Have Roots in Grey County? Visit the Grey Roots Museum & Archives This Summer!

A great family outing

I had a great day today!  The weather was a bit overcast and rainy so my wife and I took our son on an outing to Grey Roots Museum & Archives, located in the south end of Owen Sound just off of Highway 6.  I have been a big fan of the museum for a while now, and wanted to introduce my family to a place I knew they would love.

One of the best parts about visiting Grey Roots is the people.  In addition to a beautiful facility and great exhibits, the staff and volunteers are friendly and obviously passionate about preserving the heritage of Grey County.  From the front desk to those wearing period costumes in Moreston Heritage Village, the team at Grey Roots are knowledgeable and go out of their way to ensure you have a great visit!

Moreston Heritage Village

We spent most of our time today checking out the variety of buildings in Moreston Heritage Village.  Here we toured a school, a sawmill, a blacksmith’s shop and a variety of dwellings that showed the progression of living conditions from about the 1850’s onwards.

1920’s School House
Orange Lodge
Many Irish Immigrants Were Members of Orange Lodges Like This One
Log cabin #2
1886 Log House – A Definite Improvement Over the 1850’s Log Cabin Pictured Below!
1920's farmhouse
1920’s Ontario Farmhouse
1920's farmhouse #2
1920’s Ontario Farmhouse
Stopping for Gas!
1920’s Blue Water Garage

One structure that really stood out to me was an 1850’s log cabin.  I think it caught my attention because my Lawrence ancestors would have arrived in Grey County around this time and probably lived in a similar looking structure.  To think that large families could survive harsh Canadian winters in such cramped quarters is truly amazing!

Cabin - Front (Lorraine & Ryan)
1850’s Log Cabin – Can You See the ‘Pioneer’ Through the Window?
1850's Cabin
Back of 1850’s Log Cabin

As we walked through Moreston Heritage Village, volunteers wearing period costumes provided additional context to help us understand what we were looking at.  In one of the homes there was a chair by the back door where we were told the farmer would sit down to remove his boots.  It was interesting because you can see where the heel of the farmer’s boots had worn concave depressions into the floor.  The men must have come in from working in the fields countless times to achieve that effect.

Do You Have “Grey Roots?”

Heading back into the museum, our son enjoyed walking through the Castle Builder exhibit, and playing with the colourful oversized building blocks.  The bookstore has some terrific local history publications, and I picked one up today called Grey County’s 125th Year 1852-1977 (A Brief History of the Municipalities of Grey County) which is pictured below.  I’m also hoping to purchase Farm Lanes of Bentinck 1850-2000 and A History of the Town of Durham 1842-1994 at some point in the future, as many of my own ancestors lived in those areas.

Grey County's 125th Year
This Brief History of Grey County Is Worth the Read!

One of the highlights of our visit today was a section of the museum called, ‘Do You Have Grey Roots?’  It includes a wall of black and white pictures of early residents of Grey County along with a list identifying the people in each.  My wife spotted a photo pictured fairly prominently in the centre of the wall that she instantly recognized.  She quickly brought my attention to it, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the faces of two of my own ancestors.  It’s a picture of John Lawrence and his mother, Martha (nee Farrar) on her 100th birthday in 1901.  It’s the same picture I have been using on the home page of my blog, and one that I am very familiar with.  What a great way to end our visit!

Do You Have Grey Roots
John Lawrence & Martha Farrar About 1901 – Oval Frame in Centre of Wall
Do you have grey roots #2
Do You Have Grey Roots?

 Collections & Archives

While we didn’t visit the archives today, I have made use of their search facilities in the past and found them to be very good.  The staff are knowledgeable and on hand to help you find what you are looking for.  If you have roots in Grey County and are interested in family history, then you will want to check out the archives.  I suspect they are probably the best family history resource in Grey County and many of their records can only be viewed by visiting in person.  My favorite areas to search are their local newspapers and collection of wills.  The details that these documents provide can certainly help to open up new possibilities for your family research.

Kettles Back Home Cookin

After leaving the museum, we decided to end our day by having supper at nearby Kettles Back Home Cookin’.  If you are looking for a great place to eat, I highly recommend this restaurant.  It has a rustic atmosphere, and the food is excellent.  It certainly always seems to be busy!

Get out to Grey Roots Museum & Archives!

So there you have it!  If you are looking for something to do this summer and you haven’t yet been to the Grey Roots Museum and Archives, you should definitely check it out.  You won’t be disappointed!

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