The Elman W. Campbell Museum: A Window into the Past

Nestled in the heart of Newmarket, Ontario is a hidden gem that offers a glimpse into the lives of early settlers in the region. The Elman W. Campbell Museum consists of seven historic buildings set on 2.5 acres of property that has remained largely unchanged since the 1830s. Walking through the museum’s buildings and grounds is like taking a step back in time.

The focal point of the museum is the Greek Revival style Campbell House which was built in 1846. It was owned by Elman and Mary Campbell who lived in the house for over 50 years. Most of the furnishings and decor inside the house are original to the time period. The parlour has intricate wood trim, flowery wallpaper and plush furniture, giving a sense of how the middle class lived during that era.

Another highlight is the Cawthra Elliot law office. Built in 1848, it is a well-preserved example of a Victorian Italianate commercial building. The law office contains many original artifacts from Newmarket in the mid-1800s including law books, letters, and historic photographs.

The centrepiece of the property is a rare Ontario Gothic Revival barn built in 1871. This enormous bank barn was used for hay storage, stabling horses and milking cows. Today the barn hosts exhibits, demonstrations, and popular events like the Harvest Festival where visitors can experience 19th century farming activities like corn husking, wheat threshing, and apple pressing.

In addition to the permanent exhibits showcasing Newmarket’s early history, the museum also hosts rotating temporary exhibits on topics related to York Region. Recent exhibits explored the local woolen mills, the automobile’s influence on Newmarket, and what Christmas was like for pioneers. The museum also has many programs and events aimed at children to teach them about history in a fun and engaging way.

Whether you’re interested in architecture, genealogy or learning about life as an early settler, the Elman W. Campbell Museum has something for you. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 1pm to 4pm, admission to the museum is affordable and family friendly. This charming museum is a must-see when visiting Newmarket to experience the town’s rich and vibrant history. After touring the buildings, be sure to stroll through the well-manicured gardens and sit under the shade of a mature maple tree. You may never want to leave!

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