Barrie is more than 170 years old and has been without a museum – until now. On September 21st the Barrie Historical Archive (BHA) will launch an online museum with the “Mayors’ Seat” event at City Hall. But why should Barrie have a museum? After all, we have a county museum up the road in Midhurst. Aren’t museums antiquated depositories for things that are already collecting dust in our homes? Perhaps – but their value cannot be underestimated.
History is identity. To know where we are going, we must know where we have come from, if for anything, to avoid making some of the mistakes we have in the past. Our identity as a city is derived from our history. The paths we’ve forged, the obstacles we’ve overcome and even the struggles we’ve faced – all are told through our history. Without revisiting them from time to time, we run the risk of spinning our wheels and failing to be “Ontario’s most progressive city”.
Times have changed. Some people argue that history has become irrelevant. Part of that argument holds ground as the way we present and communicate history has often failed to change with the times. With the technological revolution and advent of the Internet, we now have a global platform to communicate our history. In a world driven and often dictated by media, it’s never been easier to share our history with the world and Barrie has stories worth sharing. Launching with over 5000 historical photos, films and documents the BHA is a museum that’s in the technological language of the people, always open, free for anyone to access anytime from anywhere.
History builds community. The power of nostalgia has the ability to resurrect memories that have been sleeping in the dormant corners of our mind. Whether it be how we bounced back from the 1985 tornado, built up and preserved our waterfront or defied all odds by being one of the first Ontario municipalities to elect female Mayors during a time when women in civic leadership was not widely embraced. Celebrating these historic accomplishments builds community in our city. Our stories are our civic pride and they’re worth reminiscing with long-time residents and sharing them for the first time with newcomers.
Barrie finally has a place where our history can be centralized and celebrated. We hope you will join us as we celebrate the launch of Barrie’s online museum with the Mayors’ Seat Reception on Wednesday September 21st at 8:30 PM in our City Hall Rotunda. This one-night only reception will give you the opportunity to rub shoulders with Barrie’s former city mayors and explore some other historical exhibits including the screening of 75 year-old ultra-rare footage from Barrie’s past. Tickets are free but you need to get on the guest list to attend. To register for the reception go to barriearchive.ca/mayorsseat.
Hope to see you there,
Dr. Travis Doucette
Chairman, Barrie Historical Archive