Submitted by The Men’s Breakfast
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the schoolhouse that now houses The St. Edmunds Bruce Peninsula Museum. The anniversary was celebrated by the public on Saturday August 19 at the museum. On the prior Saturday (the 12th), museum committed members Rob Davis and Terry Milligan gave an informative presentation to The Men’s Breakfast on the history and plans of the museum. Rob is well known locally and traces his lineage to Abraham Davis, his Great Great Grandfather and first official settler in St. Edmunds Township. Raised in Tobermory, Rob left Tobermory in 1967 then retired from Canada Post after 32 years, returning to Tobermory in 2010. He is currently Co-Chair of the Museum Committee.
Although a seasonal resident, Terry also has a long local lineage being a descendant of original settler families including Michael Belrose, William Smith, and the Ransburys and is also related to the Hopkins and Cuffes. She has a Master’s degree in Information Studies at the U of T and worked as a professional librarian in several locations including Tobermory. Terry volunteers at the museum including serving as Secretary and is on the Museum Committee.
The school operated at the same location from 1898 to 1965 and opened as a museum in 1967. It is operated by a committee of MNBP’s Council and relies on volunteers to maintain and operate it on a daily basis. The museum is open from May 24 through Thanksgiving from 11AM to 4PM during July and August and on weekends during the remaining period.
On the grounds is a navigation buoy which used to be located in the main channel to Cove Island. Two cabins are on display including the Belrose Cabin and the Davis Cabin. The Belrose Cabin was built by Jacob Belrose who arrived by boat in 1875. The Davis Cabin was relocated from its original site in Bruce Peninsula National Park in 2021. The roof has been replaced and the bottom logs are now being repaired in order to place it on a new foundation. Gardens on site are planted with native Ontario plants.
Every item on display and in the archives has been digitally catalogued. The items represent the early town settlement and local historical activities and events including timbering; commercial fishing; twinning with Tobermory, Scotland; military service; early farming and household artifacts; toys; and our maritime history. There are also built-to-scale dioramas made by local carvers which tell the stories of the harbour ice harvest, an early farmstead, and the townsite.
There is a gazebo housing a large quilt made by Lucy Weir and containing ‘blocks’ including a log cabin, trees, feathers, and a storm at sea. These honour the local character of early settlement, our natural forest, indigenous peoples and our maritime story, respectively. Future plans for the museum include digitizing historical photos that could be accessed on-line; upgrading storage facilities; improvement of the on-site water facilities; improved accountability; attracting students involved in museum studies courses; and obtaining expertise in undertaking grant applications. The Museum Committee encourages you to visit, volunteer, donate historical items, and work together to secure our local heritage and make the museum even greater.
Our next breakfast will include a presentation by Lawrence Beagan on the presence and levels of radon gas in this area (September 9th).
The October 14th meeting will see the return of our popular “Ladies’ Breakfast” inviting spouses, girlfriends, and all interested ladies who may wish to see us demonstrate our secret hand shake. The Tobermory Legion will be preparing the meal for this event and our guest speaker will be Brian Taylor with some exiting news of planned developments at the Golden Dawn Senior Citizen Home. Tickets are available at each breakfast or by contacting Martin at email@example.com to reserve tickets at the door.
Our November 4th breakfast will feature a presentation prepared by the Tobermory Legion (Branch 290) on our local veterans. Tobermory and the Peninsula have a rich military history as a large proportion of our citizens had stood forward to serve in numerous wars.