Salt Spring’s number one repository of pioneer history, the Bittancourt House Museum at the Farmers’ Institute, has been blessed by a number of exciting donations over the past few months.
In addition to some antique clay pipes, a set of ladies’ kid gloves and three early model telephones, the museum now houses a painting by a member of the Ruckle family dating back to 1904.
“It’s a nice painting. And it’s got history to it,” museum coordinator John Fulker said during a recent visit.
A typed tag attached to the back of the painting supplies some of the item’s history, but in some ways creates as many questions as it answers. According to the tag, Agnes Ruckle painted the view of Mount Maxwell not long before she died in a drowning accident. The writer states Ruckle was “mother’s dearest friend.” As well, the person notes Tom Ackerman’s (sic) farm in the foreground was “opposite my grandfather’s farm across the road.”
Another item of interest on the back of the painting is a framing tag from Tauranga, New Zealand. Who wrote the tag, and how and when the painting made its way to New Zealand, are unknown.
The painting came to the museum through the kindness of Pauline Green, a resident of Alberta who picked it up in New Zealand some years back. Green took the painting to Canada at the request of a man named Matt Schneider-Marfels. He had acquired it at an estate auction in Tauranga.
Anyone who has information about a family who moved to New Zealand and had ties to the Ruckles and other pioneer families is asked to contact the Driftwood or Bittancourt museum to update the painting’s history.
For more on this story, see the Aug. 23, 2017 Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper or subscribe online.