Goulbourn Museum was opened in 1990 by members of the Goulbourn Township Historical Society (GTHS). The Society acquired the use of the Goulbourn Township Hall (built in 1872) as a space to store their expanding collection of local artefacts and family histories. Originally, the Museum only had the capacity to be open for special occasions, however, in 1999 the Museum’s cause was helped immensely by the receipt of an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant. Through this grant and an increase in municipal funding, GM was able to significantly extend its operating hours, develop several successful community programs, and open a History Centre devoted to offices and collections storage space.
The City of Ottawa’s Museum Sustainability Plan (2006-2009) initiated a much-needed boost to the Museum’s budget. This enabled the hiring of additional staff, improvements in collections care, and the enhanced development of engaging exhibits and educational programs. The Museum Sustainability Plan remains the key factor to ensuring the continued growth and vitality of the Museum.
In 2009 the Museum and the GTHS began seeking independent incorporation and charitable status. The two organizations were split in 2010 and in December of that year the Museum was incorporated. In April of 2011 charitable status was achieved. Supported by all three levels of government, community members, museum staff, volunteers and a board of directors, Goulbourn Museum provides exhibitions, public events, collections storage, heritage interpretation and public programming. The Museum continues to be an integral part of cultural community life and is dedicated to being accessible to all visitors, and to preserving and sharing the history of the Goulbourn community before, during, and after the incorporation of the Township.
The Goulbourn Museum is located on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinàbeg. This land was taken under Treaty 27 and 27 ¼, also known as the Rideau Purchase of 1819/1822. The Algonquin Anishinàbeg have lived on and cared for this land since time immemorial. We deeply appreciate their historic connection to this place and thank them for their contributions, as well as the contributions of the Métis, Inuit, and other Indigenous peoples in shaping and strengthening this community.
As an institution mandated to preserve and communicate local culture, it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the purposeful exclusion of Indigenous peoples and their cultures throughout recorded history. This acknowledgement recognizes the contributions and historical importance of Indigenous peoples. The Goulbourn Museum is committed to denouncing historical and ongoing cultural genocide against these groups, decolonizing our interpretation of the historical narrative, and relaying informed representations of the past by contextualizing research with Algonquin Anishinàbe perspectives where appropriate. We aspire to be a gathering place for anyone and everyone, and we hope that one day, every member of our community might see themselves reflected in our Museum.
Our acknowledgement is subject to change and growth as we continue our journey of understanding.
Goulbourn Museum preserves and interprets material significant to the Goulbourn Township area, before, during, and after its incorporation; to share local history in a meaningful and accessible way that strengthens community connections.
The Goulbourn Museum is a local cultural heritage institution located in Stittsville, Ontario. Built in 1872, the building which currently houses the Museum was once the old Town Hall for the former Goulbourn Township. Despite being the size of a one-room school house, this popular community hub was home to council meetings, parties and dances.
The adjacent History Centre building, built in 1961, was the former Clerks building. It is now used as administrative offices, as well as the Museum’s primary collections storage.
Through the colonization of unceded Algonquin Anishinàbeg land, the area of the former Goulbourn Township was first settled by Irish soldiers. These soldiers fought as part of the 100th Regiment of Foot during the War of 1812 and took part in a military settlement program designed to protect against the possibility of another American invasion. The Township was established in 1818, and in the years following other military and civilian groups participated in land settlement opportunities. In 1870, Canada Central Railway line was established in Stittsville, which led to rapid growth as the community became a central destination for farmers and businesses transporting goods by rail. The Township became a part of the City of Ottawa in 2001 through amalgamation.
The communities within the former Township include Stittsville, Richmond, Ashton and Munster, as well as Hazeldean, Glen Cairn, Mansfield, Stapledon and Dwyer Hill.
For a visual representation of the former Township, check out this map from 1879 linked below:
H. Belden & Co. “Illustrated historical atlas of the county of Carleton (including city of Ottawa) Ont.” Toronto, 1879.
The Goulbourn Museum inherited its name from the former Goulbourn Township, which was itself named after Sir Henry Goulburn, an English statesman and politician who lived from 1784-1856. The Museum acknowledges that, as an enslaver, Henry Goulburn was the beneficiary of economic and developmental conditions which were the direct result of unpaid labor and forced servitude of People of Colour – specifically enslaved African labour- on his Jamaican sugar plantations.
It is important to accept the notion that history is our interpretation of past events. As more information comes to light, historians are constantly re-evaluating the interpretation of the currently accepted narratives. The Museum would like to stress that our goal is never to erase history, but rather, to contextualize it in an informed manner, inclusive of all persons and their lived experiences.
Algonquin College, Applied Museum Studies
Council of Heritage Organizations Ottawa
Cumberland Heritage Village Museum
Goulbourn Township Historical Society
Ontario Genealogical Society, Ottawa Branch