Heritage Centre

Explore Our Rich Logging and Farming History

The Magnetawan Historical Museum houses a vast collection of artifacts celebrating the area's rich logging and farming heritage. Dive into the past and explore our diverse exhibits, including the restored plant and turbine that powered the village’s first electricity, various local historical artifacts, and a beautifully preserved 1930's style log cabin.

Plan Your Visit

  • Opening Season: The museum welcomes visitors starting at the end of June and remains open until the closure of the season at the end of the September long weekend.
  • Location: Box 70, Hwy. 520 (at Biddy St. at the Magnetawan Locks), Magnetawan, ON, P0A 1P0, Canada
  • Operating Hours: Open daily from 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM

Contact Information

Public Art and Community Activities

Discover the enchanting Public Art installations and join in the fun at our Community Rock Snake Painting Table at the Museum. Learn more about these creative expressions.

Bike Sharing and Recreational Game Lending

We are thrilled to announce a brand-new service for our visitors! Starting now, you can sign out bicycles and recreational games at no cost while visiting the Heritage Museum Centre. This service is perfect for families, individuals, and anyone looking to add a little extra fun to their museum visit.

Available Equipment:

Bicycles for All Ages: Choose from our selection of 8 bicycles, including 4 adult bikes and 4 kids’ bikes.
Recreational Games: We also offer a variety of games which are perfect for some fun-filled leisure time.

How to Sign Out:

Simply visit our main desk at the entrance to check out your desired equipment. Remember, it’s all free of charge!

Please Note: Some restrictions apply. 

Beach Toy Lending 

During the Summer months available at the Heritage Museum Centre the Municipality offers free beach toy lending!

Written Memories - by Mr. T.J. Daley

I think I should go back before my time to the first Water Power at the site. It was installed in the 1880s, in the days when the dam was made of wood, timer, and plank, it operated a flour mill, Purdy’s Four Mill. The flume to carry water to the bulk head was around 100 feet long, all made of timber and plank. Wood also composed the bulk head. There was a track conveyer to transport grain and flour from the mill to the steamboat or scow at a point below the present locks. This flour mill burned down in the late 1890s and then John Schade bought the Water Power and in a new frame building operated a grain chopper and other working equipment.

In 1922 Robert and Ernest Daley bought the plant from John Schade. They also bought from Ontario Hydro a 75 K.W. two phase 2300 volt Generator, Exiter, Switchboard, etc. which Hydro had dismantled from High Falls near Powassan. It was installed temporarily beside the building bought from Schada and operated by the same old water turbine which had operated Purdy’s Flour Mill. I was taken on the job as operator.

In 1925 we three Daleys built the present cement building and cement walled water intake from the same spot in the dam. The dam was by then stone and concrete. We installed a larger 100 horse-power unit. We moved into the new building in 1926.

All was smooth running until Easter Sunday of 1928. Heavy snow, warm weather and rain raised the water so fast in two days there was two feet of water over the dam and a swift river all around the Power Plant. The water was up for over a week and during that time I could only leave the power house by boat.

During our about thirty years of Electric service there was on e particular lightening storm to remember when we lost three transformers. There was one wind storm in as winter night which blew trees across and broke down the primary line. A short would shut the plant down automatically but in this case it did not short. Bare wires carrying 2200 volts lay across the road when Bill Harrison drove up and picked them up to carry them off the road. His wool and leather mitts and rubber footwear no doubt saved his life.

When Ontario Hydro came to Burks’s Falls in the early fifties they also came to the Magnetawan rural area. They bought our rural lines to Camp Chikopi, Cedar Croft, Knoepfli Inn, the E. Jenkins farm and the Thompson farm.

The Village of Magnetawan bought our Distribution System for the village. In a way it was a great relief because the responsibility was too great for a small outfit. Nobody wanted our power plant. We, then Tom Jr. and myself continued to operate it for power in a small saw mill. In the early sixties it was shut down and partly dismantled to make use for the building as an office for lumber and building material. Later in the 1960s it was sold to the Lands and Forests. Though partly dismantled the power plant equipment is all there.

Maybe I could add a few side incidents. I was just old enough to remember the first great glow of a fire I had ever seen. It was when the Purdy’s Flour Mill Burned in the late 1890s. This was a distance of three miles from where we lived on the south side of Ahmic Lake. On the day before that memorable Easter Sunday, I had tied a ladder to an upper window at the sheltered end of the building and also tied my boat there. Early Sunday morning the plant was shut down by the ice and driftwood that had knocked down a pole and wires. Sam Langford came in a canoe to see if I was okay. Then Harvey Schada helped me to re-rout the wires into the building and we were ready to run again by night. Harvey would not let me stay alone because the end of the building exposed to up river was getting a heavy pounding from ice and driftwood. So he stayed all night with me.

The old turbine which was used to operate the flour mill was sold to Eugene Kent and I think went to his place at Sterling Falls. A little Giant turbine which came with the Hydro purchase was sold and shipped to Nova Scotia.

As written by Mr. T.J. Daley

Written Memories - by Norman Morris

In the early thirties, at the height of the depression, there were many young men without jobs who lacked ways of spending their spare time. There was a dire need for some kind or recreation.

Into this gap stepped Dr. Howard Kelly of Baltimore who had a summer home on Ahmic Lake. He formed a Young Men’s Club and rented a room in Grandview House which served as a Club Room until the log cabin was built.

Dr. Kelly was a devout Christian and one of the Club rules was that a religious service be held in the Club room each Sunday night after the local church services.

Rev. Gordon Troyer, the Presbyterian Minister was the Club Chaplain and conducted these services while Mr. G.J. Grunig led the sing songs and strummed his auto harp.

