Backus-Page House Museum

Backus-Page House Museum is a charming Georgian-style farmhouse located at 29424 Lakeview Line, south of Wallacetown, Ontario. Its picturesque situation in the former hamlet of Tyrconnell, Ontario, now within the grounds of John E. Pearce Provincial Park, combines a tranquil lakeside atmosphere with the rural landscape of days gone by. This is exactly what has kept me coming back since first seeing the once boarded-up house as a child, then attending daycamps and field trips as I and the museum grew, and now as a regular contributor to its fully-fledged programming. Managed by the Tyrconnell Heritage Society and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, it has been operating as a museum for approximately 15 years.

A living history museum, Backus-Page incorporates a range of timelines and thematic features, but the house itself reflects the life of the Backus family who built the home in 1850. After being greeted in the Carriage House visitor center, visitors enter through the rear door directly into an authentic early farm kitchen that is only missing the smell of baking bread.

The adjoining pantry introduces the story of the Page family, who owned the property from the 1920s until the late 1960s, when they sold it to the Ministry of Natural Resources. What was once the Backus pantry was transformed for modern convenience by the Pages and has now been restored to its original purpose. It is fully stocked with a fascinating range of historical tools and products, many of which come from the Western Elgin area.

Visitors will notice while exploring the home that there are no ropes preventing access to restricted areas. It truly is an immersive trip back in time!

Other downstairs rooms include the formal parlour, complete with a stunning organ; front entry with the home’s unique original doorbell and staircase, and the dining room. These areas are transformed each December for a breathtaking candlelight Christmas Dinner event with authentic historical menu. Be sure to ask staff how you can be on the guest list!

The upper level includes recreated Victorian farmhouse bedrooms, a sizable landing that is home to an impressive loom, and a large bedroom that is changed every year to hold a new temporary exhibition. Guests who are unable to scale the stairs are invited to complete the tour by watching a video version that includes all the highlights.

This year, the west bedroom is home to Hats off to History, an exhibition of historical millinery and fashion. Visitors are invited to try on some of the hats and snap some photographs of their new-old looks.

The current exhibition, located in the former east bedroom, is called Trailblazers: Conservation in Western Elgin. It highlights the contributions of local champions of nature who have left legacies of public parks and outdoor appreciation for all to enjoy. It includes a video introducing each trailblazer and featuring interview footage with living Trailblazer Mr. Lorne Spicer; children’s activities and postcard souvenirs; and a real living tree where visitors are invited to write down a memory from the nearby parks and hang it on a branch for all to see.

After exploring upstairs, the tour exits through the downstairs gift shop located in a quaint little room that shares a back-to-back fireplace with the dining room. The shop features handmade crafts from local artisans, historical candy and toys, and a range of books on local history, all at fair prices.

In addition to the house, the property also includes a historical barn and honey house, along with the entrances to two beautiful walking trails, the Spicer Trail and the Storey Wetlands Trail. History and nature are combined at this one-of-a-kind property, and there is lots to see and learn along the trails. Guests can make a day of their trip and enjoy a picnic lunch on one of several picnic tables throughout the grounds and explore the rest of historic Lakeview Line, the heartland of the historic Talbot Settlement.

Before You Go:

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Delany Leitch