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Dating Great Canadian Souvenir China - (1890s-1930)

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure The most highly underrated and lamentably ignored treasure trove of Canadian heritage memorabilia has to be the fantastic souvenir china ware of Canadian places that was produced in the early 20th century.

From the 1890s to c 1930, an enormous amount of small souvenir china ware was produced for sale in Canada, as the expansion of the railways, and road, and steamboat travel, took thousands of mostly urban Canadians, on sight seeing trips that were unheard of only a generation earlier.

Even Torontonians didn't go very far, at first, maybe only 30 or 40 miles, but it was a new excursion to visit Cousin Emma they hadn't seen since Christmas the year before. But what an adventure, the steam whistle on the engine, shrieking across the landscape, the frantic chugging up the grade, the smoke cloud over everything as the farm fields flitted past...

To get to Niagara Falls, a most popular destination, Torontonians preferred going by steamer across, instead of the train around, Lake Ontario.

To give these ravenous tourists a memento of their excursion to bring back, to show they had "been there," thousands of small china souvenirs were produced in countless shapes, and from thimble size to plates.

Absolutely essential, was the adorning colour portrait of the tourist destination, complete with title of the scene and location. Small was important because hand-carrying portability was key, especially among the womenfolk. The souvenirs also had to appeal to the eye, and appear, at least, to be somewhat utilitarian.

After all this was the generation that had hardly ever heard of leisure time before. So "thinking of household work" was a constant preoccupation and the crafty souvenir makers targetted this guilt complex shamelessly.

So souvenir china items were made as creamers, ashtrays, toothpick and candle holders, egg cups, mugs, tiny cups, vases, watering cans, shoes, boots, or baskets, like the Gladys Tucker shower gift from 1923..

They were adorned with coloured pictures of schools, post offices, town halls, libraries, hospitals, churches, court houses, government buildings, and street or park scenics.

Astonishingly even the smallest backwater towns had souvenir ware made featuring their schools, and churches.

Unfortunately no literature exists on souvenir china ware of this era as no one - including Elizabeth Collard, who exhaustively investigated "upper end" Canadian china and pottery - has bothered to research this unique treasure trove of Canadian heritage memorabilia that accompanied the beginning of mass tourism in late 19th century Canada.

So we have started to compile data by researching clues left on the pictures, or titling.

This is one of the rarest of the rare. Of over 400 pieces (non-royalty) in the Museum's collection, this is the only one that has family provenance, from the Teeswater, Owen Sound, Ontario, area.

The souvenir basket was given by Ettie Hooper McDougall to Gladys Tucker Dixon (1896-1989), as a shower gift before her marriage to Joseph Arthur Dixon (1894-1977) on Nov. 28, 1923. Fifty-three years later, Gladys gave it to her granddaughter Nancy Dianne McInnes, on Jan. 24, 1976.

In 2010 the Museum recovered it for Posterity at an antique market.

The family provenance shows that these souvenir china items - treated in our day, as yard sale throwaways by suave urban snoots - were very highly prized as late as the 1920s, and considered as valuable family heirlooms by many Canadians a century ago.

Souvenir China Basket, Post Office and Customs House, Owen Sound, Ont - c 1910

Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 13 cm h
Found - Teeswater, ON

Prov - Gladys Nixon Family Coll

The "Customs House" at Owen Sound is an interesting anomaly from the time that steamer lake travel by Americans to Canadian ports was common.

This Beaux Arts style treasure was built in 1910 and was the pride of the town. Today it houses business offices and apartments.

This helps dating. The basket style had been around for years but the colour transfer for the building has to date to 1910 or after. So, with the family provenance, between 1910 to 1923.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Souvenir teapots are very rare to find, ones with dates impossible.

But here from the small town of Caledonia in southern Ontario, is a very fine example featuring the Presbyterian Church.

It was obviously produced to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the church in 1848, making it possible to date this teapot to 1898, when the congregation celebrated the event.

This teapot is clearly intended as a souvenir only, being just 12 cms high, too small to be useful for making tea.

It has no stains to show it was ever used for anything but looking at, in a china cabinet.

Go to Royalty Souvenir Teapots

But at the same time as the pious Canadians of Caledonia were celebrating with Christian dedication, not many miles away across the border at Buffalo, the perpetually warlike Americans were at it again, raining death and destruction on another group of foreigners they did not like, and who had valuable real estate their business leaders were desperate to get.


Souvenir Teapot, Presbyterian Church, Caledonia, 1848-1898
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 13 cm
Found - Cambridge, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure A very rare paperweight that bears no date, so you have to have some historical knowledge to know how old it is.

