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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Lakeshore museums partner for daytrip tour

by Adam Gault

Three Lakeshore area museums came together on Thursday, September 13 to offer bus tours and special pricing packages, giving visitors the opportunity to experience a few of the county’s hidden historical gems and learn a great deal about the area’s formative shared history.

Guests of Thursday’s tour visited the Comber Museum, the region’s largest agricultural museum. During the visit, the critical role agriculture played, and continues to play, in the cultural and economic development of Essex County was highlighted.

  From Comber, the tour headed west to the John Freeman Walls Historic Site. For many escaped slaves from the American South, this was the terminus of the Underground Railroad and the hub of the community for many looking to start a new life in Canada.

  Heading several kilometres south from the John Freeman Walls Historic Site, the tour then made a stop at the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum, a community museum with a one-of-a-kind collection of artifacts from the First World War, Prohibition era rum running, and the War of 1812, among many others.

  “We’re going to see how this goes. I would like to expand on it next year, and have a little bit of a larger gathering,” Maidstone Bicentennial Museum Curator, Victoria Beaulieu, said of the event, which was a first-time partnership for the museums involved. “It’s to open up a little more public knowledge of what these sites are, how important they are to the area, and what we have to offer.”

  Showcasing that the area museums offer much more than just looking at artifacts, the day’s tour also highlighted the multitude of hands-on learning experiences for all ages and education levels, that these institutions provide.

  “A lot of people don’t know that we do homeschool teaching during the winter and fall. We have classes for homeschooling in history,” Beaulieu said. “Maidstone has a re-enacting unit; that we travel all over Ontario and teach history, and have a lot of fun doing it. Shooting off black powder, cooking over an open fire, and all kinds of neat stuff.”

  Explaining that the preservation of local history is critical to understanding how we came to be, and where we’re going, Beaulieu said we need to begin emulating other areas, such as Europe, which she says put a much stronger emphasis on their local history and preservation of the past.

  “Once it’s lost, you don’t get it back,” Beaulieu said. “It’s unfortunate the schools are not doing a lot of the local history, and that’s where we come in, the museums and historical sites pick up that slack. It’s a good thing for kids to know their history and heritage.”

For a list of upcoming events and experiences at the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum, visit


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