The Middleville and District Museum is excited to launch a new project that will record a collection of memories of days gone by. Preserving stories from the one room schoolhouse experience is a natural venture for the Museum that saw its beginnings in the 1861 Middleville stone schoolhouse. The Museum is hoping to hear from former students who have memories of attending a rural one room schoolhouse anywhere. Recalling the experiences of having multiple grades in the same classroom with one teacher, stoking the woodstove to heat up a hot lunch, braving the cold on a trip to the outhouse or climbing a tree in the schoolyard inspires a flood of memories. The Museum is inviting the public to share their stories and join us in preserving them for future generations to enjoy. We are also eager to hear other stories of a time before the establishment of the modern conveniences we enjoy today. Harnessing up a favourite driving horse for a spin through the countryside in the buggy or cutter paints a picture of a pleasant afternoon. Community picnics at a local landmark, a day of fishing on the Floating Bridge, showing prize livestock at the local fair and a bumpy ride in a Model T all bring a smile to those who have lived through many changes in their lifetime. If you have stories to share, please contact the Museum through our e-mail, our website, social media or give us a call. We are hoping to hear from as many people as possible this summer and fall.
If you have memories to share, please contact us:
call 613-256-4997, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.middlevillemuseum.org (on our Down Memory Lane page found on our Collection page, on Facebook or Instagram
How many events have you attended at the Middleville and District Museum? For some people the answer might be zero, but for others the number may be too many to count. Whatever the number, you’ll be happy to know that not only are there some new events happening, but we hope there are also some old favourites coming back this year.
In June, we held our annual opening tea and celebrated the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth ll. We welcomed back old friends and met many new visitors. It also gave us an opportunity to show our appreciation to the many people who had assisted in our recent renovation project that provided a new kitchen and bathroom for the Museum. We even found time to seal a time capsule and deposit it in the old, stone wall that day. Some visitors donned a fascinator and smiled for the camera at our Pop-Up Portrait Studio.
Looking ahead, July will see a brand new event happen at the Museum. Members of a theatre group, Live History, will perform two shows at the Museum for excited audiences. The shows will center on an actual story from the Middleville community a century ago. The audiences will be tasked with following clues from the actors' performances to discover what the story is while sipping their tea or coffee and sampling some sweet treats. The perfect combination of live theatre and afternoon tea.
Crows beware in August as families are invited to help us make some scarecrows to line the fence at the back of the Museum. Visitors of all ages can join in the fun and collaborate to create some great looking scarecrows. An individual craft will be available for kids who want to make their own mini scarecrow. An enjoyable storytime will take place at the barn doors on the north end of the building during the afternoon.
Information about the people referred to as British Home Children will be highlighted in a display recognizing Home Children Day on September 28th. The Museum has a few books devoted to this subject and is gathering photos and information about local children who arrived in the area under these circumstances. Between 1869 and the late 1940’s, almost 120 000 children ranging in age from four to fifteen were sent from Britain to Canada to be used as farm labourers and domestics. Many local people remember those who arrived as children and had to navigate their way in an unfamiliar place under challenging circumstances. Their stories are a testament to resiliency.
The Museum is hoping to bring back the Apple Day celebration this fall with its beautiful, old apple press taking center stage. Families can bring their own apples or enjoy pressing some available at the Museum. Plan to attend this event and enjoy the sweet taste of some freshly pressed apple cider.
The Museum is very excited to welcome visitors back for in person events. We hope to see you this season. Check out our Events page for up to date details on what’s happening at the Middleville and District Museum in 2022.
Museum Events 2022
Join in the family fun when we
make scarecrows at the
Museum on August 6th, 2022.
Fun for all ages!
The log cabin that sits in the Middleville Museum has a long history in the local area. It dates back as far as 1828. In its early days, it was home for a layman preacher named James Smith who settled on the land designated as a clergy lot. He served parishioners in the Middleville area. The cabin originally sat on Lot 16, Concession 7, Lanark Township. It was then moved to Lot 20, Concession 8 on what was land belonging to Mr. Smith's daughter at the time. A written record of that time states that it 'stood 4 miles from the Meeting House near the 7th line corner'. The cabin shows evidence of having survived two minor fires over the years from scorch marks on its logs. Being a preacher's home, many important ceremonies happened under its roof. Marriages and baptisms were recorded in this cabin known as 'The Baptist Manse'.
It arrived at the Museum from Lot 20, Concession 8 after a generous donation from its owner, Marilyn McKay Gerhardt, in 2012. In an effort to preserve this building that was a well known community fixture for generations, the Museum decided to take on the project of moving it inside where it could be enjoyed for many more generations. In the summer of 2012, that dream became a reality. Local volunteers with experience in such endeavours agreed to help and the planning began. A similar method to how cabins were relocated in the past was used with the added convenience of modern tools and machinery. The logs were marked and strategically dismantled. The parts of the cabin were transported to the Museum and the process of putting it all back together began. Many hours put in by dedicated volunteers made the project happen. When the cabin was reassembled, the task of furnishing it to depict life in the mid 1800's was taken on. To enhance the visitor experience, some electrical lighting was carefully placed to provide a good view of its contents. Be sure to drop by and experience the thrill of being swept back in time in the old log cabin that has stood the test of time!
July 21st marks the summer solstice, the date when the Earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted closest toward the sun and we enjoy the most hours of light in a day. The marking of the summer solstice has been celebrated by Indigenous Peoples for thousands of years by giving thanks to Mother Earth for her gifts. In Canada, June 21st is now acknowledged as National Indigenous Peoples Day and is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate Indigenous languages, cultures and ceremonies. It is a day to recognize and learn more about the contributions made to Turtle Island by Indigenous Peoples. The Middleville and District Museum is committed to continuing its work to develop the educational experience of visitors. The area’s Indigenous presence is marked by several items made by Indigenous People who lived here. The land the Museum sits on is the traditional territory of the Omamiwinini (Algonquin). A collection of items highlights the artistry of the baskets made by Indigenous People with some being made by members of the Whiteduck family. Baskets made in the area were usually made from willow, rushes and black ash. It is recorded that the Whiteduck family used osiers, a long pliable strand of willow they found in the marshland near present day Clyde Forks in basketmaking. They travelled down the Clyde River from the Clyde Forks area to Lanark to sell and trade their baskets. Other baskets were made by splintering the wood of the ash tree into strips. The strips were sanded smooth and woven into baskets of various designs. In the early 1900’s, it is reported that when the supply of ash in the area became diminished, Indigenous People travelled the waterways from the area known as Cornwall to near present day Hopetown to find the ash they wanted to make their baskets. (C. Smith) There are memories of Indigenous People in the Sharbot Lake area trading baskets for meals and other goods. (W. McDonell) Croft Store in Middleville kept records of Indigenous People trading baskets among other items for goods they needed. The Museum invites the public to view these exquisitely crafted baskets and see the artistry of their design. It’s a good way to learn more about the amazing talents and contributions of Indigenous Peoples from this area.
Baskets on display at the Middleville and District Museum
Rosetta is a name that comes with a long history in the world. It was the appearance of a simple structure resembling the Pyramids of Egypt built by Robert Dick to shelter his livestock that inspired the naming of the Lanark Township community, Rosetta. This name was formalized when the Post Office was later established. Over the years, Rosetta, nestled in the heart of Lanark County has seen two stores, two blacksmith shops, a hotel, a post office, four successive schools and four successive Churches. Probably the most distinctive feature of this community is a natural outcropping of a giant rock.
A group of early settlers worshipped in the open air with a preacher, possibly one of the four Dick brothers who later became ministers, speaking from atop a giant rock. This rock stood on the north part of the east half of Lot 12, Concession 9 of Lanark Township. This sacred site has long been known to generations as The Preaching Rock. In winter, sleighs pulled by oxen carried area worshippers to the stone church on the 8th line of Ramsay Township, Auld Kirk. Once a log church was built on Lot 13, Concession 9 on an acre purchased from John Dick for 5 shillings, the congregation was able to worship year round in their own community. Generations later, in 1982, a group led by Alex Bowes organized a service at The Preaching Rock that was attended by about 100 people from the surrounding churches. An annual outdoor service was held at the rock. Once again, this rock welcomed worshippers to gather at its base for the next five years.
The deed for the piece of land the Rosetta Church and Cemetery stand on gives the following information: May 30, 1853 Deed from John Dick to Robert Robertson, William Ramsbottom, William Aitken and Alexander Young, Trustees appointed by the Congregational Church of Lanark in the County of Lanark and Province of Canada.
This first log structure was erected slightly further west on the lot than the present church building. In the summer of 1852, a new frame building was built on the present church site and had a congregation of about thirty. It was about this time in the summer of 1853 that something known as the great revival happened in this church community. A Reverend Climie held meetings every evening in the Rosetta Church and his preaching was said to be so powerful that over the course of the summer and fall a number of about 400 people that came to hear him were converted to believing after hearing his message. At the 50th anniversary jubilee of the congregation in 1902, Reverend R.K. Black reminisced about his time in the early days of the church when he walked 30 miles from Oliver’s Ferry now known as Rideau Ferry to Middleville to take up his ministry of 50 to 60 families. This frame church served the community until it was torn down to make way for a smaller, more practical building in 1898.
The new church was erected using whatever materials and furnishings that could be salvaged and repurposed for the new church. This third church was in use until it burned in 1919 and the present day church was erected. Around this time, 5100 square feet of land was purchased for $1 to allow the building of horse sheds nearby.
Sometime around 1901, records indicate the first formal organization of a Rosetta choir. This is significant because it is a great example of the resiliency of this community’s commitment to tradition. The early days of the choir were documented and in one case the choir director would use the phone lines to hold a choir practice. That’s innovative practicality. Many will recall the Rosetta Men’s Choir renowned for its steadfast service to the Church and community. This choir often had requests to sing at many events and locations. The members of this choir worshipped at other area churches after the closure of Rosetta Church, but continued to sing under the name of Rosetta and of course, were on hand for the annual cemetery service.
When the rebuilding of the Church was proposed in 1919, community members were tasked with contributing money, labour and materials such as lumber.
The church building that stands on the curve of the Rosetta Road at the edge of a picturesque cemetery serving as the final resting place for the early settlers and community members through the generations opened its doors for the first time on December 28, 1919. It ceased holding weekly services on June 30, 1965. The resiliency of this community is evidenced by the annual memorial cemetery service that sees the church doors flung open and the pews filled with worshippers gathered there to remember the people laid to rest in the cemetery. The decoration of graves in Rosetta Cemetery in late June each year is part of a long standing tradition in several local communities. Year after year, descendants of families who lived in the area communities return to decorate the graves of their ancestors, some long departed and only known through old photos and historical records and others more recently laid to rest. The long tradition of decorating graves is still practiced in many local communities in Lanark County. The communities of Middleville, Hopetown and Clayton continue to hold local outdoor cemetery services each summer. People often travel from a distance to attend these annual commemorations of loved ones. It is also a chance to reconnect with friends and extended family that attend. The early days of these services were organized to raise funds for the maintenance of the cemeteries. The ongoing caretaking of these sacred grounds requires great commitment and funding. Rosetta is a great example of this commitment. The grounds are carefully tended and maintained for those who wish to visit. Check local newspapers to find out which community Memorial Cemetery Services will resume in 2022 after a brief pause the last few years.
From the remarkable well known story of the young Dick family who persevered on after they lost their father in a drowning accident in the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City and their mother shortly after settling in Lanark Township, to the majestic Preaching Rock that rises in the landscape of a field to the ongoing caretaking of the beloved Church and Cemetery, Rosetta is a true testament to the resiliency of a community through generations. The impressive, black, horse drawn hearse that is on display in the Middleville and District Museum is part of the Young family of Rosetta’s legacy. The Middleville and District Museum has information and pictures of the history of Rosetta and the families who settled in that area. Drop by the Museum to learn more about this and other local communities.
The process of manufacturing cheese began with the milk delivered by farmers being heated in a large vat. Starter was added to cause the milk to coagulate and the whey was separated out. The remaining curd was packed into containers and pressure was applied to remove moisture. After two weeks, the cheese would be put in boxes and shipped.
In 1881, a quarter of an acre of land in Lot 1, Concession 8 of Drummond Township was purchased from Nathaniel Balderson for the purpose of building a factory that would produce cheese. The location meant the factory would be centrally located in the vicinity of an area known as Balderson’s Corners. Plans were made to acquire factory furniture, milk wagons and drill a well. In 1884, milk drawers with names like James King, Robert Somers, Joe Moulton, T. Haley, Louis Clyne, Arthur Cook, Wm Cunningham and H. Echlin were paid an average of around $100. By 1896, about 2,737,922 pounds of milk were processed and 262,678 pounds of cheese were manufactured. It took about 10 pounds of milk to make a pound of cheese. About $6.90 would be paid for 10 pounds of milk and $8.48 for a pound of cheese. The original Balderson Cheese factory burned in 1929 and a new one was erected the next year. In 1981, a hundred years of cheesemaking was celebrated and Balderson Cheese is well known far and wide.
In 1884, a cheese factory was built in the village of Hopetown on the west side of the creek. It produced cheese from milk drawn by a cooperative formed by area farmers. The factory ceased producing cheese in 1933. From 1933 to 1948, cheeses boxes were manufactured there.
Middleville Cheese Factory in 1902 photo courtesy of James Dodds From left to right: in doorway, Jack Blackburn, A.R McIntyre, George Somerville, First wagon: George Mather, driver unknown, Single wagon: Thomas Mitchell, On platform: helper, Allan Blackburn, Thomas Perry (Cheesemaker), Third wagon: driver unknown, Crawford Dodds, Fourth wagon: Bill Rankin, Russell Borrowman, Fifth wagon: Alex Erskine, M. Jackson, Billy Somerville, Rex Penman Sixth wagon: George Arnott, Seventh wagon: Lorne Somerville, John Erskine and John Mitchell Jr.
The original cheese factory in Middleville was built in 1888. That building was located on the 6th Concession of Lanark Township, just south of the Middleville School on the opposite side of the road. It burned in a fire in 1929. A second cheese factory was built further south on the concession.
Like a little mystery with your history? Well, then Middleville, Ontario will be the place to be on July 9th, 2022. The Middleville and District Museum is extremely excited to welcome the Governor General award nominated theatre company, Live History, to its premises. Live History performances have been enjoyed across Canada and on many international stages. Wherever there's a good story to be told, the Live History troupe is sure to bring it to life for a captivated audience. The Museum has invited Live History to perform two shows on Saturday, July 9th, 2022. Tickets will be sold for a 1 pm and 3 pm show. Tickets will go on sale for $20 per person which includes Afternoon Tea and the live show. Information about purchasing tickets will be provided on local community signage and on the Upcoming page of our website soon. Follow the Museum on Facebook or Instagram for details. If you don't already receive our newsletter, go to our home page and sign up to get updates delivered right to your in box. Thirty tickets will be sold for each performance and will be available for purchase soon. Payment may be made by e-transfer at email@example.com, on site at the Museum (Visa, Mastercard, cash or cheque). Guests will be treated to afternoon tea as they settle in to enjoy the show.
What could be better than afternoon tea and live theatre? Be sure to reserve your tickets early at 613-256-4997. The show is recommended for 12 years of age and older. See you there!
A Jubilant Jubilee
The Middleville and District Museum is excited to open its doors to the public and celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth ll. In fact, we’re busy dusting off our best fascinators in preparation. On the menu for the opening weekend is an offering of Tea Sandwiches, Fruit, Sweet Treats, Tea and Coffee. The British tradition of serving Tea Sandwiches (or Finger Sandwiches) with afternoon Tea was practiced with the intent to tide people over until their main meal later in the day. The term Tea Sandwich indicates a small offering to be eaten in a few, tiny bites. The Museum’s Tea and Treats will be served to visitors with an option to enjoy the goodies in the newly expanded lawn area under the shade trees. Picnic tables and chairs will offer safe spaces to partake of the lovely fare, weather permitting. Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake and other treats will be available, as quantities allow. Hope to see you there!
Queen Elizabeth Cake
¼ cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup dates, chopped
Pour 1 cup boiling water over dates and set aside until cool.
Icing: Mix together 3 tbsp butter, 5 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp cream, ¾ cup coconut. Boil for 3 minutes in a saucepan.
Combine first 9 ingredients and bake in 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and pour icing mixture over top. Return to oven until browned.
A Thompson Family favourite to serve to special company in the early 1900's
On Thursday, May 12th, 2022, local school children from Caldwell Street Public School in Carleton Place, visited the Middleville and District Museum to learn about life in the 1800’s. Last season, Museum volunteers, in conjunction with Lanark Highlands employees, worked to create a bus lane to accommodate large vehicles visiting the Museum. Buses and vans can now drive around a circular driveway and navigate an enlarged parking lot with ease. The Caldwell Street Public School students were the first busload to try out the newly improved access. The Museum hopes to attract more buses and van loads of visitors in the future. Museum volunteers, dressed in period clothes, had planned a full program of activities for the Grade Three students to give them a taste of local history. In the Schoolroom, they practiced math facts, spelling and learned to do some cursive writing on a slate. A visit to the 1830’s cabin revealed how settlers lived their lives without indoor plumbing or electricity. Other activities included the opportunity to do some weaving and learn about the settlers’ journey from the old country. A guided tour gave the students a chance to see and learn about the Museum’s many, many artifacts. Of course, no visit to an 1860’s Schoolhouse would be complete without some traditional outdoor games on the schoolyard where children have played for over a century. Games like The Graces, sack races and musical stumps showed today’s students how children got exercise and had fun with simple, everyday items at hand.
A beautiful spring day in the countryside provided a perfect chance for a picnic lunch under the shade trees in the ideal setting. Although the heat provided a few challenges, everyone worked together to make it a safe and enjoyable day. The Museum volunteers are eager to welcome more visitors to take a step back in time.
We all have stories that we've heard a hundred times, or so it seems. We heard them while sitting on the laps of our parents, grandparents and maybe even great grandparents. They are the stories of our ancestors that live on through generations. Hopefully, these stories will be told to our children and their children's children. It is important that these oral traditions are preserved and it is incumbent upon us to make sure they are not lost. In some cases, family history is recorded in written form to give life to these tales of survival. In most families, there are dozens of unmarked photographs of people and places that need to be identified before names and dates are gone forever. The Middleville and District Museum works every day to find these stories and photos to give them a place of honour. The reward is the joy of seeing visitors when they discover photos of people they have never seen before or a piece of history that has made its way from the 'old country' and is now nestled into a display at the Museum. In fact, almost every one of the thousands of artifacts has a family connection to the former Lanark Township and surrounding area. These items have their own story to tell in the labels that accompany them tying them to a person or family that came before. It is in an effort to preserve these stories that the Museum has created a new feature on its website. 'Down Memory Lane' is a new page found as part of the Collection page, where family stories can be preserved and enjoyed by all. This page has just been made available in time for Mother's Day. The first stories on the new page are testaments to Mothers who sacrificed so much to build a better life for their families. What better way is there to remember and honour all the Mothers who came before. Check back to the page for more stories throughout the year.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.