A 25th building anniversary

By Emily Beliveau, Digital Project Assistant

Twenty-five years ago, on 30 September 1989, the newly redeveloped Huron County Museum officially opened to the public. Just a few years earlier, the fate of the Museum was in question after part of the main building was closed due to structural problems. Seven years later, the Huron County Museum was reborn for a new era with the completion of a $4 million dollar renovation delivered on time and on budget.

angle shot of north-west corner

Museum exterior before the 1988-1989 renovation

Originally housed in the 1856 Central Schoolhouse building, the museum first opened to the public in 1951. From there its footprint gradually grew as other buildings were constructed to house additional exhibits, most notably the 1913 CPR shunting locomotive purchased in 1958.

In the photo below, you can see the locomotive in its permanent home covered by orange tarpaulins while the new museum building goes up around it. The train is now the central feature of the History Hall gallery, a streetscape of town life from around Huron County in the early 1900s. The redevelopment gave the museum the ability to showcase old and new by building a modern facility around the schoolhouse–itself a historic artefact.

Aerial view of museum construction during redevelopment

From the museum’s Archives, here is a rare glimpse of the empty upper hallway in the schoolhouse while it was being restored as well as a view of the exhibits before redevelopment. The redeveloped museum purposely retained some of the character of our original curator’s displays while also using modern display techniques to tell the story of Huron County.

Empty second floor hallway during restoration of the schoolhouse, circa 1989, Huron County Museum

hallway view with artefacts

Displays in the second floor schoolhouse hallway before restoration, c. 1986

If you visit the museum today, you will find a mix of old favorites and new things to discover. You can still turn the handles on Mr. Neill’s wooden models, see the two-headed calves and ring the train bell, but you can also learn something new from a temporary exhibit or do something new at a special event. Twenty-five years later, our new building might not be so new anymore, but it serves us well as we continue to share the evolving history of Huron County in new and old ways.

Noteworthy exhibit finale

By Emily Beliveau, Digital Project Assistant

Our temporary exhibit Noteworthy: Musical Instruments closes Sunday, 14 September 2014. Last week, Assistant Curator Elizabeth French-Gibson recounted the memories of her childhood music lessons as she described the many beautiful instruments that are on display from the Museum’s collection. Accompanying those instruments are photographs from our Archival collection showing the people who made and played instruments in Huron County’s history. Here are a few of the images on display in the Temporary Gallery until the end of the week:

group pose with instruments

Goderich Citizen Band, 1927, Object ID: 1950.1761.001. Winners of 3rd Prize in Class C1, Bank contest at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto.  Back Row (left to right) – Sidney Palmer, W. Johnson, Clyde Carter, Frank McIllwain.  Centre Row – Reg Newcombe, A. Rollinson, H. L. Watson, H. Fowler, H. E. Jenner, H. Witmer, T. Walters, F. McArthur, Robert Henry.  Front Row – J. Huckins, Givin Young, G. Inglis, George Jenner, George James, C. A.R. Wilkinson, C. Tweedie, E. Jenner, Charles Rance, Harvey McGee, Walter Newcombe, Harold Newcombe.


Detail from image “90 Pianos A Week”, Doherty Organ Factory Employees, Clinton, Ontario. Object ID: A990.0013.002. Note the ghostly figure in the flag, the result of movement during a long exposure.


Piano Recital Group, 1949, Object ID: A999.0007.014. Left to right: Evelyn Breckow, Irene Milne, Mollie Bissett, Eunice Milne, Mary Pridham, May Henry, Joan Scott, Marilyn Butler, Rose Marie Hartman, Cathee Butt, Gloria Palmer, Helen Willis, ___________, Marietta Stingal, Mary Anne Erksine, Barbara Henry.


Jubilee Brass Band, 1897, Zurich, Object ID: A990.0013.002. Back Row (left to right) – W. G. Hess, J. Schuettler, F. W. Hess, M. Wurm, A. Moritz, G. Stenback, EO. Zeller. Front Row – AIF. Faust, Dan Bennett, L. Weber, P. Sipple.