One of the privileges of working at Parkwood allows staff and volunteers to interact with some of the personal items of the family. We know the McLaughlin public side, that is something that is well documented and some would argue that Sam McLaughlin excelled at promoting himself, however there are private items and moments that we get to discover, research and explore, and from time to time, share with you.
When you have toured of the estate, you have seen the formal portraits of the family. These stunning examples of early 20th century portraiture capture an auto-baron and his family and have adorned the Dining Room, a very public location for nearly 90 years and are interpreted for our guests. What the public do not get to see, as frequently, are the photographs that were cherished and lovingly preserved and kept in private keepsakes.
Today, I am going to share and explore two of these private items with you.
As we approach Mother’s Day one would argue that this album of what we may perceive as Adelaide’s favoured photographs of her daughters; (top left to right: Eileen, Mildred, Isabel, Hilda and Eleanor) is not an unusual piece to be found among ones personal items, capturing the poignant emotions of familial love, however, among these photographs are images that are not often publicly shared of the family, ponderous studio shots, private moments captured, and although professionally photographed, glimpses of moments in her daughter’s lives, backstories we may never know. Did these photos capture a significant birthday?
Perhaps an accomplishment in scholastic pursuits? This is unknown, but what we do know is that these five images were selected, and treasured.
Not to be ignored, lets explore this gem in the collection, a photograph item that belonged to Colonel Sam.
Among Samuel’s items, is this rather unique gold- coloured cameo/charm, measuring 1″ by 1″, engraved with his initials, RSM. Currently, exhibited in the Drawing Room, in the gilt bombe display cabinet, this tiny photograph memento, is just one artefact among many lost on a glass shelf, but when opened, hides five treasures.
No bigger than a thumb nail as one opens the small book shaped charm, each page, front and back, is adorned with a tiny photograph of each daughter, inscribed with birth month and day above, and full given name, below the photograph.
From left to right: Eileen, Mildred, Isabel, Hilda, and Eleanor) Very different images then the ones carried in Adelaide’s folio, these photos capture the girls, and their personalities in a very different light, perhaps at different stages in their life stories.
Enjoy these intimate glimpses into the hearts of Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin.