Guelph Civic Museum. Photo by Brandon Marsh Photography

Uncover Ontario's History This Museum Month

May 3, 2023

It’s Museum Month! To celebrate, we’re featuring museums in Ontario that embrace transformation, adaptation, and public engagement. From repurposing unused buildings into cultural and educational spaces to presenting history from diverse perspectives, each one offers insight into our province’s cultural heritage.

To make the most of your visit, check out our ON Culture Guide travel itineraries. They’re packed with arts and culture destinations and hidden gems all across the province.

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum. Photo courtesy of the Museum.

Amherstburg Freedom Museum, Amherstburg

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum complex features historic buildings that played an important role in the Underground Railroad era. Visitors can learn about the significant contributions of African-Canadians in the Windsor region and explore their history in-depth. Beyond its exhibits, the museum offers a range of programs, lectures, and celebrations throughout the year, all aimed at promoting cultural education and raising awareness. Follow the Facebook page to stay updated on fascinating local history and events.

See more of Windsor-Essex & Region with our ON Culture Guide.

Canadian Automotive Museum. Photo courtesy of the Museum.

Canadian Automotive Museum, Oshawa

Housed in a former car dealership in Central Oshawa – you’ll find it across from Memorial Park – the Canadian Automotive Museum has been transformed into a spectacular display of automobiles and artefacts.The museum was first established in 1963 as a community project to celebrate the history of the area’s automotive industry. Stroll through the main floor to see an impressive collection of antique European vehicles, or head upstairs for a deeper dive into the automotive history of Canada. Check the events schedule for workshops and walking tours happening throughout the month, or visit on May 6 for free admission as part of Doors Open Oshawa.

See more of Durham Region South with our ON Culture Guide.

Photo courtesy of the Museum.

Grey Roots Museum and Archives, Owen Sound

The Grey Roots Museum & Archives is a treasure trove of over 15,000 artefacts and an archive that vividly brings Grey County history to life. The site is also home to the Moreston Heritage Village, where visitors can step back in time to the 1800s and experience life as it was back then.

The museum’s packed calendar of events includes family-friendly celebrations, multimedia lectures, and a concert series featuring local musicians. In May, Grey Roots will host “The Early Black Settlers of Negro Creek“, where attendees can learn about the Black history of the area. Or attend “Spring into Moreston 2023” for music, food, and fun at the Heritage Village.

See more of Owen Sound with our ON Culture Guide.

Guelph Civic Museum, Guelph

Located in the heart of downtown Guelph and housed in the beautifully restored former Loretto Convent, the Guelph Civic Museum tells the city’s story through its extensive collection of local artefacts. Unique exhibits such as Call and Response: Querying the Collection invite visitors to engage with history from different perspectives.

In May, the museum will host No Word for Art, a beadwork exhibition guest curated by Naomi Smith, Chippewas of Nawash (Neyaashiinigmiing, Ontario). The show explores the creative expressions of survival by historical First Nations artists as well as contemporary works that reflect traditional techniques and imagery.

See more of Guelph with our ON Culture Guide.

Refashion, Mrs. Pipkin, Gordon Shadrach, Dis/Mantle at Spadina House. Photograph by Andrew Williamson.

Spadina House, Toronto

Spadina House is a historic house museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the affluent Austin family during the early 20th century. The Victorian-Edwardian gardens, which are historically accurate and breathtakingly beautiful, are a popular attraction.

Until May 28th, visit Dis/Mantle, a thought-provoking art exhibit inspired by the real-life story of Louisa Pipkin, a freedom seeker who found refuge in Canada. Using an Afrofuturism narrative, the exhibit reimagines Spadina House as a safe haven for those seeking freedom through the Underground Railroad, featuring Canadian artists of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. The exhibit includes an iconic portrait of Louisa Pipkin and a series of new portraits of members of the Black community by lead artist Gordon Shadrach.

The viewing deck at St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre. Photo courtesy of City of St. Catharines.

St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre, St Catharines

Perched at the edge of the Welland Canal, the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre explores the history of this engineering marvel and its impact on the region’s development. Visitors can view exhibits on the Underground Railroad, women’s history, the manufacturing industry, and of course, the Canal.

One of the museum’s most impressive features is its observation deck and Lock Lounge. From this vantage point, guests can take in stunning views of the canal and the enormous ships navigating its waters. It’s a great spot to appreciate the canal’s impressive scale and complexity.

See more of St. Catharines with our ON Culture Guide.

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre. Photo by Kaitlyn Patience.

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Sault Ste Marie

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is located in a 62,000-square-foot historic hangar on the banks of St. Mary’s River in the heart of Sault Ste Marie. The Hangar once belonged to the Ontario Provincial Air Service, and is dedicated to the history of aviation, the vital role played by bushplanes in Northern Ontario, and the development of forest fire fighting. The museum boasts over two dozen restored bushplanes and passenger aircraft on display. You can board many of the planes, explore their interiors, sit in the cockpit, and experience what it feels like to be a pilot. The Children’s Centre is packed with interactive activities such as an aerodynamics display and video games.

See more of Sault Ste Marie with our ON Culture Guide.

Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay

Situated in a historic building that was once a police station and courthouse, The Thunder Bay Museum offers a glimpse into the region’s rich and complex history, which spans over 10,000 years. Exhibits explore the profound impact of the Indigenous peoples, fur traders, and the railway and shipping industries on the present-day community.

Until May 14, the museum is hosting a unique exhibition called “Art to Pass the Time: the Artwork of Prisoners of War“, in partnership with the Thunder Bay Military Museum, featuring artwork and crafts created by World War II POWs in Northwestern Ontario.

See more of Thunder Bay with our ON Culture Guide.

Woodland Cultural Centre. Photo courtesy of the Centre.

Woodland Cultural Centre, Six Nations of the Grand River

The Woodland Cultural Centre, established in 1972 after the closure of the Mohawk Institute Residential School, is a museum and cultural education centre dedicated to preserving and promoting the history, language, culture, and art of the First Nations people of the region. In addition to its exhibits, the centre offers tours and programs that showcase the traditions and contemporary practices of the Six Nations of the Grand River. For those unable to visit in person, virtual tour dates are available.

See more of Six Nations of the Grand River with our ON Culture Guide.