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

Richard Holt signs a copy of his book, The Fallen, for Wendy Aitken

Richard Holt signs a copy of The Fallen for Wendy Aitken at a book launching reception December 12 at the Museum.

Visits, donations add
to successful 2014

The St. Marys Museum enjoyed a successful year in 2014, reporting significant increases in school programming, donations at the door and visitor numbers. Thanks to various initiatives, such as outreach for seniors, Manager Trisha McKibbin believes the profile of the Museum in the community is currently “in a good place.” Those interested in a full report of the past year are invited to attend the Friends of the Museum’s Annual General Meeting, Monday, March 23, at 7 p.m. in the Museum’s reference room. Watch this website for more information.

The gift shop

The Museum’s gift shop, with its great stock of local history books, historic photographs, postcards and greeting cards, provides a steady source of revenue for the Friends of the Museum. Richard Holt’s new book, The Fallen, has been selling very well since its release on December 12. This quality paperback presents brief biographies of the 140 men listed on the war memorials in St. Marys and Blanshard, concentrating on their time in the Canadian Forces. The Fallen costs $25 and can be purchased at the Museum. Copies are also available at M & M Variety in downtown St. Marys.

Seminars and exhibits

A highlight of the Museum’s seminar series has been Ken Telfer’s presentation on early hotels and taverns in the St. Marys area. “Set ’em Up, Barkeep” was offered twice in January, with a third presentation scheduled for February. In the meantime, Museum staff and volunteers are working on the final seminar of this season, “Picture Perfect,” on Thursday, March 19. It ties in with a new exhibit, showcasing the Museum’s collection of paintings by some remarkable artists who studied and worked in the St. Marys area.

Silent auction

The 19th annual Heritage Fair is set for February 20, at 7 p.m. at the Pyramid Recreation Centre. The ever-popular silent auction will take place again that evening with many intriguing items to bid on. This fundraiser helps cover the costs of the Heritage Fair – a free community event.

Volunteers helping with the Heritage Fair will be glad to answer questions about the Friends of the Museum. Memberships will be on sale during the fair. All paid-up members are eligible to vote at the Annual General Meeting on March 23.