In the summer months, Dr. Kelly personally conducted the services for these young men of Magnetawan while residing at Indian Point. At the close of each service on Sunday night a huge tray of sandwiches, coffee and other goodies were brought in by Taylor’s Inn. Which at the time was operated by Barbara Taylor on the same site as June’s Restaurant.

P.S. There was never any food returned!

The Club was open 7 days a week from 10:00a.m. to 10:00p.m. There was one of the members appointed each day to clean, keep the fire burning and get the mail. This person was known as the Proctor and received $1.00 per day.

Dr. Kelly supplied a good library, daily newspaper and a subscription to many good periodicals. Also there was table tennis, crokinole, and a card game always in progress. Among other things a speaker from various professions would visit the Club. Two of those whom the writer remembers were: a Conservation Officer, Neil McNaughton, who gave a talk on the evils of spearing pickerel which was quite rampant at the time, and Dr. J.S. Freeborn who claimed to have attended the birth of almost everyone present, gave a very strong lecture on sexual behavior.

After employment was on the upswing, the Club was disbanded and was used as a meeting place for Cubs and Scouts, and later to be used as part of the Magnetawan Museum.

In conclusion this club served as a place where many young men spent hours of wholesome companionship and will ever remember its founder, Dr. Howard Kelly for making it happen.

Howard Stewart another of the young men who belonged to the Club, adds a few more facts: Dr. Kelly came to Magnetawan from Baltimore, Maryland from the John Hopkins university Hospital at the turn the century. He used to come up as a summer resident. He was a great canoeist and traveled around the area from lake to lake exploring. He settled on Ahmic Lake in a spot he liked near the present day golf course. The log cabin he built for the Young Men’s Club was called the “Blue Room”. It is now part of the Museum and houses a number of antique items.

Written in 1987 by Norman Morris, a Member of the Club

Weekly Artifact

July 4, 2022   This week we are featuring our 1889 Sailor's Lamp which was used to warn off other ships when a Sailor's ship had broken down or no longer were in command.

July 11, 2022  This week we are featuring the ACME! The ACME was used around 1912 to make ice cream! The ACME would be used by putting put cream and honey on the inside layer and ice on the outside layer, then the user would have to spin the device for 5 minutes to have one serving of ice-cream.

July 18, 2022 This week we are featuring our vintage 1940's toaster!!!

July 25, 2022 This week we are featuring our Magic Lantern and Magic Lantern Slides!

August 3, 2022 This week we are featuring our Typewriter!  Before the time of computers we had typewriters. Typewriters have been used since 1868 and continued to be used frequently till the 1980s. Our typewriter displayed at the Heritage Museum Centre dates back to the 1920s. 

August 9, 2022 This week we are featuring our Tea Pot Stands!   Teapot Stands are used to separate the hot teapot from the surface it rests on, similarly to a hot plate. They came in matching tea sets, and were rarely made individually. We have two teapot stands in the Heritage Museum Centre! The Minton Teapot stand from the mid 1900s and the early Canadian teapot stand, Teapot stands can be made from a multitude of materials, such as glass, ceramics, silver or more!

August 22, 2022 This week we are featuring the Rexall Epsom Salt Can! Rexall Epsom Salt Cans date back to the 1940s. Back the epsom salts weren’t just used for a relaxing bath, they were dissolved in a glass of water and consumed before breakfast. They did this because the epsom salt acted as a laxative and would also treat other ailments. Epsom salt was also regularly used to clean walls and ceilings!  

August 29, 2022 This week we are featuring our Green Scale!  The Green Scale was previously used to weigh eggs. The scale would separate the eggs into grade levels such as medium, Grade a large or extra large. This would help determine the value and price of the egg. These scales were useful because they were easily transported from market to market due to their light weight and small size. Our Green Scale is capable of weighing both chicken and turkey eggs!

July 3, 2023 This week we are featuring our Foot Warmer!  Foot warmers were used to warm peoples feet by holding hot coals, This one in particular was used by William Fitzer while transporting items from Burk's Falls to Magnetawan.

July 10, 2023 This week we are featuring our Horse Brush! This horse brush was used to groom horses and are also known as a curry comb. This brush is made out of metal to remove hard materials such as dried dirt from the horses hair!

July 17, 2023 This week we are featuring our Binoculars! These binoculars were a German Officer’s binoculars from the First World War. They are over 100 years old, used from 1914-1918.  On top of the binoculars is writing in German, describing how to adjust the lens. 

July 24, 2023 This week we are featuring our Geography Textbook! Our artifact of the week is an Ontario geography textbook! This textbook was published in 1910, displaying the elementary school geography curriculum for that time. Inside the textbook were two certificates of first class, second class and kindergarten, from 1932-1933. 

July 31, 2023 This week we are featuring our Audioscope! Audio scopes are used by physicians to do a hearing test. The probes are inserted into the ear and produce tones to test how much the patient can hear. Often, they are used to measure hearing loss.

August 7, 2023 This week we are featuring our Brass Candle Holder! This Brass Candle Holder belonged to the late Mrs. J. Wilson and was loaned to our Museum by Dan Wilson!

August 14, 2023 This week we are featuring our old boat steering wheel! This particular wheel was taken from a disappearing propeller boat used by cottagers on McArthur’s Bay. 

August 21, 2023 This week we are featuring our Minton tea pot stand! This stand is over 50 years old. It came from the Bayne Farm in Merryvale, Ontario. 

August 28, 2023 This week we are featuring our Telegraph. Telegraph keys were used to send messages in morse code. Letters are formed by pressing a series of dots (short taps) and dashes (longer taps).