Past Exhibitions

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Family Photos: The Harris’ Abroad

Through 2017, Eldon House Second Floor

120 years ago the Harris Family of Eldon House went on an 11-month “world tour” traveling through Japan, China, Burma, India, Egypt, Palestine, into Europe and England. Not only did they bring back innumerable of souvenir’s which give Eldon House it’s unique character, they also returned with hundreds of photographs.  This exhibit aims to illustrate the locations explored on the family’s “Grand Tour” while also focusing on “Canadian’s Abroad” at the end of the Victorian Era.



At the Front: Teddy Harris and the Great War

February through August 2017, Eldon House Second Floor

The third exhibition in a series of four commemorating the life of Edward Montgomery (“Teddy”) Harris, this installment brings participants to the front lines of World War I following Teddy during his years as a Major in the Canadian Service Corps. Drawing on archival materials, this exhibition illustrates the experience of a Londoner overseas at the front, in hospital and at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.



The Home Front

February through June 2017, Eldon House Interpretive Centre

Life for those on the home front was overshadowed by the activities happening overseas and the response of many of those left behind was to aid the war effort.   This exhibition explores aspects of life at “home” during the First World War, from letter writing to victory gardens to women in the workplace. Using artifacts from the Museum’s collection, excerpts from Harris Family letters and diaries as well as historical visual images, participants will experience how life on the home front affected Canadians during and after the war.



Genealogical Journey: Mapping Family History

March through July 2017, Eldon House Interpretive Centre

As part of the museum’s commemoration of Confederation Eldon House will be hosting several genealogical workshops and speakers for those interested in discovering their own family histories. The story of the Harris Family has, for the 57 year history of the museum, has been researched and interpreted. The process of genealogical research and its exciting discoveries is the subject of this mini-exhibit.



The Harris Family Songbook: Pre-Confederation Music

July through December 2017

Eldon House holds a sheet music collection of over 40 hand-inscribed songs from the 1830s to the 1850s which has been recently digitized, allowing the museum to explore the pieces with greater attention. Many of the songs are “parlour music” intended for voice and keyboard and performed by amateurs, including patriotic selections, religious songs, and pieces written for the musical stage. What makes this collection so interesting today is the lack of truly “Canadian” music that speaks of the lives of those dwelling in the region prior to 1867. The popular European and American songs in the pre-confederation collection would soon be replaced by “Canadian” tunes and can be seen as the country’s first instance of “Can-Con.”



Maurice Portman: Man of Mystery

October 2017 through February 2018, Eldon House Interpretive Centre

Maurice Portman married Helen Harris of Eldon House in the late 1850s. He was the son of an English peer and involved in politics. Recent archive research suggests that he may have also been involved in the secret service during the American Civil War – but for whom is still being determined! This exhibit details the mysterious life of Maurice Portman while also exploring Canadian’s untold involvement in the American Civil War.



Christmas Past

December, Eldon House Second Floor

Seasonal family heirlooms, Christmas Cards and accompanying quotations from the Harris family diaries bring Victorian Christmas traditions to life.


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Family Photos: The Harrises at Home

Through 2016, Eldon House Second Floor

Western Archives holds a huge collection of historic photographs attributed to the Harris family who lived at Eldon House. This exhibit will allow visitors an intimate view of the family, their home and their gardens.


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The Lost Art of Bobbin Lace

March-July, Interpretive Centre

Generations of women, such as those in the Harris family of Eldon House were “brought up to the pillow” creating intricate pieces of handmade lace that were soon replaced with machine-made products at the end of the Victorian era. As the first in a series on “women’s work”, this exhibit explores the rise and fall of an elaborate art form and illustrates the complicated process of creating bobbin lace.


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Teddy: A Military Gentleman

April-July, Eldon House Second Floor

The exhibition is the second in a three-part series that explores the life of Edward Montgomery Harris (1880-1953). Beginning in 1900, after leaving school and joining the Commonwealth Armed Forces, this exhibition explores “Teddy’s” travels, through Britain, India and Canada and observes the life changes wrought by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the era leading up to the outbreak of World War I.


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The Irish Connection: The Fenian Threat, London West and the Harris Family

May-September, Eldon House Interpretive Centre

The Harris Family of Eldon House was well aware of the issues influencing the Fenian Brotherhood and their uprisings in Canada and the United States between the years 1866-1871. This exhibition will illustrate how the “Fenian Raids” impacted those living in Upper Canada, through the diaries and letters of the Harris Family, while highlighting their own involvement in the defence of the empire.


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Before their Time: The Harris Women, Feminism and Suffrage

September 15 2016-January 2017, Eldon House Second Floor

Through their intimate diaries and letters, a wealth of observations were made about femininity in the 19th and early 20th Centuries by three generations of Harris women. Education, marriage, birth, and legal status are all topics touched upon by the family and illustrated in this exhibition, leading to their involvement with and celebration of women’s suffrage.


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Women’s Work

August-December, Eldon House Interpretive Centre

Generations of Harris women performed tasks that were expected of them according to their era’s etiquette. From lacemaking to laundry, this exhibition aims to explore the fashion of “women’s work” as experienced by the upper middle class.


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Winter Sport in London, 1885

October-February 2017, Eldon House Interpretive Centre

This exhibit explores the many sporting pursuits of the late Victorians in London, Ontario. Tobogganing, skating, hockey, lacrosse were all enjoyed by Londoners. Using public and Harris archives, the outdoor enjoyment of winter 1885 will be explored.


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Christmas Past

December, Eldon House Second Floor

Western Archives holds a huge collection of historic photographs attributed to the Harris family who lived at Eldon House. This exhibit will allow visitors an intimate view of the family, their home and their gardens.