It's titled Olympia - Flagship of Rear Admiral Dewey, The Annihilation of the Spanish Fleet Near Manila.

It refers to the Spanish-American War, during a few months of 1898 when America stole the Philippines, and Cuba, and other islands, from Spain by force of arms, saying, what else, they were bringing Freedom to the locals.

Just like, a century later they are doing to the Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there is a huge difference. They are killing tens of thousands more locals than in 1898, and, in another departure, today they have killed thousands of women and children.

Canadians collected these souvenirs, because Canadian boys joined up to fight, preferring that to doing a decent day's work on the farm.

Go to Dewey

Souvenir Paperweight, Admiral Dewey and Olympia - 1898
Orig. paperweight - Size - 11 cm
Found - Waterford, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure A fabulous early and massive paperweight featuring one of the most celebrated images of the 19th and 20th centurys.

It was Maud Earl's famous British bulldog, defiantly holding its ground on top of the Union Jack, as the British fleet steams in to the rescue in the distance.

Maud, a famous British dog portraitist, painted "What We Have We'll Hold" to wild acclaim in 1898, as the British fought the Muslims for territory in the Sudan. it was soon featured on calendars, and prints and was posted everywhere.

It was given new life in the Boer War, a year later, then again in World War I, and resurrected again in World War II.

So you have to sleuth out whether you have the original - like this one - from 1898, or a later copy from 1915, or 1940.

Luckily the back, which is often rubbed off, is largely intact on this proving that this dates to 1898, but is also a Canadian piece.

Go to Gordon in the Sudan

Souvenir Paperweight, What We Have We'll Hold - Maud Earl, 1898
Orig. paperweight - Size - 13 cm
Found - Ottawa, ON

The back makes clear this was an advertising piece produced by the New Carlton Hotel, in Montreal.

It appears the corporate bosses had imported Maud Earl's original picture and were displaying it "in all its glory" in one of their ballrooms.

A dozen years earlier, hundreds of Canadian boys from the Montreal area had been in the Sudan, paddling the British Army on a futile mission to rescue General Gordon in Khartoum. Now, in 1898, the British were on a mission of revenge against the Muslims there.

Of course, corporate interests have always done all they can to promote war, because it's the perfect money maker for businesses and corporations, offering a foolproof business plan - look for any excuse to promote an aggressive military policy overseas, till they get the war they want, then make lots of stuff to sell the government's military, at hugely inflated prices (weapons, ammunition, animals, clothing, equipment, vehicles, medical supplies, food, shelter, etc.) then get it all blown up by promoting a strong military expansion in the field, and start another round of supply all over again. Arranging all this is never a problem because the politicians who carry it out are well taken care of...

The Canadian military adventure in Afghanistan is text book corporate and political chicanery on a level of filling private pockets not seen since World War II, and all to fight a bunch of ill-equipped Stone Age "pajamahadeen" in their own home towns, half way around the world.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure This souvenir teapot was memorabilia from the Boer War, to remember, not a place you had visited, but an awful time you, or your relatives, or your country went through.

This fabulous teapot is even smaller than that from Caledonia, produced a year earlier, and features all the generals who were household names in Canadian parlours during a time that some 6,000 Canadian volunteers would ultimately embark for service in South Africa.

So if you know the event that is commemorated on souvenir ware you can find the date with some simple research.

The Boer War lasted from 1899-1902.

This was the lineup of British generals in South Africa, from December 17, 1899, when Lord Roberts was appointed Commander-in-Chief to replace General Buller (at 3 o'clock), till November, 1900, when he was succeeded by Lord Kitchener (at 1 o'clock) guaranteeing this teapot to be manufactured precisely in that 11 month period.

Go to Royalty Souvenir Teapots



Souvenir Teapot, Boer War Generals, 1900
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 11 cm
Found - Coleshill, UK
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Creamer, Dominion of Canada - c 1873-1901
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 7 cm h
Found - Freelton, ON
This creamer is among the oldest souvenir items here.

It has the armorial bearings for only seven provinces: top, left to right: Ontario and Quebec. In the middle tier from the left: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba. Bottom: left, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island.

The last armorial bearing added was PEI in 1873. Alberta and Saskatchewan did not join the Dominion till 1905.

So the crest dates between 1873 and 1905. But the crown on top is Queen Victoria's. So the crest is before January,1901, when she died. It's very unlikely this dates from the early part of the possible period, more likely from later in Queen Victoria's reign, probably c 1897, during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations when Canadians felt patriotic.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Creamer, Dominion of Canada - c 1905-1914
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 8 cm h
Found - Cambridge, ON
The number of armorial bearings have increased for this creamer because, in 1905, two new provinces joined the Dominion of Canada.

