In response to Nancy McBride’s letter.

Where is the Nancy McBride, Chair of the Haldimand Museum Board who tried to keep the 1835 log cabin on the Court House Grounds (CHG) instead of removing it to Rainham Road?  Does she remember being “shot down” by Craig Manley before Haldimand citizens in the council chambers?

This letter by McBride, posted in social media, is a classic of misleading information, misconceptions and inaccuracies.  The true facts are contained in the council-adopted staff report PED-GM-10-2016.  Not only will the Haldimand County Museum & Archives (HCMA) close in 2019 but the building housing it will be demolished at taxpayers’ expense.

The current HCMA building has an area of 4,400sq. ft.  The display space is 1,650 sq. ft. and archives take up 750 sq. ft.  The new library provides 622 sq. ft.  for artifact display and 552 sq. ft. for archives.   Hardly “slightly larger” than the existing museum as McBride suggests.

The present museum has 1,700 sq. ft. of artifact storage space.  The only storage space available under the new plan is inaccessible to the public —  850 sq. ft. in the new Admin Building basement.  This extremely limited storage area necessitates that collection and donation of additional artifacts be severely limited or prohibited.  

Approximately forty-three bankers boxes of the Haldimand County Genealogy Archives have already been ordered removed from the HCMA without a new location.  Suggestions listed for reducing the HCMA artifact collection are part of the county report:  destruction, public auction, repatriation, giving to other museums, etc. 

A “museum” is a name clearly recognized by the public as to its function.  A “heritage centre” could denote anything — or nothing.

The province owns the Court House/ Jail and the Registry Office properties.  The rest is county land.  The HCMA is not hidden in a wooded area.  It is located in a peaceful sylvan setting reminiscent of Haldimand’s rural past.  Finding the museum location is a function of signage.  One small metal sign on the corner of Echo St. and Hwy. 54 does not cut it.  Despite this, over 4,000 visitors found it annually.

Plenty of parking for the museum has always been available to the North behind the Jail.  It has just never been utilized.  An operating museum would be a far greater asset to the rail trail than a park alone.

According to the staff report “Grants provided by the Ministry of Culture are… tied to a physical location and staff have confirmed the annual grant could not be transferred….”  Result:  Loss of the Provincial Community Museums Operating Grant to the HCMA.  Of course, the county can reapply.  According to Ministry standards, they do not qualify.

If the Museum Board’s concerns, questions, and suggestions have been answered regarding the HCMA’s future, as Ms. McBride states, why are the minutes of their meeting with Councillor Morison and county staff  being kept secret by the county?

Council’s vision was to sell the Court House Grounds to developers to help pay for their new Administration Building.  To do so, they had to remove the existing buildings:  museum, current Admin Building and log cabin.  That is the underlying reason for this cobbled-up and senseless “new cultural service delivery” with “pop-up displays” approach.  

Putting minimal space for the museum in the new library added at least $460,000 to the cost, not counting demolition of the HCMA.  Council is to be condemned for their failure to consult citizens and their cavalier attitude to stewardship of Haldimand’s history.

The museum board and its chair should give their collective heads a shake to see where  “down-the-garden-path” the county’s plans are leading them.

Remember, in a public survey of  more than three-hundred Cayuga residents, over ninety percent wanted the museum and log cabin to stay on the Court House Grounds. And on-line and paper petitions garnered over 1000 signatures.

Clearly, with this “Heritage Centre” and Haldimand County Museum destruction, the county council and their appointed museum board have lost touch with the vast majority of citizens in Cayuga and Haldimand.

John Walker, Cayuga