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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  News Elgin County's new Heritage Centre hosts a Family Day Medieval Day, February 19th.


Georgia Sifton, Elgin County Museum
Elgin County's new Heritage Centre hosts a Family Day Medieval Day, February 19th

January 30, 2018 - The one million dollar exhibit and program centre has opened at 460 Sunset Drive. Designed to hold both travelling and permanent exhibitions, the centre's first exhibit features the medieval world.

The centre now provides about 3000 square feet of space, two-thirds of which will be used for exhibit, programming and public meetings. This increases by over 25% the space that was available for these functions on the fourth floor of 450 Sunset. As well, the 13-foot ceilings allows for large graphics to be installed. The present series features images of local railway stations from the Elgin County Archives.

The centre piece of the new facility is "Talbot's Castle" an imaginative creation based on parts of Malahide Castle in Ireland where Col. Thomas Talbot was born. Talbot - the man who settled most of a large swath of southwestern Ontario in the early 19th century - lived in what he called 'Castle Malahide' in today's Dutton-Dunwich.

The castle – home to the Talbots for over 500 years - is located near Dublin and is today a major tourist attraction. Beamed ceilings and a huge Gothic window from the castle have been recreated here as a backdrop for the Talbot story. Graphics include a 10-foot wide map of the Talbot Settlement stretching from Woodstock to Windsor, a large hand-painted coat of arms and several assorted portraits standing in for Talbot relatives.

Large rustic tables and benches have been created adding to the medieval castle feel. These and the architectural fittings are the work of theatre set designers and builders Eric Bunnell, Tony Sclafani, and Dariusz Korbiel, from Port Stanley. The art work, including a 10-foot tall replica in colour of Robert the Bruce's funerary brass, is by Lydia Lane, a medieval artist from St. Thomas.

The funerary brass relates to one of the activities visitors and their children can participate in at the new centre: doing a brass rubbing of what are essentially medieval tombstones. Visitors can also make a catapult and shoot at a model castle or pound on a patterned die to make a coin. Visitors can also try on helmets, chain mail and have a photo taken in the stocks.

Some of these activities accompany the first of the centre's travelling exhibits – Once Upon a Time. The exhibit is on loan from the Bruce County Museum and provides a comprehensive overview of the medieval era in Europe from 500 to 1500 AD. The show features a number of detailed models of cathedrals and other buildings. The Centre has added a number of artifacts from the permanent collection representing the variety of tools in use when this area was settled whose direct antecedents can be found in medieval times. Some, like the flail – a key harvesting tool in the settler period - could mean either the threshing tool in medieval times or a mace-like weapon of war. The travelling exhibit will close at the end of April, however the Centre's Medieval School Program will continue to be offered. The next show, slated to open on May 12th, celebrates the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Scots in Elgin County.

Feb 19th - Family Day - the Centre will host Medieval Day – the first of several special event days. The Centre will welcome members of the Essex Medieval Heritage Society displaying armour and an expert on brass rubbings. Visitors will be able to do their own brass rubbing, try on chain mail and a helmet and get a photo in the stocks.

It was also intended that the centre be the first stop in a visitor's exploration of the small towns, attractions and heritage sites elsewhere in the county. A guide brochure to other attractions is available at the site and the gift shop – still under development – will hold specialty products such as soap and lavender and various art works, all from local sources.

The allocation of new money to the federal government's Cultural Spaces grant program jump started the revised planning for the new heritage centre and ground was broken in late spring of last year.

The former exhibit space at 450 Sunset will continue to house artifact receiving and conservation and will also provide additional storage space for the permanent collection and for the county archives which is also located in that building.

The new Centre is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11 to 7 and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 until 4.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2018 12:01:29 PM EST

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