Presented by Penny Plunkett

Haldimand County paid for a Tourism Action Plan and received a 53-page report that sets out Tourism objectives.

History & Culture Tourism is one of the 4 key areas, and the plan recommended  “Highlight your Cultural and Historical Product”, and  Build Historical Experiences that will draw visitors here.”

Is it possible that with an investment in their Historical Product, Haldimand County cannot only enrich the community but improve tourism for local business interests?

Haldimand County does have a “Historical Product” – Its Unique History

The Museum & Archives are currently located in the most prestigious setting in Haldimand County – on the Court House Grounds. The planned addition of the rail trail will pass right by the Museum. Set beside the Grand River for a back drop, the Museum also sits feet away from the restored Jail House Wall. Ruthven, a National Historic Site is located just “up the road” from the Museum.

Could there be a better location for a County Museum in Haldimand?

In 2016 there were 3,851 visitors to the Museum and archives. When the November 2016 report was presented to Council to approve the changes in store for “Cultural Service Delivery” no suggestions from the Tourism Department were detailed within the report for other potential options.

Built here in 1973 the County Museum was originally established by The Haldimand Historical Society in 1930.The Collections policy for the then new Haldimand County Museum was to “collect, preserve, research, house, exhibit and interpret all those objects that best serve to illustrate the historical founding, settlement and development of the County of Haldimand from 1784. Artifacts may be received as donations or may be purchased by funds allocated.”

Could the Tourism Department have come up with some ideas? I can think of a couple. I suggest two permanent interactive displays added to the Museum.

The first permanent Interactive Display would be Land Records

We are now coming to an end of an era with Land Records. Although land documents were recorded by pen on paper from the beginning, a change has taken place and since 2007 the land records are being kept electronically.

The Records of the Land Registry Office have been reduced and Haldimand County Museums have acquired the Original Copy Books and the Land documents registered from 1868 to 1955.

Margaret Clause and myself undertook an expensive task of photocopying many of the land Title Abstract Books (also known as Document Indexes) before they were sent away to Toronto Archives. The copies are available for viewing at the Museum.

The Museum is more than Genealogy Records. It has more potential than to “digitize” so that researchers can go to their computer to seek pertinent information for their projects. The Museum will replace the Land Registry Office as the “go to” resource for Land Records.  This would include the old documents, and the copy books and the Land Abstract Indexes for “hands on” viewing.

What other land records does the Museum already have?  Without a data base available for analyzing how can one know what the Archives contain? And where has the acquisition budget been for increasing the records of historical information that affect Haldimand County? The Land Registry Office has become a “shell” of its former self and it’s just a matter of time before it will be permanently closed. The Museum can step up and be the physical “Go to Place” for Historical Land Records in Haldimand County. 

In 2018, Teranet created a website for viewing the title abstracts. The Downside? Very poor resolution – many pages are difficult to read. This is a good example of what going digitized represents. You are at the mercy of the finished product however poorly presented it is.

What records could the Museum Acquire to form part of the fixed Land Records Exhibit?

The Surrenders? Is it possible to have copies of the original surrenders? I know Archived copies are available.

The Crown Patents?  We know how much of a commotion that has caused recently, for the Court House Grounds and for the Market block. How many people would enjoy finding their “own” patent for their property from Queen Victoria, King George the Third or King William the Fourth for example.

Is it possible Museum and Archives can obtain more Haldimand History as is out there to be obtained?

I have brought an assortment of maps with me for display today – several are “Patent” Maps.  I have other maps that I have paid a researcher to find. Are they in Haldimand County? And if so, where are they? These could be kept with a land records “working” exhibit, not hidden away to be brought out occasionally for a viewing.

Sometimes you just don’t know “what you don’t know”.  But now they do know there is more information out there that should be available locally. I had the opportunity to speak with Don Boyle and Anne Unyi earlier this week regarding the museum and the potential to add these interactive exhibits to draw in visitors.

With them I discussed The Uniqueness of the County:

Patented to Private Individuals in Large Blocks of Land such as Moulton & Canborough Township

Blocks and Tracts created throughout the lands that were formerly part of the Six Nations Reserve.

There are stories to be told here.

The Town of Cayuga seems to have been created in homage to the connection of Haldimand County with Six Nations. Streets have names associated with Six Nations or the Indian Lands Department or the Monarchy. Who were these people?

From 1784 to 1830’s the Six Nations Reserve formed the major part of Haldimand County. This historical period falls in line with the time frame of the Museum guidelines.

The Second Fixed Interactive Exhibit added to the HCMA that I suggest should be for the Six Nations that settled in Haldimand County before they surrendered their lands.

The door is wide open to more opportunities if we take the first step to open that door. I can only imagine the potential this could create for tourism.