The History of Art at the Fredericton Region Museum

The Fredericton Region Museum will be offering a free activity for children ages 6 and up as part of Culture Days. Children will visit our 19th Century Drawing Room and learn about the style and history of the portraits. Children will then have an opportunity to draw their own portrait, or to draw a friend’s! We hope to see you all there! Done forget to bring your creativity.

Where: The Fredericton Region Museum
When: Saturday, September 27th from 10:00AM until 11:00AM
Cost: Free!

Click here to register:

cultue days event picture

Geocaching Event to Commemorate the Great War

A German machine-gun emplacement of reinforced concrete on the crest of Vimy Ridge, and the Canadians who seized it

Join us for an exciting event to commemorate New Brunswick in the Great War. The Gregg Centre and the Fredericton Region Museum have commissioned the Regt Major NBGWGP to establish a Geotour of the Greater Fredericton Area. During the event, the design for the commemorative Great War geocoin will be revealed. There will also be guest speakers, light refreshments, and tours of the new trench exhibit. There will also a scavenger hunt to find a copy of “The Bitter Harvest of War” (donated by Goose Lane), which will be hidden somewhere in the museum.

The event will take place tomorrow, August 27th at the Fredericton Region Museum. The event will start at 6:30PM and go until 8:00PM.

We hope to see you there!

bitter harvest of war

Artifact Spotlight: The British Small Box Respirator

The vivid scenery in Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est helps me to recall that many people of all nationalities went through terrifying experiences with chemical warfare during the First World War. Until I began working at the Fredericton Region Museum, the vivid imagery remained just a part of the poem. I could picture the most chilling lines of the poem, but it still remained just an image in my mind. Once I started working with some of the objects of the First World War, the imagery became much more vivid.

The objects that really evoked these feelings were the gas masks. We are quite fortunate here at the museum to have a First World War era British Small Box Respirator. Gas masks like this were an incredibly important part of a soldier’s kit. They were critical if a soldier wished to survive a gas attack and fight another day. Owen’s description of a man who failed to put his mask on in time helps to show how important the gas mask was.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
(Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum Est)

While examining the Small Box Respirator it is easy to see what Wilfred Owen means by “an ecstasy of fumbling”. Within seconds of a gas alarm you had to remove your helmet, remove your respirator from the haversack around your neck, place it over your head, clamp the nose piece on to your nose and bite down on the breathing tube. All of this had to be done without breathing in any of the gases floating towards your lines.

Inside of the mask is a small breathing tube, as well as a clamp that pinches your nose shut. This ensured that even if the mask was not airtight that you could still breathe safely. This clamp was a common complaint with the mask, as it would get uncomfortable the longer the mask was worn. Also, heat would slowly build up inside the mask, making it even more uncomfortable to wear. During the short time I was handling the mask I was wearing a modern respirator that only covered my mouth and nose. Even though I had been wearing the respirator for less than half an hour it was already becoming uncomfortable for me to wear this modern respirator because of the heat building up inside of it.

Another problem that Owen alludes to in his poem is visibility. These early gas masks had glass lenses, which would fog up over time. Eventually there was the development of masks that vented air over the lenses to demist them as seen with the Tissot mask, as well as the use of anti-fog materials like in British Small Box Respirators and German gas masks.

Despite the discomforts and low visibility the Small Box Respirator was an effective piece of kit. The filters on these gas masks lasted twice as long as their contemporaries due to the simple addition of an exhaust valve to the mask’s stem. As a soldier exhaled, the valve would allow air to go through this valve rather than back through the filter. Another feature of this mask is that the canvas was rubberized. This meant that the mask would fit snugly over the face and create an airtight seal. This design saved many lives in the First World War, and the updated version of the Small Box Respirator would continue to see use in the Second World War. 



IMG_1864The entire kit of the Small Box Respirator. The hose that attaches the canister (upper right corner) to the mask is missing. The haversack is heavily stained. During combat, the canister would be stored in the right pocket of the haversack on top of a metal spring. As air came in the bottom of the canister, this spring prevented the canister from sticking to the bottom of the haversack and restricting air flow (YSHS/FRM 1969.964.1a-c).


IMG_1689Another view of the Small Box Respirator. You can see the air intake valve on the bottom of the canister. (YSHS/FRM 1969.964.1a-c)

IMG_1868Inside the mask. You can see the nose clamp as well as the breathing tube. The lenses on this mask have yellowed over the last 97 years. You can also see the rubber on the inside of the canvas that helped to seal the mask against the user’s face. The “3” on the inside of the nose clamp denotes that this is a medium size mask. (YSHS/FRM 1969.964.1a).

IMG_1863Remember to play it safe when dealing with artifacts! You never know what chemicals they may have come into contact with. Nitrile gloves and a respirator are a must when dealing with objects that may have been contaminated with chemical agents. (Photo credit: Clinton Gillespie)


Written by Tom MacDonald (Collections Assistant, Fredericton Region Museum 2014)

The Fredericton Region Museum will be having our annual Open House event this summer on Sunday, August 10th, from 10 am – 5pm! This event will feature the grand unveiling of the First World War Vimy Ridge trench exhibit. We are excited to unveil our new exhibit to the public as we have worked very hard and are extremely proud with the level of detail we’ve included. This immersive exhibit has been a huge undertaking and we are certain you’ll love it as much as we do. It does an amazing job at capturing the trench life experience that so many were forced to live through.

