Archives for: February 2008


Permalink 04:11:30 pm, by Email , 159 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, British History

Catherine of Valois - Kissing A Dead Body

Catherine of Valois

Henry V's queen Catherine of Valois died in 1437. Her grandson King Henry VII made major alterations to Westminster Abbey, which involved moving her embalmed body.

She was placed in a crude coffin constructed of flimsy boards, and was left above ground. Ew.

Marriage of Henry V and Catherine of Valois

Catherine remained a public spectacle in the Abbey for over 200 years!!!

Vergers used to charge a shilling to take off the coffin's lid so curious visitors could view her corpse for themselves. However, seeing was not enough for some of the guests to Westminster, one Samuel Pepys, who went to the Abbey on his 36th birthday did more than just look.

Portrait of Samuel Pepys by J. Hayls. Oil on canvas, 1666.

"I had the upper part of her body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon that I did first kiss a Queene."

Catherine's body was finally removed from public display in 1776.......



Permalink 03:46:37 pm, by Email , 53 words   English (CA)
Categories: Central & South American History

Child Mummies Of Peru

Peru's Nazca dead were most often buried in a fetal position with the lower limbs folded under the chin. Sand rich in salts and nitrates preserved the bodies for more than 1500 years.

The image above is entitled Nazca Child, and is part of a terrific online pictorial of mummies from around the world.



Permalink 12:35:31 am, by Email , 89 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, European History

Wordless Wednesday - "Tuesday Edition"

The Arc de Triomphe is a monument in Paris that stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the Place de l'Étoile (Star Square). It is at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. The arch honours those who fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars, and today also includes the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Image Credit: WIKI



Permalink 04:00:50 pm, by Email , 253 words   English (CA)
Categories: European History, Science And Technology

The Very First Photograph

One of the world's very first photographs. Taken in 1839, it is a picture of Port Ripetta, Rome in Italy.

"The birth of photography happened in 1826 when a French scientist, Joseph Nicephore Niepce, put a plate coated with bitumen (an asphalt used in ancient times as a cement or mortar) in a camera obscura. He put the camera obscura facing his house for eight hours and made a photograph! It is the earliest camera photograph that we still have today. Here is a photograph of that first photograph!

Niepce began sharing his findings with Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, and artist who owned a theatre in Paris. They became partners three years later. Daguerre's most important discovery came in 1835, two years after Niepce died. Daguerre found that the chemical compound silver iodide was much more sensitive to light than Niepce's bitumen. He put a copper plate coated with silver iodide in a camera obscura, exposed this plate to light for a short time, then to fumes of mercury and an image appeared! One problem remained, the image darkened over time. Two years later he solved this problem by washing away remaining silver iodide with a solution of warm water and table salt.

Daguerre's process, which he named the daguerreotype, was announced to the world on January 7, 1839. Half a year later the French government gave Daguerre and Niepce's son, Isidore, lifetime pensions in exchange for all rights to their invention. The daguerreotype was to become France's gift to the world."

Source: The Amazing History Of Photography



Permalink 05:11:44 am, by Email , 129 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - "Tuesday Edition"

In Egyptian mythology, Bastet is an ancient solar and war goddess, worshipped at least since the Second Dynasty. The centre of her cult was in Per-Bast (Bubastis in Greek), which was named after her. Originally she was viewed as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt, and consequently depicted as a fierce lioness. Indeed, her name means (female) devourer. As protector, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra, who was a solar deity also, gaining her the titles Lady of Flame and Eye of Ra.

This sculpture of Bastet reminds me a lot of Dragonheart and Merlin. Gorgeous!

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.



Permalink 12:01:29 pm, by Email , 667 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana

A sort-of political comment on Canada and history...


Quick history lesson... In the mid-1500's through the mid-1700's, France set up colonies in what is now Canada. The French government funded these expeditions... often sending food and resources to help those in this new and often unforgiving land. Canadian's may remember this from their history books...

From 1764 through 1867, the British then looked after colonists... both French and English... and even native... to ensure stability through the North American colonies. Land was given, as were farming tools and a plethora of other help... the concept was to help a family or person make a life and livelihood for themselves, they would create a functioning and happy society that benefitted the "common wealth".

