Meet our Summer Students!

By Tom, Harmony and Jo

In this blog, are pleased to introduce you to our three summer students for 2023! 


Hello! My name is Thomas Goyer, and I work as an Archival Assistant at the Museum of Lennox & Addington. I am very excited to have the opportunity to work in a new environment. My previous summer jobs have primarily been in the service industry, specifically in breweries and wineries, or as a freelance journalist. Working in an archive is a different pace than these other workplaces, but it is much more interesting.

I am not from Napanee, but I was born and raised down the road in Belleville. I have moved a lot in the last few years, having lived in Gravenhurst, Guelph, Belleville, and Kingston in just over two and a half years. This movement has been partly caused by my education. I attended Loyalist College in Belleville, where I received a diploma in journalism in 2020. I then went to the University of Guelph, where I completed a degree in Political Science in 2023. I am starting a master’s degree in Public Administration at Queen’s University this fall.

In May, I moved to Kingston and settled with my partner Leila, who also works in Napanee. Having grown up in Belleville and now living in Kingston, working in Napanee feels very close to home. In my personal time, I am an avid reader and love history, politics, and classic fiction. My enjoyment of history has made working at the archives a natural and enjoyable experience. It was my love of history that led me to apply to the archives.

Much of my work in the archives involves cataloging issues of the Napanee Beaver. The archives did not have a complete list of which issues of the Beaver they did or did not have. My task has been to go through the archives and develop this list. I have found the task interesting and rewarding, as it is fascinating to read news headlines from decades past.

I am unsure about where my career path will take me, but I believe that working in the archives will help me develop skills that will be beneficial for my future career. I will not rule out working in a museum in the future and I am looking forward to working here for the next few months.


Hi! I’m Harmony and I am the Collection Assistant Summer Student at the Lennox and Addington Museum. A little about me: I am going into my second year at Queen’s University for my Bachelor of Arts Honors in Environmental Studies, I am a bookworm with a particular interest in historical fantasy and I am obsessed with the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. I have had a passion for history throughout my life and I have fallen into many rabbit holes while researching for projects at school (why write essays when I could find obscure information about the medieval times). In terms of particular periods of time I have had fixations on World War Two, the Opium Wars, and ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. More recently though I have found an interest here in Lennox and Addington county.

As the Collection Assistant, I will be researching the large costume collection we have here at the museum. Since I started working here I have fallen in love with uncovering local history and sharing the stories of so many people through my project. To quickly highlight some interesting items, I have found a NDSS jacket owned by a local radio host, a cloak bought in Paris by a 1900s socialite and Canadian military uniforms ranging from the militia in the 1860s to the Navy in the 1960s. Long story short, I am very excited to see what the rest of the collection holds for me this summer and I will be sure to highlight some of my favorites, so keep an eye out for that!


Hello, my name is Jo! I am the summer Museum Assistant. You can meet me at the museum’s reception desk, or at Macpherson House, doing admission, tours, and some programming! 

I first stepped foot in Napanee this April, and feel so lucky to have found this summer position to keep me here for longer. I am just a few months away from completing my bachelor’s degree in Honours History from McMaster University. Given how much I’m enjoying my job here with the museum, I feel very secure that I’m on the right educational path, which is something I haven’t been able to say until pretty recently. 

All the staff members, including my fellow summer students, are incredibly welcoming, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about their work! In this position, I get a taste of all the museum’s different departments: archives, programs, exhibits, collections, marketing, etc. It’s opened my eyes to how much effort and dedication goes into a place like this, and talking to museum visitors shows me how important the museum is as a community space. I am delighted to spend my summer here, learning lots about both museum work and the community of Napanee!

Creating an Impact

By Alannah MacGregor

Spring Programming is just beginning here at the Museum of Lennox and Addington and I am so excited about the lineup that’s been put together. Our spring season is so jam packed our Digital Content Specialist Liz could barely fit it all in one guide. Luckily she is brilliant and was able to create a fantastic spring program guide you can pick up at the museum.   

After planning a whole spring of fun activities for kids, teens, and adults alike I find myself trying to write a blog about it. Sometimes these blogs flow like a river and sometimes they flow like a rock slide; they’ll both make it there in the end but the rocks lack a certain grace during the process. When I sat down to write this blog, a couple different times, I started looking for a commonality among the programs. I was sure excited about them all but that would make for a very short blog. So I kept thinking and though it wasn’t wholly intentional there was a theme that tied all these programs together, it was impact!

Spring activity guides are available for pick up at the Museum!

