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Creator Record

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Name Brown, J. Erskine Horton
Other names Erskine Brown
Dates & places of birth and death b. March 17, 1892
d. 1981
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Farmer
Folk artist
Collector of old glass
Notes Erskine Brown was born in Derby Township, on March 17, 1892. He attended S. S.#2 Derby School (known as Dunn's School). In the book HISTORY OF DERBY TOWNSHIP, p. 74, there is a group image of the S.S.#2 students in 1902, and Erskine is shown in the 3rd row. He nostalgically kept the hand bell that was used when he started to school, and his father had also attended the same school before he did. Four generations of the Browns attended Dunn's School. Erskine's grandfather was the overseer when the school was being built. Erskine lived on the farm where he had been born until 1959, when he moved to Thornbury, Ontario.

He died in 1981 and is buried at Owen Sound's Greenwood Cemetery.

The headstone at Greenwood Cemetery includes Erskine Brown (b. 1891-d. 1981) [NOTE HIS BIRTHDATE IS WRONG], his wife Nellie Henderson (b. 1891-d. 1940), and Jean L. Malcolmson (b. 1907-d. 1966). Also, there are his parents, Samuel H. Brown (b.1863-d. 1943) and his wife Melissa Fleming (b. 1862-d. 1950), and Myrtle Melissa Brown (b. 1889-d. 1979).

The Salem W. I. group have several images pertaining to Erskine and his family in their Tweedsmuir book, see Salem WIF 27, Volume 2, p. 32-34. It mentions that Erskine, in addition to farming in his youth, also attended Owen Sound's Northern Business College in the winter months. When he married Nellie, they lived c. 1917 at his family farm. In 1948, he married his second wife Jean Malcolmson and they built a fine herd of Holsteins. The Tweedsmuir has a picture of him in 1954 with some of his carvings (several Holsteins are depicted). In May of 1959, the Browns retired to Thornbury where Erskine developed his hobbies of collecting old glass, and carving farm-related subjects. The National Museum at Ottawa obtained 22 of these carvings.

In 2011, two of these carvings are shown on-line by the Canadian Museum of Civilization:
"Pioneer Wagon" CMC 74-1012
"Sleigh Ride" CMC 74-1014

In August, 2011, Mindy Bowls and Joan Hyslop received J. Erskine Brown's diary from a donor, and it will be housed in the Grey County Archives. It is from 1935 and mentions his day-to-day activities, e.g. "I plowed all day...", and mentions local people, and his wife Nellie.

His birth record is 009705. His full name was James Erskine Horton Brown, b. March 17, 1892. He was born in Derby Twp. at Lot 12, Concession 6. His parents were Samuel Horton Brown (a farmer) and the former Melissa Fleming. Dr. Allan Cameron, M.D., attended the birth (we have an image of Dr. Cameron in the collection).

In the 1901 census of Derby, it has him listed as James E. Brown, b. March 17, 1890 (note that the census taker made a mistake of the year).

In the 1911 census, he was listed as Erskine H. Brown, age 19. The family address at that time was Lot 12, Concession 6, Derby Twp.
Relationships Married to:
Nellie Henderson (m. 1917)
Jean L. Malcolmson (m. 1948)
Places of residence Derby Twp. at Lot 12, Concession 6 - born and lived there until 1959
Thornbury, Ontario (after retirement)
Role Wood-carver
Education S. S.#2 Derby School (known as Dunn's School)
Northern Business College, Owen Sound

Associated Records

Image of 1963.029.001 - Carving

1963.029.001 - Carving

Hand-carved wooden, standing Holstein cow carving on a plain wooden base. The cow is painted black and white. He did not paint the udder pink - it is white. Its left foreleg and right hindleg are both forward. The underside of the wooden base is signed "Erskine Brown / Thornbury / Ontario" in black ink (ballpoint pen).

Image of 1963.029.002 - Carving

1963.029.002 - Carving

Small carving of a mule. The mule's left foreleg is extended. The carving has an all-brown stained colouration, and the mule has a carved harness collar.

Image of 1970.064.001 - Carving

1970.064.001 - Carving

Horse team and log sleigh carving, with a load of logs, The horses are painted black with white leather harness. The sleigh is painted red. The driver is painted wearing green with dark brown shoes and a brown hat. The 'logs' are held on the sleigh by 'chains'. The driver holds the reins in his hands (holes are drilled through his hands).

Image of 1970.064.002 - Carving

1970.064.002 - Carving

Carving of a horse team with a stone-lifter (a stoning machine). The stone lifter is painted red and is much larger than the horses and man driving the horses. The horses are painted black and are wearing white leather harness. The driver has wearing a black wide brimmed hat, a green shirt and black pants and boots. The base of the carving is thin plywood which has a embossed tape label which reads "Erskine Brown Thornbury".

Image of 1970.064.004 - Carving

1970.064.004 - Carving

Painted carving of a two-horse team with a hay mower. The hay mower is painted red with brown wheels. The horses are white with black spots. The harness is made from white leather with some black paint on them. The collars on the horses are part of the necks of the horses but they are differentiated by being painted solid black. The driver is wearing a cap of red, a green shirt and tan pants. The driver's seat is suspended from the hay mower so it has a tendency to bounce when the carving is bumped.

Image of 1979.062.001 - Carving

1979.062.001 - Carving

A hand carved model of a team of horses pulling a logging sled with a driver sitting on top.

Image of 1979.062.002ab - Model

1979.062.002ab - Model

A wooden model of a log building (a), painted green with a rain barrel (b) at one end. One long side is a big open entrance. The roof slopes from one side to the other. On one short end is a red door and the other is an unpainted one. The interior has been white-washed.

Image of 1985.079.001 - Carving

1985.079.001 - Carving

Carving of a team of two brown horses pulling a timber sled. There is a carving of a man seated on top of the logs (he is painted with red clothing and cap).

Image of 1985.079.002 - Case, Display

1985.079.002 - Case, Display

A folk art-style display case. The front of the case has a sheet of glass (59 cm x 29 cm). The brown wooden exterior is made to look like a log structure and is painted. The interior is white-painted. There is a bright red painted door at the left end.

Image of 2009.082.001 - Carving

2009.082.001 - Carving

Wooden folk art carving depicting a red-capped driver on a logging sled pulled by two horses. The horse are painted brown and have white blazes and feet. The load of nine "logs" is secured by a miniature chain and a chain binder, just like a real log sled. The rear right sleigh runner also has a chain-style sleigh brake attached. The carving is mounted on a plywood base.

Image of 2016.031.001abcdefgh - Carving

2016.031.001abcdefgh - Carving

One polychromatic painted wood carving by Erskine Brown. It depicts a red and green farm wagon (with a hanging metal wagon brake), a male driver, a red-painted metal-springed wagon seat, and a two-horse team of brown and black horses (with white feet). There is a load of seven hand-carved (unpainted) wooden barrels) . Six look like apple barrels (b-g), with one smaller one (h) with a bung hole carved to depict a cask for something fluid. Metal, wire, and semi-tanned leather are used to simulate the hardware and harness pieces. The carving is secured to a thin board, that is painted green. In wide rectangular recesses, the artist signed the work using embossed red vinyl adhesive labels. In