Evergreen House exhibit celebrates prominent Dartmouth family

Joanne Oostveen
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Laura Henneberry, a heritage interpreter for Evergreen House, has put together a detailed exhibit on the life and family of Sarah James, who was born in Evergreen House in 1867. (Gail Kanasevich)

The Evergreen House on Newcastle Street is hosting an exhibit that breathes life into an old Dartmouth family.

"Keeping up with the James' – A Glimpse into the Life of Sarah James and Family" actually gives much more than just a glimpse. The Dartmouth Heritage Museum at Evergreen House recently received a donation from the James family that includes books, pictures, certificates, old pressed wedding flowers, letters, diplomas, a pin and even an old cape.

All items are in fantastic shape.

Sarah James was born in Evergreen House in 1867. She was the daughter of Judge Alexander James and Harriet Hawthorn, the couple who built the house.

Laura Hennebury, a heritage interpreter for the museum, worked on putting the exhibit together.

"I went through the items and thought best about how to tell the stories. I learned that people were not as backward or boring in those times as some people would think. The history was fascinating."

Hennebury divided the exhibit into themes.

"Sarah married Sandy Morrison. He was a professor in physics at Chicago University. He worked on the original ultra violet light, but had to stop because he contracted TB."

The "illness" theme of the exhibit showcases items from when the Morrison family lived near Kentville, while Sandy was a patient at the sanatorium.

"A lot of Nova Scotians have a connection to the Kentville Sanatorium, so they would be interested in seeing what this exhibit shows .Even looking at the picture of the Sanatorium here shows it was not a scary place, not a death house for everyone."

Another theme includes items from the lives of the Morrison children.

"Ruth, the daughter of Sarah James, was a very educated woman with nursing certificates and degrees from many different universities in Canada and the U.S. We have some of those here, too."

Stanley, her brother, was a graduate of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and the Ontario College of Agriculture.

"Seeing these diplomas and reading about the family makes you realize they were an important part of Dartmouth's history. You hear a lot about families from Halifax, but this collection is one of the few from a prominent family with roots in Dartmouth."

The accomplishment of Sarah James and her family shouldn't be forgotten, she says.

"They had marriages, children and deaths just like we do today. This exhibit has value to the citizens of Dartmouth. I hope a lot of people come by and see."

The exhibit runs until Nov. 9 at Evergreen House, 26 Newcastle Street, Dartmouth. Hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $2.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Ontario College of Agriculture, Evergreen House Dartmouth Heritage Museum Chicago University

Geographic location: Dartmouth, Newcastle Street, Kentville Nova Scotians Canada U.S. Halifax

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