What Else Do We Know?
Once curators have taken the time to explore an objects identity, materials, construction and
function, they can usefully turn their attention to more general questions. Additional information
related to the objects owner, builder and user, along with its period, place and historic
association, form what is known as an objects provenance. This helpful information begins with
clues from the artifact itself — perhaps a builders name and a factory location — which are then
enhanced by way of written or oral accounts. Like the scenery in a play, provenance gives curators
a context for understanding objects and offers insight and meaning to all artifacts, large, small,
complex or simple. Provenance can also help to distinguish the relative value of two objects that
are otherwise the same.
|What else? Toronto Omnibus, 1921 (Fifth Ave. Coach, N.Y.) (CSTM 680887) See: More Than a Machine|
This old vehicle was one of the first motor-powered buses used in Toronto. Built in New York,
this bus (short for omnibus) is 24 feet, 5 inches (7.4 metres) long, 7 1/2 feet (2.3 metres)
wide and 10 feet, 5 inches (3.2 metres) high. It seats 51 people and is powered by a 40-horsepower
engine — only twice the power of some modern ride-on lawn mowers! The bright red colour of the bus
was chosen to make it stand out, like a fire engine. The bus was first used in September 1921, on a
route of less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) in a populated area of the city that, at the time, had
no other form of public transportation. A one-way trip took about 10 minutes at an average speed of
8 miles (13 kilometres) per hour. The bus brought passengers to and from the city streetcar lines
and, when it was first introduced, it was very popular, serving about 6,000 riders every day, at a
fare of 7 cents each, with free transfers.