An Assembled Drawing Room for a typical Aristocratic Fredericton Colonial Family Pre-Confederation Time (1800-1850)

Fredericton Notables 1800-1850 Exhibit

Curated by David Staples and assisted by Elizabeth Earl, the contents of this room reflect the accumulated possessions of a privileged established family. There is a strong possibility the various portraits and artefacts were inter-related through marriage and/or political affiliation. One common thread which appears to join each item is a revered loyalist ancestry. Colonial New Brunswick was very much a closed society. With the exception of the pianoforte, and possibly the music stand, all the furniture was made in the colony. Only one portrait was executed abroad. Land and possessions constituted the real wealth. This wealth was handed down religiously from one generation to the next, for there was little surplus currency.

There were talented English trained itinerant portrait painters who moved freely throughout the colonies. These portraits reflect the personal wealth and accomplishments of the sitters.

The pianoforte and music stand indicate all entertainment had to be created for and by themselves. By the standards of today, life was tedious and perhaps even boring. If someone possessed a talent they were drawn out by the rest of the community to share it with others. There was a remarkable social fluidity between people of all stations, where people of position welcomed others to share at their table and festive occasions. This interaction did not extend to wealth, disposition of property (land), marriage, or governmental preferment. There was in fact an unwritten but time honoured code of established English civility.

The Fredericton Region Museum would like to thank David and Elizabeths for their contribution of knowledge and their ongoing support of our organization.

Several artefacts contained in the exhibit can be viewed on the Artefact Canada website.  Artefacts Canada: Humanities contains close to 4 million object records and 800,000 images from hundreds of museums across Canada.

They are:
A portrait of John Simcoe Saunders
– A carved mahogany arm chair
– A Thomas Nesbit dropleaf table
A decorative floral embroidered firescreen
– A Thomas Nesbit armchair


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