Museums & Historic Sites
Our Museums collect and preserve the many objects and materials of religious, cultural and historical value that tell the story of our people and help us understand our sense of place. Visit to find out about Haldimand’s cultural heritage and view the storehouse of artifacts that will bring history to life.
Caledonia Grand Trunk Station
The Grand Trunk Railway Station is a historical and cultural landmark built in 1908, in Caledonia.
It remained a busy spot until passenger service ended on October 26, 1957. Express parcel service continued until November 1977, then CNR used the station as a maintenance depot. In 1988, the windows were boarded over and it remained in disrepair the official opening of the newly renovated station in 1997. Today the station is once again a busy spot, accommodating the office for the Caledonia Regional Chamber of Commerce, a year-round Tourist Information Centre, a meeting place for Chamber and other community activities, and small gatherings. You’ll also find local railway artifacts, displays and an operating “G” scale model train.
Canadian Drilling Rig Museum
The Canadian Drilling Rig Museum, located in the rural community of Rainham Centre, is a monument to the rich history of the early natural gas fields of Haldimand, Norfolk and Southern Ontario. The site houses the rebuilt, “working” 1896 drilling rig along with many interesting artifacts and a wealth of historical information.
Cayuga Library & Heritage Centre
Construction on the new 6,455 square foot library and heritage centre in the heart of Cayuga’s downtown core has recently been completed and the new, fully accessible building accommodates both the library and museum collections/services/programs, providing visitors with an extremely unique learning and cultural experience.
The museum space encompasses 1,400 sq. ft., with 800 sq. ft. dedicated to an exhibit & display area and 600 sq. ft. designated for local history and genealogical research. Hard copy genealogical records & information is available within the designated genealogy space, as is new technologies that assist with research. Heritage programming is be offered for both adults and children.
Built by William Holmes approximately 1860 on the farm originally established by Jakob Huber in the 1790’s. It is one of the few remaining examples of rural mansions of the period. It contains 15 rooms, including five bedrooms, a music room, and a widow’s walk. Now a living museum, the mansion is open for tours, and available for rentals for a variety of events. A number of scheduled events take place annually, most with a Victorian flavour.
Edinburgh Square Heritage & Cultural Centre
Built in 1857, Edinburgh Square Heritage & Cultural Centre, formerly the Caledonia Town Hall and Lock-Up, was designed by noted architect John Turner. Edinburgh Square Heritage & Cultural Centre presents the history of Caledonia through educational and outreach activities and a number of permanent & temporary exhibits. Of particular note is the original 1857 jail cell and a permanent display highlighting the gypsum mining industry along the Grand River. Local history or family genealogy may be researched in the Gillespie Clark Reference Library. The library contains books, files and documents relating to Caledonia’s rich history. The archive holds a collection of surviving editions of the Grand River Sachem from 1856 to the present day.
No. 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum
The No. 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum pays homage to Haldimand County’s and Canada’s proud aviation history and contributions to various wartime efforts. The former Dunnville Airport was built during World War II to house the No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The No. 6 SFTS officially opened on November 25, 1940, and closed December 1, 1944. A total of 2,436 pilots from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the United States trained here. Through memorabilia, photographs, vintage aircraft and equipment of the era, you’ll gain a sense of what it was like for young men to train at the No. 6 SFTS before serving in the European Theatre of World War II.
Ruthven Park National Historic Site
Ruthven Park is a unique historic estate overlooking the Canadian Heritage Grand River. Experience the mansion and the lifestyle of five generations of the Thompson family who lived here from the 1840s – 1990s. The Greek Revival mansion contains a collection of archival records, military artifacts, furnishings, paintings, decorative arts, tools, implements, books, clothing, gate columns, and lawn sculpture dating from David Thompson I relate the history of the Thompson family residence and contribute to the understanding of the site. The 1,500-acre property is now made up of Carolinian forests, active farm fields, wetlands, meadows, two cemeteries, nineteenth-century buildings, and an island. Visit the butterfly garden or numerous trails or take a guided tour of the mansion.
