Heritage Today


Museums and other cultural institutions have perpetuated a narrative that has left out the experiences of countless communities over the centuries. Through the examination of artifacts from the Coquitlam Heritage collection, students will probe various lenses whose consequences have inflicted injustice against different groups of people.  

  Lesson 1 – Preserving History

Blue Willow Dessert Plate

The Flow Blue pattern became popular in the Victorian era with several surges of popularity ever since. The gentle, hazy design of what is considered as transferwarre was seen as a mistake at first, until people began seeing the design as beautiful because of these imperfections. The plates would often have Asian designs and motifs or patterns that highlighted European culture. The plates were marked with various initials and symbols such as “Japan, In Japan, or Occupied Japan.” It is difficult to know which company or potter made the dishware.

Blue Willow Dessert Plate

After WWII, Japan was occupied from 1945-1951 by a foreign power for the first time in history. During this time many Japanese Americans and Canadians located on the West Coast were forcibly relocated to interment camps in the interior. In Canada, more than 21,000 Japanese Canadians lost their homes and livelyhoods due to this tragic displacement. Many were not allowed to return home until 1949. In order to improve the economy of Japan through the sale of export, in 1947 many manufacturers began to stamp their products with a “Made in Occupied Japan” emblem. This was done because many white Americans would not purchase Japanese products due to post-war racism/discrimination.

Bliss Manufacturing Company

R. Bliss & Co. was established in 1832 by Rufus Bliss. Bliss started as a tool company, making wooden screws and clamps for piona and cabinetmakers. At the turn of the 20th century, Bliss became known for making children’s toys such as lawn tennis and croquet sets. The company was based out of Pawtucket, Rhode Island in the United States. In 1911 they created “The Boys Union Tool Chest,” it was advertised as an imitation of what adult men would bring to work.

Tea Set

This tea set was not likely made by Adderley co. as it is a lower quality ceramic than what they were known for. The Design on this set is unique as most tea sets for young girls had a decorative floral pattern. This is a modern design popular in the 1950s but can be traced back to the 1920s and is heavily influenced by avant garde, surrealism, and abstract art.

Native American Doll

This doll emphasizes the racist First Nations stereotypes so prevalent in North America. Indigenous people of North America are referred to by multiple terms, including Native American or Canada, Indian, and First Nations. First Nations is specifically a tern used by the Canadian Government to refer to Indigenous people in specific, federally recognized groups. These stereotypes aim to over simplify and misrepresent Indigenous groups into a single, cookie cutter image of a “Native American.” This leads to prejudice and discrimination against minority groups throughout history and is still seen today. A lot of this comes from a careful, organized effort to systemically eradicate Indigenous cultures from North America through Residential schools, citizenship laws, and voting rights.

Native American Doll

This doll in her nondescript leather dress and beadwork, is neatly slotted into the sterotype of Indigenous people. The style has no specific bearing to any group but instead uses the common attributes associated with Indigenous people – beadwork, tanning skins and leathers, braided hair, and tassels. The doll looks similar to the now infamous Tiger Lily from Peter Pan, and other racist caricatures of Indigneous people.

Woman with Baby Carriage

The 1950’s was an interesting time for women. As the economy was recovering from WWII there were more jobs becoming available for women. With the economy flourishing, new technological advances to household appliances increased efficiency and minimized the labour required. This allowed women to have more leisure time to either spend on the community or for themselves, such as going to college or work. The advertisements of these new appliances were solely targeting women because they were the ones that “took care” of the home. As women were being given more freedom, they were also constantly bombarded by TV shows, toys, and magazines that portrayed their role as being a mother and a caring housewife for their husbands. If women spent time to themselves, they would be seen as neglecting the role of mother or wife.

Soldier Doll

The iconic toy soldier has mesmorised children throughout history. Non-military artifacts have had just as large an impact on military development and contemporary social knowldge of war as military artifacts. Toy soldiers became the point of contact between children and conflict. In many cases these toys were used to teach proper male values and gender roles to young boys, values such as national identity and manhood. A man willing to take up arms for their country was seen as strong, brave, resilient, and a leader which are all the main components of masculinity. The army is seen as a maker of man, and all who come out of it are national heros, and this form of masculinity held a lot of power.

Toy Sand Bucket with Japanese Children

Erzgebirge, Germany, located in the Saxony region has one of the biggest manufacturers of wooden toys in the world. Tin toys began appearing in historical records from different areas of Germany starting from the 18th century, Germany became the country that improved the manufacturing of tin toys. Germany’s toy industry downfall began in WWII, it was then picked up by the US but the war efforts took over the steel and tin industry. After WWII, a damaged Japan moved into the toy industry full force.

