The old

George Tracy house

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.

The new

Interior of archives wing

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

View from the south of 177 Widder Street East, subject of a recent property history report

A property history report has been prepared for this house at 177 Widder Street East. It was built in 1902 for Dr. Casey Smith, a physician in St. Marys for almost six decades.

Program traces history of heritage properties

Snow may be building up in Cadzow Park but the Museum is warm and filled with activity, especially in the reference/archives area. For instance, several property research projects are underway. In exchange for a donation to the Museum, volunteer Ken Telfer answers requests from local homeowners to trace the history of their property from the days of early settlement. Preparation of the final report often involves other Museum volunteers and staff.

Seminar Series

Work has also started to organize the final three seminars in the 2015–2016 series. The first of these, Thursday evening, February 25, will present the history of health care in St. Marys. The topic will include stories of some eccentric doctors from the 19th century, the smallpox scare of the 1870s, some consequences of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918–1919 and early attempts to provide a hospital for local and area residents.

In March, the topic will be the early settlement of St. Marys, and in April, Larry Pfaff will lead a walking tour, concentrating on the history of the Cruttenden–Clench family. Up-to-date information about these seminars will be posted on the Museum’s Facebook page.

Annual General Meeting

The Friends of the St. Marys Museum will hold the Annual General Meeting, Monday evening, March 21 at the Museum. Reports of the year’s activities will be presented and the board of directors for the following year will be elected. All members are encouraged to attend. Memberships, valid for one year from date of purchase, can be renewed or bought during a visit to the Museum or can be purchased by mail. You can also download a membership form.

Memberships will also be available at the 20th Annual Heritage Fair to be held on Friday, February 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Community Centre on James Street South.