It is easy to tell the pre-1905 crests apart from the later, post-1905 transfers, because the earlier one had a two column vertical design, while the later one had three.

The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan joined the Dominion of Canada in 1905, so their armorial bearings have been added. The crown is now Edwardian "domed" so the creamer dates to after 1901. This crest could be valid until 1949, when Newfoundland joined Confederation. But it's probably pre-World War I (1914-1918).

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Amphora, Pan-Am Exposition, 1901
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 13 cm
Found - Elora, ON
The Pan-American Exposition was held in Buffalo, New York, during the summer of 1901 and was one of the great "world fairs" of the era.

This souvenir is one of the rare ones that has a date giving us its exact age.

Many Ontarians took steamers across Lake Ontario, and then the train, for the short hop to Buffalo. They bought back many souvenir items like this to show the folks back home.

Canadians were especially eager to see the American Indians about whom they had heard so much in the news.

It had, in fact, only been eleven years since the American Army butchered hundreds of unarmed and helpless Sioux women, children, and men, at Wounded Knee, in South Dakota. So many people came to see what "real savages" looked like. Most white Americans believed the "redskins" got exactly what they deserved, and thanked God for the work of the US Army.

Go to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

The Buffalo Exposition is most famous for the fact that President William McKinley was assassinated there in September.

He was succeeded by Teddy Roosevelt, of Cuba "Rough Rider" fame during the Spanish-American War, much admired for his penchant for saying "speak softly and carry a big stick," you know, like Clint Eastwood and his .45 Magnum.

Go to Spanish-American War

This was the time when Americans acquired Guantanamo Bay, which won notoriety in our day as their notorious prison camp, conveniently outside the boundary of US law, so they could freely collect and kill Muslim prisoners, when they started to direct the genocidal attacks they had long carried out against America's Aboriginal peoples, against foreign populations, especially the Muslims in the 21st century.

Go to Guantanamo

Americans have for sixty years, looked admiringly up to John Wayne and Clint "Make My Day" Eastwood, as their patron saints for handling domestic affairs, men whose main claim to fame was their easy willingness to kill anyone they didn't like much...

Go to War Can be Fun in America
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Vase, Public School, Regina NWT - Pre 1905
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 10 cm
Found - Freelton, ON
Souvenir ware from western Canada is hard to find, partly because the area only got a boost in settlers in the 1890s. So towns were widely spaced out, and populations were small.

The farmers were just getting started so they were too poor to go on tourist excursions. Besides the distances were huge, so tourist travel was just not so widespread as in Ontario and Quebec with their huge populations all rather densely grouped together.

This stunningly gaudy creamer in gold was sure to attract the attention of shoppers. In fact glittering gold was applied to almost all souvenir ware for that reason.

The title here of Regina, NWT, dates this gaudy creamer to before 1905, when the prairie region of western Canada, between the province of Manitoba in the east, to British Columbia and the Rocky Mountains in the west, was called the North West Territories.

In 1905 the region was divided into the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta and souvenir ware started to be labeled as Sask. and Alta.

Each province built huge parliament buildings which started to appear on souvenir ware.

And unlike in America, where they preferred to kill off their Indians, the new parliament building (1911) in Regina Saskatchewan contained a fabled "Hall of Indian Chiefs" to house a special commission of Indian leaders painted by Edmund Morris.

This was to be a uniquely Canadian way of dealing with Aboriginal and foreign populations, until the 21st century, when Canadian politicians, who had seen too many Wayne and Eastwood movies, decided to try the "American Rambo style" of dealing with non-white groups in other parts of the world who weren't Christian or white enough for their liking...

Go to Edmund Morris
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Among the most popular souvenir ware was the paperweight.

In the days before air conditioning, when windows had to be kept wide open for airing rooms, winds could blow across desks and send papers fluttering to the floor.

Hence the amazing popularity of paperweights, heavy chunks of glass with a recess in the back, into which photographs of buildings, scenics, or people could be glued.

This one has a rare date

Another fabulous paperweight that's more valuable, from 1900 and the Boer War, but from Canada.

Go to Bugler Dunne

Souvenir Paperweight, Elmira 1903
Orig. souvenir war e- Size - 7 x 10 cm
Found - Kitchener, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Probably the most fabulous Canadian commemorative souvenir china ever produced for sale in Canada.

Sure it's tiny but the image and story it tells - two small town Canadian military heroes, killed in action, in the Boer War (1899-1902) - is priceless, unprecedented, and rare.

We have never seen anything similar and we have seen thousands...

It is also the only Canadian souvenir we have seen which features people portraits. (Royalty souvenir ware is a different grouping.)

