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child playing in the imagination station at the chatham-kent museum

Museums

The possibilities are endless when it comes to planning a trip to the local museums around Chatham-Kent. With rotating exhibits, local heritage, hands-on and interactive experiences and engaging programs, there is never a shortage of things to discover.

Buxton National Historic Site & Museum 

Ring the Liberty Bell and begin your journey into an epic story of how former Black slaves found freedom in Chatham-Kent. As Ontario's second largest national historic site, visitors will tour one of the last standing schoolhouses, an 1852 log cabin, 1853 barn, church, cemetery and museum. Visitors are encouraged to step inside and let the emotional history of the past wash over them, through guided tours offered by descendants of the first settlers or through self-guided tours.


Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society & Museum 

Step inside and uncover the emotional journey of Chatham's Black community from the end of the 18th century to present day. Through exhibits, artifacts and an extensive collection of reading materials, the past lives of prominent figures are kept alive.

Learn about several Black families that settled along McGregor's Creek in the tiny town of Chatham, then known as "The Forks", which became a haven for runaway slaves. By 1850, the population rose to roughly one third Black. Inside the museum, the exhibits highlight prominent figures and tell their stories in interactive ways.


Chatham-Kent Museum 

Parents and kids love the newest addition to the Chatham-Kent Museum. The Imagination Station, located on the second floor of the museum, allows guests to create, explore and discover in a hands-on and interactive setting. 

The museum itself showcases artifacts from events of national and international significance such as the War of 1812, the Underground Railroad, and the global discovery of oil. Admission is by donation and hours vary and are available on the Chatham-Kent Arts and Culture website.

*Not all areas of the museum may be open to the public. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday and registration is required.


Milner Heritage House

A visit to the Milner Heritage House will not disappoint. From May to September, step back into the early 1900s as you view the stunning restored home that depicts their turn-of-the century lifestyle and the collection of art by Emma Milner herself. It was also here that Robert Milner started a modest buggy and sleigh manufacturing business and by the 1890s Milner Carriage Works was one of the largest vehicle producers in southern Ontario. Admission is by donation and the museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 


Ridge House Museum

In the heart of the charming town of Ridgetown lies a restored 1875 Victorian home now known as the Ridge House Museum. Visitors are encouraged to tour this typical Gothic revival home and take in the preserved artifacts and specimen significant to the area represented by Ridgetown and the former Howard Township. Families will love the Discovery Den, where kids can let their imagination run wild in a brand new interactive and hands-on creative space. From light-up tables and dress-up clothes to magnet and Lego walls, there's lots to entertain the young and young at heart. The museum is open seasonally (March to September), with admission by donation. 


Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History 

This site recognizes the accomplishments of Josiah Henson through interpretive videos, interactive exhibits, numerous artifacts and tours reflecting the Black experience in Canada. Visitors can browse through the Josiah Henson Interpretive Centre, featuring the Underground Railroad Freedom Gallery and North Star Theatre. 

Step inside the 1859 Pioneer Church and see the organ and pulpit from the original church where Reverend Henson actually preached. Located steps away, the Josiah Henson House, where Henson and his wife, Nancy, lived during the later years of their lives. This house has been restored to the circa 1850s period, and walking through, seeing the furniture, kitchen, and accessories gives a glimpse into simpler times. The smokehouse and sawmill each offer a look into the past, and are true legacies to the early pioneer lifestyle. Finally, a walk through the Henson Family Cemetery features the Josiah Henson memorial stone and National Historic placard.  


Wallaceburg & District Museum

With more than 85,000 artifacts spanning the history of Wallaceburg, there is always something new to see. Discover artefacts detailing the rise of the Dominion Sugar Company, Wallaceburg Brass Company and Sydenham Glass Company or investigate the supernatural events of the Baldoon Mystery. The Von Ayres Cultural Centre consists of the Wallaceburg & District Historical Society, the Frank Murdock Sports Hall of Fame, the Wallaceburg Little Theatre and the Wallaceburg and District Arts Council. Drama, musical events, fine arts displays, drama camps, cabarets, art camps and Tae Kwon Do classes are all presented throughout the year. Don't miss out on the annual transformation of the museum into a Haunted Mansion at Halloween!

*The Museum is open by appointment only. Call 519-627-8962 to book.