The first set of programs I am going to talk about are our Museum Kids and Teen Takeover programs that take place the first Saturday of every month. I took advantage of this spring to highlight the impact of the things we do here at the museum. In April we became history detectives with our Archivist Heather, in May we will be learning about some of the fun aspects of curating a museum with JoAnne, and in June we get to explore creating social media presence based on what’s found in the museum with Liz. The way this relates to impact is really just that I’m proud of what we do here at the museum. People come into the museum every day and I see the profound impact of the exhibits curated by JoAnne. I see how meaningful it is for our archive visitors to find minute details about their families. I see how the work we do here at the museum touches many lives and I really wanted to give kids and teens the opportunity to see the fun parts of our jobs. From corny social media reels to hunting down the missing piece of an archival puzzle, to finding the exact right artifacts for an exhibit. Overall I wanted to highlight all the different ways that the museum employees work behind the scenes to be able to bring those impactful stories to our visitors. 

Just some of the fun we get up to with social media...

The next set of programs to mention are our Tuesday Night at the Museum events which are lecture style talks about a little bit of everything. On April 11th we learned about the impact women on the home front had on World War I & II, we have another historical talk on June 20th about the impact the fur trade had on music of the period. We also have a talk on the impact people can have in modern times with Carol VandenEngel and Glenn Green; who canoed and portaged across Canada to benefit a local non-profit organization ‘Loving Spoonful’. Imagine canoeing across an entire country! One other Tuesday Night at the Museum I haven’t mentioned yet is taking place April 25th. The museum is welcoming Dr. Shelley Arnott to speak about her work regarding the impact of road salt on aquatic life. This talk in particular captured my imagination. Salt has such an essential role in the how life can or cannot exist; I am so curious to find out some of the ways it impacts something as small as plankton or as large as a fish.

Glenn Green and Carol Vanden Engel

The final programs I wanted to highlight are our PA day programs taking place June 2nd. I absolutely LOVE planning PA day programs. Many of our other programs are themed around exhibits or have to meet certain criteria, but PA days are where I get to just do something fun that inspires me. With all the joy I find in spring I couldn’t wait to do a PA day program outside by the river at Macpherson House, so of course both our kids and teen programs are all about discovering and identifying nature. How does this relate back to impact? It goes back to my first year of university majoring in Zoology, I was required to take BIOL 1070 Discovering Biodiversity. Now this course was enlightening in many ways but one way that stood out was how they taught us to identify plants and animals using what’s called a dichotomous key. Essentially a dichotomous key is a series of questions you answer to find out what an organism is; a simple example is would be ‘does it have 6 legs or 8 legs?’ if it has 6 legs it’s likely an insect and would guide you with further questions to narrow down what kind of insect. Learning about this tool and being able to figure out what the name of an organism was simply and purely amazing to me. Even something like learning how to identify the different maple trees in my own backyard broadened my whole view of exactly how much biodiversity is in the world around us. The natural world is huge and my goal with this PA day program is to give kids and teens the opportunity to feel that wonder of how big and diverse the natural world really is.

Before Museums, it was Zoology!

All in all I think the impact of the spring programs here at the Museum of Lennox and Addington will be a good one. These programs show us examples of the impact we can have just doing our jobs, the impact we can have on the hope and prosperity of our communities, and the impact that understanding our own planet can have on us. I’ve talked to a lot of people about programming and the message I keep getting is that not every program is going to connect with every person, however if the program you design impacts just one person, creates an interest, or sparks an idea then the program was a success. So that’s what I’m working towards with each and every program

Refugees, Genealogy and DNA, and the Oscars?

By jim sova

Have you ever bought a new car and then everywhere you drive you see the same make and colour of car? I have been preparing a talk on refugees, genealogy and DNA and now I am seeing references to refugees everywhere.

 I started thinking about the stories of our refugee ancestors and how to bring that into the talk. Before long, I found myself reading poetry and watching movie trailers. 

The poetry?  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie is the story of the expulsion of the Acadians. It follows lovers separated during the expulsion and Evangeline’s journey to find him.

