Haldimand council seems to have finally clued in that sale of Cayuga’s majestic historic courthouse grounds to a private developer is not acceptable.
While it would be nice to think Cayuga resident John Walker’s impassioned plea to council made the decision for them, we suspect the fact the land was deeded to Haldimand by Queen Victoria and designated for public institutional buildings only, might have raised legal issues.
However the County is still intent on tearing down the Haldimand Museum and moving the Nicholas log cabin to the Wilson MacDonald school museum site, despite the fact both buildings attract tourists and genealogical researchers. A council report of the 2016 tourist traffic at the HCMA was recorded as 3,851 visitors plus 398 genealogical researchers. How many of these will be willing to brave the concrete and traffic at the new museum’s destination on Talbot?
Since council hatched its original plot, local citizens have been raising merry hell in an effort to thwart the move.
Resident Lorna Walker, who had long been associated with the museum, was furious. She raised the alarm, launched online and paper petitions and raised such a fuss that ward 2 councillor Fred Morison was forced into holding two public meetings in November 2016. Some 200 participants registered their opposition, including a Six Nations men’s fire representative who warned they would take back the land if it were sold.
Council and staff serenely ignored the opposition, including several delegations before council, locking everything away into the county’s “received as information” file where they are now withering away.
Meanwhile, museum staff summarily dismissed two devoted unpaid genealogical volunteers, Betty Coldwell and Margaret Clause, in August, and called the Ontario Genealogical Society to come and pick up their files, entrusted to the society when the Haldimand genealogical society folded, and which were on loan to the museum. The museum had spent the previous months copying them and had no further use for them.
Staff, with the help of what appeared to be students, have been boxing up artifacts for months in preparation for their move to as many as nine different locations, including the new admin building, Edinburgh Square museum in Caledonia and the new Cayuga library extension on busy Talbot Street.
Residents vow the fight is not yet over. Council stated its intention to add the courthouse grounds to its parkland inventory but until the issue of the museum and log cabin is resolved, residents don’t have a whole lot of trust it will remain so.
For more information on the Haldimand Museum and Archives and Nicholas Log Cabin, visit www.haldimandcounty.on.ca.