Archives Search

Search only: Library, Archives Advanced Search, Ancestors, Images, Search All

To submit a comment, contact

Search Help

Description found in Archives

Luncheon at the Mess Room on the Day of the Sham Fight, Halifax. 


July 26, 1844

Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

1 watercolour / aquarelle : pencil, and watercolour over pencil on wove paper
Support: 27.000 x 14.300 cm
Image: 27.000 x 14.300 cm
Secondary support: 43.600 x 33.100 cm

Scope and content

Illustration of a social event in colonial Halifax. A large gathering of men and women standing around a table that is either set for or the remains of a luncheon. The luncheon is in honour of a military exercise taking place that day, a sham fight, or mock battle. It takes place indoors in the mess room; the interior location is indicated by windows hung with drapes.
Haliburton is interested in the descriptive details of the scene: the table is tipped up to show the food on it, the dog in the foreground is labelled "dog." Details are also used to bring out the individuality of the figures. The people would have been known both to Haliburton and Falkland as members of their social circle. This might have been Falkland's interest in the work.
The majority of the figures are seen in profile or from the rear. Most women's faces are not seen at all because of their large bonnets, they are distinguished by the different colours and styles of their costume. As with 1990-207-107X, there are two women who are dressed exactly the same. One figure, a heavyset man with a peg leg, c.r., has been given distinguishing characteristics with what might be humorous intention.
Lady Falkland (artists file #705-138) was the wife of Lucius Bentinck Cary. They lived in Halifax during his term as governor of Nova Scotia, from 1840-46. As the wife of the governor, Falkland would have been at the centre of Halifax's social elite.
Emma Haliburton (artists file #705-897) was the daughter of T. C. Haliburton (1796-1865). The fourth of five daughters, she was born before 1829. Her father cultivated Lord Falkland's friendship in order to secure his posting to the supreme court of Nova Scotia. Haliburton gained entrance to the Falkland's social circle through his friendship with Lieut-Col. Charles Richard Fox, who was married to Lady Falkland's sister Mary.
Emma later married Rev. J. Bainbridge Smith. She also executed 1990-207-106X and -107X, both illustrating social life.
The inscription on the secondary support is in Lady Falkland's handwriting.
The sham fight took place on July 26, 1844. It is mentioned in the July 15th issue of the Novascotian: "The sham-fight that came off on the common on Monday, according to the accounts given of it in the various papers, must have exceeded everything of the kind since the battle of Waterloo. Not being informed that the great battle was to take place,
we were debarred from seeing it. As this military display was given in celebration of the birth-day of one of the worthiest officers in this garrison, we are glad it came off so well."

Graphic (art)
90: Open
No restrictions on access to originals,
or on use for reproduction or publication.
Graphic (art)
Copy negative C-003418
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
A076-01 Item no. assigned by LAC 86
90: Open
Other accession no.
1990-207 X DAP

Terms of use

Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1990-207-86
Copyright: Expired

Additional name(s)

Additional information

Removed from: Album: watercolour mounted with glue on an unidentified folio which has been cut from the album. The u.l. and l.l. corners have pulled off the folio, ripping it.

Availability of other formats note
Copied in black & white under copy negative number: C-003418. Colour transparency available ; it is labeled C-003418. Digital image number is: C-003418k.

Signatures and inscriptions
Inscribed. Dated.
Inscription: in pencil on support verso, u.l. to r.:Luncheon at the Mess Room - the day of the-/_Sham fight_/July 26th.
Inscription: in pen and brown ink on secondary support recto, l.r. under image:Emma Haliburton/Halifax Nova Scotia
Inscription: in pencil on support recto, c. sideways on top of a dog:Dog

Subject heading

1. Nova Scotia.
2. activity.
3. activité.


Other system control no.