The movie trailers?  There are a lot to choose from. How about The Voyage of the Damned? It is the story of a group of German Jewish refugees on a ship in 1939 bound for Cuba. They are refused entry there and anywhere else in North America and eventually return to Europe. The story is based on a real ship, the MS St. Louis from Hamburg. The Refuge Canada exhibition at the Museum from the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 now includes a picture of the Dublon family with some friends posing on the deck of the St. Louis. The five members of that family died in Auschwitz. More recent examples are Schindler’s List and even Disney’s Animated Encanto has a storyline of being forcibly displaced from your home. What ties them all together besides refugees?  They all received Oscar nominations. This year the documentary short Stranger at the Gate received a nomination. Are they unique? Far from it, lots of movies, television shows, books and even poetry are inspired by refugee stories. Here is a link to 5 movies about refugees nominated in 2022 from the UNHCR.   Oscars 2022: Five Powerful Movies About the Refugee Crisis (

How does this fit into genealogy? Part of genealogy is finding the names and birth and death dates back through time for our ancestors, but you also need to understand the stories of their lives and what they went through. These movies and books can help us to understand those times. Do I recommend the movies or poetry as documentary sources for your family tree? No, not for dates or names, but they can help us understand what our ancestors may have been experiencing. The Longfellow poem helps us to understand what it was like to hack a clearing to farm out of the primeval forest that covered North America at that time and then have that life torn apart.

I had this blog almost completed when I heard “refugee” mentioned in an Oscar acceptance speech.  It said more about the refugee experience that I could possibly write here. He might even look a bit familiar as he played the kid in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Here is the link

Creator: Kevin Winter | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2023 Getty Images

Jim Sova will be sharing more about geneaology, DNA, and tracing refugee routes on March 21st for Tuesday Night at the Museum. You can learn more here:

Conversations with Our New Neighbours

By Heather Wilson

Since the Fall I have been working on a very special project, one that has me reflecting on the many hats of an archivist, and our role as stewards of living history. Some days you can find me where you might expect, hidden in the vault amongst shelves full of massive bound volumes, and boxes upon boxes of photographs, maps, letters, diaries and a myriad of other documents. This project has me stepping out from behind the stacks into a very different role, and has given me the opportunity to meet a number of wonderful people from our community. We feel very fortunate that they have chosen to trust us with their stories, and we can’t wait to share them with you!

Maged Hosni, a Syrian Refugee, migrated to Napanee with his wife and four kids in 2016

A little bit of backstory. As we looked forward to the arrival of Refuge Canada which tells the larger story of Canada’s role in immigration around the world, we wanted to find a way to share the stories of recent newcomers to our own community. Knowing these stories were missing from our current collections, we reached out to our community seeking individuals who would be willing to share their own immigration stories, or that of their parents or grandparents. Our intention was to highlight and celebrate our local diversity. But we didn’t want to create something temporary, we wanted these stories to preserved as part of our community’s history. We are aware of the gaps in our collections, and we are seeking change, working to ensure that our holdings truly represent our communities as a whole.

Valente Family Kingston Portugese Society

And so the door was opened for me to take the lead on launching our oral history program. While this is not my first foray into oral history, it has truly been an eye opening experience. The stories I’ve had the pleasure of recording are touching, at times heartbreaking, full of wisdom, and always thought provoking. Everyone has a different perspective to offer, and they have truly changed my own. There is something so special and powerful about hearing these stories told by those who lived them. The tone of their voice, the pauses… these reveal so much that would otherwise be lost.    

Susi Reinink on her farm in Desmond

Recording these stories has not come without challenges. Finding a quiet, private place to carry out these interviews where our participants can feel comfortable and safe. Dealing with technical glitches on the fly. Coordinating schedules and cancellations through wintery weather. And while not all have come to us as refugees, these interviews have nonetheless brought up some very sensitive topics, and navigating these has been both personally challenging and rewarding. My goal has been to create a safe space for individuals to share their stories, and I have found it very important to take the time to build a relationship and lay the foundations of trust with all of our participants before diving in. While we have been working on a short timeline to get our first stories in so we can share them in our exhibit this spring, my personal mantra has been “don’t rush this. It will all come together.” And I couldn’t be more thrilled with what we have been able to achieve in such a short time. We’ve cast our net wide to our neighboring communities of Kingston and Belleville to get the ball rolling, but I feel confident the relationships we have built over the past few months will help this project take on a life of its own in the months to come. I can’t wait to see where we go.

George (Lee Mon Pon) and Charley (Lee Mon Yew) Lee, West Ward School Napanee 1915, shortly after their arrival in Canada aged 12 and 10

This new oral history project has given us the opportunity to expand our collections through new relationships we are building in our community. We are delighted with the response we have had so far. It is our living history project; there is no end date in sight. Instead we have set goals for ourselves to expand further this year, and have high hopes that it will continue to change and grow with us for years to come. The first stories that have come to us are highlighted in our new exhibit, Welcome Home: Conversations With our New Neighbours, which is launching this week. You can get a sneak peak of that here, and we hope you will come join us in person to hear these stories. This is only the start. If you have your own immigration story to share, or you know someone else in our community who does, we would love to hear from you anytime!

