Saturday 18 July 2015

In a Nut Shell

A favorite pastime here at the Kings County Museum is pulling a random storage container and having a snoop through the contents to see what treasures might be tucked inside. Our favorite containers for this activity are the “tiny treasures” boxes. Inside these lunch box-sized totes are the smallest items of our collection. Some hold pocket watches, others medals and pins, but a few hold what could only be called “bits and bobs”. 
These are the best boxes of all.

In tiny treasure box #76, the intrepid explorer will find today’s hidden history; a walnut shell. “Oh my!” you’re thinking; “How delightful! A walnut shell – never saw anything like that before!”

Well, you are correct! You’ve likely never seen anything like this walnut shell. Today’s Hidden History object holds a hidden history of its own – inside the shell is a teeny, tiny series of tourist photos of Halifax, Nova Scotia, likely from the time of the First World War.

That’s right; blink a couple of times in astonishment. That was our reaction as well!

Helping to date the piece is the name of the seller included inside the shell: "J.L. Connolly, Stationer, 127 Barrington Street". A search on Library & Archives Canada found Connolly's stationery and bookstore included in the 1886-1887 McAlpine's Halifax City Directory.

The series of black and white photos in the shell further help us to date the artifact; included are images of the Halifax Public Gardens, the Princes Lodge, the Sevastopol Monument (making this artifact post-Crimean War) and also a pic of Melville Island Military Prison (used by Canada as a prison for detained Austro-Hungarian nationals during the First World War). So it seems likely this piece was purchased about the time of WWI.

This little walnut and its impressive series of images was no doubt a tourist trinket of the past, a reminder of a beautiful summer vacation, or a treasure given to someone at home who did not make the trip. How fortunate we are that its owners held on to this incredible memento, treasuring the hidden beauty concealed within an ordinary shell. We are delighted to be its caretakers and to share its wonder with you.

As you plot your own summer adventures, whether in Halifax, Nova Scotia or here in beautiful New Brunswick, open your heart and mind to the little details along the way. Take the road less traveled; visit a site you’ve never been to before; open the door to a new experience. You never know what wonders await in something as small as a walnut shell.

What are our top "Kings County in a nut shell" tourist recommendations? 
Take a pontoon boat ride on the beautiful Kennebecasis River with Zelda’s River Adventures; explore the best of farm fresh produce at Fullerton’s Farms and Kredl’s Market; steel your nerves and walk the Kilpatrick Footbridge, or share a kiss in one of the county’s 16 Covered Bridges! Oh, and you can never go wrong with a visit to the Kings County MuseumWe guarantee all the scenic photos you take will NOT fit in a walnut shell!