Happy Birthday Sir Robert Borden

Today is Sir Robert Borden’s 162nd Birthday. WOW! Borden is arguably one of the more well known Nova Scotians, having been Prime Minister of Canada from 1911- 1920, and then after his 1920 retirement form politics serving as the Chancellor of Queens University until his death, in 1937.

Born on June 19th 1854 in Grand Pre, Robert Borden, grew up here in the land of Evangeline. Attending Acacia Villa Boys Preparatory School, he proved to be a brilliant academic mind and debater. Borden worked as a lawyer in Kentville before being asked to join a firm in Halifax that was mostly Conservative, and then began his career in politics.

Thanks to Borden’s foresight and thought with the War Measures Act, Canada held steadfast and strong during the war, and continued its support in all of the major battles of World War 1.

This year we have been fortunate enough to have received the gift of the original bell from the Acacia Villa School and we are in the process of creating a mini exhibit about the school and Borden.

So happy Birthday Sir Robert, we thank you for your service to our great country and your love for this land of Evangeline.


Acacia Villa School in Grand Pre, Alma Mater of Sir Robert Borden

A New Age Begins

Today, 162 years ago, the first earth was turned over as construction began on the Windsor to Halifax to Truro Railway.

This was the first rail- line to begin its construction and the foreshadow of what was to become Nova Scotia’s largest railway know as the Dominion Atlantic Railway. The knowledge that a rail line could be completed and function effectively in Nova Scotia, only further solidified Joe Howe’s relentless encouragement for the railroad to the Annapolis Valley and beyond to connect this province.

So take some time today and smell the air, the air of a new area of transportation, industry and prosperity here in the valley. The scent of steam engines barreling through the hills, the freshness of produce as it speeds along to its destinations beyond our borders; and most of all, the smell of our valley, so familiar with each season as it changes yet ever changing. The smell of the DAR is here.


Queen Elizabeth’s 90th Birthday Celebration Tea

QE2 portrait
Queen Elizabeth the Second

A most happy of Royal Celebration to our Queen on this her 90th Royal Birthday. Join us on the 11th of June 2016 for our Queen’s Birthday Tea to celebrate, as all across the empire will be celebrating, Her Majesty’s  life and reign. Our afternoon tea beginning at 2pm will be a day filled with lots of sweets, tea and a power point presentation of our favourite moments and pictures from Her Majesty’s life.

“I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else – I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” – Queen Elizabeth the 2nd

So join us as we the great strong people of the Commonwealth, thank Her Majesty for her  years of leadership, love and grace.  Happiest of Birthdays, long live the Queen.

Today in our History

On a warm late spring day, 158 years ago today, the Windsor branch of the newly established Nova Scotia Railway opened. The creation of this rail-line would lead the way for the expansion of all trains in Nova Scotia, but even more importantly it would give a hope to the rest of the Annapolis Valley that their time for rail had finally come.

While it would be a few more years until the railways made it’s way into the heart of Wolfville, this was a major step in the development of the railroad here in the Valley.

This summer, the Wolfville Historical Society is proud to share with everyone, Joe Howe Changes Trains, a whole summer packed to the brim with events, talks, movies and more, all about the important role the trains had as they ran through the heart of this beautiful landscape.

Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for more updates and details about our fantastic summer, and all of our interactive events to come.

So Choo Choose to come to all our events or a few, and learn all about the wonderful history of one of the most fast paced times in our history.

Summer in our Garden

Ahh Summer, those few glorious months when we try and spend all our waking hours, enjoying as much sun as we can before the cool breezes that hearken the fall once again blow through our Valley.
Here at the Randall House this is no exception, our garden is in full swing and everything is bloom.  Each vibrant shade of green, blue, purple, yellow and everything in between seems to be stretching to the sun and proudly showing all its colour to the world.

Our garden here at the house is indicative of what really would have been planted at the home during the time of Charles Randall and his family while they were living here during the 1800’s. Our vegetable garden if showing the signs of what will come in August and in the Fall, but as for now, the most magnificent array of flowers is displayed in our gardens in both the front of the house and around the back. While you’re here at the museum take some time to walk our garden, and stop and smell the flowers.

