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Patagonia Bookshelf

The Visitors Book of the Reynard family (1903-1922)
Sociability on the early Patagonian sheep ranch


There was a time, not so many years ago, when the Visitors Book was a familiar sight in middle-class homes, often placed in a prominent position close to the entrance. This book held an informal and friendly record of overnight visitors to the house, each of whom was invited to sign it before departing. Comments were welcome.

The Reynard family's book begins in 1903, at Oazy Harbour, on the Magellan Strait. When the family relocated in 1905 to Cañadón de las Vacas, in Santa Cruz Territory, the book moved also; here it continued in use (with two interruptions) until 1922.

Each pair of pages is divided into columns for arrival date, visitor's name, place of origin, departure date and remarks. This last column occupied a full page, and is a distinctive part of the book. In total, there are 211 entries (54 and 157 from the respective farms). Of course, each new visitor had the opportunity to read what his/her predecessors had written.

Remarks vary from thanks and praise for the hospitality, through quotations to humorous "ad hoc" poems. The languages used reflect the national and cultural diversity of their authors: English, French, Spanish, Flemish and Scots Gaelic are all represented.

We would like to thank Robert Lemaire for showing us this interesting book, and allowing us to share such a valuable "time capsule" on our web-site.

Gladys Grace P. and Duncan S. Campbell, June 2014