The UHC: 50 Years in the Making
The Uxbridge Historical Centre has lived through a lot; from the amalgamation of Uxbridge and Scott Township in 1973, to surviving the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum has also stood through many natural phenomena in its time, including a deadly blizzard in 1977, a tornado in 1985, an ice storm in 1998, and most recently, a tornado and derecho in May 2022 that left severe damage to our oldest building, The Lodge Hall.
When the museum was opened in 1972 the population of Uxbridge was estimated to be around eleven thousand - it has since grown to over twenty-one-thousand people. The industry has expanded in Uxbridge as well. Local businesses such as restaurants, breweries, cideries, boutiques, furniture stores, farmer’s markets and many more are cherished by the community. Uxbridge is known as the Trail Capital of Canada, but it is just one of the many attributes attracting people to Uxbridge. And just as Uxbridge has continued to grow, the museum has grown along with it.
The idea of founding a museum in Uxbridge came about in early 1971 when a group of residents met to address rapidly disappearing pieces of the town’s local history. They realized that as the town of Uxbridge progressed, there was nowhere protecting the objects and stories of the past. Because this, the museum was formed with Allan McGillivray as President and Isobel St. John as Vice-President.
The land on 7239 Concession Rd. 6 first served as property for the James School, built in 1817 by Quaker settlers. Over two hundred years later, and with the third iteration of the original schoolhouse, this is now the home of the UHC. First opening as the Uxbridge-Scott Historical Society Museum in 1972, the UHC grew from one building to ten in the span of almost thirty years.
From 1973 to 2002 seven historical buildings were moved from various locations across Uxbridge to the UHC grounds including the Hillson Shed, Lodge Hall, Fifth Line Church, Nesbitt Shed, Gould-Carmody House, Scott Township Hall and the Stokes-Kydd House. Three other buildings, the Gazebo, Implement Shed, and Printshop, were built at the museum grounds for events, to store large agricultural artifacts, and to house printing equipment donated by the Uxbridge-Times Journal.
The initial group working at the museum was entirely made up of volunteers who worked diligently to organize meeting, fundraisers, repair historical building and intake artifacts and archives. A paid staff member was not hired until multiple years after the museum was opened. The museum was owned and operated by the Uxbridge-Scott Historical Society for many years and was eventually transferred to the Township of Uxbridge in 1997. However, the USHS is remains active and heavily involved in UHC projects through fundraising and volunteer efforts.
So, what has changed at the UHC?
The UHC continues to collect and preserve the histories of Uxbridge and the former Scott Township through collecting and preserving artifacts, developing exhibitions, and delivering tours, events, and programming. However, technology has played a key role in the UHC's work. We continue to work on digitizing artifacts and archives onto our online, publicly searchable collections database recorded through our website. We also put an emphasis on meaningful community interaction through tours, programs, events and on social media.
While the museum has undergone many changes over the years, it remains as a community museum, working to preserve, research, and share the history of Uxbridge. Here's to another 50 years of the UHC connecting today's audiences with the rich heritage of Uxbridge Township through the collection, preservation, interpretation and display of artifacts, documents and photographs, and related programming that illustrate the history of the Uxbridge area and the former Townships of Uxbridge and Scott.