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Handy Heritage – touch artefacts whenever you want!

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In an effort to make the collection more accessible, Goulbourn Museum is participating in the Handy Heritage pilot which pairs automated vending machines with cultural institutions. 

The state-of-the-art machines are temperature, humidity and light controlled to keep artefacts safe. To handle objects, insert a credit card and put on the gloves that dispense automatically. Enter the number that corresponds with the artefact you’re interested in touching and it will be lowered to the drawer below. 

After a long two-year closure, we are very excited to be part of this endeavor. It aligns with the Museum’s recent Strategic Plan in which making the collection accessible to the public was identified as a top priority.

The Handy Heritage pilot launches on April Fools day.

Never before seen photos donated to the Museum

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By Stefan Hiratsuka

If you’ve ever driven by the Goulbourn Museum, you may have noticed this unusual object (above) in the adjacent cemetery. This elegant metal ornament, known as a finial, is not just a memorial marker; it once adorned the steeple of a church which was situated on that very spot. This post was inspired by a recent donation to the Museum by the Roy McCooeye family that contains photographs of said church taken by Roy from previously unseen angles. In fact, one of them is the only known photograph to date that has both the church and the Museum in the same shot!

As early as 1858, the property beside the modern museum was used as a graveyard. Construction of a church for the area began in 1866 when Thomas McCaffery deeded a quarter acre of land to the Church Wardens James Lewis and Averil C. Lackey for this purpose. According to a former rector, the lumber used in its construction was harvested from a nearby forest by members of the local community. By 1873 construction was completed and the structure, as well as the graveyard, were consecrated by the Right Reverend John Travers Lewis; they would receive the names Saint Thomas Anglican Church and the Saint Thomas Anglican Cemetery.

For almost a century the church and cemetery would expand alongside the township. While the name of the locality would change over time from Rathwell’s Corners to Stanley’s Corners, the 175-seat church remained a constant within the community.

Roy McCooeye, who was a volunteer firefighter at the time, captured this photo which is the only image on record at the Museum to be taken from this angle. The Museum building is visible on the right.

However, on June 24, 1964, tragedy struck. The elegant metal finial which crowned the steeple served as an attractor for a lightning bolt during a severe summer storm. The roof, which was filled with wood shavings to provide insulation, caught fire. Efforts to fight the blaze were hampered by a lack of water, which had to be drawn and brought in from a creek almost a kilometre away. While the firefighters combated the inferno, parishioners rushed into the burning structure in an attempt to save as much as possible from the devouring flames. Thanks to the bravery of the firefighters and parishioners, some objects were rescued; foremost among these were eight out of nine of the stained glass windows which had been custom made for the building. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of all involved, the roof was damaged so severely the structure had to be abandoned.

The interior of the church before and after the fire.

The gutted remains of the church would stand for another five years, until the ruin was sold in August 1969. The structure was demolished, and a marker was raised in 1973 at the gate entrance; the spire was placed adjacent to it 23 years later in 1996. The cemetery continues to be in use to this day.

This would not however mark the end of the St. Thomas Church. The community would band together and rebuild, as it has done so often in the past. On October 19, 1969 ground was broken for a new church located on Stittsville Main Street. The church was completed by May 1970. Eight years later, in 1978, with all its debts repaid, the service of consecration took place. The church would expand again in 1989 with the construction of an entirely new church building as an addition to the existing structure; the prior brick church became a Sunday school and administrative facility. On December 23, 1990 the new church, now named St. Thomas the Apostle of Stittsville, held its inaugural service. As a token of remembrance, seven of the stained glass windows, the bell, and the altar from the 1866 church were installed where they can still be seen to this day at 1619 Stittsville Main Street.

Click on the thumbnails below to see some of the other photographs taken by Roy McCooeye.

Notice of Annual General Meeting And Call for Nominations

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Please note that Goulbourn Museum’s AGM has been moved to Tuesday, June 14, 2022. For more information click HERE.

Photographic Memory: Can you help us identify who’s who?

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words but there are some historic photos in the Museum’s collection that aren’t talking.  We have school photos, pictures of sports teams, and other group shots that contain the beautiful, smiling faces of Goulbourn residents but we don’t know who they are. We would love to put some names to those faces! Starting this month, we’re launching a newsletter segment called Photographic Memory in hopes of crowdsourcing information to find out who’s who. We’ll share a photo along with a reference image (below) and if you can positively ID someone send us their name and corresponding number.

This month’s Photographic Memory (below) dates back to 1959 and was taken at a Women’s Institute Public Speaking Contest in Goulbourn Township. We know the names of two of the students: Sharon Hunt (far right) was the winner of the Women’s Institute Shield and Frankie Sample (centre) is holding the Greg Black Trophy. Can you help us identify any of the other students in this photo? Email us at:


Co-op student hones interior design skills at Museum

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Hi everyone! My name is Jayden Easy, and I am a high school co-op student who is very eager to be working with the Goulbourn Museum! I have a passion for architecture, design and organization and I have been attending the Goulbourn Museum since I was in Kindergarden! I have many fond memories of events and activities they have offered to the community such as Mansion Mayhem, the Canada Day photo booth, Christmas market and day camps! When I graduate from high school in 2023, I hope to attend university to develop my skills in the arts and design. 

