Friday, February 24 was a day of celebration for the many citizens, organizations and worker bees who made the opening of the new Guelph Civic Museum a reality. The museum is officially open — and it is spectacular. Multiple galleries, a children’s learning gallery, meeting and workshop space, collection storage and a public research and archives area are all part of the new facility.
All three levels of government were on hand to mark the occasion – as this was truly a collaborative project, with $6 million coming from the province and feds, $700K from local fundraising, and the remaining cost from the City of Guelph. An expanded museum need was first identified in 2004, and through the efforts of the community (along with serendipitous timing) the former Loretto Convent met all of the museum’s needs. Saving a pre-Confederation landmark building (in itself an artifact) was the perfect marriage of purpose and place.
On a personal note, my favourite part of the restoration was the retention of the solid stone “privies” located steps from the chapel on the outside of the building, nestled into the slope of Catholic Hill. History is about people, places and events. Buildings are the glue that links all three — the physical remnants that endure through multiple generations and keep the stories alive. The nuns’ privies tell a story of their own, built during a time before indoor plumbing and a reminder of a pious way of life long gone…
For museum hours, go to http//guelph.ca/museum.