Tag Archives: ferguson’s wax museum

Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works -Creepy Entertainment


wax works

This is an artotype made by Albert Bierstadt from one of his many Adirondack photographs of Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works . The image shows men and women posed on a makeshift stage in the parlor of the Prospect House in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. A number of well-dressed men and women sit in chairs facing the stage. 


Perth Courier, April 14, 1893

Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works will be on exhibit in the town hall, Perth, on Friday, 21st April.  Mrs. Jarley will be sustained by Miss McCabb of Portland, Maine, a distinguished amateur.  The various characters in the wax works will be impersonated by a well known amateur of this town.  The music will be furnished by the *Perth Harmonic Band which has generously given its services for the occasion.  During the evening Mrs. Downey will also give a clarinet solo.  Popular price of admission is 25 cents.  Reserved seats 35 cents.  Seats may be reserved in *Mr. Hart’s bookstore. 

The  next week according to the Almonte Gazette Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works exhibition was at the Neuman’s Hall in Carleton Place.


Performances of “wax works” like this play were popular during the mid nineteenth century, and were a precursor to modern cinema. Mrs. Jarley was the proprietor of a travelling wax works show which had displays of life-size figures made of wax and dressed as famous people. Local people impersonated the wax figures on stage to provide the 360 effect one might say.

Before being known as Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works it was known as Ferguson’s Wax Works, founded by that gentleman in 1832 or 1833. In the Twilight Zone episode “The New Exhibit” one of the curator’s is curator of murderers’ row in Ferguson’s Wax Museum. There were characters of King George III; Mr. Grimaldt, as clown; Mary, Queen of Scots, and even the “virgin maid” Queen Elizabeth.

I don’t know about you but I found this whole idea quite creepy, but it was a popular form of entertainment.


Carleton Place’s affiliation to John Hart’s Bookstore in Perth




The Perth Citizens Band has been in more or less continuous existence since 1852. It is now one of the oldest, and perhaps the very oldest, town band in Canada, a carryover from the nineteenth century when musical groups were an important part of the pionering community they entertained and served. For the most part comprised of amateur musicians, they were generally led by a professional who was not only trained in music, but was capable of giving instruction to others. This bandmaster would be the only bandsman paid for his service; the others received time off, free travel and other perks for providing entertainment on public occasions.

Over the years, the Band in Perth had different names: the Perth Brass Band, the St Patricks Band, The Fountain Engine Band, and the 42nd Battalion Band, for example. Sometimes, several bands co-existed in the same locale: the Harmonic Band and the Citizens Band, of the 1890s.

The success of any band was generally dependent upon being able to secure the services of a good leader, and paying him enough to keep him. Perth in its time attracted many exceptional bandmasters, beginning with the great Liberati, who started his spectacular North American career in Perth and Ottawa, and T. F. Jacobs, who came and went over the lifetime of several bands. A noted Canadian composer of band music spent a year leading the Perth band, and some stayed long enough to start orchestras and philharmonic societies. Most disppeared without a trace, to better paying jobs south, and west with new migration.

Perth survives, an anachronism in the the age of TV. It is now a Lanark County band, with its members drawn from a variety of neighbouring communities, such as Lanark and Smith’s Falls.

The Perth Citizens Band is engaged in compiling its 150 year history, and welcomes all contributions and leads, on old members, bandmasters, repertoire and venues. Please contact the historian Daphne Overhill at over@superaje.com.

From the Lanark County Genealogical Society


The old Perth Couriers can be read at the Archives Lanark

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