While our neighbours to the South rebelled, Canadian stayed ordered and agreeable to a form of benevolent dictatorship... which was tempered further by the rebellions of 1837. (William Lyon Mackenzie and Louis-Joseph Papineau fought for better representation in government... Mackenzie was even an admitted monarchist, but wanted rid of "appointed public servants" from the crown... and fought the entrenched Tories on the side of the "New Grits"...)

In 1867, with the country's Confederation, land privilleges and financial assistance was available to all those who wished to come to the new Commonwealth country of "The Dominion of Canada"... the concept of the "benevolent leadership" combined with democracy mixed with a genuine concern for everyone's fellow man (we were all passengers on the ship "Canada" and we all felt it when anyone had to weather a storm...) was made effectively "official".

Between then and now, institutions such as universal public health-care, welfare to protect against poverty, a national police force that shaped the very structure of our country, limited franchise with various companies were established and even re-established from before...

Basically, the concepts of our motto Peace, Order, and Good Government were enshrined...

Effectively, Canada has always been a "nanny-state"... things haven't changed... and unlike some would have us believe, "government insertion" into our lives is lower than it was 150 years ago.

Sure, life was harder then... and despite government intervention, people still starved, got sick, and died... in some cases, needlessly... but that was more because of a lack of infrastructure and the lack of modern techniques in growing crops, medicines, and transportation.

There are cases and cases of various "colonial" government situations where medicine and food were "rushed" to places that needed them (think of Wop May's flight to Fort Vermilion as an example,) where I didn't see anyone suggesting these efforts be ceased because of "wasted tax dollars" or "governmental intrusion into our daily lives".

In essence, certain bloggers and pundits bandy about this horrible "Nanny-State" of Canada... not realising that if you like Canada... if you LOVE Canada... then you have to accept, despite the tales of hardship, Canada has ALWAYS been a nanny-state... and to say otherwise is a misnomer and a lie.

Sadly, as any historian knows, to hate the "nanny-state" is to hate Canada... past and present... and most likely future.

...and many of our institutions... those that make us distinctly Canadian... are either directly or indirectly the result of our "Nanny-State"...

From Mounties to Bush-Pilots... from Insulin to Peacekeepers... Canada should be proud, not hate our "Nanny-State". It was a lifestyle our forefathers chose... and in many ways, it's what makes us who we are.

In Addenda... As a personal note, one government "contract job" in Canada that was being worked on in the 1950's would have seen the front-lines of aviation technology and development land squarely in this country... and was cancelled by a Conservative government that railed against the "Nanny-State"... thus causing a massive brain-drain sending our best and brightest engineers and scientists of the time to the United States and Britain... and the begining of the end of Canada's ultimate aviation industry (which still lives, but no where near where it should be,) and even our armed air services... and it was one of our first posts on this blog.



Permalink 11:15:48 am, by Email , 383 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana

The Canadian Flag

Today marks the 43rd birthday of Canada's flag!

At the time of Confederation, Canada's national flag remained the Royal Union Flag or the Union Jack. However, Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister, flew the Canadian Red Ensign as a distinctive flag of Canada. Following the Second World War, in 1945, an Order in Council authorized the flying of the Canadian Red Ensign from federal government buildings, in Canada and abroad.

In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson made the creation of a new Canadian flag a priority. John Matheson, Member of Parliament, was Prime Minister Pearson's key advisor and supporter in this objective. On June 15, 1964, the Prime Minister presented his proposed flag to the House of Commons, launching a divisive Canadian flag debate. After three months without resolution, the question of a national flag was referred to an all-party committee.

In October 1964, after eliminating thousands of proposals, the Special Committee on a Canadian Flag was left with three possible designs: one incorporating three red maple leaves with blue bars (nicknamed the "Pearson Pennant"), a flag with a single stylized red maple leaf on a white square with red bars, and another version that contained both the Union Jack and three fleurs-de-lis.

On October 29, 1964, the committee recommended to the House of Commons that the single-leaf, red and white design be adopted. Debate in Parliament continued, however, and it was only at the early hour of 2:15 a.m. on December 15, 1964, that the motion to adopt the National Flag of Canada was carried by a vote of 163 to 78. Approval by the Senate came on December 17, 1964, and on January 28, 1965, the National Flag of Canada was proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to take effect on February 15, 1965.

The inspiration for a red and white flag came from Dr. George Stanley, Dean of Arts at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. Impressed by the Commandant's flag at the College (a mailed fist holding three maple leaves on a red and white ground), Dr. Stanley suggested to Mr. John Matheson a similar design with a single red maple leaf at the centre. This red - white - red pattern bore a strong sense of Canadian history: the combination had been used as early as 1899 on the General Service Medal issued by Queen Victoria.

