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Title: Needlework Fire Screen
Identifier: A.111.72
Donor: Margaret McCallum
Item Date: 1850
Image Creator: Museums of Mississauga
Creation Date: 2006
Location: Bradley Museum

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Description: A needlework piece that is backed by a flat wooden board. It has polychrome petit flowers that surround the central figure of a bird, which is raised in the carpet-like work. The bird has a glass eye. The background is not worked. The frame is molded and has birdseye veneer. Clear glass covers the work. History: On the back reads, 'framed April 27/73' 'donated by Miss Margaret McCallum of Clarkson in 1972, former owner of the Blue Dragon Tea Room. She died a few months later. This was formerly a fire screen.' Accessioned in 1972. “Three fashionable ladies who were well educated and good friends, decided to find a country location and open a tea room. They looked at many small villages and towns outside of Toronto, where they resided, and decided on Clarkson.” Mary McCallum was a nurse, who had graduated from the School of Nursing at Toronto General Hospital in 1917. Her sister, Margaret, worked as a secretary for the Canadian Bank of Commerce's head office. Ida Norman, known as 'Babs', was a dental nurse, who also ran a boarding house and had a flair for the culinary. In 1929, they purchased a house at the west corner of Lakeshore and Meadow Wood Roads from Margaret Fairbairn's estate. The ladies named their new enterprise after Mrs. Fairbairn's original Blue Dragon Inn, a restaurant and inn built in 1913 that had been on the adjacent property and had burned down in 1923. When author Mazo de la Roche first came to Clarkson in 1922, she stayed at the Inn while her Trail Cottage was being built. Mary became responsible for the operation of the Inn, while Babs took charge of the kitchen duties. Margaret continued her secretarial position and remained a silent partner. The food was top notch and the business prospered. The Tea Room had a brilliant reputation and people even came out from Toronto to enjoy the delightful atmosphere. Even the president of the Imperial Bank, Frank A. Rolph, who had his picture on the twenty dollar bill, frequented the establishment. It did indeed have an impressive clientele, such as concert singer Frances James. The Blue Dragon Inn closed in 1955. It has been torn down and a small plaza now occupies the property. Reference: “Clarkson and Its Many Corners” by Kathleen Hicks 2003, pp 133, 150, 158, 198-199.
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