Flowers and Barrle

Celebrating Apple Blossoms

Happy 2016 season from all of us here at WHS, yes everyone it is THAT time of year again. Apple Blossom Time.

Apple Blossom Postcard

The only time the town of Kentville ever seems to get road work done. But I digress. This  wonderful festival has been part of welcoming summer in the valley since 1932. Here at the museum that means our opening date is only a few days away, and preparations are well underway to open up for our summer season. The house work is done, research is being completed and life is back in the house.

This summer season we are looking at Joe Howe and his vision of the future of Nova Scotia with a Rail system. Over the course of the summer we will be holding several events with the theme of trains in mind. Our special exhibit at the museum will focus on the build up to the Dominion Atlantic Railway.

Our summer workers have arrived at the house and are readying it for Saturday at noon when we open; we hope to see some of you there.  Until the end of June we have our Apple Blossom exhibit in the front dining room with our Blossom Time, original china set holding pride of place.

We hope to see many familiar faces this summer in the museum to see and hear our new exhibit and hopefully just as many new faces as you discover our museum.

Have a safe and happy Apple Blossom everyone and, we can’t wait to see you for our 2016 summer season.

Randall House


Randall House’s Afternoon Teas are More Specific than you Think.

Welcome to the middle of July, frequent readers! At this point,we at the museum have been hosting our famous Saturday Afternoon Teas for a few weeks now, and for those of you who are regular guests, you may have noticed that we follow a very particular routine, right down to the way we build our tres populaire cucumber sandwiches.

And since we’re a museum, and this is a history blog, I bet you know where I’m going with this post. And yes, it is extremely possible to dig up histories on things like Afternoon Teas. (A side note– there is not, in fact, an available history on the Strawberry Social, but that’s a completely different story.) If you’ve got time, sit back, relax, and let me explain a few things.

The Afternoon Tea, practiced in North America and born in Britain, is something that has occurred since at least the 1840s. In its early days, the tradition actually had a very practical purpose. You’ve listened to the doctors and fitness gurus exhaust themselves reminding people to eat regular meals spaced out over the course of the day, and if you haven’t really been one to listen to those sorts of things, you’d at least know what it’s like to try to get through the last three hours at work before supper without something to nibble on. I know I couldn’t go longer than that without a little snack, but these Victorians–with all of their silly customs–only really ate twice a day. There was breakfast in the morning, and then you wouldn’t have another meal until supper at eight pm.

Regardless of how many people believed that this was fashionable and “right,” our friends in the nineteenth century were still human, and humans have a tendency to get hungry every few hours. The natural rumbling of the tummy is extremely hard to ignore, and this is something that Anna, the Seventh Dutchess of Bedford, discovered in the early 1800s. Unable to stand the uncomfortable pangs in her abdomen in the late afternoon, she began to request a pot of tea, and a few small snacks in her room to be enjoyed privately a few hours before her usual dinner time. As Anna turned this into a tradition of her own, she began to invite friends over to join her. Pretty soon they had to move their gatherings into bigger rooms, and eventually, the practice spread.

Suddenly, people all over the Victorian world were making themselves tea and finger foods a few hours before supper, and the Afternoon Tea was born. As the practice grew more popular, it began to develop some universal customs of its own. Afternoon teas are usually supplemented by sandwiches cut into fingers–cucumber sandwiches were very popular back in the day, I’m telling you!– scones with cream and jam and a variety of different cakes and pastries. Here at Randall House, we’ve gone and consulted the customs thought to be proper in the traditional tea settings and replicated them on Saturday afternoons to ensure authenticity.

In their early days, Afternoon Teas were private events, but when Queen Victoria, monarch and trend-setter extraordinaire, started hosting tea receptions between 4:00 and 7:00pm –these receptions could see up to 200 guests!- they transformed into public gatherings. Of course, now, with more frequent customary meals, paired with the hectic work day of the modern adult, Afternoon Teas have become less of a common daily ritual, and more of a special treat saved for those days where there is actually time to relax.

And on that note, I would like to invite you, esteemed guest, to Randall House this Saturday at any point between 2:00 and 5:00 pm to partake in this lovely– and scrumptious, if I do say so myself– tradition. You’ll get to live out some history while getting to enjoy great conversation, a wide selection of teas and treats, and service with a smile.

Hope to see you there!

– Mercedes