40th anniversaries come but once, so staff at the Callander Bay Heritage Museum are pulling all the stops to make this celebration one to remember. It all occurs on Tuesday, August 9th, and Wednesday August 10, with a full roster of events at the museum at 107 Lansdowne Street East from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $2, or free with a donation to the Callander Food Bank.
The event, entitled “Cheers to 40 Years,” marks a “a significant milestone in any museum’s history,” said Natasha Wiatr, the museum’s curator. Perhaps most importantly, the museum “has adapted to the times” to best serve the community, with the Alex Dufresne Gallery opening in 1994, and just recently, in 2020, the museum also took on the role of the municipality’s tourist information centre.
It was August 8, 1982, when the museum first opened its doors for a grand opening. At the time it was called the North Himsworth Museum, and Wiatr mentioned that plans began to brew for a museum in Callander as early as 1968. Plans began taking shape in the late 1970’s, thanks in part to local barber Alex Dufresne, who really pushed for the museum. Since opening the museum has drawn visitors from near and far and remains a favourite local attraction.
The museum is well-known for its extensive Dionne Quintuplets collection, and many international collectors of Dionne memorabilia have donated to the permanent collection, “and we’re so grateful for that.” The museum is housed in the original home of Dr. Dafoe, who was the Dionne’s physician, so the space itself is a draw for Dionne fans.
On Tuesday, the Nipissing Rock and Mineral Club adds to the celebration by setting up an indoor mini putt and allowing visitors to sift for minerals. Many specimens will be displayed, so if your interests lean toward the geological, this is the show for you. In the afternoon, staff from the Callander Public Library are stopping by to help the kids make balloon animals and press some commemorative buttons.
On Wednesday, staff from the North Bay Museum and the Sturgeon River House Museum are setting up some “special displays” for visitors, and in the afternoon, the Nipissing Township Museum will be in the house, as will a representative from Dokis Fist Nation.
Incandescence Glass Studio is also setting up on Wednesday, and library staff return, although without the balloons. This time, staff are bringing along a display called “Unlocking your Family Story,” which showcases the library’s collection of genealogical resources. At 3 p.m. museum staff are hosting a tree planting ceremony “to commemorate this milestone,” Wiatr said.
“It’s an exciting moment for the town,” said Callander’s mayor, Robb Noon. “They have done such great work, and Natasha is such an asset to our municipality, she does amazing work there. I’m excited to celebrate that.”
Museums play “a vital role” within a community, Wiatr emphasized, “providing access to resources for education, learning, and artistic expression.” Celebrating 40 years “highlights the vital role that heritage and culture play in our lives, and why we must continue to support our museums for future generations to enjoy.”
“We are so appreciative of our town and our local residents who support our museum” Wiatr said, “and we hope to see you there.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.