Community Waterfront Heritage Centre History

Who We Are
The Community Waterfront Heritage Centre consists of a group of volunteers committed to saving the Owen Sound Marine and Rail Museum in its present location and providing this essential community resource with a viable and sustainable future.

Over 3,000 concerned citizens signed the petition in support of this, and hundreds of people showed up in June 2013 for a community meeting.

A year later, the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre (Marine and Rail Museum) opened again. The grand opening was held June 28, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. Excitement filled the air as many gathered to celebrate the work that had been done. Ted Tizzard, a 103 year old former rail employee, shared stories from his youth before he cut the ribbon to close the opening ceremony.

What  Happened in  2013 – 2014?
We held two fund-raising events after the initial public meeting. We collected donations from pledges made by individuals and corporate sponsors, registered for incorporation as a not-for-profit organization in the province of Ontario and signed a lease for the former CN station building that previously housed the Marine and Rail Museum. We reached an agreement with the Owen Sound Museums board for the transfer of the artifacts and archives, and began to inventory and document the collection.

In the first year of operation, we had two successful project grant applications from the Community Foundation Grey-Bruce. The City of Owen Sound allotted us the remainder of the 2014 grant that had been budgeted for the Marine Rail Museum.

We participated in the Doors Open Ontario 2014 weekend to give the public a preview of the changes in the building, and had 494 visitors come through the doors. We accepted memberships in the CWHC and  continued to accept donations.

Thank you to all who attended our Grand Opening on Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 10 a.m. The museum’s feature story was about the 1913 wreck of the package steamer REGINA. 

The first year was exciting with many visitors coming from many parts of the world as well as local visitors. The doors closed for the winter at Thanksgiving. Behind the scenes work continued throughout the winter 2014-2015.

Thirty years ago, the Owen Sound Historical Society started the Marine and Rail Museum. To celebrate 30 years of community support, the focus of the special exhibit in 2015 was “30 people, 30 pieces”. The exhibit brochure highlight the builders and supporters of the Marine and Rail Museum through its 30 years history.

The Community Waterfront Heritage Centre’s fascinating 2016 summer exhibit, The Art of the Sailor, celebrated the timeless techniques of the sailors’ traditional folk arts – tattoos, scrimshaw, and knot tying, through an entertaining blend of artefacts, archival photos, and interactive elements.

We travelled back to Owen Sound’s industrial past with a story of work and workers. With captivating photographs and testimonials of the skilled tradespeople of Owen Sound’s manufacturing, cement, wood, and shipbuilding heritage, their hard work can be appreciated, in the wide range of products that were MADE IN OWEN SOUND.

The Waterfront Heritage Festival was combined with the City’s celebration of Canada 150. Many people had the opportunity to visit the Station and the Caboose.

Fish Tales 
was the featured exhibit for 2018. Artifacts, photographs and a diorama told the stories of the commercial and pleasure fishing in Owen Sound and area. 

Pack Your Bags was the featured exhibit for 2019. We learned about the steam power that got people moving, as immigrants and tourists, on boats and trains.

Celebrating a Century One hundred years ago the City of Owen Sound went from being a town to a city. Because of Covid-19, the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre did not open to the public. How could we get the story out to the public?  CWHC posted videos created by Richard Thomas on our new YouTube page. Using Augmented Reality, they could also be viewed while outside the building with a smart device down at the Centre during the first part of the summer. The panels created originally for the in-house display travelled in the fall once the Library re-opened to the public to be seen by their visitors. 

We also need your ongoing help! Become a member, volunteer, and donate.