The story of the settlement and historical development of Lennox & Addington County is highlighted in a number of themed exhibits displayed within the old County Gaol.
Artifacts from the textile, furniture, domestic arts, tools and equipment collections of the Museum & Archives are showcased on a changing basis. Occasional guest exhibitions are also presented.
The Cycles of Life: A Photographic Exhibition
Fred Brown, Photographer
Exhibit Length: September 23, 2019 - February 1, 2020
Erland Brown (1877-1968) was an amateur photographer from Wilton. Fred owned a bicycle shop and the Yarker Rural Telephone Company. His bicycle and his work took him around the back roads of Ernestown where he became familiar with the landscape and its people. On many of his visits, he carried with him a large, bulky camera where he took images and created glass plate negatives.
The crystal clear images capture a sense of a settled rural life in the pre-World War I era and contain a variety of subjects from schools to barns, railway cars, churches, road work, interiors of stores, friends in front of his house on Fred Brown Road and photographs of his family. The photographs were digitized from glass plate negatives which were first used in the 1850’s before photographic film.
This vast collection includes 661 glass plate images. Our Archivists have selected images that will delight and give you sense of rural life in Lennox and Addington County at the turn of the 20th century.
Museum at Play
A museum is defined as "a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited". In the strictist terms this is what a museum is, however a museum in today's world is so much more than static objects behind glass. Museums can capture a sense of wonder, imagination, creativity, and fun all the while educating about the past.
Our newest exhibit "Museum @ Play" introduces the sense of fun and learning that happens at the museum. Museums are building a reputation of becoming hubs for the community and giving people a better sense of place and connection.
Museums are about hands on learning - touching, smelling, hearing, and tasting. Exhibits and events lean on these senses to make experiences memorable. Inspired by the museum collection and communal traditions, "Museum @ Play" will showcase that sense of place and play created by our museum visitors and local collectors.
Museum @ Play Series 4: Crazy for Crackers!
On Display from December 2nd – January 11th
At Christmas time, stores fill their shelves in the Yuletide section with wooden toy soldier nutcrackers depicting the character so loved in The Nutcracker ballet, first performed in Russia in 1892. This ballet is imprinted into our imaginations – a girl who falls asleep holding her newly gifted nutcracker and dreams of a fairyland where the Mouse King is her enemy, her nutcracker is alive and becomes her prince, and sugar plum fairies bring her to safety. This ballet adapted from Alexander Dumas’s Nutcracker Story (1844) has been cherished in our hearts for over 130 years and has sprung several collecting interests in our homes.
While the soldier nutcracker speaks to our memories of Christmas, a nutcracker (decorative or not) in our home serves a very utilitarian function. These nutcrackers can carry a memory of family gatherings, cooking in the kitchen, or conversations with our grandparents. Most of these crackers will not be shaped like a soldier but tell a wonderful story too. Nutcrackers big and small, soldier or not will be displayed for all to enjoy.
The museum is “crazy for crackers” this holiday season. This happy display of Nutcrackers is the 4th installment in our Museum @ Play series. A variety of nutcrackers from private homes will be exhibited for the month of December. Be sure to explore the exhibit and participate in the variety of nutcracker themed programs taking place during this time.
If you are crazy for nutcrackers or even its just one special cracker and would like to include it in the exhibit please email the curator at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story can be part of this fun exhibit.
O.C. Madden, Artist: His Art & Legacy
An artful life-size vignette depicting artist O.C. Madden has been created in conjunction with the exhibit “A Day On The River”.
Ships, fishing, shorelines, and waterways were common themes found in Madden’s works. These themes were as common as seeing Madden himself nestled into the riverbanks and shorelines he depicted. Although he moved to Toronto as a young man, he always came home to quiet and beauty of Lennox and Addington County.
“A Day On The River” can viewed at the museum until Spring 2020. Portions of our own Madden collection that depict various waterscapes can be viewed within the vignette setting.
About The Artist:
Orval C. Madden was born in 1892 at Napanee. In his early 20’s, he moved to Toronto to study art at the Ontario College of Art. Madden’s strength was in landscape painting where he used a style reminiscent of and much influenced by the Group of Seven. O.C. was very interested by views from the historic past, particularly in Lennox and Addington County. He worked from old photographs and his paintings often reflected vanished aspects of life in the country.