The overwhelming majority feature streetscapes and parks, natural wonders, or buildings, monuments, and bridges.

The Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Boer War monument was built in 1904, when the recent dead of the Boer War, were still topical news.

When World War I broke out, in 1914, this small town sacrifice was totally forgotten among the huge flood of fatalities that that war created in PEI, as elsewhere across Canada.

So this creamer was produced between 1904 to 1914, closer to the earlier date. Boer War monuments built across Canada in the period 1902-1910, help give the earliest dates for other souvenir ware.

Go to Boer War Memorial

Go to Small Town Heroes

Souvenir China Creamer, 1904
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 6 cm
Found - St. John's, NF
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Souvenir boots and shoes were a very popular type of souvenir ware.

Some of the shoes are among the largest of the souvenir ware items.

Here from the very small town of Ailsa Craig, in south central Ontario, is this gloriously huge shoe.

It features a fine view of the town, and best of all, the date 1903.



Souvenir Shoe, Ailsa Craig, 1903
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 16 cm
Found - Burlington, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Vase, Post Office, Berlin Canada - Pre 1916
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 18 cm
Found - Burlington, ON
A spectacular vase or an amphora, whatever. The whole idea was to make the souvenir ware as ornate as possible and with eye ripping colour patterns. This is as tall as souvenir ware got.

The view is from Berlin, Ontario, Canada, named in 1824, by Germans who settled there, in fond remembrance of the city they had left behind in the old country..

During World War I, when Britain was at war with Germany, the local Germans were determined to show their loyalty was with Canada, not the German Huns...

To prove that German immigrant patriotism was as good as any other Canadian's, they changed the town's name from Berlin to Kitchener in 1916. Kitchener had a reputation as a ruthless British general who was Secretary for War.

This helps date all Berlin souvenirs to before 1916.

Go to Lord Kitchener of Khartoum
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Vase, Dresden Flood, 1904
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 13 cm
Found - Freelton, ON
Dresden, in south western Ontario, is famous for being the place where Uncle Tom's Cabin is located, a terminal for Blacks escaping slavery in the US during the 19th century.

It is named after Dresden in Germany another town famous for floods, here, when the Sydenham River bursts its banks.

So souvenirs of the Great Flood of 1904 helps date this item.

So clearly by 1903 (Ailsa Craig shoe) and 1904 (this vase) shows that the souvenir china industry was well established.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Salt, Yonge St Tara - 1928
Orig. plate - Image Size - 7 cm
Found - Iona, ON
A salt shaker was one of the most usable souvenirs made, along with ash trays. But Yonge Street here is not the same Yonge Street that is the main street of Toronto, and claims to be the longest street in the world. But it is not long enough to reach Tara, a tiny remote town of 900 people south west of Owen Sound.

This salt shows that souvenir china ware, that started being made in the 1890s, was still being manufactured as late as 1928.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Cup, Parliament Hill Library - Pre 1916
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 7 cm
Found - Petrolia, ON
For Canadians, visiting Parliament Hill in Ottawa, where the conniving politicians they send to represent their best interests, end up, instead, sitting with crooked lobbyists and bad girls in the back rooms of dingy bars, has long been a popular tourist destination.

The Library is all that remains of the Main Block in this picture. The central tower belongs to the old parliament, which burned to the ground in 1916. So it was razed and rebuilt with the new Peace Tower.

So the cup dates to before 1916, and is probably pre-war, earlier than 1914.

Go to Parliament Hill
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Trivet, New Municipal Buildings, Toronto Exhibition 1910
Orig. plate - Size - 18 cm
Found - Kingston, ON
A fabulous trivet featuring Toronto's City Hall sitting out in a nice "green" environment, when in fact, it was surrounded by urban blight.

This trivet size was a fabulous statement of pride. And why not.

In 1899 when the City Hall was built it was the largest building in all of Toronto.

It was also the largest municipal building in North America.

The clock face, some 6 metres across, remains the third largest in the world.

Instead of celebrating one of the most stunning buildings remaining in Toronto from the Golden Age of Architecture, in the 1960s, the City Fathers - you know the creepy guys who consort with diabolical developers - wanted to demolish it and set up sky scrapers on the site.

A public outcry prevented that dastardly plan from destroying what is, without doubt, and despite feeble efforts, by relative amateurs, to eclipse its artistic glory, still Toronto's most beautiful building.

Just another example why, in the Canadian style democracy, citizens must be ever vigilant of the people they elect to represent their best interest, because they very quickly succumb to the blandishments of filthy lucre and bad girls promised them by the captains of Canadian industry to see things their way, and subvert the Public Good.