Happy Flag Day Canada!!!!!


Canadian Heritage



Permalink 01:52:24 am, by Email , 15 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

Happy Valentines Day From The History Buffs

Valentine's Day postcard, circa 1910

Wishing all of our readers a lovely day!

Matthew & Sue



Permalink 02:09:42 pm, by Email , 142 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Arts And Culture

Country Joe & The Fish

Country Joe & the Fish Live at the Monterey Pop Festival '67

"Not so Sweet Martha Lorraine" is an organ-drenched classic that is about a reclusive woman who is unpredictable and is obsessed with death.

Their full-length debut is their most joyous and cohesive statement and one of the most important and enduring documents of the psychedelic era, the band's swirl of distorted guitar and organ at its most inventive.

In contrast to Jefferson Airplane, who were at their best working within conventional song structures, and the Grateful Dead, who hadn't quite yet figured out how to transpose their music to the recording studio, Country Joe & the Fish delivered a fully formed, uncompromising, and yet utterly accessible -- in fact, often delightfully witty -- body of psychedelic music the first time out. Ranging in mood from good-timey to downright apocalyptic.




Permalink 05:46:40 am, by Email , 47 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition

Stonehenge, United Kingdom.

Stonehenge itself is owned and managed by English Heritage whilst the surrounding downland is owned by the National Trust.

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Image Credit WIKI



Permalink 09:45:47 am, by Email , 509 words   English (CA)
Categories: Historical Recipes

Food That Is Fit For A Pharaoh

Egyptian Flat Bread

Makes about 8 pita

500 g /1 1/2 lb spelt or other strong bread flour (brown or white)
1/2 tsp salt
7-g/ 1/3-oz sachet easy-blend dried yeast (1 packet)
300 ml /1/2 pint/ 1 1/2 cups tepid water (one-third boiling to two-thirds cold)

Mix the flour with the salt and yeast in a large bols. Make a well in the centre and our in the water. Gradually draw the flour into the water and mix to a soft dough. Knead by hand on a floured board for 15 minutes, or for 10 minutes in a food processor fitted with a dough hook. Pour a little oil into the bottom of a bowl, roll the dough in it and cover the bol with a clean damp cloth or cling film. Put in a warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Remove the dough from the bowl and 'knock back' or punch it down. Knead it again for another 3-4 minutes, then cut into eight pieces. On a floured board, flatten out each piece into a round (about 5 mm / 1/2 inch thick) with your hand or a rolling pin. Transfer to a floured baking tray and bake in a preheated hot oven (220 degrees C/ 425 degrees F/ Gas mark 7) for 8-10 minutes. Do not open the oven door while the bread is baking. each bread should puff up, leaving a pocket in the middle. Remove from teh oven adn cool slightly on a wire rack."

Sesame Rings

Makes 2 rings

500 g /1 1/2 lb strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
7-g/ 1/3-oz sachet easy-blend dried yeast (1 packet)
300 ml/ 1/2 pint/ 1 1/2 cups tepid water (one-third boiling to two thirds cold)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
sesame seeds for sprinkling

Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the water and oil and gradually draw in the flour. Knead on a floured board for 15 minutes, or for 10 minutes in a food processor fitted with a dough hook. Pour a little oil into a bowl, roll the dough in it and cover the bowl with a clean damp cloth or cling film. Put in a warm place for 1 1/2 -2 hours or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Take the dough out of the bowl, 'knock back' or punch it down and knead again for a further 5 minutes. Cut the dough in half and roll each half into a sausage shape that you can form into a ring with a diameter of about 20 cm/ 8 in, about 5 cm/ 2 in thick. Lay the rings on an oiled baking tray. Bweat the egg wtih 2 tbsp water and glaze the tops of the rings. Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds and bake in a preheated hot oven (220 degrees C/ 425 degrees F/ Gas Mark 7) for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 150 degrees C/ 300 degrees F/ Gas Mark 23 for a further 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack."

Source: Food Fit for Pharoahs: An Ancient Egyptian Cookbook Michelle Berridale-Johnson British Museum Press:London 1999

Photo Credit: Great Pyramid of Giza from a 19th century stereopticon card photo



Permalink 10:25:14 am, by Email , 395 words   English (CA)
Categories: War And Conflict, Americana

This Amused Me! (From a Yahoo! Historical Mail Group)

From the Yahoo! War of 1812 mailgroup...

