May is Museum Month, and here in York Durham Headwaters we’re continuing to showcase all of the wonderful museums our hamlets, towns and cities have. We’ve shone the spotlight on York and Durham so far. Next up: Headwaters. This rural oasis is brimming with fascinating local history that has been lovingly curated by dedicated professionals who have developed their collections into an educationally entertaining experience that you’re surely not expecting from this quaint and peaceful corner of our region. If a drive through rolling hills and scenic countryside tickles your fancy, plan a pitstop at these museums in Headwaters. Fair warning, though—allow for extra time. YDH accepts no responsibility for those who get lost in the past.
936029 Airport Rd., Mulmur
This is not your typical little country museum. This is a high-class country museum! At the Museum of Dufferin (affectionately called MoD) the local history of Dufferin County is not only preserved, it is showcased in a state-of-the-art facility. Here, visitors are encouraged to interact with the exhibits and participate in programs that bring history to life. In fact, MoD is not just an acronym, it’s a descriptor for the museum’s atmosphere—having recently undergone significant renovations, visitors of the MoD are welcomed into a haven of open space with a clean, modern feel.
The pride and joy of the museum is its permanent exhibit on the third floor: the corn flower glass gallery. The Museum of Dufferin boasts the largest collection of this stunning glassware in the world (this makes sense, since the company was started right here in Dufferin County.) The first floor of the museum hosts the main exhibit and a collection of historic buildings. Online, the museum is offering Before Your Eyes, an in-depth look at the changing climate in Dufferin County. This exhibit has been extended, so check it out before it’s gone. New online and in-person exhibits are expected soon. Be sure to visit MoD’s website to see what’s on.
The Museum of Dufferin goes beyond simply showcasing historical artifacts behind a barricade of glass, too. Staff offer a number of educational and interactive programming throughout the year. Events like escape rooms, scavenger hunts and festivals are just some of the exciting things to come out and take part in. The MoD Talks series has hosted such national celebrities as Terry O’Reilly and George Stromboulopoulos. New events are always in the works, so stay on top of what the museum has planned. You won’t want to miss it!
1402 Queen St. W., Alton,
In the village of Alton, nestled in the majestic hills of Caledon, is the historic Alton Mill. This local landmark, which was originally the Beaver Knitting Mill, was resurrected from a derelict state with much love and determination. Today, it is a beacon of arts and culture, with 25 studio artists, galleries, a café and unique shops. The industrial-chic ambience is something you have to see to believe. No wonder it is an award-winning heritage building that has been dubbed “a jewel in the crown of the GTA’s arts scene.”
Though art and, more widely, “the arts” is the main focus of The Alton Mill Arts Centre, there is history to be had here, too. The mill is the home of a heritage museum. It is here in the Turbine Room that the original turbine, governor, power take-off shaft and belts are preserved, along with an 1880s vintage coal boiler and other heritage industrial equipment. In partnership with the Peel Heritage Complex, the Turbine Room has been preserved and restored as a two-storey space, which purpose is to serve as a demonstration area to highlight the industrial and energy technology past of the building, as well as the economic and social history of Alton.
Spend a day at The Alton Mill Arts Centre learning a new skill at one of many regular workshops. Visit with the artists onsite and refresh your perspective on the world around you. And while you tour the gallery, be sure to tour the heritage museum to help carry forward the stories of Alton’s industrial past.
While you’re out and about…
Stop by the Great War Flying Museum. Just outside of York Durham Headwaters, in Cheltenham, you will find this hidden gem of a museum, which represents military air life as it was during the Firs World War. Take a journey of discovery through various galleries and displays, with artifacts ranging from flags and uniforms to models and fragments. Come face to face with the chilling reality of authentic machine guns, and compare them to the lovingly embroidered mementos that wives and sweethearts sent to their men overseas. View prints, photographs and posters from this early part of the 20th century, which were created at a time when our nation experienced so much upheaval, tragedy and transformation. The Great War Flying Museum’s aim is to keep alive, by preservation and education, the memory of those daring young men who served Canada so valiantly, and all the brave young men who pioneered military aviation.
13961 McLaughlin Rd., Cheltenham
Story by Katherine Ryalen