Souvenir china ware, popular in Canada and the United States, from the 1890s to 1920s was not high quality china made by the famed potteries.

The aim was to keep it cheap so that most people could afford to buy it.

So few pieces had any manufacturer's stamp, beyond an "Austria," "Victoria, Austria" or "Made in Germany." Most were simply blank on the back.

They were different from the royalty souvenir china made by all the leading chinaware firms and which blossomed during Queen Victoria's Jubilees in 1887 and 1897, and the coronations of Edward VII in 1902, and George V in 1911. These were proudly emblazoned with a manufacturer's stamp on the back and were relatively, expensive to buy.

Of the hundreds of souvenir ware china pieces in our Museum's collection - not counting the larger, more high-end Royalty Coronation items - only some half a dozen have actual dates on them.

Dates were not favoured by manufacturers because it would have needlessly "dated" their product, which they wanted to have a long shelf life, and have everlasting appeal to people as "the very latest thing" to give to Cousin Gertrude.

So collectors have to go to the pictures to find clues about dates. Outdated armorial bearings are a clue. Model A's in some street scenes tell you that the souvenirs can't be earlier than c 1915 - 1920.

But some "old time" pictures were used in the 1930s giving you a false, early date for a later piece.

Dating has to be referenced to condition of the piece and the manufacturer's name. If you start seeing manufacturer's names, like Royal Winton on the back, you're into slicker souvenir ware from the 1930s and 40s.

The mass market Victorian and Edwardian souvenir ware that we feature here died out in the depression of the 1930s.

Times were too tough for most people. When someone said, "Buddy, can you spare me a dime," it wasn't to buy souvenir ware.

Souvenir ware of the 1890s to 1930, is the sleeper collectible of the Canadian antique market.

A cabinet full of souvenir ware is just a stunning sight to behold, an arresting mosaic of every colour, shape, and size in which china can possibly be fashioned.

They document the splendid buildings, towns, and bridges, that proud Canadians had constructed, where, a generation before, there had only been trees, vines, swamps, mosquitoes, and other wild things.

The march of civilization had begun...

And with it, lamentably, the pompous rich and the super-rich, craving immortality, loudly insisting on having their names plastered all over fine buildings paid for by the public purse, filled by the hard work of ordinary Canadians.

2010 - The biggest signature building in Toronto, featured on modern souvenir ware, and seen by millions of tourists, loudly blares the tribal chutzpah of its very obvious, and oh, so gauche, new owner. Three huge name displays are on view, with at least two or more giant "Rogers Centre" signs seen in every view.

In fact, from every side, it's giving the finger to Torontonians.

The original construction of the building was shamelessly boosted by toadies of the rich and powerful like point man Trevor Eyton - a lawyer, what else - as a project absolutely essential to the public good and deserving scores of millions in public funds (most of the cost.) Once the money was in place, the Dome built, and a decent time had passed, they called it a "white elephant," and a shameful drain on the public purse, demanding it be sold to a private operator. The politicians, ever in the pockets of the rich and powerful, buckled.

Ted Rogers bought it at a fire sale, for a small fraction of its original cost, for a song literally, getting ownership of a building he could not, in his wildest dreams, have been able to afford to build or own on his merits.

So the first "end run" ever seen in this sports complex, was around the helpless, used, and abused, taxpayer.

Trevor Eyton got a very plush Canadian Senate seat, and the Order of Canada, as payoff...

Democracy, Canadian style...

The taxpayers can buy the souvenir ware - in effect, paying for the building twice - in the lobby.

The rich Rogers crowd doesn't bother with the trinkets; they have the real souvenir, a huge money-making complex.

Right the crush at the Toronto Exhibition of 1910, the year the trivet above was sold, perhaps to someone in this very crowd.

1910 was also the year the Prince's Gates - the signature entrance to the Exhibition, and still standing a century later - were opened.

These are the people who created the demand for souvenir ware when the craze was at its height.

In their pockets, and tiny purses, are the souvenir pieces they will take back to their homes to treasure.

Every single person wore a hat and suit, or dress, and there, in one of the first cars in town, come some of the City Fathers looking for a another heritage building to flatten, to make way for a business opportunity for a cackling crony.

In fact we do believe we see, in the back seat, Galen and Hilary Weston, with sledge hammers, on the way to the Royal Ontario Museum, where their friend "Wicked Willy Thorsell" will let them knock out quite a few limestone blocks from the front wall so they can install their own megalithic name plaque there.

