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Curator's Report by Bill Yeager

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As with everything around us, change is fast and constant for the Eva Brook Donly Museum as the Norfolk Historical Society enters its second century.

Change and renewal right on the front doorstep have been greeting new visitors and long-time volunteers for most of the past six months as the Millennium and Centennial renovations began in earnest.

Collaborations with the Canadian Millennium Partnership Program and the Grand River Branch of the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, and their support, and further support from the Town of Simcoe, the Royal Bank of Canada's Employee Volunteer Program, and The Simcoe Foundation have dramatically changed the Museum's front lawn and main entry.

(Getting in the front doorstep proved a challenge at times, as we stepped onto wooden planks over the bulldozed front garden excavation or threaded our way around the scaffolding on the stairways.)

Renovactions include a big, bold new sign, landscaping, and fencing out front; a dramatic Loyalist mural and diorama up the staircase; and a handsome re-working of the entrance doors, with Second Century plaque and Albet Potts' wooden map of old Norfolk. Many hands have been involved in all these renovations, including the Millennium Committee, volunteers, Norfolk Historical Society Board members, Grand River Loyalist volunteers, and the professional designers.

After a 60 year long association with the Town of Simcoe, the Eva Brook Donly Museum looks forward to the beginning of a new relationship with Norfolk County [as its municipal government partner]. Shared operation of the Museum by the Norfolk Historical Society (management, volunteerism and collections ownership) and the Town (ownership of the property and ongoing maintenance) has been mutually benefitical for both down through the years.

Ambitious plans are on the way in weeks to come with the recently announced Ontario Trillum Foundation grant for programming and activities in the old 1840's Mulkins house. Trillium Foundation support [has] already transformed the face of Historical Society/Museum communications throughout the past year, as we took full advantage of the new Trillium-funded scanner, digital camera and desktop publishing software for our newsletters, posters, flyers and web site.

There was a little of something for everyone [in the past year]: 
exhibits grouped around the Cantelon paintings, 
popular repeat events like the genealogy fair and garden tour,
exciting new attractions like the Century of Weddings, and 
Christmas with Cantelon theatre and music night, 
education programs, 
a busy summer children's program, 
Bruce Milne's maritime history concert, and 
hands-on heritage workshops (on organizing family heirlooms, planting a herb garden, and preserving antique furniture and textiles).

The ever expanding resource of our popular Norfolk County Archives consistently brings in hundreds of visitors month after month; year after year -- our most dependable, most loyal audience. How could we begin to put a value on the experience and far-flung genealogical and historical expertise of all our volunteer Reading Room and Archive staff? Visitors get a friendly, efficient start to a successful research day. 

We also tremendously appreciate all the exceptional enthusiasm, work and friendship that our front desk volunteers bring (so faithfully) each weekday for their morning or afternoon shift.

Thanks again to all the Norfolk Historical Society Board members and other behind-the-scenes volunteers who work at archives, computer, display, finance, genealogy, GenCIG, membership, millenium special events, Trillium and bingo!

Our dedicated staff are a great asset to the museum and a pleasure to work with, bringing their enthusiasm, dedication and special talents to give friendly and efficient service to our site and all its visitors and volunteers.

Office manager Audrey Hoskin is organized and creative, a fount of charm and good sense. Librarian Jeanne Hornby has transformed the Reading Room. Student curators James Christison, Catlin Daniel and Chrissy Lawrie (the latter now off to university) each brought their own talents and caring to weekend and summer hours, and summer programmer Kristan Kramer worked with them to put together a spendid program for children. Edna Foster keeps Museum maintenance smoothly efficient year after year, and we all rely on her for a smile and good advice. We welcomed Simcoe Composite School co-op student Ryan Holden as a always cheerful extra hand through October to January.

Catelton Christmas

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UEL Display