A Man of Botany

January through May 2019, Eldon House Second Floor

In the 1880s the fortunes of the Harris Family of Eldon House improved with a substantial inheritance from the Ronalds Estate, when Lucy Harris became the sole heiress of her English family’s fortune. The wealth that the Ronalds accrued over several generations is linked to the botanical trade and the nineteenth century’s exploration of exotic and medical plants. Hugh Ronalds, Lucy’s great-grandfather was considered a “Man of Botany” and immersed himself in the world of plants. Part of the inheritance that made its way to London Ontario was a large cabinet housing 12 volumes of pressed and identified botanical specimens attributed to Hugh Ronalds. This exhibit explores the story behind the specimen volumes, how and where they were collected and why they are significant today.

And the Award Goes to…The Harris Family Songbook

February through June 2019, Eldon House Interpretive Centre

Eldon House holds a sheet music collection of over 40 hand-inscribed songs from the 1830s to the 1850s which has been recently digitized, allowing the museum to explore the pieces with greater attention. Many of the songs are “parlour music” intended for voice and keyboard and performed by amateurs, including patriotic selections, religious songs, and pieces written for the musical stage. What makes this collection so interesting today is the lack of truly “Canadian” music that speaks of the lives of those dwelling in the region prior to 1867. The popular European and American songs in the pre-confederation collection would soon be replaced by “Canadian” tunes and can be seen as the country’s first instance of “Can-Con.”

From Pottage to Pinperneau: The Eldon House Cookbooks

June through November 2019, Eldon House Second Floor

The Eldon House Collection holds several books of cookery – from printed materials to hand inscribed “receipt” books. Historical cookbooks contain more than just tips on turning a “joint of meat to perfection;” they are encyclopedia’s of domestic advice, encompassing recipes for home remedies, medicinal treatments as well as delicious desserts!  This exhibit will display and interpret several historical cookbooks in the museum’s collection and elaborate on the origins, uses and terminology of these wonderful examples of social history.  

Family Photos: The Harris Family at Home

Through 2019, Eldon House Second Floor

Western Archives holds a huge collection of historic photographs attributed to the Harris family who lived at Eldon House.  This exhibit will provide visitors with an intimate view of the family, their home and their gardens, while also illuminating the trends of historical amateur photography.

Christmas Curiosities

December 2019, Eldon House Second Floor

Many of the Christmas celebrations we enjoy today can be linked to traditions started in the Victorian Era: from Christmas trees to giving presents. However, there was a darker side to Victorian Christmas, where ghosts and devils appeared to punish the undeserving.  This exhibit illustrates some of the Christmas “curiosities” by reproducing graphic Victorian Postcards.

The Servant Question

July 2019 through January 2020, Eldon House Interpretive Centre

During the 125 years that Eldon House was the residence of the Harris family, domestic servants lived and worked in the house – because of this the museum interprets the “two” families who dwelled  within the sites walls.  This exhibition aims to explore domestic life of upper-middle class households in the late Victorian era and early 20th century, using Eldon House as a case study. With primary material of both servant and served as well as the ephemera that influenced the structure of their relationships, a glimpse into the domestic life in London Ontario will be revealed.