Go to the God-Awful Royal Ontario Museum Makeover
Go to ROM Ugghh...
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The HIlary Memorial Stones - Royal Ontario Museum - 21st Century
Orig. memorial megalitsh - Size - overwhelming
Found - Toronto, ON
Absolutely breathtaking, in their overwhelming presence, are the 2 (two) mammoth Hilary Weston memorial megaliths installed over the entrance of Canada's most venerable museum. They are designed to give eternal notice of a truly heart-warming Canadian success story, that a girl, who barely made it out of high school, can still strike it rich...

Hilary chose seduction - instead of education - to snag a man who bought her way everywhere she wanted to go, including Chairman of the Board of the Royal Ontario Museum's "Renaissance Campaign," where she quickly had him pay to have the two monstrous memorial stones installed. (There are other similarly intrusive stone blocks inside.)

They have been called "without a serious challenger anywhere, the most momentous in-your-face act of societal gaucherie in Canadian history." This is clearly uncharitable; in fact Hilary got a charitable tax exemption, worth millions, for her public-spirited expenditure...

The photo was taken on a rather dour day, when few people were about.

The guards and the silk ropes are there to keep the normal crowds that rush forward on sunny days, from prostrating themselves at the foot of the stones and reaching up to touch the sacred icons, and soiling them with their unwashed hands...

#3 - The Seven Wonders of Canada - The 8 Hilary Memorial Stone(s)
- with a displacement of 96.6 tonnes of limestone blocks

An enormous stone block, larger than any the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt erected to display their names for Posterity on their pyramids at Giza...

A monumental megalith more massive than any the Stone Age Druids set up to pay homage to the gods at Stonehenge...

More stupendous than any triumphal stone that Alexander the Great erected to bear his name in honour of his storied conquests that were the marvel of the Ancient World...

More grandiose than the enormous lion megaliths that King Agamemnon of Mycenae, erected to his eternal glory over the entrance to his palace...

More immense than any stone engravings erected by the conquering Caesars on the Triumphal Arches of Ancient Rome, in honour of their conquests in Europe, Africa, and Asia...

More overwhelming that the enormous stone faced monoliths of Easter Island...

Mightier than any monumental stone that Napoleon erected to bear his name, to honour his fabled victories in Egypt and Europe...

Dwarfing anything Citizen Kane set up to glorify the name of his mistress, in fabled Xanadu...

Greater than... blah, blah, blah...

The editors of the Guinness Book of World Records clearly quite overcome by its truly heroic scale call it: "Without a serious challenger, the largest, heaviest, and most monumental massif of heroic, carved stone, honouring the names of rich and powerful people, anywhere on record in the Occident or Orient, as ever erected or installed on any Public or Private Edifice, Temple Obelisk, Memorial Monument, Commemorative Stele, or Triumphal Arch, in the Ancient, Medieval, or Modern World."

Hey... not bad for a poor Irish girl with no education to speak of, but who got one thing right...

She bedded a rich young man right off the bat...

#2 of the Seven Wonders of Canada

93 year old Ellie Siegmeister from Ragged Butte, Manitoba, demonstrating how she originally prepared the family corn cob on her parents' farm in the early 1930s, coming up with an invention that edged out the Hilary Memorial Stone as #2 of the Seven Wonders of Canada.

The self-effacing Ellie said it was no big deal. When the Eaton's catalogue didn't arrive in Ragged Butte, in 1932, the family was desperate, until Ellie came up with her innovative invention.

The modest Ellie says it really was a no-brainer. She says she came up with the string and nail because people were forever misplacing the corn cob.

"The string and nail," she said, triumphantly, "put an end to that. Or that in the end," she winked slyly.

Her idea spread like wildfire; soon there wasn't a farm in western Canada without a family corn cob on a string and nail.

So when you went visiting the neighbours you were always sure to find one handy.

Truly only the most churlish Canadians would disagree that Ellie deserves to edge out Hilary as the more accomplished Canadian.

Below the place where Canada's first "corn cob on a string and nail" was placed, is now a Parks Canada Great Canadian Heritage Site.

When Parks officials offered to put up a plaque in there with her name - though they apologized profusely that they couldn't afford one as big as the Hilary Memorial Stone - Ellie politely declined.

"Gosh, we're jes' plain folks, here in Rugged Butte, not like some of dem high brows yiv' got in Trawna."

Has she seen the Hilary Memorial Stone?

"Goodness gracious, no. I ain't niver been to Trawna. Don't miss it none, neether... Been to Minnedosa, though, lots of times... Even got me a suv'neer there once... Oh, and best of all, got to go to Emerson, once, to watch the bridge turn. Now that was some exciting...

"Was s'posed to go to Winnipeg in '38 to buy my weddin' dress, but decided to get one at Billy Bob's grocery store here in Ragged Butte instead. Was in the midst of doin' preserves, ye know, and jes' couldn't git away. Though I do wish I could've seen Portage and Main jes' once in my life..."

