Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Coldwater Canadiana – Jan. 7, 2022

(An Organization for Our Community) by Lynda Whitson

To view the original article and others in the 2022 series please visit the Cottage Shack online magazine

Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM) opened to the public in Canada’s Centennial year 1967. But did you know that the folks who originated the not-for-profit Coldwater Canadiana organization in 1964 had no idea at the time that they would become the owners of the old Woodrow Homestead, now the flagship of our unique museum?

Digging through our wonderful archives reveals to those of us who are newer members of the organization the true origins of how our beloved museum and the organization who runs it came about. In the early 1960s a famous local singer and actress by the name of Isabel Alonso had the brainchild of an idea for celebrating Huronia region’s history, heritage and culture. The plan was to have the headquarters in Coldwater and for the organization to sponsor a wide range of cultural events.

Following a meeting in the autumn of 1964 a board was formed including the founding members: Rev. Doug Jacques, Ruth Woodward, Morley Yon, Mary Lovering, Bill Wyley, Earl Brandon, Harvey Wallace, and Eileen Peters. The organization enthusiastically undertook a number of events in the following years that included sponsoring baseball games, parades, horse races and, perhaps most notably, funding the monument to George Gray (1865-1933), who held the shot – putting record of Canada and the United States for 17 years, is enshrined in the Canadiana Sports Hall of Fame.

The organization helped to fund themselves by opening a store selling consignment goods of local and Canadiana type crafts. The store was rented somewhere on the south end of the Main Street (if anyone remembers where, let us know) and was named Cowan’s Trading Post after its historic namesake at the Chimneys down river from Coldwater.

In 1966, the organization became aware that the Woodrow Homestead was for sale. The Coldwater Canadiana group, who had so far only dreamt of having a museum, did not hesitate but acted to purchase the lovely historic home. In July of 1966 for an approximate price of $3,000 the old log structure and 6.2 acres on the Coldwater River became the property of the organization who then began the process of lovingly restoring the building closer to its original appearance.

First off, they removed the pine siding which covered the beautifully dovetailed log construction. The rear section of the home, which is the oldest and quite possibly dates back to the 1830s, needed the most tender-loving care. In all likelihood the original floor was first but it had been covered with pine boards which were quite rotten. These were replaced with a stone floor. The focal point of the room was and still is its stone fireplace. This had been completely covered over and the members of the organization were delighted to reveal the original fireplace with its unique pine mantel. One can imagine the Woodrow family cooking and warming themselves around the hearth a century and a half ago.

The newer front addition built by the Woodrows, circa 1864, was spruced up and included further exhibits and a gift shop. The organization continued to collect historical artifacts for display and were soon hosting events, Devon teas and expanding with more and more historic buildings coming on site to join the original log house.

To this day we are all thrilled to be part of sharing this treasure from our past. The log house remains a testament to time. From its early wilderness days located on the ancient trail between the Narrows and Georgian Bay, first trodden by the generations of Indigenous people, it witnessed the trail becoming a stage coach road, funneling in settlers and soldiers. And now the old log house watches as trans-Canada traffic races by in the thousands every single day.

Come take a walk back in time with us when CCHM reopens in the Spring.

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: The Woodrow Homestead – Sept. 25, 2021

My name is Richard Jolliffe. As chair of Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM) I invite you to visit us and experience life in rural Ontario during the times between 1830 and 1950.

Here is a very small sample of what you can experience as you wander about the property. The Woodrow Homestead and 6.5 acres on the Coldwater River was purchased in 1966 by a group of history buffs who then began the creation of CCHM. Subsequently the property was registered a Heritage Site.

It is hard to imagine this area being a farm when one looks out the front door of the homestead, no highway, no lumber yard, no buildings or structures of any kind. Picture a single level log structure built in the late 1830’s with a second level addition added on in 1864.

When Archibald Woodrow arrived from Scotland, his log building skills most likely would have been limited. The 15- and 20-inch squared-timber dovetail corner joints were constructed by skilled craftsmen. Unfortunately, we have no record of who actually built the homestead. It is hard to estimate the cost to build such a structure today even if you could find the materials and the skilled trades to do the work.

How difficult it must have been for Archibald, his wife Catherine and daughter Catherine to move from the island of Isley, Scotland across the ocean to a parcel of land in the wilds of Ontario Canada and to make a new life there was back in the early 1800s.

If I may add a personal note, Diane and I with two babies in tow purchased a 25-acre bush lot 37 years ago, cleared a spot and built a home to raise our family. We gleaned an appreciation of only some of the challenges Archibald and Catherine must have faced. From personal experience we are in awe of just how hard our antecedents had to work to develop this beautiful province of Ontario.

The fact that no famous person, prime minister or military man ever visited or slept at the Woodrow homestead is testimony to the people that worked so hard over the years to preserve this site as an example of the settlement program of the time in Ontario.

