Presented to Haldimand Council by Grant Church, Cayuga

Dedicated to two faithful museum volunteers: Margaret Clause and Betty Coldwell

 

“We the people tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us”

We the people are the driver; the government is the car

And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast.” President Ronald Reagan

 

We the people of Haldimand County are telling you to leave the county museum and log cabin where they are. It will cost us nothing to do so.

 

Your museum destruction plan will cost a million plus dollars, leading to higher taxes that we can’t afford. You will soon be paying over $20 million dollars for a new county administration building, and with interest rates rising, you’ll be paying considerably more than first estimated.

 

Councillor Morison said in the end of the year statement for 2015, “I will continue to work hard to keep taxes as low as possible …” This plan utterly fails that commitment with a needless expenditure.

 

The building is in excellent shape, verified by an engineer and two contractors, one of which has done work on it. They are emphatic about it too. The staff report said it is a well maintained building, requiring only a fraction of the expenditure that Edinburgh Square needs. It is a modern building, a hundred years newer than either Edinburgh Square or Wilson MacDonald School, climate-controlled, and wheelchair accessible.

 

Council appears to have backed out of selling this property, but for how long? If council truly rejected selling the grounds, there is no need to demolish the museum or move the log cabin.

 

Council has been informed that clearing the building off this property will result in a native land claim and occupation. Have you forgotten how the Cayuga Bridge was held up for over a year? You need only look at what’s happening in Caledonia to see that they are serious.

 

This brings me to my first question: Does this Council take seriously the warning they have received that if they clear the buildings off the courthouse grounds, then those properties will become the subjects of Native land claims?

 

In the staff report PED-GM-10-2016 of October 3, 2016, Craig Manley was already encouraging Council to close the County Museum and demolish it. Not until six weeks later did Councillor Morison and staff finally meet with the Haldimand Museum Advisory Board.

 

This brings me to my second question: Does this council expect its General Manager of Planning and Economic Development, prior to providing advice to Council, to consult with the citizen bodies appointed by Council for purpose of providing advice?

 

Recently, the most dedicated and experienced volunteers of the museum have had their keys confiscated, and have been told they may not enter the museum during the month of August – the height of the tourist season when the largest number of visitors need the volunteer help in finding the information they’re looking for in the archives.

 

In August, the Ontario Genealogical Society files were being boxed up in the museum. Marg Clause and Betty Coldwell had to be escorted into the museum under the protection of fellow citizens. These dear ladies have served this county faithfully and have defended and protected our museum and our heritage. You could count on them to sere you. But this council has allowed them to be tossed out the door. Orwelll was right.

 

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face … forever” George Orwell.

 

This brings me to my third question:  Will Council investigate, identify and discipline the staff member or members who took it upon themselves to treat experienced, dedicated volunteers in this way?

 

I know that neither Mr. Manley’s Haldimand Museums Accommodation Review nor councillor Morison’s resolution 227-16 come anywhere near to what this community really wants to see as the future of its museum and log cabin.  

 

This brings me to my fourth question: Will this Council finally admit that the public consultation process for the Museum Accommodation Review was seriously flawed, and that they need to start over and – working respectfully with the citizens to find real solutions?

 

The county museum was a grass roots initiative with county support, community and government working together. Over the years, there have been many upgrades and expansion of the facility. At times fundraisers were initiated by the community to pay for different things.  Many across Haldimand have donated treasured family artifacts to share with the whole county.

 

The 4,400 square foot building is able to take on a multitude of functions, with sufficient space for storage, display, and meetings, all under one roof. It includes an office for the curator and a room for researchers.

 

People are so impressed with the museum and the setting, they are holding weddings there. It is a prime tourist attraction that needs more promotion.

 

The Ontario Genealogical Society was ordered to remove their files from the museum. Now they’re left scrambling to find a space within the county to place them.

 

Our museum is very much a full function museum that is not being replaced but destroyed.

 

Your whole plan is a council-backed bureaucratic initiative. There is nothing grass roots about it, no public outcry, but only the opposite, an outcry against what you want to do.Even the province recognizes your folly by suspending the $12,100 grant for your non-museum in the new Cayuga library.

 

I’ve consulted with experts and the public concerning this issue. Even Dr. Jim Cruise, a former director of the Royal Ontario Museum, was appalled at your plan and told me to keep up the fight.

 

You have struck at the heart of Haldimand. Your plan is an attack on the community. We’ve bought and paid for that wonderful museum in so many ways.  It’s our heritage.

 

My final question: Has your plan been peer-reviewed and by whom?

 

Up the river in Paris, they are tackling things differently. Councillor Robert Chambers had this to say about a new library. “Don’t expect a new library next year or next term. We have to make sure due diligence is done.” (Brantford Expositor, July 4, 2017)

 

The log cabin move to the courthouse grounds was also a grass roots initiative, backed by the County back in 1961. It is in a historically-correct location amongst big trees.

 

The Haldimand Abilities Centre has used the log cabin and area around it for therapy, having clients take pictures of the cabin, flowers, and whatever they find. It has had a profound positive effect on them.

 

At the 150th celebration on June 17th at the museum, I had the opportunity to tour the log cabin, manned by two girls dressed in pioneer costumes. One of them said look out the window and the doorway and you can see what it used to look like. There were big trees and undergrowth. What an astute pair! I told them of your plan to move the cabin. They were devastated.

 

Wind turbines are the only thing viewable at Wilson MacDonald school.  Those children have more sense than this council. Leave it where it is for our children’s sake.

 

I’ve made bad decisions at times, been stubborn, and paid for mistakes. It is said that we get old too soon and wise too late. It’s better to reverse a bad decision than to face the wrath of the electorate. For the community of this great county, reverse course and leave our museum and log cabin alone.