Hidden treasures come to light
History enthusiast finds a number of mysterious and intriguing items while renovating house
A newly purchased home has become a house full of treasures, as well as a little bit of mystery, for history enthusiast George Dalton.
Dalton and his wife Estelle have spent the past year renovating a former farmhouse on Beach Light Road just outside of Victoria.
While they bought the house partially for its historical quality, Dalton didn’t realize just how much heritage it contained.
He has since uncovered a number of intriguing antiques.
“This has been like a gathering of the artifacts,” said Dalton, a past president of the Summerside and Area Historical Society.
The most striking discovery came just over a week ago when Dalton and his grandson found an old cheesebox in the attic.
With “quite a buzz” in the town, several members of the community and Dalton’s family gathered to see him open the sealed box.
Inside was a coat made of black Persian lamb fur, as well as matching mittens and a rabbit fur hat.
The items, which were all in “remarkable” condition, were also wrapped in a Montreal newspaper dated 1921.
“So that gives us a date of when the contents went into the box and we had a lot of fun opening it… it was like an Oak Island treasure,” said Dalton, with the discovery also raising some questions. “Why was it bundled up (for nearly 100 years)?”
The house, which was previously known as The Lea Home, was originally two structures located on the shoreline. The structures were joined together and moved to the present location in 1908.
Some of Dalton’s discoveries date back to before the 1900’s.
He has found a number of receipts for wool and other items from the 1870’s, which are also in excellent shape.
Along with the receipts, Dalton also found two bags of wool clothing as well as a mahogany box containing a number of early rug-hooking tools.
“They’re very special because they’re very old,” said Dalton, noting that they also provide some valuable historical information. “The significance of this is that we’re able to see how big of a business wool was around the county here.”
Another discovery has been a photo album containing pictures of the home’s previous owners as far back as the 1870’s.
What makes the pictures notable is that every one contains detailed descriptions of the names and ages of those in the pictures.
Brenda Boudreau, chair of the Victoria Historical Society, said seeing those details was “amazing.”
“When you find an album of pictures with this much information on the back, that’s a real treasure,” said Boudreau. “With old photos you find in a box usually there’s no identification.”
Dalton said he is sorting through the discoveries and suggested possibly opening up the home to community members and tourists interested in seeing the items.
“The big benefit would be in the interest of the community and visitors who want to learn about our history,” he said, “This was a very historic home… and as Islanders, we’ve very compassionate about our history.”
Brenda Boudreau, left, Estelle Dalton and George Dalton hold up some of the items found in a home the Dalton’s purchased last year near Victoria-By-The-Sea. In this picture, Boudreau, who is chair of the Victoria Historical Society, is holding a pair of black Persian lamb fur mittens, while Estelle is holding the matching coat and George is holding the cheesebox they were found in. The items were had been sealed in the cheesebox in the early 1920s.