Right on the corner beside the Community Labyrinth is the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum where a permanent exhibit displays with pride the early days of this small but vibrant community. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Carleton Place was incorporated as a village in 1870, and then a town in 1890. This building, completed in 1872, became the first town hall. It housed a jail, a council chamber, and a caretaker’s quarters on the first floor. A grand staircase led to a second floor where there was an auditorium used for public meetings. In 1879, it became Victoria Public School and served thousands of students until its closure in 1969. In 1985, it became the Victoria School Museum. In 2011 the name was changed to the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.
The stone building is charming and the surrounding gardens which are beautifully kept used to be the school playground. There’s a bee house in the garden and to the right of the entrance is a book exchange pillar as befits a former school house. A bit of a store is in the reception area with many interesting items and reasonable prices.
The permanent exhibit off the hall to the right explores the beginnings of Carleton Place and Beckwith as a thriving community that grew up around a foundry, a lumber industry, became an important railway junction, and had churches, grocery stores, a hotel, a pharmacy, and a regiment. There is a lovely display of china tea cups, tea service, and dinnerware.
Across the hall are the temporary exhibits which at this writing consist of an exhibit all about bees and bee keeping and a wonderful exhibit featuring the theatre production company, The Mudds, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Sadly, these were summer exhibits and they are finished today. The museum will be closed from September 4th -15th after which it will open with fall/winter hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm or by appointment when the Boss Room (which housed these exhibits) will be used for workshops and events.
Their website hosts a variety of virtual exhibits and photo albums which include a history of Carleton Place, the story of Capt. A. Roy Brown, a reluctant hero, and then and now photos of homes of Carleton Place. It would be cool if they could archive the Spotlight on the Mudd exhibit and the Bee exhibit to their site. Check there also for their walking tours and special events. We will look forward to seeing what their summer exhibits hold for us next year.