Covid-19 has been hard on everyone and especially challenging for the Museum which has been closed for two years. I hope to use my skills to help staff tidy and reorganize the Museum and give the team a more functional space as they move forward in their reopening plan. I am also extremely excited that I’ve been given the opportunity to do additional training in organization and design as part of my placement. This additional training will help me grow my skill set while also helping the Museum. Stay tuned for the end result!

Fun Fact: While I love organization and design, I am not afraid to get muddy! My favorite sport is rugby and I play competitively outside of school. If you’re looking for me off hours, you can catch me running on the field at Twin Elm Rugby Park.


Goulbourn Museum receives Heritage Day Proclamation

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The framed proclamation, seen here with Manager, Tracey Donaldson (left) and Chair Linda Preston (right), will be displayed proudly.

Goulbourn Museum was the recipient of this year’s Heritage Day proclamation.

The theme of the 2022 Heritage Day is We grow from our roots – our heritage and histories. As lockdowns and physical distancing measures have continued to impact our work in the museum sector, we’ve had to dig deeper to connect people with their heritage and histories. Over the past year, the Museum has used genealogical research, artefacts, and settler experiences to develop reflective and engaging programs that encouraged community members to explore how the past has influenced the present day. The idea of growing from our roots is exemplified through initiatives such as our Summer Seekers program, the My Family Is… exhibit contest, and Transcribing Goulbourn.

If you missed the Heritage Day Opening Ceremonies on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, you can watch them HERE and see Mayor Watson recognize the Museum with this year’s proclamation.

Heritage Day is made possible by Capital Heritage Connexion in partnership with the City of Ottawa Cultural and Heritage Programs and Spaces Branch. Explore the amazing virtual programming of the Ottawa heritage community on the Heritage Day webpage.

We’re looking for students to fill three summer positions

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Join our team! Goulbourn Museum is currently looking for three post-secondary students for the following summer positions:

Collections Assistant: Duties include working with the collection, cataloguing artefacts, supporting research requests, and daily operations.

Program Assistant: Duties include the development and delivery of public programs and events and facilitating visitor experiences.

Assistant Museum Administrator: Duties include updating social media channels and website, supporting communications and marketing, and assisting with operational administration.

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 27, 2022.

Online community helps identify mystery objects in Museum’s collection

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Believe it or not, there are artefacts in our collection that we can’t identify. So, in December, we turned to our social media “hive mind” for answers. Over the holidays the Museum launched a special edition of its popular What’s It Wednesday feature and challenged the public to identify four mystery objects. Each of the artefacts was photographed from different angles with a guide marked in centimeters to show the approximate size. The public rose to the occasion and thanks to their knowledge we are now quite confident we know what three of them are! Here’s a recap of what we learned. Read full story here.

Miriam Tepper returns to run ‘Growing Goulbourn’ Program

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Miriam Tepper is surrounded by flowers as she poses in her colourful butterfly garden.

Miriam Tepper

I am very excited to be back with Goulbourn Museum again! Last year I put together Growing Goulbourn, a hands-on program that gets 12-15-year-olds into the garden and growing their own vegetables and flowers, and now I’ve returned to run it. I can’t wait to see everything I’ve prepared happen; hopefully people will enjoy doing it as much I’ve enjoyed preparing for it. I’ve found all sorts of old-fashioned and strange vegetables and chosen native plants that are key to sustaining our local ecosystems. We will get our hands dirty weeding, learn how to identify and ecologically deal with pests, and discover the best method for growing potatoes. The Museum has invited guest speakers to talk about an Indigenous perspective of interacting with the land and there will be a fall fair at the end.

I have an M.Sc. in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, England, and have been gardening since I was a child. I’ve worked many years both in museums and with visitors of all ages and in my garden, an 18-year-old native plant butterfly sanctuary. I can’t wait for the snow to melt!

Fun Fact: Bugs are my passion! In total, I’ve raised over 500 praying mantids!


Meet Collections Intern Stefan Hiratsuka

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Hi there! I’m Stefan Hiratsuka, a longtime resident of Stittsville and a world traveler. I hold an Hons BA from the University of Ottawa with a specialization in history and a minor in classical studies, and I am currently completing my final year of education with Algonquin College’s Applied Museum Studies program.  It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to work with Goulbourn Museum as a collections intern, where I hope to learn the nuances and best practices of working with a historical collection in a heritage context.

I have always been passionate about all kinds of history; during my travels I have had the chance to participate in archaeological excavations in Romania and Bulgaria. In my spare time I am an avid reader of history, unsurprisingly. I also enjoy fishing (open water and ice), Animal Crossing, and gardening. If I’m not engaged in any of the above, I can usually be found relaxing with a dog and playing my guitar.

Fun Fact: My favorite artefact I have excavated was this decently preserved medieval Byzantine coin discovered at the Apollonia Pontica site in Sozopol, Bulgaria. I may or may not have thought it was a rock when I first saw it in the ground because of the colour.


Goulbourn Museum

Goulbourn Museum