In 1955, a small group of dedicated historians came together with a goal to preserve the history of the area. This was the beginning of the Ottawa Valley Historical Society. For two years they met in the homes of the members. In 1957 the Ottawa Valley Historical Society obtained the 1838 Lowertown schoolhouse and approximately two acres of land. The schoolhouse had served continuously as a place of learning for over 100 years.
One year later, in 1958, the Society opened the Champlain Trail Museum, Pembroke's first museum, in the old schoolhouse. Through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Dean Rogers, a large log home was reconstructed on the museum property and opened as a furnished pioneer home in 1965. The museum's collection grew steadily through generous donations and outgrew the physical capacity of the schoolhouse. In 1979, a new, much larger, museum building was opened.
In the mid-1980s, the school was reopened as an exhibition schoolhouse, with a rebuilt tower accommodating an outside school bell. During the Summer of 1997, the museum acquired the Micksburg United Church which was generously donated by its congregation. Built-in 1879, the church not only complements the museum with its rich heritage but has become a vibrant part of the community, hosting church services, weddings, and christenings. In 1999 the museum's collection of heritage buildings was enlarged by the addition of a restored blacksmith's shop.
In 2008, artist Karole Marois painted the mural, "The Pioneers of Pembroke Township 1820-1850" on the side of the Museum's main building. This added to Pembroke Heritage Murals large collection. This mural depicts the life of the first settlers in Pembroke Township. In 2008 the Museum also celebrated its 50th anniversary of preserving and presenting the history of Pembroke and area.
The Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village continues to serve as a unique asset to our local community!
Today, in the main gallery or Founders Hall, discover a replica of Samuel de Champlain’s astrolabe and explore Pembroke at the turn of the century as you wander through a Victorian home and take a peek into an early doctor’s office. Stroll past Pembroke’s first motorized fire engine (1923), a re-creation of Lemke’s general store and a 1930's barbershop and beauty parlor. Discover the story of the timber industry in the Upper Ottawa Valley as you view an authentic Cockburn pointer boat and learn about the life of a log driver. Pass by a large steam engine that once powered a lumber mill in Pembroke. View special historical theme exhibits in the main gallery as well!
Outside in our pioneer village, learn about life through the eyes of a pioneer in this area. Enjoying viewing "The Pioneers of Pembroke Township 1820-1850" mural on the side of the main Museum building. This mural was painted in 2008 by artist Karole Marois and depicts the early life of settlers in this area. This mural is part of a large collection owned by Pembroke Heritage Murals.
Enjoy a guided tour through Pembroke’s Lowertown schoolhouse (1838), our restored pioneer home and the Micksburg United Church (1879). Then take your time strolling through the rest of the grounds discovering our blacksmith shop, woodworking shop and various farm equipment buildings. After your visit to the Museum, why not check out other Museums and attractions in the City of Pembroke and in the Renfrew County Museums Network. Also, if you are interested in going on a historic walking tour of Pembroke, Pembroke Historical Tours has several tours available!
The Museum is owned and operated by the Ottawa Valley Historical Society. Become a Member now and enrich your life by helping to preserve local history! Check the Museum out on Facebook or Twitter!
The Strategic Plan guides the Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village and Ottawa Valley Historical Society's direction over the next five years.
The Museum and Historical Society has developed a five-year plan that:
• Takes positive steps to more accurately reflect the culture and histories of Indigenous communities.
• Engages more of the community by refreshing the content of our permanent and temporary exhibitions.
• Proposes solutions to the museum’s funding gap.
• Outlines a plan for consistent branding and public communication.
• Bolsters the volunteer base, membership base and grows our audience.
• Updates the by-laws, governance structure and human resources process.
• Invests in physical assets and operational improvements.
This document guides the Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village to achieve its goals and objectives over the next five years. Many thanks to Anya Gansterer and Beth Kennedy at Placemaking Design for developing this plan for the Ottawa Valley Historical Society and Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village.