Lennox & Addington County Museum & Archives

Published by Iris Russak

As part of our ongoing tour of the Kingston Association of Museums and Historic Sites members, this weekend we picked the Lennox & Addington County Museum & Archive in Napanee as our destination.

Napanee is only a short – and very scenic –  30 minute drive from Kingston. We opted for not taking the 401 but stayed on smaller highways and enjoyed the countryside passing by on another sunny spring Saturday. Napanee is a busy small town that offers several options to stop in for a yummy lunch which completed our field trip.

L&A County Courthouse and City Hall in Napanee

The main event of the day though was of course a visit at the Lennox & Addington County Museum & Archives. It is easy to find – right behind the impressive Courthouse and City Hall. It is located in the old jail and still has some cells displayed the way they were until the jail was re-purposed in the 1970s. It was a good start to our tour which made for a fun photo opportunity.

A gang of tough criminals at the L&A County Jail.

After the initial excitement about being in a jail cell, picking your crime and looking really dangerous in a mug shot wore off, we were able to continue exploring the exhibits.

We learned about how the Bay Of Quinte area got settled by Loyalist Refugees in the 1780s. There were interesting original period exhibits, showing us the works of local craftsmen and merchants – among them Daly’s Good Tea, Napanee Iron Works, John Herring’s Glass Factory, Gibbard Furniture and Simkins Sewing Machines.

I have added links to the E-History Project of the Lennox & Addington County Museum & Archives. They are a wonderful way to retrace your visit or prepare for an upcoming tour.

An exhibit that particularly caught our attention was a display of photographs taken by local photographer Stephen Benson mostly between 1863-1864. The children enjoyed looking up people’s names on an attached sheet and our imaginations ran wild, trying to imagine what their lives may have been like.

At this point, we thought we’d come to the end of our tour of the museum, but a curious 11-year-old would not stop there – she had to have a look into the L&A Archives. Fortunately, we were welcome into the room and to have a look around. Being first generation immigrants to Canada ourselves, we did not have any ancestors to look up there but nevertheless browsed the newspaper catalogue and found some interesting local colour. This is a great resource for researching Loyalist roots, family trees and local history in general.

We had a lovely outing to Napanee on this day – with hopes to return soon as the L&A County Museum has several very fun sounding activities planned for the next few weeks.

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