What is the history of the Museum building?

The building which currently houses the Goulbourn Museum was built in 1872. It once served as the 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. Contrary to local lore, the Museum did not replace an earlier building on the site. It did however replace the former Goulbourn Town Hall in Mansfield, which was lost in a fire in 1872 along with all the Township’s records prior to that date.

The adjacent History Centre building, built in 1961, was formerly the Clerks building. It is now used as administrative offices, as well as the Museum’s primary collections storage.

What is Goulbourn Township?

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, 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.” Toronto1879.

Does the Museum have a Land Acknowledgment?

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.

How is the Museum engaging with the process of decolonization?

The Museum is keenly aware of the fact that, as a Museum, our very existence is deeply rooted in colonial structures and modalities. Through transparency- admitting where we can improve, or where there are gaps in our narrative; and through dialogue with our community, as well as groups who have been traditionally excluded from shaping the historical narrative, we hope to move forward to a point where everyone can see themselves reflected in the Museum.

The goal is never to erase history but rather, to establish a more thorough and comprehensive understanding of life in the past, through the inclusion of more diverse perspectives.

How does the Museum reconcile its association with Henry Goulburn?

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.

The Museum would like to stress that our goal is never to erase history, but rather, to understand and contextualize it in an informed manner which is inclusive of all persons and their lived experiences. To this end the Museum seeks to establish a publicly accessible reference library with materials that include minority perspectives, as well as historically accurate information on Henry Goulburn and the slave trade.

I am researching my family tree and found ties to the former Goulbourn Township. How can I get more information?

The Museum has a number of primary sources and publications in our Reference Library which includes community history publications, census records, oral history and land use documentation which may assist you in your research. The Museum also holds vital statistics records from the former Township in the form of birth, death, and marriage registers from 1890-1970. Due to privacy laws however, some restrictions may apply in regards to the release of personal information.

For more information, please contact us or book a research appointment (See the FAQ question below)

For additional sources, many genealogical files for the former Goulbourn Township belong to the Goulbourn Township Historical Society (GTHS) and are accessible, for free, at both the Stittsville Branch of the Ottawa Public Library and the Richmond Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. Simply ask someone at the main desk to help you.

How can I make a research appointment?

The Museum provides one complimentary hour of staff assisted research services. If more investigation is warranted we ask for $25 per hour of staff assisted research as a financial contribution from the researcher. These funds support the Museum’s collections and allow us to provide ongoing research services to the public.

Please call 613-831-2393 or email us to schedule a time.

How can I make a donation to the Goulbourn Museum?

Thank you for considering the Goulbourn Museum a worthwhile recipient of your donation. It’s your support that makes it possible to fulfill our mandate: preserving and telling the stories of our shared cultural heritage. Goulbourn Museum is a Registered Charity, and donations can be made online or by completing a Museum Donation Form and returning it to the Museum by mail with a cheque, or in person with cash or a cheque. Donations of $10 or more will automatically receive a tax receipt before the next tax season.

How is the money I donate used?

Your support is instrumental in supporting the Museum:

  • Create new and vibrant exhibits
  • Develop lively educational programs and workshops
  • Protect our community’s valuable artefacts. To date, the Goulbourn Museum has over 10,000 artefacts in its collections

I’d like to donate an artefact, what is the process?

Thank you for trusting the Goulbourn Museum with your stories. There are several considerations when making or accepting a donation:

  • Does it have a compelling story?
  • Does it fit within our collections mandate?
  • Do you own it and are able to transfer ownership to the Museum?
  • Do we already have one of these?
  • Will it fit in our limited storage space?
  • Is it something that can be used in a program, exhibition, or for research?
  • Will we be able to properly care for it?

Space is always a critical resource to a Museum, and we unfortunately cannot always accept a donated item if it does not meet our criteria listed above.

All potential donations are reviewed by a volunteer panel called the Collections Working Group (CWG). Informed by the knowledge, lived experiences, and different perspectives of the CWG volunteers we critically evaluate all donations to the Museum’s permanent artefact collections.

If your donation is accepted staff will assist you with the formal transfer of ownership, accreditations, and tax receipt if required. With those all complete your object becomes an artefact in the Goulbourn Museum collections.

Please call the Museum or email us to discuss your options.

What happens to our items after we donate them?

A trained staff member begins by carefully documenting its condition and any information about the object you are able to provide as a donor. Next, each artefact is assigned an identification number which is either placed directly on the artefact in a conservation appropriate manner, or with a paper hang-tag. This allows us to track the artefact physically, as well as in our catalogue. Next, we write a description of the artefact, note the measurements, take photographs, and add all the information to the database. We record details like the materials, date of manufacture, date of use, and all known history. Once the documentation is complete, we determine the safest way to preserve the artefact for generations to come by identifying the correct conservation conditions in which it should be stored and displayed.

I’d like to volunteer at the Museum. What kind of volunteer opportunities do you have?

Whether you like local history or want to improve your resume with some volunteer work, we often have opportunities in the following areas:

  • Collections / Accessioning
  • Genealogical / Local history research
  • Historical re-enactor at special events
  • Marketing, Fundraising, Administration
  • Assisting at community events
  • Assisting at craft events for children
  • Landscaping / Outside maintenance

For more information on volunteering at Goulbourn Museum, please email [email protected].

I need to complete my volunteer hours for high school. Can I volunteer at the Museum?

Absolutely! Email us to inquire about our current volunteer opportunities.

What activities do you offer for children?

Our themed Family Craft Days are a popular and affordable activity for children ages 4-11! Registration is required, and children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The Museum also features the interactive Village General Store exhibit, where kids are encouraged to get hands on with history and play in our recreation of a turn of the century village store!

Do you offer programming for youth?

We certainly do! For community groups such as Scouts, Girl Guides & home-school students, we offer an interactive & hands-on artefact discussion, a craft and an assortment of games & activities.

Call 613-831-2393 or email for more information. Please book at least a month in advance.

Would you come to my school?

Yes! Costumed interpreters are happy to make classroom presentations and offer an interactive and hands-on artefact discussion. We will also play our popular artefact memory game and, if time permits, let a lucky few try on clothing from the pioneer days.

Call 613-831-2393 or email  for more information. Please book at least a month in advance

How much do you charge for classroom presentations?

The Museum does not charge schools for classroom presentations. Yes, you read that correctly – classroom presentations are free! Please book at least a month in advance

Do you offer programming for older adults?


Programs are offered at the Museum as well as offsite in retirement residences and community centres. Programs include a historical presentation and a hands-on artefact discussion that allows participants to examine the artefacts & share personal experiences. Please book at least a month in advance