40 shades of red

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Who needs 50 Shades of Grey when you can have 40 shades of red?

Those 40 shades will be on display at Annandale National Historic Site during the museum’s ‘Ruby Anniversary’ exhibit from May 5 to this Canada Day.

“It’s 40 years that the museum has been open and our actual anniversary date is June 29 – that’s when the museum officially opened in 1973,” said Patricia Phelps, Curator at Annandale National Historic Site. “It was over by Lake Lisgar in the old Community Centre. We were there from 1973 until we moved to Annandale House in 1989.

“We opened the first exhibit in this changing gallery in November of 1989. It was November so that was a Christmas exhibit, it was called ‘O Christmas Tree’ and it was the history of the decorated Christmas tree.”

The museum is marking its 40th anniversary with several different events including a steak and lobster dinner at Mill Tales Inn on June 29.

“We are doing a few special events that are happening around this time of year, around spring, because our official anniversary is the 29th of June,” said Phelps. “The first exhibit in the gallery here is called our Ruby Anniversary exhibit and what we have done is we have pulled items from the permanent collection that are red or a shade of red. The only thing that they have in common is the fact that they are red.

“Your 40th anniversary is your ruby anniversary so that’s what this exhibit is actually called – and that’s why we picked the colour red.”

The exhibit opens this Saturday (May 4) and will include a variety of interesting and educational ‘red’ items from the past 40 years.

“We have everything from a corkscrew with a red handle to a beautiful velvet bodice from an 1880s gown, to a 1960 Olympic warm-up suit from the Canadian Olympic team,” said Phelps.

In addition, there are shoes, furniture, houseware items, Christmas decorations, bottles and unique souvenir-type pieces on display.

“They are all red and of course, they also all tell a story because there’s a story behind every artifact.”

The exhibit is opening this weekend in conjunction with the Oxford Studio Tour that takes place May 4 and 5.

“Our exhibit if officially opening on the weekend as part of the Oxford Studio Tour because we have two local artists Jason Puhr and Jared Smith, here at the museum using our program room.”

There are several interesting items featured in the exhibit that the public can learn about and will enjoy, noted Phelps.

“For example, the Olympic warm-up suit is incredible but then there’s the Bert Newman smoking jacket - he was the florist in town for many, many years with Newman’s Florist. After he lost his sight he did recordings and reminiscences, and published five books about his memories of growing up in Tillsonburg and this was his jacket that he used to sit around in.

“To me they’re all unique and it’s the stories behind them that are really fascinating.”

For more information on the Ruby Anniversary Exhibit call the museum at (519) 842-2294 or contact Patricia Phelps at




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