~ OUR MUSEUM ~
The building that houses the Rideau District Museum has seen a lot of history over its lifetime. In the 1850's it was home to "Conley & Truelove", coffin shoppe and furniture manufacturer, and in the 1860's it made the transition to a blacksmith shop and saw the opening of a boat and carriage works upstairs. Its roots in the village started before Canada even became a country (July 1st, 1867), and well before Westport was incorporated as a village (1904).
There are many treasured artifacts in the Rideau District Museum, but one of the earliest, and most prized, is the statue of Sally Grant. Carved in 1842 by a man named Wiliam Holmes, the 11 foot statue was carved from a single piece of white cedar and placed on the Court House in Brockville where she stood for over 100 years. After time and the elements began to take their toll on Sally she was removed from the Court House roof and was destined for either the junk yard or the fireplace when she was rescued by one of the founding members of the Rideau District Museum in the 1960s. In a sad state at that time, Sally had suffered such extensive damage that her once noble 11 foot stature had been reduced to a mere 8 feet by rot and fire with her original base now completely destroyed. In 1978 Sally was taken to the Conservation Institute in Ottawa where she underwent extensive restorations over the course of a year to her base, right arm and left side of her face. While she was there, the C.C.I. determined that she was the only outdoor carved wooden statue of her time-period known to exist in Upper Canada, or possibly all of North America. After being brought back to her former glory, Sally now graces the lower floor of the Rideau District Museum.
The child's casket that the Museum has on display was one of the display models that was used during the time of the 1850's coffin shoppe. Complete with its glass viewing window, which determines that its manufacture was prior to embalming, it was stored in the attic of our building and was waiting there when the Museum opened in 1961. Similarly, the windows from Canada's first Prime Minister's hearse were also stored in the attic after the vehicle had been purchased locally and was converted to a milk wagon in our very building.
Open from Thursday through Sunday in the month of June, then 7 days a week from July through Labour Day Monday, the Rideau District Museum is a must-see site on your next trip to the scenic village of Westport, Ontario! Stop in for our extended-season hours (Thursdays through Sundays after Labour Day until the first weekend in October)
(Be sure to check out our "Links" page and "Photo Gallery" page to find some of the photos available online from the archives of the Rideau District Museum...)