Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Tuesday Treasures

Tom the backroads traveller hosts this weekly meme.
Our World Tuesday

May 2018 - Stoney Creek ON

As part of Doors Open Hamilton we went to the Erland Lee Museum.

I had never heard of the Lees or the Women's Institute, how did this happen? Why didn't we learn any of this in school??

The Erland Lee Museum is a National Historic Site of Canada located on the ridge of the Niagara Escarpment in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Originally a farmhouse belonging to Erland and Janet Lee, the museum is recognized as the birthplace of the first Women's Institutes, an international organization formed in 1897 to promote the education of isolated rural women.

Plaque Text

The world's first Women's Institute was organized at Squire's Hall, Stoney Creek, in 1897. Erland Lee, a founder of the Farmer's Institute, assisted by his wife, arranged the meeting. About 100 women from the Saltfleet Township district attended and were persuaded by Mrs. Adelaide Hoodless to form an organization of their own to improve their skills in the arts of homemaking and child care. Here, in the Lee home, Mr. Lee subsequently helped to draft the constitution of the new society. Mrs. E.D. Smith of Winona became the first president of the "Mother Institute". The Women's Institutes movement has since become a world-wide organization.

See the window on the second floor? That is actually two bedrooms but from the outside it appears to be one large room.

Perhaps he did this because between 1695 and 1851, the English government levied a tax on windows.

The window tax was relatively easy to administer. A person's tax liability could be calculated by counting their windows. It had progressive elements. People with higher incomes had larger houses, and more windows, thus paid more in taxes. Houses with fewer than 10 (later 7) windows were exempt from the tax.

Plaque Text

This 19th-century farmhouse is the birthplace of the Women's Institutes (WI), an organization that played a vital role in thousands of small communities. Inspired by domestic science reformer Adelaide Hoodless, and supported by her husband Erland, Janet Lee drafted the constitution of the Stoney Creek Women's Institute here in 1897. From these roots emerged a movement that spread throughout Canada and the world. In meeting halls across the country, the WI brought women together to learn diverse skills and to promote civic reform, helping them break the grinding isolation of rural life.

The oldest part of the home, a log cabin, dates to 1808. An addition was built onto the log cabin in 1873 in the Carpenter Gothic style, part of the Gothic Revival Architectural tradition. This is best exemplified by the steeply-pitched gables, gingerbread trim, and the board-and-batten planks.

For drying gloves.

On the left is a washboard and mangle machine.

Drying socks

Iron stove manufactured in Tillsonburg ON.

The Lee Family lived in the house from 1808 until 1970. Its first historical designation was granted in 1961, by the South Wentworth Women’s Institute. In 1972, the home was opened to the public as a museum, and has since been owned and operated by the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario.

The museum itself contains three floors of original Victorian furniture and furnishings.

Formal living room reserved for guests.

Sherlock-Manning Piano Company Ltd (Sherlock-Manning Organ Co 1902-10; Sherlock-Manning Piano and Organ Co 1910-30, Sherlock-Manning Pianos Ltd 1930-51). Manufacturer located 1902-30 in London, Ont, 1930-78 in Clinton, Ont, 1978-80 in Hanover, Ont, 1980-9 again in Clinton, Ont, and from 1989 in Vanastra, Ont. The company was established in 1902 as the Sherlock-Manning Organ Co by J. (John) Frank Sherlock (b ca 1851, d 31 Dec 1931) and Wilbur Manning, both lately of the W. Doherty Co (Doherty Pianos Ltd). According to Industrial Canada (February 1904), about 100 reed organs were produced each month by 50-60 employees. By 1914 Sherlock-Manning was seeking to establish regular export trade in Australia, New Zealand, and South America, having had some success with organ sales to these countries.

Heading upstairs.

The boys' room.

The girls.

Master bedroom.

They didn't waste anything. That round jar on far left was used to collect hair from the hair brushes. Why?

Evidently to make these pictures with the hair, crocheted or tatted??

The nursery was next to the master bedroom.

The original Jolly Junper.

Tea set

Back down to the dining room with an emphasis on the history of the Lee family, and the events surrounding the 1897 founding of the Women's Institutes. For example, the dining room table on which Janet Lee wrote the first Women’s Institute constitution still stands in its original location. 

The third name on the list is Mrs. E. D. Smith.

Ernest D'Israeli Smith (December 8, 1853 – October 15, 1948) was a Canadian businessman and politician who founded a food company that bears his name.
His wife was the first president of the Women’s Institute in Stoney Creek, which was also organized by Adelaide Hoodless and Erland and Janet Lee.

In his mature years, Smith relied on his sons to spearhead new business ventures. An expansion to Britain was foiled by the start of the First World War, and continued fruit sales in Canada were reduced by the Great Depression of the 1930s. Consequently, the company concentrated on tomato production for export since it was more of a staple than fruit.

His farms were a place where women worked during the First World War as part of the Women's Work on the Land program. This program brought female university students onto farms during the summer to help with food production. After the start of the Second World War, E.D. Smith & Sons Ltd. acquired the Canadian rights to H.P. Sauce Ltd. of Britain and in 1948 the latter's subsidiary Lea & Perrins Ltd. 

The farmhouse is complemented by an 1873 carriage house, which contains two floors of local history exhibits.


  1. I love the symmetry of the house. It looks as if someone is living there. I hope you picked up some home decorating tips with all those lovely wallpapers on display. :-P

    1. The wallpapers were the first thing we commented on! It was like being in a kaleidoscope!

  2. Fortunately our British heritage does not extend to a love of busy wallpapers.

  3. ...Jackie, what a great look into the past. That Gothic Revival house is gorgeous. I've been to Stoney Creek many time, but missed this gem. Will need to do something about this. Thanks for a travel idea, enjoy your week.

    1. You should also check out the Battlefield Museum and Park. We plan on going back to check it out.

  4. Wow so very interesting. Thanks for the great info

  5. A lovely place for a visit! I was unaware of it before.

  6. Jackie, like the Red Cross coverlet on the bed in the master bedroom. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Oh, this is absolutely wonderful. I am going to try to save this to read again. As an older Canadian, I am fascinated by these things like the washboard-mangle gizmo, and the first 'jolly jumper' and I'm thrilled by the story of the Women's Institute. God bless that wonderful husband! I just gave my calculator a bit of exercise to see which of my mother's relatives would have been alive then. Mom was born in 1924, and her mother was the youngest in a large family of (mostly) women, so she would have been born around the turn of the century, and her sisters would ...well, I have no way now of knowing when each of "the aunties" was born (in Winnipeg) ...but, as you may have guessed, you've made my day!
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

    1. Kay, so glad you enjoyed it. The Women's Institute was completely new to me until this. I was so intrigued I looked to see if there were any branches in Toronto but they all seem to be in small towns.

  8. I am very impressed with what they did with the hair. I've heard of people making broaches of something out of their loved one's hair when he/she died. Thanks for the tour about the museum and the info about the organization. The Women's Institute must've been forward thinking for its time, I would think.

  9. I love the house. One of my favorite things is touring historical homes and this one is a gem. Thank you for sharing the post and all the information. Made for good reading.


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