Hardik Patel (fourth from left) hosting Diwali in Belleville

Busy Behind the Scenes

By Liz Watkins-McLean

Happy New Year! Although I was only at the Museum for five months in 2022, it certainly feels like we completed a year’s worth of activity in that time alone!

Team photo before we broke for a short holiday break at the end of December. From L-R, Heather, Liz, Alannah, JoAnne

The month of December felt like a grand finale of sorts at the Museum. “A Winter’s Eve Light” that took place on December 13th brought in about 1500 (!) people to the Museum, the biggest crowd it has seen in a long time. After that event, we were all able to catch our breath for a moment, but January is proving to be a very busy month, too. Not in a “1500-people-at-the-museum” sense, but a hub of activity behind the scenes.

A full crowd waiting to see NorthFIRE Circus!

The team is working on four brand new exhibit installations, developing a suite of programs and events for the Winter (including March Break!), processing artifact and archival donations…AND we are workshopping a brand new mission and vision for the Museum that will guide our work for the next five years, to boot!

January has always felt like a good planning time for me. Not because it’s a new calendar year – in fact, it always felt funny to me that we start a New Year in the middle of Winter – but because Winter in this part of the world feels quiet everywhere…it feels more natural to do work that is more inward than outward. At the time of writing this, we only have about ten hours of daylight, but by the time all these new exhibits are launched and programs taking place, we will have gained another hour of daylight for a grand total of eleven hours! It may not sound like much, but that consistent increase in daylight helps energize us, and may make it easier for you to leave the house and come to the Museum 😉 

See? We're getting there!

If you’ve been watching our social media channels (and if you haven’t, please do! We’re on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube), you may know some of the exhibits that will be in place by the end of this month, but here is a quick summary…you can click on each title and it will take you to the webpage with more information about it:

Refuge Canada – A travelling exhibit from the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Refuge Canada provides context for Canada’s place in the global refugee crisis and brings to light the challenges faced by people who came to Canada as refugees.

Helping Hands – Features some hidden gems from both the museum and archival collections. Stories of home front help during the World Wars, overseas assistance, and glimpses of help in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.  

Letters Home – an archival display featuring The “Marshall” letters came to us as part of a Tamworth Red Cross collection donated to the Museum this past summer. These letters were written by soldiers from the village of Tamworth, who were serving overseas during the Second World War.

Welcome Home – Conversations with New Neighbours*webpage in development… come back soon! – While hosting Refuge Canada, we wanted to share some local perspectives. This exhibit features stories from recent newcomers or children of newcomers from L & A County. Their conversations reveal a journey that forever changed their world.

Refuge Canada

Like I said… there’s a lot happening! What I love about my role is that I am always learning. With our frequently rotating exhibits, I get to learn about new topics and come up with creative ways to tell you all about them online! That alone gives me a bit of an energy boost during this otherwise sluggish time of year.

To brighter days ahead!

All Things New at the End of the Year


As we approach the last month of 2022 I found myself confronted with the fact that I haven’t written a blog since January of this year. Occasionally in the past as a collection technician I’ve struggled with what to write in these blogs. How could I describe to you exactly how amazing it is to hold an artifact in your hand and have the privilege of documenting everything about it, who owned it, who made it, every scratch, crack and dent that makes it unique? Today I find myself writing this blog and I have a feeling the trouble will be keeping it from turning it into a novel. 

Spoilers first, while I am an old face at the Museum of Lennox and Addington early this October I started work in a new role, I am now the museum’s Programs and Exhibition’s Co-ordinator, and to be honest I could not be any more thrilled about it!

A glimpse into the past, a photo from my first weeks of work as a summer intern 2019

A short trip down memory lane. I grew up in Lennox and Addington County and yet went 23 years naïve to the fact that I had such an interesting museum in my backyard. Come winter of 2019 and I’m searching the internet for a summer internship, I applied thinking it would be a small maybe one or two room museum, despite this I spent whole days preparing for my interview. I still remember the first moment I walked in the foyer the day of my interview, my first thought was “Whoa” my second thought was “I want to work here!” If you’ve been to the museum, maybe you remember the first time you walked through the front doors into that big open space with huge dark wood beams running along the ceiling, and grand glass cases which for me at the time contained incredible model ships. I didn’t know how lucky I was when some time later I was accepting an internship with the museum. I had no idea the happiness, frustration, and pride this museum would bring me over the next three and a half years. 

Returning to the present, I still pause a moment every morning when I walk through this beautiful building, I get to see my hand in the exhibits as I go by, banners hung, a grain shovel researched, a diorama accessioned. In 3 years I can see the small impact many hours of hard work have had on the museum and I am filled with a joy I cannot describe.