We are offering coupons for Hannah’s Tea Place, located on our second floor balcony. There, visitors can purchase historic refreshments and are invited to help make dog and cat toys for the Fredericton SPCA. The first 100 attendees at the Open House will receive coupons for Hannah’s Tea Place.

The new musical group Sona will be performing during the day on the balcony. They are a new group composed of young Fredericton students. Sona sings in English, French, and Gaelic. Make sure you don’t miss their performance!

A white gloves tour will allow visitors to get up close and personal with many of our artefacts located on the third floor. Door prizes, crafts for children and the sale of our popular root beer floats complete the day.

Remember that Open House means that we will not be charging admission. This means the whole family can come for free! So please come to the museum August 10th if you are looking for a fun filled day in down town Fredericton.

Hannah Ingraham at the Fredericton Region Museum

On the second floor balcony of the Fredericton Region Museum, a young girl from colonial times serves iced tea and cookies. Spencer Murgatroyd dresses in period costume as Hannah Ingraham, a woman of Loyalist descent who arrived in Fredericton from New York State in 1783 at the age of 11. She was a refugee, escaping political persecution after the American Revolution.

American rebels arrested Hannah’s father because of his loyalty to Britain during the American Revolution. He escaped into the forest where he joined other partisans and eventually joined the King’ Army. During his absence, rebels stripped Hannah and her mother of their farm, leaving them with a few sheep and a cow. They remained on their now confiscated farm, but were forced to pay rent. After the war ended in the United States, the family continued to suffer persecution, they, therefore, decided to flee Albany for Saint John, New Bruswick, then called the colony of Nova Scotia.

Near the end of their journey, the family faced a troubling storm in the Bay of Fundy. Thankfully some “Frenchmen” (MacLeod 4) in a canoe came to their aid. After arriving in Saint John in October of 1983, Hannah and her parents were given mattresses and a tent in which they camped on the banks of the St. John River. Conditions were far from comfortable as snow and rain fell upon the land soaking clothing and mattresses. The Ingrahams eventually travelled up the river and settled in St. Ann’s, later named Fredericton. Hannah, never married and therefore remained with her parents until the death of her father in 1810. She then moved to Bear Island, a community northwest of the city of Fredericton, in order to live with her brother, Ira. Ira Ingraham’s house was moved from Bear Island to King’s Landing Historical Settlement.

Come on out and meet Hannah Ingraham at Hannah’s Tea Place, located on our 2nd floor balcony overlooking Officers’ Square. Hours of operation are Mon-Tues 1pm-4pm and Thurs – Fri. 1pm-4pm.


Peter MacLeod, Canadian Military History, vol. 12, issue 2, Article 3, 1-20-2012.

Madrigal Artisans gift shop at the Museum

Formed in 2013, The Madrigal Artisans, a branch of the Madrigal Players, opened a gift shop found at the second entrance of the Fredericton Region Museum, 571 Queen Street in Officers’ Square.

Along with their arts and crafts for sale, The Madrigal Artisans will be offering art and craft activities/classes. Items available for sale at the shop include handmade jewellery, homemade honey from Thomas Apary, homemade chocolate, dough dolls, stuffed toys, keychains and quilts. They will also be selling cold beverages.

Madrigal Artisan gift shop hours are Monday –Thursday, 11am – 5pm, or by chance. The Fredericton Region Museum hours are Sunday to Saturday from 10-5 throughout the months of July and August.

Reception for Artists in Residence

The Fredericton Region Museum is pleased to host its second Artist in Residence program. Made possible by a grant from the City of Fredericton Arts Culture & Heritage project, this program seeks to inspire artists with Fredericton’s diverse and rich heritage. The program is open to local artists, working in a visual media, whose work relates to Fredericton’s history. The Museum will hold a reception on Monday, July 28 at 7:00 for this summer’s Artists in Residence. All are welcome to come out to meet and view the works of painter, Derek Davidson and rug-hooker, Mary Grant.

Derek Davidson is an emerging artist who raised in Devon, England. He moved to Fredericton in 1978 in order to pursue a master’s degree at UNB. He began to paint when his children were young and is mostly self-taught. His paintings bear similarities to those of Renoir whose grandson spoke with Derek while he was in France. Davidson is an active member of Fredericton’s arts community and has his own website, He has been engaged in painting activities and artefacts around the museum.

Mary Grant, the second artist begins her residency in August. Since her retirement, Grant has enjoyed developing and teaching the historic craft of rug hooking. She is now a certified instructor. Rug hooking is in the genes of Grant whose grandmothers also rug-hooked. However, she quips, “My mom’s mom hated it because it was a necessity and did not fulfill her as an artist.” Mary became interested in the craft after her unsuccessful search to join a quilting guild led her to a rug hooking display where she signed up for a beginner’s course. Twelve years later, Grant is an accomplished artisan who is a member of two rug hooking guilds. Mary Grant will occupy a gallery room in the museum from August 11-26 where she will be creating rugs and teaching visitors how to do the same.

The Fredericton Region Museum wishes to thank the City of Fredericton who made this program possible. The FRM is a non-profit organization dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of local history. Hours of operation are Sunday -Saturday from 10am until 5pm throughout the months of July and |August. Hours are limited during the rest of the year; April-June and September –November from 1pm-4pm, December-March is by appointment or by chance.