Niagara Historical Society's 125th Anniversary

Celebrating 125 years of the Niagara Historical Society!

By Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Newspaper Notice, 1895Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Formation of the Society

On December 12, 1895, fifteen citizens of Niagara-on-the-Lake met to form the Niagara Historical Society. The goals of the Society were to encourage the study of Canadian history and literature, to collect and preserve Canadian historical relics, bolster Canadian loyalty and patriotism, and preserve historical landmarks in the area. 

Janet CarnochanNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Janet Carnochan (pictured) was chosen as the President, much to her surprise and reluctance. In 1900 she even became the curator, a position she held until her retirement in 1925.

Items from the Society's Early Collection Military Items on DisplayNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Several people doubted the Society’s ability to collect artefacts of significant interest, believing that everything had been given away or destroyed, or that no one would either give or lend anything for such a purpose. Fortunately, the Society ignored these sentiments. The early collection, which began in 1896, produced artefacts of both local and national interest, many of which are still preserved by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum. 

Tea KettleNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Item #641 of the Museum's early collection is this copper kettle, which belonged to Laura Ingersoll Secord, in which she placed the gold doubloons for safety in the War of 1812.

Masonic Apron, c. 1800 (1790/1810)Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Another item from the Society's early collection is #1187, which is a Masonic Apron Worn by Late R. Currie.

1st King’s Dragoon Guard Uniform and Helmet 1st King’s Dragoon Guard HelmetNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

This item from the early collection is a 1st King's Dragoon Guards helmet from 1838.

Rowley BlockNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

The Society's first exhibit of their collection was held at Mr. Rowley’s Store in 1896.

and they housed their collection and historical room in the Town Hall.

Inscriptions and Graves in the Niagara PeninsulaNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Beyond collecting artefacts and running a historical room, a large portion of the early Society’s activities were dedicated to publishing historical pamphlets...

Grave of Brock 1812-1824 (1901-01-01/1901-12-31)Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum

placing historical markers around the community, and commemorating the gravesites of the townspeople who had come before them.

Items from the Society's Early Collection Household Items on DisplayNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

By 1903, the collection had grown to over 2,000 items. A dedicated museum building was needed.

Blueprint of Memorial HallNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

The society began planning the construction of a Museum, which they would call Memorial Hall.

Janet Carnochan in Memorial HallNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Janet Carnochan spearheaded the fundraising campaign, writing letters to donors nightly. The Society managed to successfully raise ($4,924.78) 95% of the costs, only managing to borrow $275 from the bank, which was paid off 2 years later.

The Opening of Memorial Hall (1907-06-04/1907-06-04)Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum

On June 4, 1907 the Society opened the first purpose-built museum in Ontario, which to this day is still apart of the Museum complex. This photograph is from the opening.

Photographs of the interior of Memorial HallNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Interior of Memorial Hall.

Photographs of the interior of Memorial HallNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Memorial HallNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Today, the Museum is now made up of three buildings, the original Museum, the former High School building and the “link” that connects the two heritage buildings.

Photographs of the interior of Memorial HallNiagara-on-the-Lake Museum

The Society Today

The Niagara Historical Society has continued to ensure that Niagara-on-the-Lake’s rich heritage is not forgotten by continuing to publish and educate residents and visitors though its community museum (the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum), lectures, walking tours and other community events. 

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