Treasure Chest Thursday – Archives, Superintendents’ Reports, Seagulls!












I’ve made some progress in my search for my grandmother Velma’s early education in Colchester County, Nova Scotia in the first quarter of the 20th century. After much fruitless searching for specific school records on the one hand and more general histories of Canadian education on the other, I decided to try looking for a repository of digitized Canadian books. This took me to the Internet Archive, where I found The Annual Report of the Superintendent of Education on the Public Schools of Nova Scotia for the Year Ended 31st July 1900.  Velma was born in 1897, so this report wasn’t for an applicable year (c. 1902-1916), but a look at the table of contents revealed that it was the right resource because it listed the names of pupils who had received diplomas that year and the schools which had issued them. I’m still in the process of locating digitized copies for the applicable years. (And, boy, are my eyes tired.)

I’ve made better progress with Velma’s post-secondary education at Dalhousie University in Halifax.  Browsing the Dalhousie University Library Archives yielded a treasure trove of sources, including brief character sketches of Velma and her classmates; catalogs with the expected degree requirements, along with some unexpected university life requirements; and the 1918 graduation issue of the student newspaper, Dalhousie Gazette. (I’m being very disciplined in refraining from grabbing all of the Bright Shiny Objects beckoning to me. All in good time, my lovelies, all in good time.)

Now, for the Real Treasure . . .

This oil painting of seagulls wheeling against the sky is one of my most treasured possessions. The painting hung in every bedroom I slept in as a child, and it has hung in every home I’ve lived in as an adult. Velma painted it for me in 1957 after I became entranced by the seagulls when she looked after me at her Cape Elizabeth cottage the week my brother was born. The black-and-white photograph below was taken during that visit. The elderly woman next to me is my Great-Great Aunt Etta (ESTHER LEILA MOORE, 1875-1962) from Economy Point, Nova Scotia.


Treasure Chest Thursday – Speaking of Lambs

Reading J. Bailey Moore’s account of little lost lambs in Candia reminded me of this treasure: the cereal dish my mother fed me from when I was a baby. It’s a treasured possession because every time I see it, I’m reminded of how my late father called me “Lambikin” when I was little.



The Real Lambikin

I just Googled “lambikin,” thinking to confirm that it’s not a real word and discovered that “The Lambikin” was a fairy tale that had originated in India. Who knew?! If my parents read it to me, I certainly don’t remember it. I found two versions of it.

The Accumulative Droll

Here’s the first version, taken from a 1923 children’s literature textbook for teachers. According to the book’s editor, “It is an accumulative droll in character and should be told early along with, say, ‘The Story of the Three Little Pigs’.”1


Once upon a time there was a wee wee Lambikin, who frolicked about on his little tottery legs, and enjoyed himself amazingly. Now one day he set off to visit his Granny, and was jumping with joy to think of all the good things he should get from her, when whom should he meet but a Jackal, who looked at the tender young morsel and said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll eat YOU!” But Lambikin only gave a little frisk and said:

“To Granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”

The Jackal thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.

By and by he met a Vulture, and the Vulture, looking hungrily at the tender morsel before him, said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll eat YOU!”

But Lambikin only gave a little frisk, and said:

“To Granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”

The Vulture thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.

[The drollery accumulates as Lambikin encounters other animals.]

At last he reached his Granny’s house, and said, all in a great hurry, “Granny, dear, I’ve promised to get very fat; so, as people ought to keep their promises, please put me into the corn-bin at once.”

So his Granny said he was a good boy, and put him into the corn-bin, and there the greedy little Lambikin stayed for seven days, and ate, and ate, and ate, until he could scarcely waddle, and his Granny said he was fat enough for any thing, and must go home. But cunning little Lambikin said that would never do, for some animal would be sure to eat him on the way back, he was so plump and tender.

“I’ll tell you what you must do,” said Master Lambikin, “you must make a little drumikin out of the skin of my little brother who died, and then I can sit inside and trundle along nicely, for I’m as tight as a drum myself.”

So his Granny made a nice little drumikin out of his brother’s skin, with the wool inside, and Lambikin curled him self up snug and warm in the middle, and trundled away gayly.

Soon he met with the Eagle, who called out:

“Drumikin l Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin? “

And Mr. Lambikin, curled up in his soft warm nest, replied:

“Lost in the forest, and so are you,
On, little Drumikin! Tum-pa, tum-too!”

“How very annoying!” sighed the Eagle, thinking regretfully of the tender morsel he had let slip.

Meanwhile Lambikin trundled along, laughing to himself, and singing:

“Tum-pa, tum-too;
Tum-pa, tum-too!”

[More accumulating drollery.]

At last the Jackal came limping along, for all his sorry looks as sharp as a needle, and he too called out:

“Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin? “

And Lambikin, curled up in his snug little nest, replied gayly:

“Lost in the forest, and so are you,
On, little Drumikin! Tum-pa — “

But he never got any further, for the Jackal recognized his voice at once, and cried: “Hullo! you’ve turned yourself inside out, have you? Just you come out of that!”

Whereupon he tore open Drumikin and gobbled up Lambikin.2

What?! That’s not droll! Lambikin was just killed by a jackel!  HOW IS THAT DROLL?!


Thank Goodness for Alternative Endings

Luckily, Stories for Little Children provides an alternative ending  for children–or their parents–who are prone to nightmares:

“I’ll soon stop your ride, Mr. Lambikin,” said the cunning fox.
With a howl he ran after Lambikin as fast as he could go.
But the drum was rolling safely along.
Down the side of the hill it went.
The fox could hear Lambikin as he sang,
“I’m in the Drumikin! Tum-tum-too!
I’m safe at home. How do you do?”3


1“The Lambikin,” in Children’s Literature: A Textbook of Sources for Teachers and Teacher-Training Classes, ed. Charles Madison Curry and Erle Elsworth Clippinger (Chicago, New York: Rand, McNally, 1921), 149.

2Children’s Literature, 149-150.

3Anonymous, “Lambikin,” in Stories for Little Children, comp. Lucy Wheelock (New York : Houghton Mifflin, 1920), 409.