The Niagara Historical Society was established in 1895 to foster an appreciation of Niagara-on-the-Lake through publishing, researching, collecting and educating. Soon after, the first president, Janet Carnochan, recognized that the Society needed a larger location to store their increasing collection. In 1907 the Society moved the artefacts out of the Courthouse and into the Museum, which remains the present location of the collection.
The original Museum building, affectionately called Memorial Hall, is Ontario’s Oldest Museum Building and is designated by the Ontario Heritage Trust as a site of provincial significance. In the 1940s the Society took over the 1875 High School building next door, and then linked the two buildings together in the 1970s.
The Museum has three main exhibitions spaces. The High School and Link Building contains the permanent exhibition, “Our Story”, that features a chronological history of Niagara-on-the-Lake from Native history to the tourist boom of the 1970s. The Lower Level of Memorial Hall is the temporary exhibition room. The exhibitions in this space change twice a year and cover a variety of topics from military to social history. The Upper Level of Memorial Hall is the “Janet Carnochan Gallery,” a space that showcases different artefacts in the collection and that is also changed on a regular basis.
The Niagara Historical Society and Museum is proud to own one of Ontario’s most significant collections of artefacts. The Museum’s collections are accessible to the public via a digital database, and visitors can also make an appointment to use the Society’s research room to conduct their own research with access to the Museum’s collection and archives. The Museum hosts a wide variety of events, including their annual summer heritage festival, monthly lecture series, biennial Polo game, September theatrical cemetery tours, a winter holiday event, children summer camp and more! The Museum’s historic walking tours of Niagara-on-the-Lake are also very popular and run every Saturday and Sunday at 11am from June – September.
The Museum building is fully accessible on the ground floor and in 85% of the galleries. There are wheelchair access washrooms and Braille handouts to those who are visually impaired. Handouts are also available in French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Spanish and Korean.
The Niagara Historical Museum is conveniently located within the heart of Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake, minutes away from the Shaw Festival theaters, Fort George, shops, restaurants, and more! While the Museum does not have a parking lot, there is free street parking in front of the Museum.LOCATION: 43 Castlereagh Street in Niagara-on-the-lake, just three blocks up from Queen Street. HOURS: 10am-5pm daily from May-October, and 1pm-5pm daily from November-April.