Park House Museum

Park House gets into the spirit of fall, Halloween with weekend events



By Jolene Perron


With a festive ham dinner, which aimed to raise money for Amherstburg’s Park House Museum, and their fourth annual All Hallow’s Eve Festival, the organization was very busy over the weekend.

As a not-for-profit organization, The Park House relies on the support of donations, fundraisers and grants to keep their doors open.

During The Park House Museum’s All Hallows Eve festival, an assortment of foods and treats were being hand-made on the open fireplace all day long. Melissa Vuk speaks to some visitors in the kitchen.

“Each year we hold a fundraiser dinner to help offset programming costs, so that we can maintain quality programming at an affordable price for our visitors,” explained Stephanie Pouget-Papak, curator and administrator the Park House Museum. “Some programs, like the Victorian Christmas, have no set admission fee. In addition, our holiday themed JK – 3 curriculum based field trip season is just a few weeks away, so our fundraising efforts will support the materials and exhibits.”

Pouget-Papak said in the past, heir fundraisers have gone towards specific projects such as conservation and preservation, and not to mention the 200-year plus building never runs short of maintenance. The planning for this year’s annual fundraiser began in July. Saturday evening’s ham dinner also included a 50/50 draw, door prices and light entertainment.

“The Park House Museum fosters the idea of community partnerships and supporting local business,” said Pouget-Papak. “Holding this event at the Legion, whose mission is to serve veterans and their families, as always proved successful and we enjoy working with them.”

While this event took place just down the road, The Park House Museum itself was set up for their All Hallow’s Eve Festival, which took place Sunday. Pouget-Papak said autumn is her favourite time of year and she wanted to host an event that would highlight the season. The event was also created to bridge the gap between the end of summer tourism and the beginning of the holiday events.

Nicholas Robinson explains how to make a hand-made candle to Tea Fields during the All Hallows Eve Festival Sunday.

“The main idea behind this event is to provide a setting for people of all ages to enjoy the traditional Halloween season without all the ‘gore,’ and it is appropriate for young families as well,” said Pouget-Papak. “We have the site, both buildings, fully operational with the help of dedicated volunteers. Each visitor has the opportunity to participate in the questionnaire scavenger hunt, where they have the option to engage with the staff to ask questions or to read the information boards on their own.”

New to this year’s event was the recital of eerie story telling in the afternoon on Sunday by Olwyn Coughlin. They also had members of the Kings 8th regiment come in from Michigan to set up and Revolutionary War Surgeon display. Pouget-Papak explained each year they try to add a new component to enhance the visitor’s experience.

“We have maintained the visitor favourites like the 1920’s Halloween Party, the Victorian Funeral, and of course the cooking demonstration,” said Pouget-Papak. “Events such as this are important because it allows people the opportunity to connect with our past in an enjoyable manner; public history takes the subject outside of the realm of academia, and facilitates the opportunity to experience it through touch, sight and sound. Individuals may not remember every detail or fact, but they will remember that it was an enjoyable experience.”

Park House Museum receives cheques from Ribfest Committee, Rotary



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Historic Sites Association, the board that operates the Park House Museum, received some good financial news last Tuesday night.

The board received a $5,000 cheque from the Rotary Club of Amherstburg and an additional $1,114 from the Ribfest Committee, the latter being a sub-committee of Rotary. The latter cheque was the share designated for the Park House from the 50/50 draws held during the July festival.

Bill Wark, president of the Amherstburg Historic Sites Association, was happy to receive the cheques.

“We are very thankful for the support from the Rotary Club,” said Wark. “The donations are critical to the operation of the Park House.”

Wark added the Amherstburg Historic Sites Association (AHSA) has a great partnership with the Rotary Club and wants to see it continue.

Rotary Club president Laura George said the service organization may be undertaking an event to assist the Park House Museum, noting they “feel the pinch” as well as they need volunteers and help with projects.

“More hands make for lighter work,” said George.

The Amherstburg Historic Sites Association, which operates the Park House Museum, received a $5,000 from the Rotary Club and a $1,114 cheque from the Rotary’s Ribfest committee last Tuesday night. From left: Bert McLellan, Janet Gardiner, AHSA president Bill Wark, Hazen Price, Rotary president Laura George, Peter Mingay and Fred Roberts.

Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak agreed that the donations are “crucial” in helping the museum operate and offer programs. She said upcoming events include their All Hallow’s Eve event and a “ghost tour,” the latter having “a lot of buzz” surrounding it.

Pouget-Papak also pointed out the Park House Museum will also continue its school tours and Christmas programming in the coming months.

Wark said the Park House Museum did well with its “Music off the Back Porch” series this summer. The museum will also be holding a fundraising dinner Oct. 21 at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 with $20 tickets being available at the Park House Museum.

Wark pointed out the event starts with a social at 4 p.m. with the dinner being at 5:30 p.m. There will be a raffle and prizes as well, he added.

Hazen Price, whom Wark called “one of the main cogs” of both the AHSA and Rotary, said the link between the Park House Museum and the Rotary Club of Amherstburg dates back many years.

“The Park House was a Rotary project to begin with,” said Price.

For more information on the Rotary Club, visit, e-mail George at or visit their Facebook page.

For more information on the Park House Museum, visit or call 519-736-2511. The museum is located at 214 Dalhousie St.

Park House Museum to present exhibit highlighting women’s expanding role in Canada



By Ron Giofu


The Park House Museum is celebrating Canada 150 by looking a women’s roles over the past 150 years.

The Park House’s latest exhibit – “Her Story: 150 Years of Women in Canada – Fashion, Politics, and Gender Roles” – will open May 26, much earlier than anticipated as July 1 was the original target date. Curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak said this is an exhibit she has looked forward to presenting.

