A new twist on heritage
By Angela Long
Sept. 1, 2016
They call him “Nutcracker Man.” If you want to find out why, come to Heritage Day on Sept. 10 at the Highland Grove Museum and remove the top of his skull.
“His molars are worn right down,” president of Highland Grove Heritage Society John Jamieson says in a phone interview with the paper.
Cast from a skull found in Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge, the approximately two-million year old Nutcracker Man (officially called Zinjanthropus) skull will form part of Highland Grove’s Heritage Day.
“Usually Heritage Day consists of 50 pioneer families from the area who have been here since the 1800s,” says Jamieson. “I thought, why not push it back a little, like two million years?”
Jamieson visited the Olduvai Gorge in 1970 while it was being excavated by National Geographic and famous British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey. He was touring East Africa by motorcycle at the time, and says he just missed Leakey by minutes. But he didn’t miss being given a fossil bone from a pile of bones belonging to a variety of ancient hominids. He also possesses a prehistoric scraper as a memento of that day.
For nearly 50 years, Jamieson has packed these items in his suitcase as he’s travelled throughout the world, working as a parasitologist and teacher in the Arctic for most of his life, where he sought to preserve the Inuit culture and where he was presented with a 2002 Governor General’s Award for excellence in teaching Canadian history, until settling in the Haliburton Highlands in 2008.
Finally, Jamieson thinks he’s found the perfect resting place for his treasures.
“The museum now has actual material from Homo habilis and Homo erectus,” he says. “People can actually hold something used by primitive man.”
For those seasonal visitors who might not have a pioneer connection to the area, such a display will give them a chance to feel part of something that’s part of everyone’s heritage, Jamieson says, from the very origins of our species.
In addition to a visit with primitive man, visitors can expect food and music at the Heritage Day celebrations. The museum’s educational mug project, where the historical image of your choice can decorate a modern-day mug, continues for a cost of $10. A new option this year is to add your photo to the line-up of human evolution. A blank spot marked “Homo sapien” awaits.
The museum is also looking toward the future, creating a hard-cover book which will eventually be available for purchase – Archiving 2016 for 2116. Jamieson invites submissions of photos from Wilberforce to Cardiff and up to Baptiste taken during August and September 2016.
All proceeds from these projects will benefit the Highland Grove Heritage Museum.
For more information, or to submit photos, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com or call 705-448-1818.