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The Inmates Take Over the Laboratory

December 2, 2012

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flies angle

Norman Criddle’s first entomological laboratory at Aweme (top), and a window in the lab (above)

The preserved entomological lab of Norman Criddle at Aweme, Manitoba, is the remarkable remnant of a remarkable life. Constructed almost 100 years ago, this small building was the first purpose-built structure in which the self-trained scientist, naturalist, and artist could carry out his work. Visiting this place, I found it fascinating that so much significant research could be done by a man who had no formal education, working much of the time in a little hut on the family homestead, many miles from any library or university.

Like the Criddle-Vane farmhouse, the lab was abandoned many years ago. Unlike the house, which is in a sad state as a result of decay and vandalism, this lovely little lab building has been recently restored. It stands nearly empty, and when we visited last September the only living occupants were the swarms of flies. It seems appropriate that the workplace of the man who developed the Criddle Mixture* for the killing of pest insects should have arthropods as his only modern successors. From what I have read about Norman Criddle and his eccentricities, I think he would have appreciated the humour in this situation.

The lab building stands some distance from the Criddle house.

The tiny lab building stands on its own, some distance from the Criddle house.

Norman Criddle was the ...

Norman Criddle was hired as an entomologist by the Government of Canada, principally to carry out research on agricultural pest insects.

 

flies distance

flies detail1

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In addition to the flies, there was plenty of evidence of recent occupation by other arthropods.

In addition to the flies, there was evidence of recent occupation by other arthropods.

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This is the second Criddle homestead named "St. Albans"; dates from

This is the second Criddle homestead, built in 1906. Like the first house, it was named “St. Albans.”

Judging by this doorway in the house, the Criddles probably were not particularly tall people (OK, I admit that I am somewhat tall, but still ...).

Judging by this doorway in the house, the Criddles probably were not particularly tall people (I admit that I am somewhat tall, but still …).

The Criddle Mixture, used as a bait for grasshopper control, consisted of “Paris green (copper acetoarsenite), salt and horse manure (or bran or sawdust).”

© Graham Young, 2012

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