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
Volunteer Marianne Ferguson scans a 1915 panoramic photograph showing soldiers from the 110th (Perth) Battalion.
Visits, donations add
to successful 2014
The St. Marys Museum has been enjoying a successful year in 2014, reporting significant increases in school programming, donations at the door and visitor numbers. Manager Trisha McKibbin believes that the effects of the recession from a few years ago and restrictions at border crossings are finally being overcome for this area in general. As well as tourist numbers, local visitor numbers have increased. Thanks to various initiatives, such as Melodies at the Museum, the profile of the St. Marys Museum in the community is currently “in a good place.”
Upcoming this fall
Events throughout the autumn will continue to build community awareness. The seminar series is well underway for the 2014–2015 season. Updates about individual seminars can be found on the Museum’s Facebook page. One specific seminar scheduled for the evening of November 20 deserves special attention. Canadigm, a not-for-profit group from London, Ontario, will give a presentation on its first project, “Souterraine Impressions.” The project involves documenting, researching and recreating images and carvings made in 1917 by Canadian soldiers hiding from the enemy in underground caves in France before the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This multimedia presentation will take place in the End Zone at the Pyramid Centre to accommodate anticipated response.
World War I recognition
The Museum is acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I in several other ways. An exhibit featuring letters sent home by soldiers during this time period opens October 27. Some letters come from the museum’s collection; others were published in local newspapers between August 1914 and the end of 1918. Reading the words actually written by these young men casts a great deal of light on their personalities and their relationships with their family and friends at home. School programming for the week of Remembrance Day will be based on these letters.
Remembering the fallen
The St. Marys Historical Society is publishing The Fallen, a book of short biographies of the 140 men whose names are listed on the St. Marys and Rannoch cenotaphs as well as the World War II plaque on the town hall. The book will be an updated and edited version of “St. Marys Remembers” and “Remembering Our Veterans,” newsprint booklets that were produced and circulated by the St. Marys Journal Argus in 1995 and 1996. Richard Holt, the author of those 1990s booklets, has been diligently working, with assistance from Museum staff and volunteers, to update information for this new publication. Members of the Historical Society hope that the book will be ready for sale by mid-November.
Show your support for the St. Marys Museum. Buy a membership during your next visit or download a membership form.