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
Curatorial Assistant Megan Lockhart adjusts the position of three ceramic vases, artifacts donated many years ago to the Museum’s collection.
an eventful summer
A successful July 1 party in Cadzow Park to mark Canada Day was a great kick-off to a season of celebration. Special activities, events and exhibits are planned through the summer into early September.
Two new exhibits open in August. The Citizens of St. Marys Gallery will present “Women Who Broke the Mold,” a tribute to women from St. Marys and area who became well known in their era by rejecting traditional career choices. The Technology Gallery will explore the history of the seven significant bridges that cross the Thames River and Trout Creek in St. Marys. These bridges – stone, concrete, steel – vary in age and appearance, but all are important and all have stories to tell.
The Museum also celebrates the third summer of Melodies at the Museum. Four different entertainers have been booked for the popular outdoor series. The dates are Wednesdays, August 6, 13, 20 and 27, from 7 to 8 p.m. Admission is by donation. Those attending should bring their own lawn chairs or blankets to relax and enjoy the music. Watch this website for details of each performance.
Throughout 2014, the Museum is celebrating the 160th anniversary of the building of Tracy House, its beautiful limestone home. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the organization of a community museum in St. Marys. The Queen Alexandra Branch of the Women’s Institute had the far-sighted idea in 1955 to collect and preserve artifacts from this area. An exhibit marking these two milestones is in place until the end of August.
These celebrations culminate on Sunday, August 24, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. in a grand anniversary reception with music, refreshments and many activities for Museum supporters of all ages. Mark your calendars and join the fun.
Show your support for the St. Marys Museum. Buy a membership during your next visit or download a membership form.