The Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum’s newly dedicated Community Courtyard will be the site of its popular Treasure Sale and Pig Roast on the holiday Monday.
The Civic Holiday weekend is usually reserved for the museum’s Heritage Festival, with vendors, displays, and entertainment, all taking place on the museum grounds. For the second straight year, COVID-19 has made it impossible for that event to occur.
But the Treasure Sale is returning after a year off. Assistant curator Shawna Butts says it couldn’t happen at a better time.
“I’m sure during COVID a lot of people have been looking through what they have at home, cleaning out their attics and boxes, and trying to get rid of it,” Butts explains. “It’s almost like an extended spring cleaning, giving them an opportunity to donate to us and help us raise money.”
The response has been phenomenal. Butts says in the five years that she has worked at the museum she has never seen this many donations.
Among the treasures gathered for Monday are a slew of books, as well as lamps, jewellery, and a hobby horse. Butts adds that vintage shoe forms, a weighing scale, and nesting tables will be for sale, as well as plates, teacups, Limoges china and a print of the Battle of Cut Knife Creek. There will be silverware and photography as well. All proceeds, of course, will support the NOTL Museum.
Amy Klassen, the museum’s director of finance and marketing, says the treasure sale has been increasingly popular since it debuted with the Heritage Festival eight years ago. Over that time she estimates it has brought in an average of $1,500 per year, with the exception of 2020, when it was cancelled.
Klassen told The Local that the funds raised go toward the day to day operations of the museum. Like Butts, she is expecting even bigger success for 2021, as other similar sales in town at local churches did not run this year.
Monday also provides the museum with an opportunity to unveil its new Tiny Museum.
Put together with a grant from the Trillium Foundation, the mobile facility is especially exciting for Butts.
“It was an idea that was conceived by Faith Bell, who at the time was the president of the Niagara Historical Society,” Butts says. “She wanted a way for us to expand our reach beyond the museum’s walls. It was at that time when the whole tiny homes craze was at its peak.”
Riffing off the tiny homes idea, they applied for and received a $125,000 grant, and topped that up with private donations. The structure is built, mounted to a trailer, and ready to hit the road outfitted with museum artifacts.
Designed to cleverly present exhibits in enclosed but easily viewable display cases, the Tiny Museum will be able to transport some of its unique collection away from the museum grounds. It’s a great example of modern, ‘out of the box’ thinking that takes history to the people.
“It’s a way for us to bring the museum to the community,” she says, “to community festivals as well as to schools in the area.”
Butts explains that further Trillium funding through the provincial organization’s Seed Program has gone toward developing school programs and exhibits. The Niagara Community Foundation has also contributed funds toward exhibits.
Butts and other museum staff will be busy through to Monday outfitting the pint-sized museum with its first travelling collection.
“It’s an exhibit that we’re doing for our kids’ program,” Butts explains. “It will be a brief history of Niagara-on-the-Lake and its people. We’ll be talking about the Loyalists, Indigenous peoples, recent settlers, like the Polish soldiers and the Mennonites. And we’ll showcase our artifacts to go along with that as well.”
The Tiny Museum is truly tiny. Butts warns that following current protocols only one or possibly two people at a time will be allowed inside.
The Tiny Museum will be set up on the lawn alongside PigOut Catering, who will be offering roast pork on a bun to visitors.
The Treasure Sale and Pig Roast will be on this Monday, Aug. 2, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the museum at 43 Castlereagh Street. For information, visit NOTLMuseum.ca.