MUSEUM EXHIBIT: WHAT A DIFFERENCE A CENTURY MAKES (August 4/00)

So what did they do for recreation around here a century ago? How did our ancestors entertain themselves, and what did they use for communications? How did the “basic necessities” of the average household today compare to, say, the average household 100 years ago?

We’re all interested in history and curious about how our ancestors lived. This is probably why Bria Stokesbury, the curator of the Old Kings Courthouse Museum in Kentville, decided that an exhibit with the theme “what a difference a century makes” would be appropriate and interesting. Called Museum Millennium Mania, the exhibit features items that were in general use at the “dawn of a new century (in) 1900.”

Many of the items in this exhibit come from the collection of Louis Comeau. who has continued and expanded on the work of his father, Lin, began decades ago. As Louis points out, he is very active in collecting documents, photographs and artifacts concerning Kentville. To date, he has collected over 6,000 items on the town’s history, most of which he has researched, catalogued and preserved.

Now, a brief description of the exhibit; here’s what you’re missing if you don’t get into the museum:

If you like looking at photographs a century and more old (and most people do) the exhibit has a display from the Comeau collection. For example, from downtown Kentville are photographs of various stores in the years 1885 to 1900. Included is a photograph of a longtime Kentville landmark, the Red Store. Opened in 1852 by James Edward DeWolfe, the Red Store, which stood on the corner of Main and Cornwallis, was a grocery for most of its existence. The store was demolished in 1960 and was replaced by a pharmacy.

Before the movies, before radio and television, what did gramps and granny do for entertainment? Stop thinking naughty; I mean, what did they do for musical entertainment. One answer is the Gramophone. The exhibit has a Gramophone from the Comeau collection that was made in 1900 by the Talking Machine Co. A brief but interesting history of early “talking machines” is included with this exhibit.

A century ago young mothers took the wee one out for some fresh air in what we call a baby stroller and granny called a perambulator. The perambulator (a donation to the Museum from the Malcolm Eaton family of Canard) old chairs including a Victorian wheelchair, coins, the early telephone, bicycles of a century ago and much more are included in the exhibit.

This exhibit is on until the end of August but there’s much more to see in the Museum. The Museum was once the County courthouse and the upstairs courtroom is little changed from the time the Robinson murder trial was held there in 1904. Adjacent to the courtroom is a dyke exhibit, a miniature reproduction of how the dykes and aboiteaux appeared in Acadian days.

There’s also the Planter kitchen, the Victorian parlour and the “living fossil” display. If you’re interested in reading about local history, the Museum offers various papers and books about Kings County. Visitors can also access genealogy files which have been compiled by the Kings Historical Society.

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