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MuseumFromHome 2020

image of Governor Simcoe and Sir Sam Steele

COVID Hair? Do you Care? During COVID-19 have you untamed your mane or kept up your hair care? Simcoe County Museum wants to hear from you! Which team represents you – the wild locks of Team Simcoe, John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada? Or the sleek coif of Team Steele, Sir Sam Steele, Orillia area born North-West Mounted Police (RWMP) during the Klondike Gold Rush? Share your COVID HAIR photo on Facebook @simcoecountymuseum or Twitter @simcoecountyMUS using the hashtag for the team you support #simcoeshag Or #steelestyle and #simcoeshagVSsteelestyle for your chance to win a County Prize Pack. Contest runs June 8 – June 30, 2020. 

Image of Governor John Graves Simcoe

image of Sir Samuel Steele


John Graves Simcoe was first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, serving from 1791 to 1796.  During his time in Ontario, he led the construction of Yonge and Dundas streets, established York (Toronto) as the capital of the province, and most notably, passed the Act Against Slavery on July 9, 1793.  The County of Simcoe is named in his honour – Lake Simcoe is named for Simcoe's father, British Navy Captain John Simcoe.


Sir Samuel Steele was born in Medonte Township in 1848.  Steele was one of the first to join the Northwest Mounted Police in 1873.  In 1896, he was appointed to lead the contingent of 250 officers in the Yukon to keep order during the Klondike Gold Rush.  At the age of 66, Steele was appointed commanding officer of the British Army's South Eastern district during the First World War.  He was given a knighthood in January 1918, retired from the army July of that ​year, and died January 30, 1919. 

​Fall Fair 

Photo of fall vegetables and wheat on a table

As the season starts to change, our thoughts are turning towards Fall Fairs. We love how Fall Fairs bring people together to celebrate and promote our communities. In honour of all our County Fall Fairs, we thought it would be fun to have a Simcoe County Museum Virtual Fall Fair.

After lengthy deliberations, the Simcoe County Museum 2020 Virtual Fall Fair winners​ have been selected!​  It was a difficult process for the judges to choose the winners as all of the entries were outstanding!  Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2020 Fall Fair! 


​2020 May is Museum Month​​​​​​​​​​​​​

While Simcoe County Museum is closed to the public to ensure physical distancing and to help fight the spread of COVID-19, museum activities are still available online through our #MuseumFromHome experience. 

photo of the Museum's display of glass jugs and the words Collections From Home

​Calling all Collectors!

Do you have an amazing collection? Would you like to show it off? Beginning Monday, May 18, 2020, the Museum is launching Collections from Home, an online exhibit series that features personal collections from Simcoe County residents, past and present. While we have great collections in the Museum that will be featured, we know that there are some impressive collections out in the community, and we’d love to include those too!
If you are interested in having your collection be included in our online exhibit, please send a maximum of 8 pictures to museum@simcoe.ca by Monday, May 18, 2020. Include a brief description and interesting information about your collection (we have room for a maximum of 3 paragraphs per collection).
Staff will select images and text to be included with the exhibit.
We can’t wait to see Simcoe County’s great collections!

black and white class photo of 13 nurses at graduation​National Nursing Week​ 2020

May 11 to 17, 2020 is designated as National Nursing Week. The theme for 2020 is Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Nursing the World to Health. Today, we reflect on the critical role of health professionals and honour the work of nurses, both past and present, in our newest online exhibit

Thank you to all Simcoe County healthcare professionals for going to work so the rest of us can stay home! 

Virtual tour

clipart image of 2 birds on a green background with the words My Bird Book

Last stop on our virtual tour this week is the Natural Resources Gallery. Today, inspired by Dr. Brereton, we celebrate birds in Simcoe County. Dr. Brereton was a dentist, and one of the country’s outstanding amateur authorities on birds. He played a key role in building the Royal Ontario Museum’s bird collection, and Simcoe County Museum is also home to a significant collection, including the now extinct Passenger Pigeon. 

With the reduced traffic in many areas of Simcoe County, it’s a great time to hear the birds in the backyard, or during a walk. The next time you head outside, why not make​ this booklet to take with you and see if you can spot some of these birds, or many of the different species that live in Simcoe County.  

Let us know about the birds you find!​

photo of a basket in the process of being made

The gallery tour today travels through the Living and Working Gallery, an exhibit that depicts the working and recreational lives of Simcoe County residents. Inspired by the Minesing Basket Company artifacts on display, today’s activity shows how to make a basket like the ones made for more than 57 years in Minesing.   

Of course, you can always make baskets using other materials.  There are great online instructions and tutorials for making a plastic basket, if you would like to find a use all the extra plastic bags collecting around the house. 

The Minesing Basket Company black and white photo of 2 workers surrounded by basket making equipment and supplies

The Minesing Basket Company was started in 1897 by C.W. Ward, manufacturing berry boxes and meat baskets. In 1905, George Johnston and Harold Kerfoot purchased the business and focused their operation on the production of meat baskets. In 1911, Mr. Kerfoot sold his interest to Mr. Johnston. Between 1920 and 1926, John T. Johnston was associated with the business, and by 1947, Alan Johnston, George’s son, went into partnership with his father. 

Most of the logs used by the Minesing Basket Company came from the Minesing area, particularly the Minesing Swamp.  Over ten million feet of timber passed through the veneer mill, most of it cut to a thickness of half an inch to ensure that the basket was light and pliable. 

For a number of years, the Minesing Basket Company turned out more baskets than any other company in Canada, shipping to Halifax, Quebec and other locations in the country. Over the years, more than one thousand carloads were shipped by rail from Minesing Station. The factory closed down in 1954 after 57 years of operation, and the building was demolished in 1971 when the property changed hands. ​

image of an old fashioned price tag with a dollar sign and the words the price was right

Who’s ready to play 

The Price Was Right?!?

Today's virtual tour takes us down Barrie's Main Street​!​

​Stroll down our streetscape exhibit to find numbered items tagged with three different price options. For each item, determine what the actual cost would have been for this item in 1901.  Ready to get started? Come on Down​!

Dish Game

image of stones on a piece of leather, 3 stones have grey circles painted on them and 3 stones are unpainted

The dish game was played by the Wendat, using a wooden or stone bowl and pieces of fruit pits or pottery. One side of the piece was painted black, the other white. To play the game, the Wendat placed five or six pieces in the bowl and hit the bottom of the bowl on the ground to make the stones jump. The object of the game is to get all pieces in the bowl to land with the same colour facing up. 

To play the dish game you need a bowl and five to six flat stones or flat pieces of wood. Paint a colour on one side (both sides, if you have the supplies). If you don't have a bowl, you can hold the pieces in your hand and drop them onto a flat surface.

For more indigenous games, visit the Simon Fraser University website.

image of a childs eyes and nose peeking through a hole torn in the centre of a piece of paper

Think you have a keen eye for detail?  

Time to find out with our Virtual Tour I Spy! 

Here’s how to play: 

  1. ​Open the I Spy page.  Print the page if you want, or keep that window open. 

  1. ​Open the Virtual tour​ link 

  1. Turn left to enter the hallway toward Exhibits and start the I Spy! Set a timer and see how long it takes you to find all twenty artifacts.