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Niagara Falls
Sunday, September 24, 2023
NOTL Museum celebrates 116 years of history
Allison Kocsis, Karlene Ouellette, Barbara Worthy, Shawna Butts and museum pup Louis were all in celebration of the museum's grand 116th birthday on Sunday. As a birthday gift the public was granted free admission all day. Julia Sacco

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum turned 116 years old on Sunday, with barely a wrinkle to show for it.

“We still look pretty good,” said Shawna Butts, assistant curator and educational programmer. 

Every year, the museum celebrates its birthday by granting free admission to patrons on the date, June 4.

The museum opened its doors in 1907 as the first purpose-built museum in Ontario.

The museum’s leadership dubbed June 4 as Janet Carnochan Day, in honour of the Canadian historian and teacher who founded the Niagara Historical Society in 1895.

Butts explained that without Carnochan, the NOTL Museum would not be the institution it is today.

“She was instrumental in the opening of the museum,” she said.

“We’ve just started naming things around here after her: our museum truck is called Janet Truckohan,” she joked. 

Today, the museum is still home to the original Memorial Hall building and its original opening proclamation. 

“We were originally in the old courthouse,” said Butts. The collection was moved to its current location to accommodate its large amount of artifacts. 

Free admission coincided with the museum’s launch of its new exhibit on Chloe Cooley, a Black woman who became the catalyst for the British Empire’s first anti-slavery legislation in 1793.

“People can come in, walk around and enjoy the newly opened exhibition,” said Butts.

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