In 1999 the Town of Petawawa advertised for volunteers to set up a committee to determine whether the creation of a cultural/heritage organization might be of interest to the residents in the area. The first meeting was held in September 1999 in the basement of the Town Hall and comprised Al Crocker, Ann McIntyre and Sharon & Jodie McDonald; from this humble beginning thus evolved the Petawawa Heritage Society/Village (PHS/V). However, due to illness, in early 2000 Al Crocker resigned and was replaced by Victor Jackson.
In 2001 the PHS held a contest within area schools to design a logo for the Society and also hosted its first Charity Golf Tournament. On January 23, 2003 the PHS was incorporated and in April of that year received its charitable status. In Spring 2004 the Society approached Town Council with a request for land to set up a permanent location; following many meetings with the Town and a special committee set up by Mayor Sweet, Council agreed to provide five acres on Civic Centre property, with an option of another five acres if required. A Memorandum of Understanding between the PHS and the Town of Petawawa was approved, to be reviewed every five years, plus an annual $1,000 from the Town to help the Society with expenses.
Also in 2004, the Society purchased the SS#3 Black Bay school house from Eichstaedt’s, and in Spring 2005,with funding from the Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation and the Ontario Trillium Fund (OTF), the school house was the first building to be moved to the PHV site. The Society’s first Heritage Festival was held at the Civic Centre in 2005, and in 2006 restorative work began on the old CP railway station which opened its doors to the public in 2009. The Society hired its first summer students in 2006 thanks to the Ontario Government Student Employment Program offered by the Ontario Ministry of Culture under the direction of Carmen Goold. The Society also became members of the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association and the Renfrew County Museum Network, and its Board had grown to ten members.
In 2007 the PHS requested and received a funding increase to $8,000 from the Town, and in June of that year the Molson House was moved to the PHV, restored and opened to the public in 2008. Also in 2008, Members of 2 ASG at Base Petawawa erected the telegraph poles at the CP rail station, cleared site land and constructed a roadway around the village. The St. John Lutheran Stable and the Blacksmith Shop were then moved to the site, restored and opened for the 2009 season. Two log structures were moved to the PHV in November 2009, the Trapper Cabin and the Leder Homestead Haus. The restoration of both buildings, including the chinking, began in the spring allowing both structures to open to the public in time for the Settler Festival in August 2010.
Last year 2011 proved to be a big year for upgrades and changes. It was determined that an outdoor oven would make a significant addition to the Village and with its construction beginning almost immediately, the oven was up and running for the Settler’s Festival in August. As more display area was required, a Pole Barn was built to house a logging display, demonstrations of the Hit and Miss engines, along with a sleigh and horse drawn wagon artifacts. As well, a part of the St. John Lutheran Stable was given over to the Carpenter in which to set up shop. In July the PHV received a donation of a Wigwam which began the first introduction of Aboriginal history at the site and the Kitchi Sibi Women’s Drumming Circle set up a base on Tuesday evening to practice.
In August the PHS received funding to design children’s programming which was completed by December, and the Children’s Heritage Garden got off the ground with assistance from the Horticultural Society. Through funding by the OTF, solar panels were installed at the Village to provide lighting, enabling the site to operate into the Fall. A working cook stove was also installed in the Leder Haus, which will become an important part of PHS/V programming. Last season also saw new signage, gardens, benches and trees which were all donated by residents of the Town. In addition, historical news articles have been written on an ongoing basis and published monthly in the local newspaper.
The upcoming 2012 season will see a School Reunion at the SS#3 school house, the PHS 5th Annual Settler Festival, the beginning of our Aboriginal program in addition to our French language tours, as well as the construction of new washroom facilities at the Village site.
The Petawawa Historical Society/Village presently consists of 27 Board Members and various committees, all of whom volunteer their time and services. As well, there are 20 Friends of the Society – all local businesses who donate various building materials and/or merchandise; and there are currently 97 memberships. At the Village site over 5000 museum pieces have been catalogued, all of which were donated by various residents of Petawawa. Without the Society’s volunteers, Friends of the Society, our Memberships and the local residents, the Petawawa Heritage Society/Village could not function.
Thank you to one and all!