The aforementioned banners

I am writing this blog just over a month and a half into my new role, and I’m still learning the ins and outs. Having solidified most of our winter programming for 2023 I sit here thrilled about what the museum will be bringing our wonderful visitors in the new year. Our coming activities largely focus on introducing people to a multitude of cultures through insightful presentations, art workshops, music, and dance. Our programs this winter will keep your toes tapping, your art hearts filled, and your minds thinking about new perspectives.  

There is definitely a learning curve to any new job and while I’d like to say I’ve gotten some of it down pat, that’s always when you’re hit with something new. So far I’ve learned to cast a wide net when planning, that no day is going to go according to plan, and most importantly try to stay flexible. I’ve also been getting fantastic guidance and support from the team here at the Museum of Lennox and Addington! My favorite piece of advice so far was that I need to be bossier on occasion. 

Mostly I’ve been learning to take the good with the bad with any program. The first PA Day program I designed was in late October; the school aged children and I learned how to recognize bird songs, played a game in the museum, and made our own bird seed. While this full program was a success there were also lots of takeaways like the programs I design don’t take as long as I expect them to, and most importantly avoid cranberries at all costs, even the dried ones make an awful bright red mess. I’ve also had the opportunity to create a school program based around our photo exhibit Owls of Amherst Island and Other Canadian Wildlife, for a kindergarten/grade 1 class. Part of the program included learning how we identify what kind of animals we saw. Seeing those students light up with interest when they are asked to think about how we tell a bear from an owl, was a huge huge highlight in this new role. However even with a school program there were takeaways, primarily it’s getting the hang of what each age group requires and how many fun facts I can throw in with the fun activities and still have their interest. Overall I think at this point I’m learning just as much from every program as our participants. 

An artifact going on display early 2023

This new role also includes an exhibition’s components, which is an area of museum work I’m better versed in. This component helps ground me and reminds me that no matter how many programs I put together our collection and exhibits are the backbone for everything we do. I still derive a lot of joy sitting from down for a quiet hour or two and working with our artifacts. Does it belong in this exhibit? How will we display it? What challenges does it pose? They are all questions that need to be answered before the big install. 

Late December and into early January 2023 the museum staff will be taking down several exhibits to make room for the amazing new ones. As much as I love installing new exhibits and getting to see the museum in a whole new light, I find taking down any exhibit is a bitter experience for me. It’s difficult to take something down when you know how much work went into getting it up there, exactly how much effort went into creating the exhibit’s concept and all the people who had to come together to bring it to life. If jeopardy had a category called “Life lessons I learned at the museum” the first answer would be “What is: change is hard, but there is always something exciting coming around the next corner!”    

So that’s where I am right now. My desk is no longer the thing of order seen in the first photo and instead looks like a small tornado passed over it, and some days my brain feels the same way. Despite this, I still like to take time every day when I walk through the museum to appreciate the beauty of where I work, its past and my past; but I also take equal time to welcome whatever new experiences this wonderful museum has in store for me. At the end of the day, what more can you ask out of any museum than to be somewhere people can go to experience the past in all its difficult complexity and to look to the future thinking about what’s right around the corner.          

Oh Look at the Time!

By JoAnne Himmelman

Oh what a curious job I have….I got to work with one of my favourite people and put my “history hunter hat” back on for a couple of weeks. Martin Wright and I have been chums since I started working at the Macpherson House in 2001. He has been a person that I have turned to time and time again for counsel and a shoulder to lean on. I am proud to call him friend. We both have a bone deep love for the Macpherson House– I enjoy taking TIME to sit and talk to him as he has so many memories of the Macpherson House before I stepped through its doors.  He has helped relentlessly to present the Macpherson House in its best possible light, time and time again. We have sat in that House countless hours talking shop!

On our behalf – Martin has pursued auctions and has roamed the halls and alleyways of antique houses…all for the love of the game that history collecting truly is. Martin knew that I was on the hunt for a tall case clock for the lower hallway at the House. It was a void in that hall that was gnawing at me. The Laird of Napanee would have had a tall case clock! 

In recent months, we had been going back and forth on another clock….but wasn’t really sure… it’s a hard call… I know we should be looking at Canadian made pieces  but those early clocks are hard to come by and even if available, our budget couldn’t support it.  So we talked and we didn’t think it inconceivable that Macpherson would ship things to Canada from overseas. So we went in hunt of another solution…the House was built c1826 BUT our time period that we like to project at the House is as late as 1840, so anything before that is really fair game. It opened it up slightly for us.

