Bridgewater, Nova Scotia: Lunenburg Milling Company, Ltd., 1942. This intriguingly kitsch and obscure early Second World War Canadian curio is part calendar, part thermostat, part portrait, and entirely inspired by British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill. The item features a reproduction of a sketch of Winston Churchill in his iconic bulldog mien framed in gold-painted metal and under glass. The framed dimensions are 7 x 9 inches (17.5 x 23 cm). A gold footer below Churchill’s portrait reads “Compliments of Bridgewater Nova Scotia, Lunenburg Milling Company, Limited., Jubilee Feeds, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.” At the lower right of Churchill’s portrait, above the footer, is a small thermostat set against a gold background. Integral to the lower rear of the frame’s card backing is a hinged 1942 calendar with gilt cover meant to hang just below the portrait (wall-mounted via the original integral cord hanger also fitted to the frame’s card backing).
Condition of the item is very good. The frame is a little scuffed, the footer shows a wrinkle below the thermometer, and the calendar cover is likewise a bit scuffed. Nonetheless, all remains intact. It perhaps goes without saying that we have never seen any other piece of wartime Churchilliana that braves the aesthetic challenges of integrating a portrait, calendar, thermometer, and corporate advertising.
Given the 1942 calendar, it seems certain that provincial pride led a Nova Scotia milling company to produce this odd but endearing portrait/calendar/thermostat. Nova Scotia is proximate to Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, where in August 1941, Winston Churchill had braved the Battle of the Atlantic to voyage by warship and secretly met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In Placentia Bay, Roosevelt and Churchill’s agenda included setting constructive goals for the post-war world, even as the struggle against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan was still very much undecided and the U.S. had yet to formally enter the war. The eight principles to which they agreed became the Atlantic Charter. “That it had little legal validity did not detract from its value… Coming from the two great democratic leaders of the day… the Atlantic Charter created a profound impression on the embattled Allies. It came as a message of hope to the occupied countries, and it held out the promise of a world organization based on the enduring verities of international morality.” (United Nations)
Nonetheless, Atlantic Charter principles were remote from the realities of war in August 1941. Even after Newfoundland, to Churchill’s frustration, America had still “made no commitments and was no nearer to war than before the ship board meeting.” (Gilbert, VI, p.1176).
The attached calendar is dated 1942, a year that would bring the relief of formal American involvement in the war, but nonetheless be full of setbacks and disappointments across the globe for the British. But 1942 would also prove, as Churchill’s collected speeches for the year were later titled, “The End of the Beginning”. On 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, thus instigating the U.S. to declare war on the Axis Powers. Less than a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. declaration of war, Churchill again braved the U-Boat infested North Atlantic to travel to Washington. In the final days of December 1941, Churchill addressed both the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament. Then on New Year’s Day 1942, Churchill, Roosevelt, and representatives of both the USSR and China signed the Joint Declaration of the United Nations. The next day the representatives of twenty-two other nations added their signatures, pledging all twenty-six signatory nations to the maximum war effort and against making any separate peace. Item #006115