Toy Sand Bucket with Japanese Children

Germany and Japan have had a long relationship with each other. When Japan was forced to open its borders to the West in 1853, the major influencer at the time was the US and Britain. When deals started to fall through, Japan turned its interests towards Prussia, now known as Germany in 1880. 1882 marked the beginning of the “German phase” which began Japan’s modernization. Their relationship with each other fell apart during WWI but they reconnected in WWII.

Embroidered Signature Quilt

Quilting was a very communal affair. Quilting parties provided an opportunity to gather with other women from the community and share fabric, ideas, and stories with each other. The quilt was literally made by the community, which solidified relationships between women and families. It was a place for women to be able to speak freely about their thoughts on the world and their families, especially considering women were not able to have a voice in politics or outside the home for many decades. This quilt is called a signature quilt which became popular in the 19th century. These quilts were made for a couple of reasons, as a gift for people moving out west, to honour or to document the community, and as a fundraising tool for missionary work or for supporting the troops during war. Donations were collected by anyone who put their name on the quilt, this quilt features many signatures of women who lived at Fraser Mills.

Mechanical Bank

This “Little Joe” money bank illustrates how Black people were portrayed through racially stereotyped images. “Little Joe” shows subservience and an eagerness to please, both traits that many white communities expected of Black people. First manufactured by the Shepard Hardware Company of Buffalo, New York in the late 1800s, various versions were created around the world.

This one in particular was made by John Harper Co. founded in England as a counter part of the Shepard Howard Company.


This sort of product would have been cultivated by various plantations in British India, and then shipped somewhere in India, the British metropole, or to a packaging plant in Canada to be sold domestically. This product was also sold in Britain and would often be heavily decorated with an “Indian/Oriental” pattern to make it look more exotic.

Beauty Book

This cultural resource shows the ways in which women were expected to groom themselves in the mid-1950s. It also demonstrates the pervasiveness of the patriarchy at the time, with texts like “Think back; haven’t you at some timem lost a man or a job to a woman more attractive than yourself?”

Indigenous Piggy Bank

Reliable Toy Company is a Canadian based company founded in 1922 by two brothers Solemn Franks and Alexander Samuels. It was the largest toy company in Canada, as well as throughout the Commonwealth. They were one of the first toy companies to start using hard plastics in the manufacturing of their toys.

Their approach to Indigenous representation was quite problematic. Their dolls and toys wore what was seen as “traditional” clothing. Exotifying their culture and misinforming the Canadian population. The irony of the sales of Indigenous toys is that is was happening during the era of Residental Schools and the 60’s Scoop.

WWII Postcard

Adversitement for women in WWII was just as important as recruitment advertisement for men. This postcard showcases the selection of advertisement that encouraged women to contribute to the war effort in any way they could. The wide variety of posters demonstrated all the ways women could help from home or in the workplace.

Newlywed Post Card

“The Greatest Moments in a Girl’s Life” postcard series was illustrated by Harrison Fisher in 1911. Harrison Fisher was known for his illustrations of white women and his perspective of feminine beauty. The series demonstrates the most important stages of a girl’s life during the turn of the century. The series goes “The Proposal, The Wedding, The Honeymoon, The First Evening in Their Own Place, The New Love.” All these events are centerd around a man and motherhood, as if a woman doesn’t have any other ambitions or dreams in her life. It is a representation of societies road map for women and their perceived purpose in life, anything outside of these stages would be considered strange or unnatural.

Camporee Boy Scout Patch

“Camporee” refers to a local or regional camping event for Scouts. This badge would have been received for participating in such an event. The First Nations image is an exact replica of the old Cleveland Indian Major League Baseball logo; only difference is the Scouts hat as opposed to the feather headband.

Scout Book

The Canadian Scouts started in 1907 by Lord Borden-Powell. He was very fond of the “Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling and much of the Scout concepts came from that book, such as the concept of a wolf pack, as well as the names for the leaders. This Club Book provided young boys with challenging and interesting activities to do in the hopes of receiving a badge. The book was also an overall guide on how to be a Scout. Providing guidance on the many values a young boy must undertake in order to be a respectable Scout in his community.

Lesson 2 – Research Project

Listen to research fellow Kit Heyam uncover the hidden histories of underrepresented and forgotten women in Early Modern Europe through objects in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection in London, England.

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Research Project Example 1

Research Project Example 2

Lesson 3 – Future Heritage