Her voice trailed off sadly, at having missed the high point tourist destination for western

Below Ellie's corn cob on a string and nail can clearly be seen strategically placed to be handy for either a left-hole or a right-hole customer, or a lefty or right-handed user.Canadians.


Curiously Ellie's great invention did not catch on so much in Ontario.

Academics believe that this was because Ontario farmers were wealthier than their poor western cousins.

So they could actually afford to put a box full of disposable corn cobs in their privies.

Just another reason why more Canadians prefer to live in Ontario than out West.

Sadly, Ellie's invention was unknown to most Canadians, having gone out of fashion, decades ago, after the first toilet paper arrived in Alberta in 1947, and later becoming popular across the prairies, finally offering relief to the long-suffering people of Ragged Butte.

To commemorate the important transition in the life of their town, the City Fathers renamed it Rugged Butte.

Erratum: An irate email from a viewer in Rosebud, Alberta complains we have the date wrong, that the first TP arrived in Alberta in 1957, not 47... This, he added, rather crossly, is typically what happens whenever Easterners try to write the history of the West, and why they should just "butt out. OK!"

But this revision, if correct, is an exciting development for all educators because it means that Ellie's invention might have endured out West far longer than scholars had previously thought was the case.

Below, the only souvenirs Ellie ever bought, after visiting the bridge at Emerson, population 655, and a major western Canadian tourist destination... though unlike the celebrated "two-holer" above, for some reason it does not merit a Parks Canada heritage designation...

Skip Ellie & give me more Hilary at the ROM


Something fellow socialite Barbara Amiel (Lady Black) spent decades auditioning countless panting men for, until she managed to get it Right, just before her looks went completely... into the hands of her surgeon.

And she had to settle for a grossly pompous and overweight old geezer (Lord Conrad Black) with a penchant for repeated criminality that will forever blacken his family name, while Hilary grabbed a clean-cut, young guy, who didn't have to descend to such depths, being born into wealth, flush with the inherited billions from his dad, a cookie magnate.

"Oh, everyone just laughs about it. Saying Galen only bought her Holt Refrew to give her something to do, and keep her out of trouble... Tee hee..."
- VKM, a close intimate of the social circle

The happy couple could devote their entire lives to spending his dad's money to buy access to the the most influential power brokers in Ontario.

Her rich hubby's multi-millions bought Hilary everything she ever wanted, or had, including her multiple lavish homes in Europe and America, businesses (Holt Renfrew), career accomplishments (sidestepping those irritating public elections based on merit, to accept public office appointments from influential friends), honourary university degrees (thanks to donations, instead of years of dumb classes - indeed, today many "copycats" clearly prefer the "Hilary" option, by similarly purchasing their degrees, from other motivated sellers, these on the internet), and the Hilary Memorial Stone.

(Note to Americans: Hilary is Canada's equivalent to Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, who also started life as models, with money to burn, but have failed, as yet, to contribute a Memorial Stone to civilization to commemorate their turn on stage. Hopefully the Hilary Stone might encourage them to think about it, for the benefit of us all...)

Compared to Barbara's countless failed attempts to bed a decent guy, Hilary's restrained one-upmanship, and clear success, at the most ancient of the "Arts of Man Through All the Years" is certainly worth a majestic monument in stone to last through the Ages.

And no decent Canadian would begrudge her carving her name TWICE... Now, we ask you, why didn't the Great Pharaoh Cheops, Napoleon, or Alexander the Great, think of that...?

The Hillary Memorial Stone currently ranks number 3, on the list of the Seven Great Wonders of Canada, just behind Ellie Siegmeister's triumphant "green" invention, the "single corn cob on a string and nail" for outdoor farm toilets, to prevent wasting paper...

Hilary's intimates say she confided in them that she's not cross. Said one especially close to her, speaking on the promise of anonymity, "Hilary, laughed when she heard it, saying, 'I've been out West. Believe me, Ellie deserves it.'"

Oh, and what did Wicked Willie Thorsell get, for letting Galen memorialize his wife in stone at the front door of the ROM - well besides many grateful dinners at the Weston mansion?

Below inside is the banister from the "Weston Stairway," all full of exposed screws on tacky wallboard badly fitted together. Guaranteed, Willie won't find any of these at the Weston castle.

"Well," an exasperated Hilary, exclaimed, when she first saw the dreadful workmanship, "it's not Willie's fault. Good help is so hard to find these days. In desperation, for all my girls, I've had to go to Mexico, Haiti, and the Philippines, to find anything affordable. And even Galen - gosh he's been so busy at the office lately - tells me he's had to go all the way to Russia before he could find girls that are any good at secretarial work."