Sent: Fri, 8 Feb 2008 6:45 am
Subject: [War Of 1812] Pirate bicentennial

This July will be the inaugural event to begin the commemoration of Jean Lafitte and his pirates involvement in the War of 1812. Jefferson Parish is planning to build en event that will lead to a museum to be placed in the State Park at Grand Isle and a re-creation of the pirate
base on its actual site at Grand Tere.

Though this year will be little more than an announcement of what is to come in the future the plan is to develop an event that will involve not just pirates but also US and British naval units and military.

This event will initially be combined with the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo (a fishing competition) and will take place in July of this year. If anyone would like to know more please contact me off line.



...this was followed by...

Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2008 18:25:06 -0500
Subject: Re: [War Of 1812] Pirate bicentennial

So no one feels left out due to misunderstandings in language, I will translate the below missive into "Pirate talk":

Avast, me hearties! In the middl o the summer swells, will be the inarrgural rouse to begin the commemarrration of Capn Jean Lafitte and his band o sea borne brethern taking the first crack out o the box in the Warrr of 1812.Jefferson Parish, the scurvey lanlubbers, is chummying up to build a frolic that will steer a course to a museum to be placed in the State Parrk at Grand Isle and a re-crearrtion of the pirate base on her actual site at Grand Tere, by thunder.

To sum up the rest: arr, arr, Jim lad, dead men tell no tales, yo ho ho, pieces o eight, wi' a will an yarely bedamned arr...and arr.

I hope the pirate populace is pleased to be able to now read what should be of most interest.


...and people say historians don't have a sense of humour!

This is the SAME mailgroup that spawned THIS posting from a Canadian "Red Coat" re-enactor on The Fourth of July in 2006...

To my American friends,

(with tongue planted firmly in cheek)

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday Dear rebellious-upstart-republicans....
Happy birthday to you!

Have a great forth of July!

(PS, I wish I could be in Boston tonight!)



Permalink 09:11:30 am, by Email , 218 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions, Asian History

The Year Of The Rat Has Arrived

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is sometimes called the Lunar New Year, especially by people outside China. It is an important holiday in East Asia. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month, and in 2008 that would mean today!

According to Wiki:

It is unclear when the beginning of the year was celebrated before the Qin Dynasty. Traditionally, the year was said to have begun with month 1 during the Xia Dynasty, month 12 during the Shang Dynasty, and month 11 during the Zhou Dynasty. However, records show that the Zhou Dynasty began its year with month 1. Intercalary months, used to keep the lunar calendar synchronized with the sun, were added after month 12 during both the Shang Dynasty (according to surviving oracle bones) and the Zhou Dynasty (according to Sima Qian). The first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang changed the beginning of the year to month 10 in 221 BC, also changing the location of the intercalary month to after month 9. Whether the New Year was celebrated at the beginning of month 10, of month 1, or both is unknown. In 104 BC, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty established month 1 as the beginning of the year, where it remains.

Happy Chinese New Year to all those who celebrate it!

Sources: Wiki



Permalink 09:22:48 am, by Email , 49 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - "Nakht"

Not normally on display is Nakht, he is believed to be a teenager. Taken Royal Ontario Museum Saturday February 2nd, 2008. It was a treat to see him!

Happy Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.



Permalink 12:37:40 am, by Email , 311 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In Film & Television, European History

Children Underground - Homeless Romanian Children

"Beneath the streets of Bucharest, thousands of Romanian children sleep on cardboard beds, beg for food and water and sniff toxic paint fumes to forget their troubles. They are the discarded legacy of the fall of a Communist regime -- and the focus of an Oscar-nominated documentary film, Children Underground.

Former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu outlawed abortion and contraception and ordered women to bear as many children as possible in his failed effort to increase the Romanian workforce. He was executed on Christmas Day, 1989, but today Romanians live with the fallout from that edict -- and as the film shows, the children are mostly ignored."

This is probably the most disturbing film I have ever seen in regards to homeless children. Above you will see just a small sampling. It was very difficult to watch, and despite nearly a decade old I would recommend it to any one who even remotely cares about the welfare of children in poorer countries around the world. It left me bereft of speech. At the end of the film I went into the bathroom, and broke is that powerful.

