If you've followed the ICH blog for any length of time, you'll know that we love root cellars! A few years ago, we partnered on a root cellar research project with the Agricultural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, and that information has been added to a root cellar collection on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative, over 500 photos, interviews and floor plans, much of it collected by folklorist Crystal Braye and cultural geographer Julie Pomeroy.
Now, some of that info has made its way to Ottawa, where a new exhibit is nearing completion, which will include a life-sized replica of a Newfoundland root cellar.
Suzanne Beauvais is a curator with the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and one of the people who has been researching and building the model root cellar. She writes,
Have you ever wondered why storing cucumbers in vinegar keeps them edible for longer? Or whether canned food lasts forever? Our ancestors preserved food using several different methods but did not know that scientific principles underlie food preservation. The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, located on the grounds of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, is opening a new exhibition — Food Preservation: The Science You Eat — that answers these questions and much more. The exhibition explores traditional and modern preservation methods, both at home and in industry, and explains the scientific principles behind food preservation using artifacts, videos, interactives, and audio recordings of people sharing their memories. A particularly interesting feature is a replica 1890s root cellar, such as those found in Elliston, Newfoundland and Labrador, where visitors will experience the cold, damp, and dark of this food storage structure common to homes of the time. This replica has been made according to the historical information provided through the generous collaboration of the Agricultural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.So, if you are in the Ottawa area this summer, check out the Elliston root cellar. The exhibit opens officially on May 13th.