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Cup, Minnedosa, MB
Orig. cup - Size - 5 cm
Found - Rugged Butte, MB
Ellie Siegmeister's fabulous souvenir cup she got in Minnedosa, not far from where she would invent the "corn cob on a string and nail."

It dates from around 1910, a few years before Ellie was born. But souvenir ware had a long "best before" shelf life, and was still available years after. Ellie was vague on whether she had inherited it from her mother, who may have bought it in the 1910s.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure The fabulous watering can souvenir that Ellie showed us, is one of two souvenir ware china items she said she bought in Emerson, MB, the time her husband took her on a holiday trip there, to "watch the bridge turn." The CNR (Canadian National Railways) had built the bridge in 1913. For many years a sign at each end said, "Walk Your Horses, & Keep to Right."

Ellie informed us that it had long been a tradition, out west, that when you got tired of "watching haircuts," at the local barber shop, or "paint dry," on a new house, you could go down to watch the "bridge turn" at Emerson, if a steamboat ever came along.

Encouraged by Ellie's enthusiastic endorsement we sought out the bridge, and saw the site was still every bit as exciting as when Ellie went there, though the steamboats have been gone for scores of years. Apparently today westerners come by in goodly numbers, quite frequently, to watch the bridge "sit."

Souvenir Watering Can, Emerson, MB - c 1913
Orig. watering can - Size - 17 cm w
Found - Rugged Butte, MB

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Creamer, Presbyterian Church, Emerson, MB - c 1908 (Church built 1878)
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 10 cm
Found - Rugged Butte, MB
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Creamer, City Hall, Winnipeg, MB - c 1905
Orig. souvenir ware - Size - 8 cm
Found - Winnipge, MB
Had Ellie ever had the good fortune to get to the 'Peg, these are typical souvenir ware items she could have added to her collection.

Winnipeg had become the provincial capital when Manitoba became a province in 1871. Settlers came in quickly and built large public and private buildings as service centres for the flood of people heading further west on to the prairies.

These buildings became the focus for the pictures used on souvenir ware items.

Even ruins, like the stone gate of Old Fort Garry, demolished in the 1880s, were featured.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Dish, City Hall Winnipeg - c 1900
Orig. dish - Size - 13 cm
Found - Calgary, AB
A fabulous dish featuring the fantastic City Hall that Winnipeggers built, only to have the crafty City Fathers of a later generation tear it down because they were promised a deal from greedy developers "they couldn't refuse." Heh, heh...
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Dish, Old Fort Garry Gate, Winnipeg - c 1900
Orig. dish - Size - 13 cm
Found - Calgary, AB
A fabulous dish featuring the only remnant from Old Fort Garry, today the heart of downtown Winnipeg.
Go to Old Fort Garry
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Vase, Parliament Buildings, Winnipeg - c 1900
Orig. vase - Size - 13 cm
Found - Winnipeg, MB
A fine vase that shows why westerners flocked to Winnipeg to see the sights in the 1890s.

But how can these both be the "Parliament Building, Winnipeg?"

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Souvenir Paperweight, Parliament Building, Winnipeg
Orig. paperweight - Size - 8 cm
Found - Calgary, AB
A fabulous paperweight showing the second Parliament in Manitoba, which had become a province in 1871.

It was built in 1882, and heard the lively debate about sending volunteers to fight the Métis uprising, further west, under Louis Riel in 1885. The paperweight dates from this period.

The building was torn down in 1915, to make way for the fabulous building that stands on the spot today, long after anyone was interested in making souvenir items that featured its predecessor. So 1890 is a good possible date for this.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure This teapot signals the end of the great period of souvenir china ware that began at the end of Queen Victoria's reign and reached its high point just before World War I.

Compared to the earlier two teapots this one is large and nearly rivals in size - only one cm lower - its functional real teapot cousins in the 16 cm range.

It's size and finish separates it from its poorer forbears in the souvenir trade. But like them, it has no manufacturer's stamp.

The Newfoundland Hotel was built amid much hoopla in 1926, in St. John's, Newfoundland, the closest North American port to Europe.

So teapot souvenirs of the great occasion were no doubt among the publicity items produced at the time.

Remember, Newfoundland was not part of Canada at the time, but a separate colony of Great Britain. It would finally join the Dominion in 1949.

The very latest, but unlikely, date for this teapot, is the 1950s, because the name of the hotel was changed to the Hotel Newfoundland in the 1960s. It was demolished in 1982.

Souvenir Teapot, The Newfoundland Hotel, 1926
Orig. teapot - Size - 15 cm
Found - Aberfoyle, ON
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