Why is it, I wonder, that the reality that was delivered in this film, brutal, and harsh as it is, was rejected by every major network at the time it was released? These same networks have brought us such wonderful "reality" crap like Temptation Island, The Glutton Bowl, and Celebrity Ghost Hunters to name just three wastes of time in my opinion.

Are we as a society that hungry for "scripted reality" or is it that actual reality such as the subject matter of street children in Eastern Europe is so distasteful to the masses that the networks figured it was better to sweep it under the rug....and forget about it?

Sometimes I hate this world we live in.......



Permalink 12:14:10 am, by Email , 433 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Arts And Culture, History In The News

Canada's Oldest Book Shop To Close Forever

Book Room to close after 169 years

It survived two World Wars and the Great Depression. But it couldn't survive the onslaught of online ordering, big-box stores such as Chapters and the expansion of books into grocery stores and drugstores. The Book Room in Halifax - billed as the oldest bookstore in Canada - is shutting its doors after 169 years.

"The staff and I are both really sad about having to do this," Charles Burchell, president of The Book Room Ltd., said Tuesday. "But we just realized that after watching the sales for the last year that it just wasn't viable anymore, as far as we were concerned. There were too many other factors at work."

Business started slipping in the last couple of years, culminating this December in "the worst Christmas ever," said Burchell, who has been with the store 42 years. The final nail in the coffin was the dual pricing of books, with higher sticker prices in Canada than in the United States. The recent higher Canadian dollar made smaller bookstores such as The Book Room unable to match the savings offered by some larger book chains.

Publishers couldn't react quickly enough to the change, Burchell said, pointing out that books are begun about three years before they reach the market. It's the only retail industry he knows of where the selling price is already set, he added. "The only way you can make any profit is to control that margin in between, and that has to pay for everything."

The Book Room, located at 1546 Barrington St., tried bringing in gift items such as clip-on reading lights and fancy bookmarks, but that failed.

The closing puts seven employees out of work. Staff declined to comment Tuesday, other than to say they will really miss one another when the doors close for good at the end of March. The wholesale operations will continue. Burchell said they'll start selling off the inventory and even the fixtures over the next month or two.

"It's a very dark day in the book industry," bookseller Heidi Hallett said Tuesday, "and we are really, really sad to see them close. It's definitely a sign of the times, with people shopping online and big-box stores and all that, but it's just so incredibly sad, because we need independent bookstores."

Hallett felt so strongly about customer selection that she bought Frog Hollow Books, one of the city's few remaining independent bookstores, a couple of years ago.

Full Article Here

As a history lover, book lover, and a supporter of Canadian independent business I just find this really sad, and a bloody shame. :(



Permalink 02:49:17 pm, by Email , 134 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In Film & Television, Murder & Mayhem, War And Conflict, European History

Holodomor Ukraine's Genocide

In the early 1930's, Ukraine was the breadbasket of Eastern Europe, had bountiful crops of grain, yet its people were dying of starvation. In order to crush the will of the independent-minded Ukrainian peasants and secure collectivization of all Ukrainian lands, Joseph Stalin ordered an army of ruthless, well-fed Communist Party activists to confiscate all harvested grain and seize all the foodstuffs in the villages. As a result of this genocidal decree, by the end of 1933 nearly 25 percent of the Ukrainian population - over 10 million people, including 3 million children - had perished.

In the face of terror, Ukrainians had little possibility of escaping their horrific fate or even to create another type of life elsewhere. Travel was banned for Ukrainians, keeping them confined in a prison of starvation within their own villages.



Permalink 12:57:22 pm, by Email , 37 words   English (CA)
Categories: British History

The Father Of Cremation - William Price

Scott Michaels of Dearly Departed Tours and helps tell the story of William Price, the Welsh "Father of Cremation" This is too cool, and who says history can not be fun!



Pastime with Good Company

Pastyme With Good Companye

Welcome to the blog of amateur historians Matthew James Didier and Sue Darroch. Partners in life and in crime, we endeavor to entertain you with snippets from our combined historical research. Past time with good company indeed, as we shall introduce you to Kings and Knaves, Queens and Mistresses, Cons and Heroes, from our collective past......from events well known to those perhaps all but forgotten, we will do our best to bring you interesting historical factoids from around the globe. It is our belief that through understanding our past we will all gain a better perspective on our future.

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