Walpole Antique Farm Machinery Association
A group of Members keeping the history of farming practices from years ago alive. Their large collection of farming implements, machinery, and tractors is on display several times a year during special events and scheduled tours. Also the home of the Jarvis Train station (circa 1906), which at one time saw a daily steam locomotive that chugged between Hamilton and Port Dover. Currently displays historical photos, signs, posters as well as tools, railway lanterns, model trains, and other items from the town’s past.
Wilson MacDonald Memorial School Museum
Dedicated to preserving the history of rural education, the heritage of the surrounding community, and the memory of poet Wilson Pugsley MacDonald. Step into a classroom of 1925, when the Union Jack waved over the schoolhouse, classes started with “God Save the King”, and penmanship was practiced using straight pens and black ink. Lyric poet Wilson Pugsley MacDonald (1880 – 1967) was born in nearby Cheapside and published works, including “Out of the Wilderness”, and a “Flagon of Beauty.” Built in 1872, this one-room schoolhouse was in operation until 1966. Visit to experience a day in the life of a student in a 1920s-era one-room rural school!
Preserving and honouring the structures and people who built Haldimand. Plaques and markers are located in public areas for viewing.
Canfield Black Settlement Marker
This marker is in recognition of Canfield as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and was also home to one of the first black settlements in Ontario. The first black settlers arrived in Canfield in 1837 after fleeing slavery and by 1851, there were 137 black residents identified in the North Cayuga census. Behind the numbers was a story of integration. In Canfield, black and white residents worked and worshipped side by side, and their children went to the same schools. Located in the North Cayuga Canfield Park.
Haldimand Grant Plaque
Following the American Revolution Sir Frederick Haldimand, Governor-in-Chief of Canada, granted to the Six Nations of the Iroquois a tract of land extending for 10 km on both sides of the Grand River from its source to Lake Erie. This grant was made in recognition of their services as allies of the British Crown during the war and to recompense them for the loss of their former lands in northern New York State. In later years large areas of this tract, including a portion of the present counties of Haldimand, Brant, Waterloo, and Wellington were sold to white settlers. Located at the Cayuga Courthouse.
Nelles Settlement Plaque
After receiving lands on the Grand River in 1784, the Six Nations Indians invited Captain Hendrix Nelles, A Loyalist from the Mohawk Valley, to settle there with five of his sons. He and Robert, the eldest, established farms in what is now Seneca Township and built houses in which they lived until Captain Nelle’s death in 1791 and Robert’s removal to Grimsby. The grants, confirmed in 1787, were later changed to 999-year leases and John Nelles leased 325 acres across the river. William Warner and Abraham Nelles received Crown patents in 1836 for the original “Nelles Tract” in Seneca granted to their father and brother in 1787. The “Nelles Settlement” contained about thirty families in 1828. Plaque is located at Hwy 0 (Nelles St/York Road) and Hwy 54 (Front St. S) in York, Ontario.
Port Maitland Cairn
The Cairn, located in Port Maitland’s East Park, commemorates the Commercial Fishing Industry, the Port Maitland Feeder Canal and Lock, and the Grand River Naval Depot.
- Commercial Fishing Industry – Port Maitland was a major commercial fishing port from the mid-1800’s until the late 1950’s. Fishing took place in the Grand River and Lake Erie, netting abundant amounts of sturgeon, bass, herring, whitefish, pickerel, perch, and clams and became the home of one of the largest freshwater fishing fleets in the Americas.
- Port Maitland Feeder Canal & Lock – In 1845 the Feeder Canal was extended from Stromness to the nearby Port Maitland Lock, this allowed ships to navigate from both the Welland Canal and from Lake Erie to the Upper Grand River. Port Maitland was one of the finest harbours on the north shore of Lake Erie and many ships would seek refuge in the mouth of the Grand River to escape storms.
- Grand River Naval Depot – In 1815 a small detachment of the Royal Navy established the first base on Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Grand River, which was to enforce the Rush-Bagot Treaty (1814) to protect Upper Canada from another invasion from the United States. The wharf and four buildings were washed away in a storm in 1927. The Naval Depot was official closed in 1834.