Boer War Page 91kk

Rare Boer War Discoveries

Below are some of the key items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections
in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries - Jan. 2005

Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier 1841-1919 - Memorabilia
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
This magnificent statue was very likely produced to stand in corporate offices, business establishments, or law firms. It would have looked wonderful in a corporate library, or the smoking room of a club. It would have been "overkill" in a private home, though some, no doubt, ended up there. After 100 years it is still in fabulous shape, still with its original paint, no damage, no repairs.

This marvel of artistic creativity says a lot about Sir Wilfrid - and indeed the Canada he helped define.

Sir Wilfrid is posed as the orator, reminding us that he was one of the finest debaters and speakers, in both official languages, ever heard on Parliament Hill. He is also posed, firmly, as a man of principle, willing to "stand up" for what he believes.

The stance is that, not of a boxer or Rambo, but of a man of reason, who believes he can convince you by force of his argument. And those arguments are backed up by sound knowledge, and the weight of the evidence, represented by the supporting pedestal of books. Laurier was a champion of government policy based on knowledge and education, not the biggest gun...

Sir Wilfrid's hands speak volumes for the inner man and the country he represented. Neither extended as fists to pound, or hands to throttle, nor ominously thrust into a pocket - perhaps groping for a gun, or bomb, or cruise missile - one hand reaches for his debating notes, the other, non-threateningly hooked on a vest pocket, drawing back his frock, exposing his breast, demonstrating his vulnerability, and in every way saying "Let's discuss our differences the civilized way!"

Statue, Sir Wilfrid Laurier c 1898
Orig. plaster statue - Size - 29" wt 16 lbs
Found - Hawkesbury, PQ
Everything about this statue, and this man, says proudly, I am Canadian - definitely not American.
Sir Wilfrid & Memorabilia: Today there is more memorabilia available on Sir Wilfrid Laurier than on all the other Canadian Prime Ministers combined.

A century ago, people wanted a keepsake in his honour because they felt that he set a strong standard for uncompromising righteousness in the highest office in the land. Probably no other Prime Minister matched his unique mystique, with the possible exception of Pierre Trudeau. There is, in fact, an uncanny resemblance between the men, both physically, in manner, and background. Both come across as thoughtful, graceful, erudite, men of letters, and men of honour, who, in the eyes of common Canadians, were seen to ennoble the office which they held, not debase it, or use it for personal advantage.

Regarded by many as probably the two finest Canadian Prime Ministers, admittedly, neither probably had the "Right Stuff" - which George Bush had - of what it takes to be elected, twice, to the Presidency of the United States.

  • "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
    - (George Bush, White House Signing Ceremony, Aug. 5, 2004)

Unlike other politicians, once they have left office, Pierre Trudeau turned down every lucrative offer to sit as a toady on the Boards of corporate bosses who offered directorships.

He was not going to give some crude corporate honcho gloating rights, and cause for a boast to his wife, or mistress, or crony:

"Hey! Have you heard the latest trophy I've collected for my Board? I've got the PM in my pocket, now, and on my payroll!

Trudeau - like many lesser men and women - could have made extra millions just saying yes to these offers from corporate bagmen.

Trudeau, stood alone, in saying no to every single offer. He did not feel he wanted to do as others had done, trade on the Prime Ministership for mere personal pecuniary advantage.

Canadians, from coast to coast, sensed the honour in this man. Of him it might well have been written, "Here was a man! The noblest Roman of them all!"

One gets the feeling that Canadians, a century ago, believed Sir Wilfrid was cut from the same cloth.

That is why they bought plates and pins, and busts and pictures, because they felt that, somehow, the glow these items cast off in their homes, places of business, or work, would ennoble their daily life, or inspire them in little ways, because they knew that they were in good hands... And that there was, unquestionably, a profoundly decent public servant at the helm of the Ship of State.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
This plaster bust would have been a cherished item in a working class home. It was a different time then; how many Canadians would put a bust of Brian Mulroney on the mantle now? Ok, perhaps his son...

Plaster busts were the low end on the bust scale of materials. Marble, the heaviest and most expensive material, was only affordable to the rich. Parian marbles were for the middle class. Plaster was for the workers. It is also fragile so the bust shows a century of knocks.

The bust is adorned with a maple leaf, which, a century ago, was synonymous with Canada, and put on plates, cups, platters, and jugs. It was the national emblem.

And "The Maple Leaf Forever" was more sung than any other song, not only across Canada, but by all Canada's Boer War volunteers all over South Africa. It was Canada's national anthem. The RCRs sang it boisterously as they trudged into Douglas, after the Battle of Sunnyside, the first battle Canadians were to fight in South Africa.

Plaster Bust, Sir Wilfrid Laurier c 1898
Orig. plaster bust - Size - 9"
Found - Cooksville, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Plate, Sir Wilfrid Laurier c 1908
Orig. ceramic plate - Size - 9.75"
Found - Aberfoyle, ON
Labelled on back, "Sir Wilfrid Laurier Premier of Canada"
This is the only full colour plate we have ever seen, featuring a Canadian Prime Minister. Though it is the only one, it is not that rare; we have seen six in the last four years. This plate was obviously in strong demand, a hundred years ago.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Plaster Plaque, Sir Wilfrid Laurier - 1905
Orig. plaster plaque - Size - 17" x 22.5" wt 12 lbs
Found - Victoriaville, PQ
Signed on back, Par L. Moisan Jnr, Sculpteur - Enregistré 4 Mars 1905
A giant plaster plaque, like this one, cast in a mold by a professional artist, would appeal to more wealthy people.

This extremely rare, and fabulous polished plaster plaque was made by a Quebec sculptor who was apparently taken enough by the mystique of Sir Wilfrid to carve a master and then cast this plaster from the mold, which he inscribed with his name and the registry date of March 4, 1905 (left). Sir Wilfrid had six more years to serve.

This cast is a full 22.5" high and weighs 12 hefty pounds. Sir Wilfrid was probably designed to hang in finer homes or offices. Is there anyone out there who would want to hang former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney....?

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Laurier Cigar Box - 1897
Orig. wooden box - Size - 1.5" x 5.5" x 8.75"
Found - Farmington, NH
Metal ornamentation, small cameo on lid, large portrait inside.
At a time when everyone smoked, cigar smoking men of distinction - and other users like Bill Clinton - were invited to try a box of Laurier cigars. The finest cigar box we have ever seen it this ultra-rare specimen honouring Sir Wilfrid.

The box is made of solid wood, not the flimsy paper stock one usually finds them made of. It has metal scrolls on the corners, around the lock, and the cover portrait of Laurier. Inside, it has a wonderfully pristine portrait of Laurier against the background of the old Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, ON. It was made in 1897 by the Rock City Cigar Co. of Levis, PQ.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Wilfrid Laurier Ribbon, 1895
Orig. ribbon - Size - 2 x 6"
Found - Cambridge, ON
An ultra-rare ribbon for an election campaign rally in Woodstock, Ontario, on October 26, 1895, which ultimately saw Wilfrid Lauier becoming, in 1896, the first French-Canadian to be elected Prime Minister of Canada. And many say, the nation's best ever.

c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000