Lanark Museum – Our Visit to the Past

Lanark sign

Just a short drive from the pretty town of Perth, along the Lanark Road, lush, green, farmers fields welcome us into the Township of Lanark Highlands.  We follow the blue skies, and warm, summer winds, into the village of Lanark, and pull up near our destination –  the Lanark and District Museum.

Ann and Arlene in front of museum

Greeted warmly by Anne Graham, we make our way up the well-worn steps, into a very special place, where the caretakers and guardians of our history, preserve our memories, our stories, and our heritage.

Events board Lanark Museum

If you walk along George Street in Lanark, you will see a sign out front, greeting visitors,  listing upcoming events, and welcoming all, with no charge for admission, and donations accepted.  Anyone seeking knowledge, or in search of their history, is assured that they’ve come to the right place.

Not far from the front entrance, a plaque displays the names of those who went above and beyond, volunteering their time and expertise, throughout the decades, to keep the museum running smoothly.

volunteers Lanark Museum

A photo on the wall reminds us of those who played key roles in the earliest days of the museum.  Their foresight and dedication to preserving our local history leaves a lasting legacy, that will be enjoyed for many generations to come.

Key players Lanark Museum

Many of us have ancestors from the area who served in the military, and the Lanark Museum has many displays highlighting our local heroes.  Perhaps your ancestor is one of these soldiers who has been featured in the museum’s display cases.

War memorials Lanark Museum

The museum also features a number of Rolls of Honour, listing the names of soldiers from the area who fought bravely for our country.

Roll of Honour case

There are a tremendous number of local photographs.   It’s great fun to see the old cars, some of the buildings no longer with us, and even recognize some of the smiling faces in these photos.

Local photos

The museum is fortunate to have the help of two students for the summer.  Meagan was kind enough to document our visit using her photography skills.

Meghan Lanark County

There is a wonderful display of original telegrams, some sent, and some received, by the Lavant Station, many years ago.  These are real treasures, and give us some insight into the past and how different life was in those days!  There are lots of familiar surnames on these telegrams, and some even provide a window into our family histories!


Along with the countless documents displayed there are also some lovely artifacts.  The old wash bowl reminds us of the times before indoor plumbing was standard in our homes.  We can imagine how different our ancestor’s lives might have been, and how carrying water from an outside well into the home was a daily event for these pioneers.

wash bowl

If your ancestors lived in McDonald’s Corners there is a wonderful remembrance displayed, honoring those who served their country, so well, and so faithfully.

McDonald's Corners war memorial

There are also a number of displays listing those soldiers who attended specific area schools and the names of those who served.

SS8 War memorial

Another of the many area schools and their lists of those in service.

SS 12

The Lanark Museum has many, many of these displays, and this is only a small sampling of what is available to view.

SS13 Drummond

Being a history buff, it wasn’t easy to tear myself away from all of the exhibits in the museum, and get down to business, and read a couple of stories from my books.  I chose two stories from “Lanark County Kid – My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”.  I read one about a childhood visit to Lanark, and shopping for back-to-school clothing at the Kitten Mill.

My second story was “Balderson Cheese – Craving the Curd”.  Our family often went on Sunday drives, and a visit to Balderson for a bag of soft squeaky curd, was something not to be missed!  In the story, we go behind the counter, and watch the Master Cheesemaker, Omar Matte, and the others, while they stir the vats of heated milk, and then press the curds into big wooden circular presses.  Considering that the factory is no longer there, it is a precious memory to have witnessed this process.

book table Lanark Museum

There are some really wonderful displays highlighting the Kitten Mill, and those who worked there over the years.

Kitten Mill 1

The Museum has done a wonderful job of preserving the artifacts and documents from the days of the Glenayr Kitten mills, and reminding us of the impact to employment and the economic influence to the village.

Kitten Mill 2

I think that many of us remember visiting the factory outlets, and all of the wonderful knitted clothing produced locally.

Kitten 3

One of the special highlights for me was a visit with the Shamrock Quilt.  While we can’t be sure of the date of its origin, I recall seeing it displayed at the museum many, many years ago, and was delighted to see it once again.  This quilt is embroidered with the names of local families.  If your family lived in the area it would be worth the trip to see this marvelous quilt, and discover your ancestor’s name embroidered in green.

