The Canadian Fire Fighters Museum in Port Hope tells the story of firefighting from the 19th century onward. Its collection of fire trucks, clothing, uniforms, and equipment has been located on the shore of the Ganaraska River for more than three decades but now, it’s looking for a new home.
The land the museum sits on is owned by the municipality and is contaminated with low-level nuclear radiation. The whole area is scheduled to be dug up, the contaminated soil removed and replaced, and the site converted into parkland in early 2018.
So the museum must find new quarters by this fall.
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Marielle Lambert, a spokesman for the museum, says one of the issues in finding a new home is that they have a dozen fire trucks in their collection, so a potential facility has to be large enough to accommodate them.
She says attendance was up this spring and is largely made up of visitors to the community. A recent petition found that many community members support the museum, and she says the sale of memberships and the number of donations seem to reflect this. Lambert adds she would like to see the municipality step up and show some support because of the number of visitors they bring to Port Hope.
“The number of visitors to the museum is rising, people in this community want this to happen and unfortunately the municipality is not supporting it,” Lambert said.
Mayor Bob Sanderson says the town currently allows the museum to use municipal property and a building free of charge but there is not much else they can do. He says municipalities are not in the business of funding museums or in this case, funding a move to a new home, but adds they will meet with the museum to see what they can do.
“We’ve given them support of location and buildings, but we’re not in the business and not able to use taxpayers dollars to facilitate their relocation or purchase a building for them or anything like that,” Sanderson said.
For her part, Lambert says they want to stay in Port Hope but if a community outside the area comes up with the right offer, she says they have no problem moving out.