Oh yes, there is at least one interesting incident we know of that took place at the homestead. As the story is told, daughter Catherine eloped with George Borland. She climbed through a loft window as George waited at the Coldwater River with his canoe. And that is about all we know about that particular bit of history.

Brother Sandy Woodrow married and built a brick house which stood next to Timber Mart as you drive into Coldwater. It is long gone now. Bill Woodrow, Jim Woodrow, and Neil Woodrow, all bachelors, stayed on the homestead farm after Archibald and his wife Catherine passed. The other son and daughters all married and today many residents of the area trace their ancestry back to this homestead.

This is just a taste of this wonderful heritage museum and a smattering of our local history. Visit us soon. Bring friends and family. Admission is by donation.

See the original article at The Cottage Shack magazine

Museum Updates

Museum Open!

The Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum is open to the public for this summer!

We are grateful for our community and visitors’ patience during this unpredictable spring, so we are proud to announce that, as of July 6, the Museum’s grounds and buildings are now open to the public. Our Museum remains admission by donation. Visitors are required to wear masks and complete a COVID questionnaire by staff.

We offer self-guided tours of the out-buildings and grounds and include a guided tour of the Woodrow Homestead. Visitors have the option of pre-booking tours of the Museum, which may appeal to larger groups, though is not required. Stay tuned for further updates!

Evening at the Woodrow Homestead 2020
All Content Newsletters


Every year, the CCHM publishes a newsletter capturing the projects and events completed for the season and we want to make these available for you to enjoy as well! This is also a great way to stay in touch with the announcements and news of the CCHM.

If you’re interested in becoming more involved, please reach out to us through the Contact page; the CCHM thrives today because of community engagement!

All Content Steampunk Festival

Sawbones Society Working With Blood

Welcome back! Did you enjoy watching the first season of the Sawbones Society? Were you shocked at the amount of blood in this season? (so were we!) Watch the video below if you want to know how we worked with fake blood to create all those shocking scenes. Or click here to learn more and browse our other Sawbones Society content.

Special credit to Larisa Pakalns for footage and creating this video.

All Content Steampunk Festival

Sawbones Society Behind the Scenes/Bloopers

Interested to know more about the production and acting of Sawbones Society season 1? Are you craving more Sawbones content now that season 1 has finished? Get ready to peak behind the curtain and become one of the crew as you witness the countless dialogue flubs, the long filming hours, and the techniques used to create what you’ve all enjoyed on screen!

Special credit is acknowledged to Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum staff member Larisa Pakalns for some of her behind the scenes filming used in this Sawbones feature.

Want more behind the scenes content? Check out our other post: “Last Day of Filming with The Sawbones Society

All Content Steampunk Festival

Sawbones Society Episode Six

Welcome back to the Sawbones Society for the final episode!

Since you last saw these malpracticing medics, Nurse Clara Form has been away on holiday. Meanwhile, the remaining “professionals” become perplexed at the lack of fatalities. Has someone been shirking work or is there more to the “exploding face disease” that threatens each of Nurse Clara Form’s patients? Will the truth emerge or are the Sawbones in danger of contracting this “disease” themselves?

Watch the last episode to find out!

Eager to learn more about Victorian nursing and the inspiration behind Nurse Clara Form? Stay tuned to the end of the episode for a historical note by Emily Pickard (a.k.a. Nurse Clara Form).

This episode was filmed on site of the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum.

All Content Steampunk Festival

Sawbones Society Episode Five

Welcome back to the Sawbones Society!

This week, panic descends upon the Sawbones Society when a fearsome visitor comes to call.  How long will the Sawbones be able to evade this menacing newcomer?

Later, Mr. Sy A. Nide finds himself in an upended world during an unfortunate game of croquet. Will he be stuck in this horrifying world forever?

Watch episode five to find out!

Once, your curiosity is satisfied, learn about body snatching, grave digging, and resurrectionists during the Victorian Era with Marshall Hamilton (a.k.a. Mr. Nide).

All Content Steampunk Festival

Sawbones Society Episode Four

It’s been a quiet week at the Sawbones Society.  During their downtime, Dr. Morphine and Mr. Ether enjoy a friendly game of “chess”.  After too much idle time, it’s up to Mr. Ether to bring back the “customers” which he attempts in a variety of humorous ways. 

This week, Melissa Tralla (a.k.a. Abby Sinthe) brings you a historical look at apothecaries. 

This episode was filmed at the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum in the Woodrow Homestead and around the grounds. 

All Content Steampunk Festival

Sawbones Society Episode Three

Mystery abounds with the news of an escaped mental asylum patient! Dr. Heroin investigates her colleagues, and Dr Morphine and Mr. Ether get trapped in the fearsome “pit”.

Watch to the end to learn about the fascinating alienist profession with Shayleigh Plant (a.k.a. Dr. Heroin).

For more information about the Sawbones Society, click here.

Sawbones Society was filmed on location, at Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum in the Woodrow Homestead.