Shamrock quilt 1

The Shamrock Quilt holds a special connection for Doris Quinn and myself.   My Dad’s Aunt, Julia Stafford, married William Quinn, and both the Quinn and Stafford families are among the many, many, names on this precious artifact.  It was a wonderful moment to be able to stand beside Doris, and see those names from the past, those who are no longer with us, but remain forever in our hearts.

Shamrock 2

Photo below:   Julia Stafford and Bill Quinn, on their wedding day, Sept. 14, 1909.

Julia Stafford Bill Quinn

The following, are just a few squares, a small sample from the quilt, to show how the names have been stitched and displayed.

Shamrock 3

There are many other squares that were not photographed.  Anyone with ancestors from this area may want to visit the quilt themselves for a more in depth look.

Shamrock 4

Another square of the quilt, but the quilt is enormous, and would be best viewed in person.

Shamrock 5

A final square from this historic piece.  Hopefully the museum will photograph and digitize the entire quilt.  That might be an interesting and very worthwhile project for the summer students!

Shamrock 6

The late afternoon held a wonderful surprise – a visit from an old friend Susan Newberry Sarsfield.  It was a real delight to visit with Susan, her Mom, and her daughter!

Susan at the Museum

Like all good things, our visit to the Lanark Museum came to an end, and our host Anne Graham, kindly walked us out and into the sunny July afternoon.

It was a day filled with history, and the importance of preserving our past.  There are few tasks more essential than being the caretakers of our heritage.  The Lanark Museum is the proud custodian of our region’s artifacts, memories, stories, and treasures.

street in front of museum

Many thanks to the kind folks at the Lanark and District Museum for hosting us, and sharing their collection of priceless treasures.  Thanks also to the visitors who stopped by to share some stories and recollections.   Anne, Norma, Gene, Doris – it was so nice to spend time with you – thanks for helping to make our day special.

As we said goodbye, and headed down the highway,  we are struck by the pristine beauty of the Lanark Highlands, the clear waters, the fresh air, and the greenery as far as the eye can see, on this beautiful summer day.

Until we meet again…..

Country road summer
Stories for the Lanark Museum readings from:
“Lanark County Kid:  My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”

‘Lanark Sweaters – Soft as a Kitten’

‘Balderson Cheese – Craving the Curd’

ISBN 978-0-9877026-16

Available at: The Book Nook, Perth, Spark Books and Curios, Perth, Mill Street Books, Almonte


Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Lanark and District Museum

Lanark MuseumLanark Museum

The Lanark and District Museum was formed in 1965 by a group of volunteers called ‘The New Horizons Society’. In 1975 the Village of Lanark municipal council granted the society permission to build a museum. The museum officially opened July 16, 1977.

Because the Innisville & District Museum in Drummond Township closed in 2007,the Lanark & District Museum agreed to take on the Innisville Museum Collection in order to preserve that district’s heritage.

Today, the museum maintains a growing collection of resources for historical and genealogical research and is staffed by volunteers familiar with area families and artifacts.

The museum houses many local history books, LACAC Architectural Records for Lanark Village, Canadiana history books, the entire collection of Lanark Era newspapers (1895 – Present), Charles Mair Collection, the works of R. J. Stead, Business Ledgers, Minute Books, School Records and much more.

There is also an extensive Genealogical Reference Library which includes families from our coverage area.

The museum also carries a selection of publications by local authors and is pleased to add three books by Arlene Stafford-Wilson whose pioneer ancestors settled in Drummond Township in 1818.

“Recipes and Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen” is a collection of prize-winning recipes from Stafford-Wilson’s late Mother who was a local county fair judge. Also included in the book are stories of growing up on the farm in Bathurst Township in post-war days.

“Lanark County Kid”, her second book, features local stories set in Lanark, Fallbrook, Balderson, Perth, Almonte and Carleton Place.

Her latest release “Lanark County Chronicle” features local stories set in Port Elmsley, Smiths Falls, Perth, Almonte, and many more towns and villages in Lanark County.

The museum will open Victoria Day weekend May 18th from 1 – 4pm and will be open Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays through to Labour Day weekend.

Lanark and District Museum
PHONE: 613-259-2575
ADDRESS: Street address is 80 George St., Lanark Village.
(mailing address is PO Box 20, Lanark, ON K0G 1K0)

For more information on books by Arlene Stafford-Wilson –

* photo of Margaret Tullis at the Lanark Museum by: Nic Maennling