Monday, March 14, 2011

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Historical Society Museum

In a couple weeks I will be starting my internship, which I will be completing at the Niagara Historical Society & Museum. It’s a small museum tucked behind the main strip of the historic old town. It was founded in 1895 by the Niagara Historical Society, who quickly realized the importance of saving artefacts for future generations. The collection of historical records and artefacts was started in 1896 in hopes that it would promote the study of Canadian history and literature in the years to come. The idea was to build Canadian loyalty and patriotism such as that in the United States.

In 1906, Janet Carnochan, President of the Society, took on the committed leadership of the project and gathered sufficient funds to start the construction of Memorial Hall. It was originally just next to the 1875 school house, however in the 1970s the society purchase the school house, connected the two buildings and moved exhibits into it as well. Memorial Hall was built to commemorate the United Empire Loyalists of the 1780s who founded Niagara and was the first building in Ontario designed only for the use of a museum.
Sir Isaac Brock's hat
The museum plays host to the ongoing War of 1812 exhibit. It holds artefacts, records, books and other materials dating back to the early 1800s. The most prized possession of the museum in Sir Isaac Brock’s hat from the War of 1812. This exhibit is the museum’s main focus right now, as the town is preparing to celebrate the War of 1812 Bicentennial.

Another permanent exhibit is called “Our Story”. This holds the history of Canada’s native peoples and Niagara’s history from the start. Artefacts and records in this exhibit date back to 10,000 years ago.
The upper level of Memorial Hall is called the “Janet Carnochan Gallery”. This showcase is changed on a regular basis. It holds a variety of artefacts such as early Canadianna furniture to Native paintings. Other exhibits come and go twice a year in the back section of Memorial Hall.

There are also two virtual exhibits on the museum website; “Sweet Memories: A photo essay of Niagara-on-the-Lake's marine heritage” and “1812 History”. They can be seen here.

The museum in 1927
In the spring of 2011 there will be a new exhibit called “50 Years of Shaw” to commemorate the Shaw Festival Theatre. This will be a great showcase for theatre lovers.

I strongly recommend you check out some of the exhibits, and if you’re not interested in the artefacts then just got to see the buildings. Or come visit me in April!

Museum Hours
May - October 10 - 5 daily
November - April 1 - 5 daily

The museum is closed on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Admission costs
Adults $5
Seniors $3
Students $2
Children $1

43 Castlereagh Street
Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, Canada


  1. This sounds really interesting. They will probably keep you very busy working on promotion of the bicentennial! I hope you keep blogging to let us know how it all goes at the end of April.

  2. I did not even know this museum existed, but after reading your post I think it would be a really interesting place to visit!

  3. I didn't know that this museum existed either, but I think that it's really sweet. I like that it has Brock's hat, that's really special and the admission price is exceptionally reasonable too. Very nice! I would really like to attend this place!

  4. I had the opportunity to visit this museum last summer. I work at one of the Ontario Travel Information Centres, and we get to visit to many local museums and tourist destinations. My co-workers and I found this museum very interesting. Now that I know more about it, it is something that I can suggest to tourists who are looking for an interesting place to go.