Family was the theme at the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum this weekend, says curator Michelle Mason.
Whether it’s the family of museum volunteers happy to work together again during the annual Canal Days marine heritage festival, the family of demonstrators/exhibitors or the literal families in the field.
“Everyone was so happy to be back,” Mason said on Sunday, as the King Street museum grounds buzzed with activity.
She, assistant curator Tami Nail and director of the museums and culture division Stephanie Powell Baswick – something of a family – were all on the same page about who visited the museum over the two days. opening.
“I have never seen so many families. It was overwhelming,” Mason said.
A sandpit was one of the biggest draws for kids too young to appreciate the music and exhibits inside.
“They were children who stayed in the sandbox for two hours; their parents could not take them. They brought chairs and sat there. People have asked us if we can have the sandbox all summer,” Mason said.
Baswick said Canal Days was very much a reunion this year after hosting two modified events on the museum grounds in the first two years of the pandemic.
“We are back in force with our volunteers and protesters. There seems to be a lot of joy when they connect with each other and the community,” Baswick said.
She said people have said the museum grounds are great for family activities.
Nail, who was no stranger to the event as a volunteer in the past, is in her first year leading the event as assistant curator and said the consensus was that everyone was delighted to ‘be back.
“People were more than willing to come out.”
She said the focus was on children’s activities, with the sandbox and field games including using water guns to propel a ship through a course representing the Welland Canal.
Baswick said there were more families than she had seen in the past on the museum grounds, and people were staying longer.
“We have the 20 minute visitor who comes in, looks at what we have and moves on. We also have those who stay for about an hour or so.
“People stayed for three hours. There was so much to do there,” Baswick said.
Nail calls the museum an oasis away from the bustle of West Street.
“It’s calm, and we have shade and a breeze.”
The three women said more than 2,000 people came out on Saturday alone. The city said at least 5,000 people visited the museum over the two days.
Nail said the museum ran out of popcorn and lemonade on the first day.
“I bought three grocery stores for their lemonade,” she said Sunday morning.
The three said there was something for everyone at the museum, children’s activities at the forge operating in the blacksmith’s shop, Arabella’s teahouse, bands, the remote control boat exhibit of the Great Lakes Model Boat Association and re-enactors, both War of 1812 and maritime.
With navy in its name, the museum has seen HMS Psyche Canadian Maritime Heritage Society talk with visitors about the lives of sailors during the War of 1812.
The group is dedicated to preserving and teaching the heritage and traditional maritime skills of the Great Lakes, prior to Confederation.
Saturday, the the society Ryan Moore said that in addition to demonstrating the weapons used by sailors on the Great Lakes, there was the clothing and equipment worn, a hammock to show what they slept in, and even food, like hardtack.
Mason and Nail said HMS Psyche was delighted to be part of Canal Days, even if it was just for one day.
They said the company had already contacted the museum to come back next year and bring the boat they use for the demonstrations.
Nail said things went well on the museum grounds over the weekend.
She and Mason said everyone seemed to be having a good time.