Wolfville Historical Society names new curator

Clothing collection moved to new spot

Wendy Elliott welliott@kingscountynews.ca
Published on May 22, 2014

Roger Marsters has just become curator at Randall House Museum for the Wolfville Historical Society.

A historian and author, Marsters has written two books on privateering and treasure on the East Coast and is currently working on a third book

Marsters teaches history at Dalhousie University. Before earning his doctorate, he worked for four years as an interpreter at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. His interests include Canada's economic and cultural relations to the ocean realm; the history of technology and landscape, architecture and cities; and the history of food, cooking, eating and drinking.

He says he is pleased and excited to have been chosen for the position of curator.

“I have been shaped by the peoples and landscapes of Minas and am inspired by the region's intricate past and its open, expansive present,” he said.

Marsters says the Wolfville community museum will reopen at the end of May.

Society member Michael Bawtree has been busy preparing a program of events - including films, talks and a concert - related to this summer’s War Comes to Wolfville exhibit, which will involved a set of installations around Wolfville.

Wolfville architect Wil Lang has designed a replica of the town’s 1915 recruiting office, which will be unveilled July 1. It will be situated on Main Street this summer.


Rooms of clothing

With the planned redevelopment of the St. John’s Parish Hall, the historical society has relocated its clothing and textiles collection. Two of the upstairs rooms at Randall House are being turned into storage for the collection.

Former curator Bonnie Elliott believes the collection has national interest and significance because of items from the family of Sir Robert Borden, who was Prime Minister of Canada from 1911-1920.

Elliott said it is probably the best collection of domestic garments in the province. It includes 20 christening gowns, carved ivory parasols and a unique, hand-quilted cotton corset circa 1825. The oldest costume and textile artifact is the top piece of an 18th century crewelwork pocket, probably of English origin.

Otis Eaton’s brocade vest, worn for his marriage in 1867 in Windsor, is also included. Pratt, Eaton, DeWolfe, Morse, Starr, Elderkin and Patriquin, all former occupants of Randall House, are just some of the local names among the donors or previous owners. There is also a hockey sweater worn by a member of Wolfville’s Shamrock hockey club.

The society’s costume and textile collection has been accumulating since the 1950s. In 2006, Elliott, a recognized costume specialist, began working on the collection and it was relocated to the parish hall.

Over the next four or five summers, she catalogued every item, carried out conservation and arranged for clothing to figure prominently in a number of museum exhibits.

The discovery of mould in the room that the society rented led to work by Kentville conservator Kelly Bourassa.

Randall House is at least 200 years old, so the society asked local engineer Larry Honey to inspect the floor and judge its ability to handle weighty clothing before the items were moved.