The Museum was founded as the Haliburton Highlands Pioneer Museum in 1967, as a Canadian Centennial project to commemorate the early pioneers of the area. The Rotary Club and a committee of interested citizens were behind it, including Ron Curry of Curry Motors fame & founder of the Rotary Club of Haliburton. Prominent as well were Haliburton school teachers Margaret Sisson & Clara “Kell” Andison.
The Museum was originally housed in the old Reid House (built 1882), which was located on Park Street at Lot 11, Block T in the town plot of Haliburton. This is today where the north end of the Parklane Apartments stand. The Reid House was chosen for the Museum because it was one of the older homes in the village and it coincidently just happened to be for sale at the time. The circumstances were perfect. Included with the purchase of the house by Rotary was the Reid Barn, which was ideal for display of lumber tools & implements. The Museum soon outgrew the confines of this little house, and by the mid to late 1970’s, the Museum committee was looking for a new site. In 1978 the plans were released for the present building; it was built in 1978-79, w. the official opening occurring in 1980, on the Dominion Day weekend. In the Spring of 1979, during construction of the new Museum building, the old Reid House was moved up to Glebe Park. Divested of its showcases & similar display props, it was refurbished as a period home. The Reid Barn was not stable enough to withstand the move, so it was demolished at that time.
In subsequent years a log barn, house and small building housing our forge were added to the museum grounds in order to depict life in a more rustic & rural setting.
The main gallery facility houses numerous thematic exhibits relating to the first inhabitants of the region, the native peoples, who were followed by the first influx of lumbermen and settlers. It seems difficult to believe today the area was promoted for its agricultural possibilities by the Canadian Land and Immigration Company who purchased ten townships in the surrounding area. Unable to wrest a living from the poor soils the settlers turned to logging and trapping to supplement their meagre lot.
The Haliburton Highlands Museum was created for the purpose of providing education, inspiration, and aesthetic enrichment for all people, especially those within the boundaries of Haliburton County.
The Haliburton Highlands Museum will fulfill its obligation by continuing to collect, preserve, research, house, exhibit and interpret all those objects of cultural and historical value that will reflect local heritage and development from its prehistoric through more recent past.