St. Marys Museum as it looked in 1902.
The Castle in the Bush
The community museum for the Town of St. Marys is located in a lovely old home sitting on a hilltop in a park at 177 Church Street South. It was constructed from locally quarried limestone in 1854. When George Tracy, an early settler to St. Marys, built it for his family, it was by far the largest home in the small village of log shanties. Almost immediately, it was nicknamed the Castle in the Bush. It has been the location of the St. Marys Museum since 1959.
Visitors interested in 19th-century construction are welcome to visit at any time throughout the year. They will see exhibits and materials on local history and can also explore the interior of the house itself. Although it has not been restored to any fixed historic period, it contains a great number of original features from 1854: pine flooring, four fireplaces, plaster crown moldings, high ceilings and strange sets of small rooms off larger chambers.
Community archives opened in 2006.
Local history research
A popular feature of the St. Marys Museum is the area for research into local history. A new wing for this community archives was opened in June 2006. The addition to the north of the original building is completely accessible and is well used by researchers throughout the year.
As well as municipal records, census indexes, listings for area cemeteries, local marriage, birth and death records, maps, photographs, family and community histories, this archives features St. Marys newspapers dating back to 1857. The newspaper archival materials were officially donated to the Museum in March 2007 by their last private owner. In recognition, the research area has been named: R. Lorne Eedy Archives.
Friends of the Museum
Museum Manager Trisha McKibbin, left, with Anyès Kadowaki Busby and Brian Busby at the Annual General Meeting.
in exhibits, activities
The Friends of the St. Marys Museum’s Annual General Meeting was held Monday, March 25, at the Museum. Treasurer Wayne Norris presented financial statements for 2012. Annual Reports were also presented for the Friends and for the group’s original sponsoring organization, the St. Marys Historical Society.
A highlight of the evening was Manager Trisha McKibbin’s overview of the Museum’s activities since the last AGM in March 2012. Trisha, assistant Amy Cubberley, their summer staff and a number of volunteers have made great progress in reorganizing storage areas and presenting new exhibits. In 2012, this work centred on the Barn, a separate building that houses large artifacts, mostly relating to agriculture and transportation. An inventory of the Barn’s contents was prepared and condition reports made for each artifact.
Visitor numbers increased significantly in 2012 and visits to Facebook and to the Picture St. Marys website also increased, showing that the Museum can expand its services well beyond its facility in St. Marys. On-site programs included Melodies at the Museum, outdoor concerts offered in August 2012. The concert program will be expanded and offered again in August 2013. The second seminar series, just concluded in March, also introduced a number of first-time visitors to the resources of the Museum.
During the meeting, Marianne Ferguson was elected to replace retiring director Gord Strathdee on the board of directors. The financial and annual reports are available electronically. Anyone who would like to receive copies should contact the Museum. And it is not too late to purchase a 2013 membership, still available at $10. Members are entitled to discounts on programs such as the seminar series and will also receive regular newsletters.