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Who is Wilfrid Jury, the man behind the collection

Dear Readers,

Wilfrid Jury and Friend

During my internship here at MOA, I decided to dive into Wilfred Jury’s personal records, reflections, and photos in order to gain an in depth knowledge of the man. After creating a search base for all of the records left through both his estate and through years of collection by our previous directors, I decided to put my search aid to use and share my experience.

What I thought would be a tedious endeavor became one of intrigue. Elsie Jury puts it eloquently enough,

“[Wilfrid Jury has a] leprechaun or whimsy quality. Pranks, shenanigans, ‘never a dull or idle moment’ for those who have worked with him.”

When first looking at his journal articles, photos from his childhood, and Awards of Merit, you see a very straightforward archaeologist whose desire is to uncover the knowledge of the past in order to share it with the people of the future. Within his journal articles you can feel that passion grip you through the pages, allowing you to understand that which he speaks. His voice is authoritative and straight to the point. However, past the multitude of files containing his scholarly articles was a small file of short stories for the London Free Press. Stories such as A Farm Boys Christmas and Thrashing Time 75 Years Ago characteristically brings out that wittiness for which Elsie speaks.

Last week, I was tasked to find an artifact that was possibly donated to him in the 1950’s. So I began to dive through his
appointment books where he consistently kept record of where he was, who he saw, what he acquired, and other interesting novelties. His descriptions of artifacts were based on first impressions, explanations such as black shrug, old lady like are characteristic of his notes.

Wilfrid Jury Celebrating with Friends

In his journals, he mentioned multiple times that his grandfather taught him never to throw stuff away. This impacted Wilf immensely and I believe that is why his notes are so in depth, recording every moment of his day from taking a nap to being lonely the days Elsie left to Toronto. Items such as the weather, the time he woke up, the mail he received, the score of the baseball games (It seems New York was his favorite team), and his tasks for work were daily occurrences in his journals. Special things such as wearing a new suit on Elsies birthday were set apart from the rest of the paragraph, creating a delicate balance between work and social life.

I feel as though the people who have met Wilfrid Jury, experienced this vibrant personality first hand. However, I only know him through his writings and Elsies memoirs since he died before I was born. The saying never judge a book by its cover sums up my experience here. The deeper I dove, the more fascinated I became in learning about the man who helped pioneer Southern Ontario Archaeology.

– Thanks for reading!
Nicole Aszalos

Curatorial Intern, Summer 2014


Julie Pullen Tyree

Nicole – I am Wilfrid Jury’s great great niece. My mother (Joan Ramey Pullen – Granddaughter of Irene Jury Ramey) sent me the current newsletter with the Christmas article and I have since started looking back through your articles of my Uncle Jury. I called him this because my Mom’s brother was named after him (Wilfred Ramey) and he was my Uncle Wilf.
I can remember Uncle Jury & Aunt Elsie from when I was young. He would tell me to give me his hand and dumped his pipe into it and laugh. I can also remember being in a restaurant and he unscrewed the tops off the salt shakers so they would pour out when the next customers used them. He was quite the prankster. I’m so glad to read your articles.
Just wanted to say Hello and introduce myself.

Julie Pullen Tyree

Nicole Aszalos

Hi Julie,

Thank you for sharing! It is always interesting to hear first hand stories about Wilfrid Jury. You message reminded me of an excerpt from a short memoir Elsie wrote about his personality that I would like to share with you;
– Enthusiasm- for life, for people, especially for young people, for everything he undertakes.
– Energy- Unflagging, vitality
– Leprechaun/Whimsy Quality- Pranks, shenanigans “Never a dull moment”
– Rebel- His own individual way of doing things. Not a rebel in the traditional sense because it didn’t occur to him to do things according to other peoples rules
– Turn of the Phrase- A Will Rogers touch; quick, colourful, expressive
– Organized- Always planning, everything well thought out though seemingly spur of the moment. Diggers, workmen always organized to their best advantage. Passion for orderliness, tools sharp and shining.

Thanks again for sharing your memories of Wilfrid. We always enjoy learning more about him.

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