Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Niagara Apothecary National Historic Site

I chose this painting of it as it was done
by local artist, Trisha Romance.
Her gallery is about a 15-step walk from the Apothecary. 

At the corner of Queen and King Streets in Niagara-on-the-Lake sits a little old building from 1820. Many people walk right past it, not even knowing what it is. It’s called the Niagara Apothecary. The website, which can be found here, describes it as “an authentic museum restoration of a 1869 pharmacy as part of a practice that operated in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, from 1820 to 1964.”

It was owned by six different men until 1964 when the owner at that time fell ill and had to close. It was then acquired by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, who restored it and reopened it as a museum in 1971.

A plaque for the Apothecary that was unveiled
by the Queen Mother in 1981
For free, or a donation in the amount of your choice, you can enter the museum and step back in time to the early 1800s. The shelves are still full of potions, blends and ailment cures from the 1800s. The website describes that “the hub of the Apothecary was the ornately carved dispensary, which dominates the rear of the main room. With the exception of certain proprietary or patent and non-prescription remedies, even pills and other compounded medications were made in the dispensary during the 19th and early 20th century.” Visitors can ask questions and snoop around as they please.

It’s a great place to visit, even if you only drop by for a few minutes, as it is the only museum of its kind in Ontario. Step through the doors of the Niagara Apothecary and see how pharmacists practised their profession over 100 years ago. When you walk in you’ll notice liquor by the barrel or the bottle, flavourings, paints, dyes, leeches, tobacco and snuff – these were the stock-in-trade of a 19th-century pharmacy. You'll see rows of patent medicines, "miracle cure-alls" for everything from hair loss to tuberculosis.

It makes you wonder where we would be without modern medicine…


  1. Thanks for the insight Julie-Ann. I use to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake with my family and cousins from Ohio, but I haven't been in years. I defiantly going this summer.

  2. Sounds like an interesting place. Are you allowed to play with the potions? haha

  3. I love that you are so passionate about the area Julie-Ann. Obviously a historical site, Niagara-on-the-Lake is not somewhere where I would have put as my first choice to visit, but after hearing from you, it sounds like a great place to visit in the spring and summer.

  4. This is a great blog. And so, you're one of my One Lovely Blog Award nominees.