TA-DA- this clock made its way to the public domain… Martin called me and we checked it out. It’s an Irish clock from Ballymoney, and from our digging we think it’s about 1825 – using the manufacturing timelines of the clockmaker Joseph Gordon. The stylization of the woodworking is true to this early period – it has  lovely ball and claw feet, columned mahogany wood detailing,  and a hand painted moon “face” dial – it is all so absolutely endearing.  So maybe this clock is a winner for us… off to the auction house we went! 

The clock-workings will need some restoration BUT we will work with a conservator in the Spring on that secondary project. I can’t wait to hear those bells chime. In the meantime this lovely new addition to the museum collection adds to the overall ambience of the House and is befitting of the upper-crust lifestyle that Macpherson truly lived.

Thank you to Martin for his constant friendship and guidance in my career. It was fun to be your co-history sleuth with this clock!! Now what’s next??

The Curation of Traditions: Halloween Edition

Confessions of a Curator

By JoAnne Himmelman

Sigh…this time of year always leaves me so melancholy. While my red hair might indicate my love for autumn, I have to tell you that it lies. I actually get quite sad when August fades into September and Pumpkin Spice takes over the world. I am a summer person, through and through. I love warm summer nights, dipping my feet in the lake, enjoying  a glass of wine by an evening bonfire, and listening to the calls of the loons (no not my children)… I mean actual loons as they hunt for their dinner. We get such a short summer season that I just want to wrap it up and hold onto it… I have yet to figure this out.

As I wave goodbye to summer, my family is ushering in the hockey and dance season. We say hello to homework, intramural sports, extra art classes, football, hockey road trips, and dance shoe fittings. My husband and I become a tag team and ships that pass in the night….we race the roads, we sit on narrow dance benches and in cold arenas, we text each other updates about our days and we long for the quiet respite of Summer.

October is here and almost over…we have settled into our back to school things and maybe have gouged out a groove to the routine…maybe?

So while I am looking at travel sites and planning my sunny vacation to the South this winter, because you know..its sunny and hot!! My daughter is looking at me to make her Halloween costume. Sigh…it really is October.

From the Archives of Lennox & Addington

While I have limited time to do a lot of extras right now… I must say… I make great costumes. I am not the mom you go to when you need cupcakes, cookies, or even spare time anymore…I honestly don’t have it and I don’t bake!  But if you need me to pull out a costume for a school play, event, or holiday ….I am your gal.   Maybe it’s the exhibit designer in me!!

So what does this have to do with anything museum, you might ask?   Well…here’s the thing.  It’s about the tradition.  We create tradition with our holidays that build into excitement, expectation, and genuine joy.   It’s about that time spent with your children, spouse, and friends during that celebration that creates the stories, objects, and photos that eventually make their way into a museum collection.

Have you ever just stopped to think about why we do things?  Where did it all start?  My every day at work is this very question – why?

My job as the curator is to hold the stories and curate them into an exhibit of objects that sparks emotion (good or bad).  So while I was making my daughter’s costume last night, I was mulling this.

Here I am making tail feathers for my daughter’s Peacock costume and in the background, my kids are setting up their Halloween village, a collection of Halloween houses they have been building since they were little.  I realize while I am in the thick of being the “tired mommy”, my kids have keen expectation and exude joy at our simple family traditions. But to them they aren’t simple…they are the extraordinary in our ordinary life.   Do you remember the exhibit I installed last year on this very thought….the ordinary is the extraordinary!

So while I am curating my family life into a series of holidays and celebrations. I realize it is what I do within the museum as well. I curate those human interactions, I document the time, the story, the object and then box it up, where it waits to be pulled out and celebrated again.  Just like we do in our homes…we box up our traditions and we bring them out to celebrate our holidays and special days.

Museum curation is a special job.  I get to safeguard the stories, I get to care for them and hold them dear for future generations to enjoy.  Much like my mom life at home…I hold my own family’s stories dear for my grandchildren to hear some day.  I will pull out the photos, the keepsakes, a costume or two….and I will celebrate the traditions we held dear.

So this was kind of deep thinking on a Tuesday night, after a long work day, in between folding laundry, making supper, and walking the dog and of course designing the important Halloween costume. 

Over the past 14 years, I have made over 20 costumes.  I love the challenge of creating what my children ask me to make them.  Halloween is a holiday steeped in darkness…made lighter by costumes  that are worn to trick the dead/souls that wander the earth on October 31st, we carve pumpkins (originally turnips) to ward off spirits,  we collect candy…wait a minute…why do we collect candy???