GAME ON - L&A Sport Legacies
Length: February 3 – May 22, 2020
Sports play an integral part in the character and culture within our communities. “GAME ON!” is collection of light hearted sport stories and memorabilia from local athletes as well as our own museum and archival collections. Whether you swing a bat, shoot a puck, throw a rock, or go for that long distance throw, we are sure the stories will bring a smile to your face and nudge your own memories of sports played and watched throughout your life.
TRACES – A Photographic and Art Exhibition
Peter Large, Artist
Felicity Somerset, Photographer
Length: February 3 – March 26, 2020
Inspired by the landscapes of eastern Ontario and the traces of its agricultural history, Peter Large and Felicity Somerset have collaborated to create an assembly of Peter’s drawings and Felicity’s photographs of old barns, houses, split-rail fences and old farm equipment to record a way of eastern Ontario life that continues to change and evolve. This collection is not a documentary record of the area’s past but reflects the response of two artists to these ‘traces’ of Eastern Ontario’s community history.
About the Artists:
Peter Large - Artist
Peter’s home and studio is on Amherst Island. He has painted and drawn most of his adult life, and throughout his travels in many countries. Living on Amherst Island for 20 years, his images are derived from this rural, rather isolated community.
Settled over 200 years ago, the rich traces of the older cultures are visible everywhere. Lilacs bloom where vanished houses stood. Stone walls, built by United Empire Loyalists, early schools, 19th century houses, barns and rusted machinery survive and speak of a vital, thriving community which continues to show creativity and spirit even as the 21st century rushes along.
Through the drawn image, He tries to celebrate the traces of history, the early Islanders have left us.
Peter is a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (OSA), the Past President of the Society of Canadian Artists (SCA), an Associate member of the Federation of Canadian Artists (AFCA), and a Professional member and Past President of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.
Felicity Somerset - Photographer
Felicity Somerset is a fine art photographer based in Toronto, Canada. Her photographic subjects are often drawn from landscape and nature in both Canadian and international locations. She is also inspired by the impact of time and weather on wooden and metal surfaces, and the play of light on glass and contemporary architecture. Her focus is on the intimate and often abstracted image that captures the essence and intricacies of rural and urban landscapes.
Felicity’s photography is exhibited regularly in galleries and public spaces, in both solo and group exhibitions. In 2018 and 2019, her work was exhibited in the following galleries: the Dignam Gallery, Women’s Art Association of Canada; Studio 888; Cedar Ridge Creative Centre; Queen Gallery; the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto; and the Artists’ Network Gallery, Toronto. Her most recent solo show, At the Edge of the Ocean, was exhibited at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto in September 2016.
"Confederation Era Entrepreneurs"
By the 1860’s, the population of the County had grown to allow Lennox and Addington to become independent and a new Court House and jail were built in the mill reserve. Napanee, at the head of the falls, became the County Town. John Stevenson, Napanee’s Reeve, was also the first County Warden. Confederation, the forging together of the provinces of British North America, passed almost unnoticed in the local press. The County’s First Warden became the first Speaker of the new Ontario Legislature. In the post Confederation era, Italianate styled houses began to dominate Napanee architecture. William Miller, an East Ward merchant, built a new Italianate styled house near the Court House. Proximity to the Court House and the railway station made East Street a desirable area.
Inside the houses were well furnished. In 1868 when young William T. Gibbard joined his father, John, in the business, elaborate carved sideboards became a defining product of Gibbard and Sons.
William Miller’s carved game sideboard and Renaissance Revival Gibbard bedroom suite are on display in the Gibbard gallery.
"The Horse and Buggy Age"
The years after Confederation to the Great War which erupted in 1914, were the decades when the “Horse and Buggy Age” was at its height. Each farm family possessed one or two light carriages of which the buggy was the most important, and the democrat, a rig with two or three benches, was almost as important. Although the blacksmith remained essential in rural communities, the small foundries and factories strung along the County’s rivers began to build versions of the most popular new inventions.
It was also a great wheat period and a time of hearty work in the fields. The pace of farming quickened with improvements in farm machinery. New foundries, mills and manufacturing plants were built taking advantage of water power sites along the Napanee River. D.B. Stickney’s Newburgh foundry built reapers and Joseph Connolly in Yarker produced a variety of ploughs. The Benjamin Wheel Manufacturing Company in Yarker produced rims and spokes for wagon and buggy wheels.
A Connolly democrat, a C.H. Finkle cutter and a Stickney reaper are featured in the Horse and Buggy Age.