By Jenn Watt
Published Aug. 14, 2018
We often publish stories about the beginnings of things and the promise they hold, but less frequently do we reflect on long-term successes.
In the early days of new projects, there is plenty of passion and hope, but we can never know what the future will bring. Good ideas can peter out over time. New buildings or facilities can fall into disrepair. Important projects can become redundant.
Not so for the Haliburton Highlands Museum, which is as key to the health of the Haliburton community today as it was 50 years ago.
On Saturday, the museum marked this important anniversary and over the last couple of weeks has been sharing clippings from the past.
In particular, an editorial by the Haliburton County Echo’s Creighton Feir gives a sense of what the community expected this museum to become:
“Any project, major or minor, begins with a dream, and in the case of the museum, the dream goes back to February 9, 1967, when the Rotary Club of Haliburton approved the purchase of the John Reid house. Since then the museum has continued to acquire new artifacts, and to draw a large number of tourists and permanent residents alike.”
The collection outgrew the space, which led to the creation of the building, which was funded through the municipality, grants and other government agencies. Land was secured in Glebe Park.
In Feir’s column, he stated that the museum would enrich the cultural life of Haliburton County and preserve historical heritage. This has proved true.
Five decades later, the museum is fulfilling its initial mandate and much more.
Today’s museum houses artifacts and its staff strive to collect as much knowledge of our past as possible – documenting it for generations to come.
It also provides space for cultural events: jazz concerts, field naturalist meetings, playwrights’ workshops, theatrical performances, and arts council AGMs.
It offers programming for kids, hosts historical re-enactments and demonstrates how maple syrup was once made.
It’s a tourism attraction. A community venue. A space for arts and culture.
From the perspective of the local newspaper, the museum is essential. Many times we’ve called looking for confirmation of a date or information about an event in Haliburton’s past and found exactly what we needed from the knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff at the museum. Over the years we’ve learned about the early settlers of the region thanks to extensive, time-consuming research. And they keep working at it, with the most recent study being done into Indigenous cultures of the region.
At the end of his editorial, Creighton Feir wrote this of the then-fledgling museum:
“All those who contributed to make the project work have a right to be proud of what they have accomplished. And in years to come, as the museum continues to grow, the community will have good reason to remember those efforts with thanks.”
We absolutely do.