Treasuring our heritage

Living in Balance
By Jenipher Appleton

(The following is a justifiable divergence from the usual topic of ‘our feathered friends’.)
As a member and co-director of the Ailsa Craig and District Historical Society, it was recently my turn to open the museum and attend to any tourists who might happen by during an afternoon. The museum, also known as the Donald Hughes Annex, was originally the Ailsa Craig Baptist Church, erected in 1871. Now, lovingly restored as a tribute to local heritage, it houses a myriad of artifacts, antiques and objects of interest. It is readily found on George Street. Just follow the signs as you come into town from any direction.
It turned out to be a slow day – actually nobody came – perhaps due to a pending thunderstorm. To pass the time, my first hour was spent enjoying some showcases and displays, including quilts, clothing, kitchen supplies, old sales receipts, ledgers, cameras, furniture, etc., from well over a hundred years ago. A look through some scrapbooks of local community events, along with some high school yearbooks, proved to be highly entertaining.
Then it began to rain. Hard. Really, really hard. When it rains like that I get nervous. What to do? Aha! I had brought along my current knitting project. I seated myself near the front door of the old church and began to knit. As my nerves calmed, it dawned on me that I was sitting in a 19th century building, surrounded by objects from a simpler way of life, doing exactly what a woman from the 1800s would likely do. My needles weren’t wooden, but the knitting process had not changed. My ball of wool was not cooperating as I demanded more yarn, so I put it into the bowl of a 1930s cream separator, which happened to be beside my chair. It worked, simply and effectively.
After about an hour of rain pounding on the church roof, my husband burst through the front door, soaking wet. He said he had come to see what I was up to. “I had to shut down my computer because of the storm,” he announced. I smiled and continued with my knitting while my only ‘tourist’ for the day took a half hour away from the computer to observe the legacy of a much simpler era. And he really enjoyed it.
If you’re wondering where the connection to my usual birdy topics is, when you visit you’ll notice there is pigeon poop on the front porch of the church. They live in the belfry.
Summer hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, or:
To arrange a tour, call (519) 293-9388 or email acdhs [at]