I love the history, the tradition, the fun, and the creativity that comes with every Halloween….so maybe, just maybe my goodbye to summer is a touch more bearable…if I think about all the traditions and family fun that come after the summer fade….

OH BTW….I have scavenged the museum collection and we have NO costumes or objects from past Halloweens… sad. Do you have a Halloween story for the museum?  Do you have some photos, costumes, home décor from your childhood?   Let the museum know at

Hello from Heather!

Meet the Archivist

Hello there! This blog post is coming to you from Heather, the new Archivist here at the Museum of Lennox and Addington. I couldn’t be more excited to join the team, and I am so looking forward to getting to know our community. I originally hail from Sudbury, and after spending the past three years living out on the east coast in New Brunswick it is good to be back in Ontario, closer to family. Lennox and Addington is a whole new area for me to explore, and I can’t wait to dive in. In my free time you can often find me at the library, exploring hiking trails, or visiting other local museums and heritage sites, when I am not spending time with my dog and three cats, or riding my horse. I’m always looking for suggestions for new sites to check out!

Pippi, Ginny, Cali, Holly, and Merlin (Left to right, top to bottom)

I am often asked what led me to become an archivist, or what my background is that allows me to do the work I do. It was a long and winding road which led me here, and I questioned my path plenty of times along the way. I can’t put my finger on exactly when I fell in love with history, or what got me hooked, but growing up history was all around me, in the books I read, the movies I watched, even the video games I played. Every family summer vacation involved many visits to museums along the way, and even though we visited the same sites year after year there was somehow always something new to experience, and these were highlights of the trips for me. To this day wherever I travel I seek out the local museums and historical sites.

National Railway Museum, York, England 2019

Though it seems my love of history was always there I did not always know where that love would take me. I started my university career thinking I would pursue a degree in science and follow a more “practical” path. It took less than one term for me to realize that road was not for me, and by the second term I had jumped ship to Ancient Studies and Classics. I loved diving into the stories of “ordinary” (upper class) everyday people through their letters, books, and poetry that made their world come alive in a way no history textbook could. While completing my undergrad I worked for a summer at the City of Greater Sudbury Archives, digitizing minute books, newspapers, and audio cassettes. One of the projects I worked on was digitizing the oral histories of Ukranians who had immigrated to Sudbury, something I think about frequently these days. The power of archives to connect with the community around them, preserve voices that would otherwise be lost, and help those voices to be heard is one of the things I love most about this job.

Nevertheless, it took me some time to find my true passion and several years of navigating through the choppy waters of graduate studies. My plan had been to carry on and do a PhD, but the deeper I got into my Master’s program in Scottish Studies, another of my passions, the more I came to realize that life as an academic was not for me. Instead, my love for museums and cultural heritage, in general, led me to complete a second masters degree in Public History. That opened up a whole new world for me as I began volunteering and working in museums. I was at first torn between a career in museums and a career in archives, but when I landed an internship at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick I knew I had found my place. However, I realized I needed more formal education in archival theory and practice and thus embarked on a third masters degree in Archival studies which I have nearly completed. Over the past three years, as an intern and later as Archives Manager of the Charlotte County Archives, and through my academic work, I’ve developed my passion for not only preserving history, but making it relevant and accessible in the present. I love meeting people from all walks of life, and getting to know their stories. Working in smaller communities I’ve also found my passion for local history. I have seen firsthand the ability of archives to reunite families, to give people a sense of place and an identity, to better understand the world around us, and to build for the future.

 Gertrude Preston of Amherst Island on a road trip with a group of friends, 1920s

Archives are not a static entity, trapped in the past, but rather are always growing and changing with us. While archives continue to preserve paper records as they have always done, one of the modern challenges faced by archivists that I look forward to is  continuing to adapt the archives to the digital age. This includes the preservation of both these paper records in digital form and what we refer to as “born digital” records in forms that survive as digital technology evolves and changes, to ensure that these valuable historical records are not lost.

I’ve always been drawn in by the social side of history, how people in the past lived, and how they saw the world around them. Archives offer so many different windows into the stories of our past, and often you can really get to know the individual(s) who created them and step into another world through their words and images. I am thrilled that I have found a place where both the Archivist and the Public Historian in me can shine, and I can’t wait to share our stories with you.


New Blog, New Person!

Meet the Team

Hi there! Here we have a new blog, and a new person writing it. My name is Liz, and I am thrilled to join the Museum team as the new Digital Content and Social Media Assistant. If you’re wondering what the heck that actually is, please read on!

