In 1970 there was a considerable amount of interest in local history by many people in the community. This was fostered by Mrs. Mabel Wyman, custodian of the local Tweedsmuir Book on behalf of the Women's Institute. This movement lacked focus other than the promotion of the Tweedsmuir Book as a means of preserving local history and therefore gradually diminished.
In 1973 Jean Williamson, Public Health Nurse, and Douglas Lanktree, Elementary School Principal, discovered they had a mutual interest in history. They decided to begin meeting monthly to discuss items of interest, to begin collecting articles, pictures and artifacts to preserve them for the benefit of the Public and to invite others of similar interests to join their initiative. Membership numbers have varied reaching a peak of approximately forty in the early 1980's.
During this period Mrs. Jean Williamson was kind enough to allow the Historical Society storage space for files, materials and artifacts in a couple of back rooms of her home. However in 1991 this space was filled to capacity and changes were necessary. We applied to the (then) Twp. of Carnarvon and were granted use of a room in the basement of the old school as storage space. In 1993 the Municipality acquired the land where the present Pioneer Museum now stands and a log cabin which was no longer useful to Brookwood Brae golf course. The log cabin was moved to location and with supplemental logs from the former Montgomery home in Spring Bay was reconstructed. The Municipality requested that the Historical Society furnish the building with furniture and equipment from the period prior to 1900 if possible and begin operations as a museum. Through the initiatives of the Society, logs from old log barns in Tehkummah were purchased from David Jaggard, were moved onto location and rebuilt in 1996 and 1997 by volunteers into a log barn and blacksmith shop and equipped with suitable artifacts from the pioneer period. In 1998 a frame barn, donated by Harve Haner and family, was moved by a group of volunteers and reconstructed by a hired group of Mennonite barn builders as a shelter for pioneer farm equipment and machinery. The Central Manitoulin Welcome Centre was built adjacent to Pioneer Park in 2009 and provides restrooms, display space and room to store more artifacts. The objectives of the Historical Society were established at the beginning of the Museum Project as the collection and preservation of materials, pictures and artifacts from the Pioneer period in this area.
Written by Douglas Lanktree, Past President