Lisa Wilson, Curatorial Assistant (Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens)
Every month at Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens we select an artifact for our volunteer interpreters to show visitors. This new program is exciting as it offers an opportunity for our interpreters to handle and learn about an artifact, while visitors get to view something from our large collection up close – usually an artifact that has never been exhibited before.
In September, our debut artifact for this program was an issue of a British magazine called The Bystander, published August 20th, 1913. The Bystander was a tabloid-style magazine out of London printed between 1903 and 1940. It was popular for its reviews, short stories, cartoons, feature articles and spotlight on members of high-society. Today, we would call The Bystander a gossip magazine.
This 1913 issue is filled with social commentary, advertisements, speculation of war in Europe, and lifestyle features that the O’Reilly family would have found interesting. One of our favourite spreads shows people enjoying seaside sports such as “surf tennis” and “motor sea-ycling” — leisure activities that are not well-known today, perhaps because they just didn’t catch on!
We also like how this issue has handwritten notes and doodles in the margins. In fact, many magazines in our collection were scribbled on, possibly by Kathleen or Jack O’Reilly. Sometimes they left drawings, other times the markings are numbers and calculations. Scribbles made in 1913 leave us happily intrigued more than 100 years later.
We’ve now swapped out The Bystander for another artifact, on view until the end of each month. Come by Point Ellice House to see these objects in person and learn more about the local history in your own backyard!