Sylvia Weagle's Rocks and Toys

March 15, 2024

Sylvia Weagle's Rocks and Toys

Eleven samples of round rocks each the size of a softball

Mrs. Sylvia Weagle was an enthusiastic teacher, toy maker, and rock collector. She loved teaching kids and inspiring them with her toy creations. Sylvia also wrote some (unpublished) notes about rocks from Georges Bank, which she thought were dinosaur eggs.

Childhood & Meningitis

Sylvia was born in Bridgewater on February 17, 1912. Her father T. K. Knox was a railway engineer, and her mother was Laura (Sarty) Knox.  When she was young Sylvia contracted meningitis, and her mother organized all members of the family to help Sylvia keep her limbs supple and moving. Sylvia was lucky to survive but did suffer from pain all of her life. She was also taught how to sew at the age of two by her aunt who was a very accomplished seamstress. The intention was sewing would help exercise her muscles and mental dexterity. She soon switched from sewing to making cloth dolls.

Student to Teacher

As a young girl, Sylvia attended Bridgewater Elementary School and then Bridgewater High School, receiving a Grade 11 certificate. Sylvia then attended Teacher Training College from 1929 to 1930. She taught at several small schools in Lunenburg County, married in 1937, and had a son and daughter. 

Mrs. Weagle was then started teaching at Centre Consolidated School in Lunenburg when it opened in 1959, and continued teaching there until she retired in 1974.

Teacher, Mrs Sylvia Weagle sitting at her desk

However, she is perhaps most well known as a maker of stuffed toys and finger puppets, selling her creations at regional Craft Shows.

Toys for the Prime Minister

In 1975, while at the Bridgewater Craft sale, Sylvia gave two of her hand made toys to Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who was visiting the craft sale. The Prime Minister then sent her a letter of thanks, saying the toys were a hit with his two children. A year later, when Sylvia was displaying her toys at the Craft show associated with the Habitat 1976 conference in Vancouver, Prime Minister Trudeau recognized her at her booth. Sylvia made thousands of toys and finger puppets, and attended many craft sales in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

Returns to Bridgewater Mrs. Sylvia Weagle and her niece. Allison Naugler, returned Tuesday, June a from a three-week trip to Vancouver. B.C., where Mrs. Weagle took part in the Habitat Handcraft Sale, held al Granville Square, May 21 to June I. During the sale, her booth was visited by the Prime Minister Pierre Ellioll Trudeau, who recognized Mrs. Weagle, having met her brief_ly in Bridgewater, the previous summer. Before and alter the sale they toured much of Vancouver and surrounding d1slncls, particularly the Stanley Park area. Mrs. Weagle's son Kenneth Whitehorse, Yukon, who wa~ also on a business trip lo Vancouver, spent some time with his mother and cousin. One day was spent at Jericho Beach, allendin1 lhe Habitat Forum, returnin1 to Vancouver City, via ferry boat, which gave them the opportunity of viewing the shoreline, including the Stanley Park area again. A combined bus and ferry trip look them on a lwo-day tour of Victoria with a complete lour of this city, including visits lo the museums and the Undersea Gardens. Their return trip home started wilb a bus trip through the Rockies and Banff and Lake Louise, Alla., before travelling •~ Calgary where they returned lo Halifax via Air Canada. Needless to say the beauty of the mountains, Valleys Lake Louise wiU never be ' forgollen, nor willall the new friendships made during their trip. Both Mrs. Weagle and her niece met many of the lormer's pupils, neighbors and friends from our East Coast

Rock Collections

In 1972, Sylvia was interviewed by CBC for the television show “A Way Out” that aired on Channel 3 on Sunday July 9th. She talked about her interesting rock collection. It would be interesting to find an archive copy of that show! Sylvia Weagle’s rock and fossil collection includes many samples from George’s Bank, likely provided by the children of fishers who were her students.

Newspaper clipping showing Sylvia Weagle in front of her rock cabinet, announcing she will be featured on the CBC television show. Also a color photo of her rock cabinet.

She thought several of these rock samples looked like dinosaur eggs. The round concretions found on the ocean floor at Georges Bank sure do look like eggs, but they are naturally occurring mineral formations that develop in sediments. In 1971, Sylvia visited the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, to see "A Piece of the Moon". While she was at the museum she learned about mastodon and mammoth teeth found on Georges Bank by scallop fisherman. She spoke to the museum curators about her 'dinosaur eggs' and learned they were concretions and not fossils.

Photographs Sylvia Weagle took during her visit to the museum in 1971, showing the mastodon femur, models of mastodons, and "moon rock" on display.

Several items in Mrs. Weagle's collection are fossils – including some fragments of large bones that may be from whales or perhaps even mastodons. These large bones fragments are interesting samples from the ocean floor of Georges Bank.

Mrs. Weagle's rock collection, newspaper clippings, letters and photographs were donated to the Museum when she passed away in 1996. Many of the rocks, including her "dinosaur eggs" are interesting to look at, and remain valuable as samples of the ocean floor at Georges Bank from the 1970s.

What other treasures lie below the water!


Special thanks to student volunteer Musashi Milburn who recently helped photograph the rocks and documents in Sylvia Weagle's collection.