Georgina Pioneer Village
The histories of the Georgina Historical Society and the Georgina Pioneer Village and Archives are closely linked. During the year-long centennial celebrations in 1967 and during “Old Home Week” in Georgina, the need for a local historical society was recognized. The next year, the Lake Simcoe South Shore Historical Society was founded. The name was later changed to the Georgina Historical Society in 1974. A total of 23 people attended the inaugural meeting at Sutton Public School. During that meeting, the first executive members of the society were nominated. These individuals are named below:
President: Nena Marsden;
Vice-President: Clare Morrison;
Acting Secretary: Anne Noble;
Treasurer: Doug Clarke;
Program Chairman: Merceille Burrows;
Bulletin Chairman: Don Jonescu;
Property Chairman: Mrs. J. Dear;
Membership: Mrs. D. Clarke.
Smallwood Cabin at The Georgina Pioneer Village
The site of the Pioneer Village used to be part of the grounds of a religious order called the Redemptorists; alternatively called the Brothers of the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Their goal was to help the poor by training young men to become Catholic priests. The current Civic Centre used to be called St. Gerard’s Novitiate (built in 1958), which served as living quarters for priests and novices alike. The building and grounds were eventually sold to the municipality of Georgina Township in 1973 at a cost of $437,500.
In 1974, Nena Marsden attended several meetings of the Georgina Town Council and lobbied for the creation of a local history museum on the Township grounds. Eventually, they agreed that 10 acres should be set aside by the township for the creation of an historic village. The Village was officially opened on Sunday September 14th, 1975 with the leader of the Chippewas of Georgina Island, Lorenzo Big Canoe, in attendance during the ceremony.
The first two buildings relocated onto the Pioneer Village property at that time were the Smallwood Log Cabin from Elm Grove, and the Free Methodist Church from Baldwin. Many other buildings were eventually moved to the Pioneer Village over the years. Slowly, but surely, the society purchased and moved all of the buildings to the 10-acre site to enhance the historical value of the Georgina Pioneer Village. This was done through grants obtained from the Ontario Government, in addition to fundraising activities such as annual antique auctions and Victorian tea parties on the site of the Pioneer Village.
The site now currently possesses a dozen buildings, sourced from different areas of the Township of Georgina as well as the gatehouse and another for the administration and archives. These buildings include:
Two Metropolitan Radial Railway Stations – moved in 1975
The Joseph Vandenburg Harness Shop & General Store (from Baldwin) – moved 1975
Jackson’s Point Bandstand – moved to the Village in 1977
The Sutton Railway Station – moved to the Village in 1977
Blacksmith Barn – built by volunteer Roger O’Dell in 1979
The Mann House – moved to the Village in 1983
Cedar Brae School House – moved in 1984
Noble House (from Sutton) – moved to the Village in 1986
The Sedore Barn – built by volunteers in 1987
Roches Point Post Office – moved to the Village in 1999
The buildings that are now situated within the Pioneer Village are a testament to the efforts of the membership with regards to solid planning, keen foresight and profound dedication to their cause. The members of the Georgina Historical Society worked tirelessly in these early years to preserve local history for the people of Georgina.
In 1988, the operations of the historical museum village were taken over by the Town of Georgina. The historical society were very involved in the activities of the Pioneer Village, but the municipality assumed responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of the Village.
By 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Georgina Historical Society and the Town of Georgina where it was agreed that a curator would be hired to maintain the archives, and that the collections of the Pioneer Village would be shared between the municipality and the Georgina Historical Society. Since that time, we have continued to work in close partnership with the municipality to preserve, protect, and promote the rich history of all of the communities that make up the Town of Georgina.