Permanent Exhibits:

The Eva Brook Donly Museum

Erected in the mid-1840's, in the elegant Georgian style, the Museum building was first the home of Simcoe merchant and postmaster, Thomas J. Mulkins. When he died in 1856 , his son Henry Mulkins continued to live in the house and also succeeded his father as postmaster, living here until his death in 1917. The two story brick structure is little changed from its original exterior appearance in front and sides. Inside, rooms have been somewhat altered, particularly upstairs where there were originally six bedrooms and additional fireplaces. Parlours, a dining room, a pantry, halls and a bedroom are furnished with many handsome Norfolk County antiques in an 1860's setting. Outside, a backyard kitchen garden includes flowers, vegetables and herbs.

Eva Brook Donly

Mrs. Eva Brook Donly was Norfolk County's most talented local artist, studying and painting in Ontario, Mexico and elsewhere. She and her husband purchased the building in 1924, and she willed it to the Town of Simcoe when she died in 1941. Some 80 of her paintings, along with many choice antiques were left behind as well. The Norfolk Historical Society moved its extensive collections of relics and antiques into the building at that time also.

"Glorious Old Norfolk"

"Glorious Old Norfolk" showcases 300 years of old Norfolk County History in the large 1967 Centennial Gallery. From the 1669-70 wintering site of French explorers on through pioneer settlements and 19th century craftsmen, the two dozen exhibits highlight the most exciting and the most significant eras in Norfolk's story. Displays take you from prehistoric relics of the Neutral Indians down through 20th century inventions and nostalgia. Special features include the 1790's cabin of Dr. John Troyer, "the witch doctor of Norfolk", and a collection of locally carved decoys in a Long Point punt. Pioneer, Victorian and early 20th century exhibits display hundreds of interesting relics of old Norfolk County.

Special Museum Features

  • Paintings of historic Norfolk County scenes and pioneers
    by W. Edgar Cantelon
  • Dr. Troyer exhibit - "The Witch Doctor of Norfolk County"
  • Van Norman Foundry Ironwares
  • Abigail Becker, "The Heroine of Long Point"
  • Historic Mulkins home with 1860's decor
  • Eva Brook Donly Paintings
  • 100 year old bicycle


Special Exhibits:

December '99
All Month

"Christmas around the World"
Christmas traditions from other lands, with decorated trees, crafts and Yuletide customs brought to Canada.

Plus an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas in the old 1840's Mulkins home, with home-made decorations on the tree, swags of evergreens, candles, chins dolls, wooden horses and Christmas baking.


A Restored
Steam Powered Amphibious Warping Tug


A Unique Part of Canada's Logging Heritage

In the Lynn River
near Argyle Street
Simcoe, Ontario

Timber around the waterways of Southern Ontario had become scarce in the 1870's. Valuable timber stood farther up the rivers and lakes, but to get to it, one faced very harsh obstacles.

The West & Peachey Company of Simcoe solved the problem with one of the greatest inventions in the annals of logging history. They invented the Alligator, an amphibious warping tug. Fitted with side mounted paddle wheels, powered by a 20 horsepower steam engine and provided with a cable winch, it could pull itself over land, around portages and up as much as a 20 degree incline at the rate of 1 to 2 1/2 miles per day. And it could haul a boom of some 60,000 logs across water against all but the strongest winds.

Over 230 Alligators, all manufactured in Simcoe, saw duty in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, United States and Colombia, South America.

In 1991 the Norfolk Historical Society launched a hunt to find an abandoned Alligator that that could be returned to Simcoe and restored. One was found on the beach of Clearwater West Lake in Northern Ontario. The hull was brought to Simcoe, and with the help of generous financial contributions from service clubs and private donations, as well as many hours of volunteer work, it is now restored and on view in the Lynn River, Simcoe.

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This page last updated December 6, 2022
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