Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wow, Christmas is busy! I forget that every year. It’s good busy, of course, but there’s definitely not a lot of time to just hang out and get bored.

Speaking of Christmas… I came across Calendario Romano 2007 on one of the shopping sites I visit for gift ideas (which I’m not linking back to for obvious reasons!). But really, is this allowed? I was so intrigued I had to know more. The calendar is put out by the photographer and is not in any way affiliated with the Catholic Church. But still! March’s photo makes me blush. You must admit, it's a lovely calendar, taboo or not.

I’m still angry that all of the snow we had (several feet!) melted in a couple of days. Now it’s warm again and ugh… the sun is shining! But I tried to ignore it and Pete and I did some shopping downtown last weekend. We had a yummy Thai lunch in the Market and then visited Eldon House to see it all done up for Christmas. For those not familiar, it’s the oldest house in London. It was owned by the Harris family until 1959 when they handed it over to the city along with most of its contents to make into a museum. I hadn’t been there since I was a teenager—and I got so much more out of it this time around! The guide told us that you could read the original diaries of several Harris women in the UWO archives (with white gloves only of course!). I need to take about a year off just so I can do that sort of stuff!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Could Pinky possibly be more of a girly girl? She’s the only cat I’ve ever had that poses. If she were a human she’d be forever trying on lipgloss and prancing around the house in pink tutus. Her brother, on the other hand… let’s just say he was named after Iggy Popp for a reason (but he’s not addicted to heroin that I know of).

Speaking of addictions. I think finding the 1901 census might have been a bad thing. I’m just way too into it. I spent hours on it last night trying to find info on the 1901 occupants of certain houses in my neighborhood. I decided I wanted to look up some of the grander houses on my street (the ones closer to downtown). I actually kept a log with this information and plan to take a walk up there to look at the houses and read my notes. Is that insane? If not, it’s extremely snoopy! However, I can’t resist. These houses all listed at least one “domestic” living in the house, sometimes two. I found myself comparing their wages and tut-tutting the families that were paying the lowest wages to their "general servants" (as their occupation was titled in the census). Most of these wealthy families did not list an income and the heads of the households often didn’t hold a job. The ones that did were usually in business for themselves, a barrister or physician, etc. Then there is the mysterious “traveler”. What on earth is a traveler? I saw that listed more than once and the wages were more than double of what the cabinetmaker, engineer and publisher were making. Someone is paying them to do this job, they listed themselves as an employee. It seems like those in business for themselves were not required to report their income. Or were they allowed to refuse? I don’t know, but it put the kaibosh on further snooping.

I also can’t believe I live in this city and I’m not English, Irish or Scottish. So far I haven’t found one family in 1901 that did not immigrate from one of these places, or descend from people that did.

All right, that’s enough of that. I’m sure I’ve driven you all crazy by this point.

When I was perusing The Gibson Gallery’s artists on the weekend, I found a photographer who’s work just blew me away. Larry Towell. Please check out his work, it’s incredible.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thank goodness, the world is not ending. All has returned to normalcy… at least in the weather world. It’s pleasantly cold and snowy with a couple of centimeters of snow on the ground. I hope the bat that I saw flying around in circles over my driveway last week found a winter home. I think he woke up wondering if it was spring already!

I had a lovely weekend filled with good friends, good art, festivity and a little bit of history.

Jenny and Graeme came down for Roly and Graeme’s art opening. Roly’s painting’s and Graeme’s furniture. It was a breathtaking show and just so nice to see everyone again. After the show we went to Chaucer’s for drinks, which turned into dinner, which turned into dessert and coffee. Couldn’t have asked for a better day or better company. We missed you Wen! Check out the work on The Gibson Gallery site.

So, that takes care of the good friends and good art part of things. Getting our Christmas tree covers festivity. We buy our tree every year from the united church a couple blocks from us. Then we carry it home together. It’s so much easier than trying to tie it to your car and maneuver the crazy traffic. Besides that, the tree is bigger than our car! I love you little Kia Rio, but I do miss the boxy 1986 Toyota Camray workhorse we used to have. That car could carry or tow anything. May you rest in peace oh loyal one…. But anyway, the tree is big and beautiful. I think it’s the nicest one we have ever had.

As for the little bit of history… Jenny told me that the Canadian 1901 census is available online! I could barely contain myself. Fueled by caffeine and sugar I stayed up until past 2am on Saturday looking for my house. You can search for your city, but after that, you have to just keep looking at the handwritten pages until you find your area of town. There are two pages of info. The first one covers particulars about the house: how many rooms, how many buildings on the property, etc. The second page lists personal info about the people living in the house. I already knew it was the widow Ida Wright living in the house at the time. But I didn’t know if she had children and their names and ages. From previous research I knew that Mr. Wright had died the year prior, the same year they moved into the house. I found out that in 1901 Mrs. Wright was a widow at 35, with 2 boys, aged 9 and 2. I didn’t find out much else about the house. It lists 7/1 rooms (does that mean 7 rooms and one bathroom?). Currently we have 8 rooms and 2 bathrooms. It didn’t list any outbuildings or land size. Mrs. Wright was born in Ontario Canada, in a city, could read and write and was a Methodist. It would have been more interesting if Mr. Wright was still alive at the time of the census because they also list employment and financial information. I know he was a Pork Curer (whatever that is!) but it would have been interesting to know how much a Pork curer made. It didn’t list any income or employment for Mrs. Wright, so we can only guess she was living off money she got when her husband died. She only stayed in the house three more years. I wonder if she remarried, or perhaps could no longer afford the house?

Wanting more information I also looked up the information on the houses on either side of me and directly across the street. Those were much more interesting. On the left side of us we had a family with 2 daughters. The father ran his own publishing house in a separate building on the property. Since the house numbers skip one address, I’m guessing that his publishing house had it’s own separate address. Once it was torn down, that address went with it. He made the most money of all of the neighbours I looked up. On the other side of us lived a family with a son and daughter. The man was a cabinet maker and the son (19 years old) was a litho artist. They also had a 74-year-old lodger living with them who was an engineer. Apparently he still worked because they listed his employment and financial info for the current year.

I could go on and on but I won’t bore you! If you are interested in looking at the Canadian1901 census, you can find it here.