Bonnechere Museum | Eganville Ontario

An Introduction to Bonnechere Museum

If you visit White Water Country, but wonder what life was like before rafting, where would you find out? You could tour the Ross Museum in Forester's Falls. If while attending Renfrew's Lumber Baron Festival, you begin to wonder why this town honours the giants of the square timber past, where would you learn about such a background? The McDougal Museum right by the swinging bridge has the artifacts and displays you need to understand the celebrations. If you have summer visitors to your home in the new Township of Bonnechere Valley who want to know what there is to do and see in this area and why there are so many log buildings and rail fences and churches, what can you tell them? Well, there are the famous Bonnechere Caves, and fishing and swimming, and the Tourist Information Centre, but up to now - no museum to exhibit and explain the heritage that makes people call this area home, a welcoming escape from the big city with mixed farming, lumbering and specialized arts and crafts in rural settings overlooking lakes and streams in the Bonnechere watershed. Bonnechere Museum has been born!

The Township of Bonnechere Valley has taken the initial steps to establish a local museum in Eganville's previous Village Centre, formerly a heritage post office, a stately and magnificent site with a tower that has a heritage clock. The building itself was a gift from a former Reeve, Ivan Hoffman. Twice a month, By the Tower Clock will provide readers and volunteers with updates on Bonnechere Museum's progress. Suggestions and comments from readers and volunteers are welcome.

Who We Are

We are all volunteers. The heart and soul of a small community museum are the volunteers who do what needs to be done to preserve the area's heritage and culture. The following is a more formal description:

Bonnechere Museum serves mainly the Township of Bonnechere Valley, specifically, those areas which have amalgamated: formerly, Eganville, Grattan, Sebastopol, and South Algona; and because of geography, also those areas in the Bonnechere Watershed whose histories are linked closely to the roots of Bonnechere Valley Township. The museum strives to attain the following goals:

  • to preserve natural heritage and diverse cultures,
  • to collect, preserve, research and interpret objects for the enjoyment and education of residents and visitors now and in the future,
  • to preserve evidence of cultural landscapes and interpret them,
  • to present or display interpretive, artistic, educational, scientific, and historical projects that express the identity of the community,
  • to form strategic partnerships with various groups that help it fulfil its goals
  • to foster cultural tourism by offering enrichment or educational experiences that attract visitors whose stay in the community would benefit businesses.

The museum has a board and a plan for project development and collecting artifacts. With Mike Stone as chair and Marilyn Casselman as secretary, the board, with representatives from all four wards, has already formed working committees: Fundraising: Chair Ken O'Day, Gerry Bimm, Joe Shay; Artifacts and Acquisition: Chair Preston O'Grady, Frank Cosentino, Tony Cowan, Joanne Koch; Building and Construction: Chair Mike Stone, Chris Von Herff, Gerry Bimm. Board committees will be supported by additional volunteers from our current list. The board operates as a sub-committee of Bonnechere Valley Township's council.

Start-up

To function, the museum has some immediate needs to meet, one of which is start-up costs for office supplies, lighting and renovations both for displays and visitor traffic. Fortunately, the Eganville Clothing Bank has generously donated $2000 to get things under way. The Fundraising Committee is making further plans to raise funds including donation boxes and circulating a letter seeking donations to get the building in shape for a museum. The Building and Construction Committee has reviewed the architectural drawings of the building and offered recommendations for open display and traffic space and lighting, aiming to keep the design and style of the attractive mouldings. In a future column, By the Tower Clock will outline the renovations that will require volunteer labour, as well. It is too early to ask for particular objects or artifacts, but if you have some, tell a board member or give our secretary, Marilyn, a call at 628 3101 to add your artifact to our growing list.

A Sense of Direction

The Artifacts and Acquisition Committee has developed a plan, a sense of direction, for developing museum content through volunteer projects. This plan, like every good plan, has a name: it is called Cultural Landscapes. It can get under way before the renovations are done. If you are willing to develop a project for display, do let us know, for in November, there will be a special pre-view evening when these projects can be displayed and still more in the spring at the official opening. Mike Lett has already begun a project on the "great fires" which will include some equipment artifacts that the firemen have. Here is a short list of categories for developing heritage projects: Natural Heritage, Native, Farming, Settlement, Commerce, Industry, Government Institutions, Arts, Culture, Recreation, Religion, Military, Transportation. These grow into several hundred projects shown in our plan, which volunteers could start on right away. If you would like the expanded list of projects and guidelines, ask Marilyn at 628 3101. The sooner you volunteer to develop a project, the sooner we call a meeting of project volunteers to explain the how's and when's.

In the meantime, if you have not already, add your name to our list of volunteers; do not throw out any old photos; be careful with old books and catalogues and land deeds and maps. Watch The Eganville Leader for museum news in By The Tower Clock. Keep time with us as we count down to official opening day.