Province of Ontario Plans Agricultural Museum


| May/June 1975



Ontario Agricultural Museum

Courtesy of Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, R. W. Carbert, General Manager.

R. W. Carbert

Ontario (Canada) will shortly have a Provincial Agricultural Museum, following in the footsteps of it's sister provinces, Saskatchewan (Western Development Museum), Manitoba and British Columbia. The new Museum, a project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is being built on a 92 acre site near Milton, Ontario, about 30 miles west of the city of Toronto. The main administration building is nearing completion, and will be ready for occupancy in early 1975. The development plan for the total site is now complete, and a concentrated effort will be made during 1975 to have the roads, water and hydro services, parking lots, perimeter fences, public washrooms, entrance gates and basic landscaping done in 1975 and succeeding years.

Main Building-Ontario Agricultural Museum - This building now under construction near Milton, Ontario, the home of the annual 'Steamera' will house the provincial Museum's administrative offices, board rooms, reference library, restoration and exhibits shop, storage facility and the main exhibition hall. Plans call for it to be open to the public by 1976.

The Province of Ontario acquired the 92 acre farm site alongside Highway 401 (The MacDonald-Cartier Freeway) in 1966, passed enabling Legislation which created the 'Ontario Agricultural Museum', but in the intervening years the project has been lying dormant in the face of more pressing demands for public funds. In 1966 the Government of Ontario acquired the well known 'Matthews Collection' of artifacts from the late Charles Matthews of Langstaff, Ontario, and the bulk of that collection is now in the hands of the Agricultural Museum. It consists of steam engines, tractors, gasoline engines, threshing machines, horse-drawn equipment, hand tools, household furnishings, and other artifacts. Some of this collection has been restored over the years, but the Museum is now embarking on an accelerated, selective restoration program.

One of more than 20 tractors, and 15 steam engines in the Ontario Agricultural Museum collection. This Fairbanks-Morse, restored by Museum staffer Garnet Pattenden, is well known to Ontario residents as it appears at Fairs, Plowing Matches, etc.

Early in 1974, R. W. 'Bob' Carbert, former Farm Broadcaster, and farm organization official, who has been associated with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for 6-1/2 years, became the General Manager of the Museum. He is now organizing the Museum program, recruiting staff, mobilizing the support and enthusiasm of rural people in the province, and aiming at an official opening of the first Exhibition Hall in 1976. The Museum had a very popular display at the 1974 International Plowing Match near Georgetown in late Sept., and the General Manager is working closely with the several Steam Clubs, and the various farm groups in the province in developing a program for the future.

The Museum's first building includes an exhibition hall 60 by 110 feet, a restoration workshop, warehouse, boardroom, reference library and archives, as well as administrative offices. It is constructed of rough-cast concrete blocks, is 20,000 square feet, and will be the 'nerve-centre' of the site. Included in the total site plan is a 45 acre 'Pioneer Farmstead Park' which will recreate 6 complete sets of farm buildings, each representative of different building styles, materials, and parts of the province, as well as periods in the development of the agricultural industry in Ontario. The barns will be used for the display of equipment, the houses will be furnished in the period they represent, and the yards, orchards, and fields will be landscaped with typical stone, split rail, stump and other early fencing materials. A rural crossroads community of a church, school, store and blacksmith shop will bring added character and authenticity to the Museum project.