ware cup - Size - 2.5"
Found - Petrolia, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Souvenir Vase, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa
Orig. ceramic vase - Size - 3"
Found - Cambridge, ON
An extremely tiny bit of Canadian souvenir china ware from around World War I.
Reverse Painting on Glass:
A fabulous reverse painted glass portrait of the old Parliament Buildings that was produced in 1917, to commemorate a magnificent block of buildings that no longer stood!

In the winter of 1916, right in the middle of World War I, the Centre Block right caught fire and the whole complex burned to the ground, with the exception of the library, the large domed building in the back right of centre.

Several people burned to death.

People cried sabotage, and blamed the Germans of Ottawa, and crowds went looking for German stores to trash or burn.

Canadian Germans quickly responded. The large concentration of Germans in Berlin, Ontario, demonstrated their patriotism by changing the name of their town to Kitchener, Britain's famous Minister of War.

The frame is metal, and reminiscent of dying art nouveau. The glass is curved, bulging forward in the centre.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Invitation, Re-laying the Parliamentary Corner Stone, 1916
Orig. invitation - Size - 6.25 x 7.25"
Found - Ottawa, ON
A rare personal invitation addressed in handwriting to Mr. & Mrs. JG Foley, inviting them to watch Queen Victoria's son - and now the Governor-General of Canada - the Duke of Connaught, re-laying the corner stone on the new building.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Program, Re-laying the Parliamentary Corner Stone, 1916
Orig. program - Size - 8.5 x 10.5"
Found - Ottawa, ON
A wonderful and rare souvenir program which still sports the purple ribbon that gaily tied it together ninety years ago. This multi-page booklet describes the festivities and all the people who were to take part.
The visit of the Duke of York to Parliament Hill during the Boer War in 1901. Below he hands out QSAs and the Victoria Cross to Eddie Holland under the statue to Queen Victoria which he has just dedicated. The Parliamentary library is the large building in the rear.
A small souvenir ware cup of the only building left standing after the fire of 1916 destroyed the main parliament building. It stood alone for a period of time while the buildings around it were razed to the ground and a new parliamentary center block was put up.

Reverse painted on glass paintings were all the rage at the end of the 19th century. Instead of the traditional approach, of painting art from the front, in reverse glass, the artist painted the rear of the glass, always checking to make sure that it looked right when viewed from the front. Whether they painted in front of mirrors is not known, but it might have helped.

Some tiny areas, like windows, were often left blank and then filled with shiny silver or gold paper to give a glittering effect.

Because of the effects of alternate heat and cold acting on the paint on glass, many reverse glass paintings suffer from severe paint loss, as the differential rates of expansion of paint and glass, flakes the paint from the surface and wreaks havoc with the painting.

Others have been heavily repainted by less talented artists than those who did the original painting.

This one is rare because it is still in marvellous shape, having been preserved in a good home were temperature variations have been kept to a minimum over the last 90 years


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