By Robert Peterson
The Taylor family had a blue platter that has been passed down through the generations with a story behind it.
The dish measured about 30 inches by 24 inches and was made in the colour of the blue willow pattern that was invented in Britain in the late 1700s. This platter was manufactured in Scotland in the late 1700s or early 1800s and in its centre was depicted a ruined castle. It would have been given to the Taylor family probably in the early 1800s as a wedding gift.
This platter would have come across the ocean from Scotland to York Factory. Later when the family quit employment with the Hudson’s Bay Company, the dish would have travelled with them by York boat up the Nelson River to Lake Winnipeg, then up the Red River to the Red River settlement. In 1882, it would have come with the family by Red River cart to the Bresaylor settlement.
The blue platter was used to hold mounds of churned butter, huge roasts and sometimes heaps of fresh wild raspberries ready to have fresh cream poured over them. At Christmas time it was used to hold the family turkey.
In 1885, when the Northwest Rebellion started, the family quickly grabbed a few necessities, chased their livestock into the heavy bush along the river and fled to the fort in Battleford, leaving the blue platter behind.
When the family returned after the rebellion, they found their house had been burned to the ground. They rebuilt their home and continued on with their life. One day the girls were picking saskatoons along the river bank and found the blue platter buried in leaf mould. Someone had taken it from the house before it was burned and buried it with the intention of retrieving it.
The blue platter was cleaned up and, by tradition, it is passed down to the first girl married in the family from generation to generation. This dish is still used for special occasions.
Check out the Bresaylor Heritage Museum Facebook page for more information. The museum is open by appointment only from June 9 to August 31. Please phone 306-895-4813.