Let’s start with some trivia: Did you know that on average, only 10% of a museum’s entire collection is on display for the public to see?

Crazy, right?

That’s where I come in – I want to share the other 90% (okay, that might be a stretch, but I’m dreaming big). The museum has already done a fantastic job of making the collection accessible online (you can check that out here); however I am going to bring it to life in different ways – more images, videos, blogs and beyond that will pique your curiosity and showcase all the museum has to offer.

So, what about the person behind the title? I could have a background in marketing, communications, journalism… but I actually come from a pretty varied museum background. Something I have been asked many times before when told that I work at a museum is, “well how did you get into that?” In this (hopefully not too lengthy) blog, I will answer the above question… 

It would be too simple to say that “I’ve always loved museums and knew I wanted to work in one.” My path to the museum world was very meandering, and something I never considered until well into my academic pursuits – and even then, it was on a bit of a whim!

My first memorable trip to a museum was near my hometown of Peterborough at the beloved Lang Pioneer Village. I was supposed to go with my school on a class trip to the Village, but was sick and couldn’t go. The next day, I was still not quite well enough to go to school, but my mom thought I was well enough to go to the Village (thanks, Mom). I loved it. I visited the old inn, the log cabins, the one room school, and the barns… life “back then” really appealed to me, even at a young age.

Image credit:

Fast forward a few years later to high school, and I was excited for Grade 10 History. I never did well in subjects that I wasn’t interested in (Science or Math? I shudder at the thought…). My “success” in school always correlated to my interest level. I wrote my first official essay for that class, and I loved the research aspect. I still have a copy of that essay I wrote all about the Chernobyl incident. I carried on taking History in high school in grade 11 and 12, and kept up with my theme of choosing topics around the world that interested me – the farther away and bigger the event, the better. With all this traveling across the globe through research, the log cabins and the spinning wheels that I loved at the pioneer village faded into the background…

I continued with my trip around the world by choosing history as my undergraduate degree. I took a few Canadian History courses here and there, but my degree mostly took me to Germany, Russia, Chile… you get the idea. As I neared the end of my studies, the dreaded “what are you going to do next?” questions began. I had absolutely no idea. I just studied History because I loved it. I considered doing a Masters in something related to History so I could keep learning, but the problem with that? There was no way I could just pick one thing. By doing so, my trip around the world would end. There was still so much I wanted to know – places I wanted to travel to through my studies.


The story here, being, my whole life.

During the last year of my undergrad, I decided to volunteer at a museum just to see if I would like it. I was running out of options, and time (of course this wasn’t true… but don’t you remember feeling like you had to have it all figured out by 22? And that what you decided then would determine the course of your entire life? Ha!) To try to make a long story short, guess what? I DID like it. I really liked it! To me, this museum was so… peaceful. I discovered that I didn’t have to study major events in faraway places to appreciate history. This museum put my mind at ease. I liked wandering the galleries and watching the artisans work away at their crafts; I liked reading the resource books and getting to look in collections storage… it took me back to what I loved about that first museum visit so clearly: the “everyday life” aspect of history. Eventually, my volunteer work turned to full-time work at this museum. Can you guess where based on the picture below? Hint: it features the largest collection of paddled watercraft in the world…

“Other duties as required.”

Sure, I still love learning about the big events and faraway places, but it’s always been the social aspect that appealed to me the most – how did those big events affect the average person? I now have such an appreciation for local history and community museums. I’ve been volunteering and working in museums for nearly ten years now (how?!), and have been so fortunate to explore different collections. While I will always have a fascination for the artifacts, I can’t lie… it’s the stories that get me, and it’s why I’m so excited about this role. I can’t wait to delve into the collection at the Museum of Lennox and Addington to share the collection with you. I hope that by doing so, you’ll start to appreciate the “everyday” aspects of history, too.

Museum hours

Monday – Saturday: 10am–5pm

*closed on holiday weekend Saturdays and Mondays

Macpherson House & Park hours

Tuesday – Thursday, 1 – 4pm in July & August

Archives Hours

Monday – Friday: 10am – 12pm*, 1pm –4pm

*closed from 12pm –  1pm 

Museum and Archives daily rate

Adults (ages 13+): $3
Children (ages 12 and under): free

Museum & Archives location

97 Thomas St E, Napanee, ON K7R 4B9

Macpherson House & Park location

180 Elizabeth Street, Napanee, ON K7R 1B5

Labour Day Weekend Hours

Please note that the Museum & Archives will be closed from Saturday, September 2nd - Monday, September 4th for the Labour Day long weekend.

Regular hours will resume on Tuesday, September 5th.
Have a great long weekend!