Stepping into the past A look at Bedeque and Area Historical Society Museum

Eric McMurray
Published on February 24, 2014
Percy Affleck shows off some old workbench tools that are part of a new display on the second floor of the Bedeque and Area Historical Society Museum, which is currently being renovated as new displays are being set up.
Eric McMurray/Journal Pioneer

BEDEQUE – It was shortly after the Second World War that Percy Affleck’s father got the family’s first car, a 1939 Chevrolet.

Soon after, the family got its first tractor, a 1947 Pony Massey Harris.

Families worked hard on their farms to supply their food, said Affleck.

“The vegetables and potatoes were in the basement and we slaughtered our own beef and hogs. The garden was a part of our lifestyle.”

While that lifestyle has changed drastically, it can still be seen at the Bedeque and Area Historical Society Museum.

The museum, which opened to the public in 2013, received a new floor on its first floor last year.

This year, the society is adding new items to the second floor of the building, which is currently being renovated.

Affleck, a volunteer with the Bedeque and Area Historical Society, sees the value of preserving the past. He is thrilled to see the society partner with Skills P.E.I. to help renovate the museum, which Affleck said wouldn’t be possible without their support.

The museum is currently closed while the displays are being set up, though private appointments can be arranged.

The second floor displays will take visitors back into earlier eras of P.E.I. history, dating back to the 1700s when Loyalists first settled Bedeque.

Some of the displays remind Affleck of his youth, and show how his life has changed since days without electricity on P.E.I.

He recalled a story of his grandmother shopping and not having the money to pay for a spool of thread.

“It’s hard to imagine anyone today not having enough money to buy something like a spool of thread,” he explained. “But a spool of thread was critical to (my grandmother’s) life. She made her own clothing.”

Affleck’s grandmother would be permitted to open a credit account to the store and pay in the spring season with chicken or eggs.

William Callbeck opened the store in which Affleck’s grandmother shopped in 1899. It is the same building the museum is housed in today.

One of the new displays shows a workbench with tools from the early 1900s.

The tools, some of which include wrenches that would still fit a lug nut today, hold up as they were built to last, Affleck said.

“If I can find a tool that was made between 1950 and 1970, it’s usually way better quality than anything you can buy today at the box store.”

Tools interest the self-proclaimed handyman, and serve as a link between generations.

Thomas Sherry, the current vice-chairman of the society, said the difference between generations is shown in the museum displays.

“(The generation today) needs to go into a museum to see what their parents and grandparents grew up with, and experience it.”

Sherry said museums have difficulties getting new display items due to younger generations throwing stuff out, without realizing what they may have had.

He urged people who may have items of historical significance to call a local museum to learn more about how donating items can help preserve the history.

“I hope museums all across P.E.I. will be open and preserve artifacts for future generations.”