Working tools of our ancestors – a historical display for Heritage Month

(A steam tractor, circa 1900, from the Kenny farm (Blondehead) located at Concession 9, Lot 27 in the former Goulbourn Township. The Kenny brothers, Clifford, John and William and William’s wife Mildred (née Burrroughs) are posting with the tractor. Photo: Goulbourn Township Historical Society.)

February is Heritage Month and the Goulbourn Township Historical Society (GTHS) has installed a photographic exhibit of working tools from our past at the Stittsville Library Branch to celebrate the history of tools used in the former Goulbourn Township.

John Bottriell, Board member of GTHS, has shared the photo exhibition with Stittsville Central and we are providing a sneak peek of some photos from the display.

You will find no electrical, solar or battery operated tools in this display – just the hand-crafted tools of yesteryear that incredibly were used on a daily basis. We encourage you to take the time to visit the Library and discover how tools have evolved over the years. It proves to be an interesting and true learning experience.

The cream separator was used to separate and remove cream from whole milk based on the fact that cream (butterfat) floats on top of skim milk. A centrifuge in the form of a rapidly revolving (8,000 rpm) bowl containing a set of disks separates milk into the two component products. This separator was on display in 1992 at the Goulbourn Historical Society/Goulbourn Museum’s heritage day event.

Here is an early version of a baby walker, an invention that allowed infants not yet mobile to move from one place to another. Contrary to popular belief of teaching babies to walk earlier, these devices were found to delay walking by several weeks.  This model was popular in the early 1900’s. Although still being manufactured (in plastic versions) the product has been completely banned in Canada since 2004 (and voluntarily banned by Canadian retailers since 1999) because of the prevalence of head and neck injuries and skull fractures. This photo was provided to the GTHS by long-time member Marg Gillick.

The process of making holes in wood at one time required the use of a T-shaped auger, a slow and somewhat inaccurate process. The invention of the “egg-beater” hand drill allowed for ease of use. Although electric drills now predominate in the workshop, these robust antique hand devices continue to have a role to play, especially where there is no power outlet or a battery is discharged. This photo taken by GTHS member John Bottriell.

Abandoned but not forgotten, this grist mill stone from the Stapledon Grist Mill was photographed by Nancy Smith around 1970. Evidence of millstones to grind grains goes back at least 12,000 years and they are still used today.



On Saturday, February 15, the GTHS will be holding their annual Heritage Day celebration at the Stittsville Public Library in the Grace Thompson Meeting Room. It takes place from 1:30 – 4:30 pm — you can see their collection of tools from our past up close and learn how they were put to use in the kitchen, for gardening, construction and farming. If you have an old tool that you would like to display or just want to find out more about it, bring it to the event, someone may know more. As is usual, GTHS events are free and there are always homemade treats and beverages to enjoy.


1 thought on “Working tools of our ancestors – a historical display for Heritage Month”

  1. Are there more photo available? Reading this text im quite sure that it can be the engine which im restoring now, can i get more photos and better quality? Im trying to find history of mine GW traction engine and it looks from info gathered from steam enthusiasts – mine GW was owned by people – brothers mentioned in description of this photo! Engine is in Poland now since may 2019 and is under restoration. If there is any possibility to get more materials it woud be a great story 😁. Regards from Poland. Andrzej

Leave a Reply