Haliburton House Museum is proud to exhibit Nova Scotia Museum’s Weldon Collection of fine china. This important collection, one of oldest collections of ceramics in Canada, was developed by Susanna Haliburton Weldon, Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s oldest daughter, to commemorate Loyalist history.
Susanna Lucy Anne Haliburton moved into the new built Clifton with her family while a teenager. She married in her 30s to John Wesley Weldon, a New Brunswick lawyer and eventually judge. The couple would have one child, a son, in 1849.
Susanna, like her father, had an interest in local history, particularly Loyalist history. Starting in the 1860s, for a period of 15 years, she approached Loyalist families to collect “specimens of china brought to the colonies by early settlers, especially the Loyalists.”
The Collection “The History of a People Told in China”
The Weldon china collection at Haliburton House comprises some one hundred pieces, and is believed to have been a second collection started by Susanna after her initial collection of over three hundred pieces was gifted to King’s College in Halifax in 1880 (https://ukings.ca/campus-community/library/special-collections/ ). Comprised mainly of English tableware (ca. 1760 – 1840) and Chinese export porcelain (ca. 1610 – 1790), these two collections represent some of the earliest collections of ceramics in Canada. The purpose of the collection now at the University of King’s College Library was to preserve examples of fine china brought to the country by the Loyalists, families, often of military and civilian government officials, who remained loyal to Great Britain and fled the American Revolution in the 1770s and 1780s. It is believed that Susanna had the same collecting interests while assembling her second collection at Haliburton House.
Susanna carefully catalogued the history of each piece – focusing on the family stories rather than ceramic identification. In her notes, she says “It is rather a remarkable fact, that in the hazardous departure of these Refugees, though obliged in many cases to leave their books, plate, and even clothing; still the bowl in which their children were baptized, or some valuable article of glass or porcelain was always saved.”