“We have a fabulous collection of clothing at the museum,” said Pouget-Papak. “It was a matter of finding a storyline for it.”

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, Pouget-Papak decided to “think outside the box” and examine the changing roles of women over the last 150 years. There are several portions to the exhibit, which people can walk and read through on the upper floor of the museum, with one being “Votes for Women.” That area talks about women’s roles in politics and elections with Pouget-Papak hoping to add a list of all women that served on town council.

There is also an area on women’s roles in wartime, with Pouget-Papak stating war helped become a “vehicle that moved women forward.” There is a “nursing sister” dress featured as part of that section.

The exhibit also looks at women’s roles in education, how they were educated for specific professions and their role in the labour force. While women were sent home from the factories after World War I, she said many stayed employed in factories after World War II and the exhibit includes a photo from the former Alymer Canning Factory.

Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak adjusts a dress on a mannequin in preparation for the museum’s new women’s exhibit.

Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak adjusts a dress on a mannequin in preparation for the museum’s new women’s exhibit.

Another component of the exhibit features the rise of consumerism, which Pouget-Papak said “exploded in the 20th Century.” There is another portion devoted to how film influenced fashion with another portion being for children. The children’s portion allows them to dress up and be themselves as Pouget-Papak stated, “it doesn’t matter what you look like, you are strong and beautiful.”

There will also be an opportunity to play “history detective” as questions will be posed that either can be answered in the story boards or by looking up the information.

The Park House Museum has an intern from the University of Windsor and that enabled the museum to get the exhibit open earlier. A preview reception will be held May 19 with a limited number of spots available. The preview reception costs $5 to attend and those interested in attending are asked to reserve their spot in advance.

“It’s like Christmas Day for me when an exhibit finally opens,” said Pouget-Papak.

Pouget-Papak added she has a five-year plan for programming with the 2018 exhibit to have an archaeological theme.

“Her Story: 150 Years of Women in Canada – Fashion, Politics, and Gender Roles” will run through Oct. 6. Operating hours are Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in May and June, seven days per week from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in July and August, with hours returning to 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday in September and October. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2.50 for children over four and children under four being free.

Pouget-Papak also stated she is working on a program geared to Grade 8 students on women’s roles for when school groups tour the museum.

The Park House is also hiring seven students as the museum has received grant funding to afford the hiring. Those interested can call the Park House Museum at 519-736-2511 or visit Their Facebook page is and their Twitter address is @parkhousemuseum.

River Lights says thanks to Park House with donation



By Ron Giofu


The Park House Museum has been an active partner in this year’s River Lights Winter Festival and the latter is now saying thanks.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven presented a cheque for $500 to Park House curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak last Friday morning. Van Grinsven explained the donation was due to the fact the Park House has worked with River Lights on such events as the Holiday House Tours.

“Every year, the house tours committee chooses a community based organization,” said Van Grinsven. “We choose an association that could benefit from the exposure.”

With three other homes on the Holiday House Tours being in the vicinity of the Park House Museum, the museum was chosen to be the “tea room” on this year’s tour.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven (left) presents a $500 cheque to Park House Museum curator Sarah Van Grinsven.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven (left) presents a $500 cheque to Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak.

“This year, we chose the Park House, which was perfect,” said Van Grinsven.

Pouget-Papak said the money will be put back into the programming the Park House Museum offers. They currently still offer a Victorian Christmas exhibit with students that pass through the museum getting lessons from the Ontario curriculum, she added. A fur trade exhibit is planned for the spring, Pouget-Papak added.

The River Lights’ Gingerbread Warming House closes for the season this Sunday and Van Grinsven said the snow on the ground makes it a better experience.

“The lights look extra fabulous when snow is on the ground,” she said. “We want people to take advantage of it.”
The Park House closes for the season Dec. 21 though is open by appointment in January and February.

“Working with River Lights has been great,” said Pouget-Papak. “We’re building partnerships to make our community stronger.”

Van Grinsven agreed that the partnership has been a good one, adding the Park House was also a part of River Lights’ “Downtown Holiday Nights” at the beginning of this year’s festival.

About 500 from Windsor-Essex County attend Holiday House Tours


By Ron Giofu


People from Amherstburg and surrounding municipalities streamed through the ten houses that were decorated and on display for the Holiday House Tours.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo snaps a photo on his phone of some of the decorations at the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast. DiCarlo and wife Laura were two of the roughly 500 people that toured the ten locations that were decorated for Christmas.

The house tours, a part of the ongoing River Lights Winter Festival, saw ten houses on display with nine of them being private homes and the tenth being the Park House Museum. Monica Bunde, who helped co-ordinate the tours and was a decorator of one of the homes, said the Park House was the “tea room” stop on the tour with the other homes being clustered around the municipality.

The homes were decorated either by local businesses, by decorators or the homeowners themselves.

“We’ve expanded the footprint this year,” said Bunde. “We’ve expanded outside of the downtown core so people get the feel for all of Amherstburg.”

The homes were concentrated in different areas of the town with four, counting the Park House, being within walking distance in the Dalhousie St./Rankin Ave. area, three more within Amherst Pointe, one at the corner of Alma and Victoria St. S. and the other two in the former Anderdon Township.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

Debbie Scott and Suzanne Shepley volunteered at the home on Front Road South.

“It made it easier,” explained Bunde. “You can park and walk to see three or four homes then go to the next section.”

Bunde said they not only wanted visitors to see the homes themselves, but visit the boutiques and restaurants in Amherstburg as well.

“People have been booking lunch or dinner,” added Anne Rota, the town’s manager of tourism and culture. “It’s a package. It’s not just looking at the homes. It’s an economic stimulus for the town.”

Homes that were considered somewhat “iconic” were featured on this year’s Holiday House Tour. Bunde said many of the homes have been the subject of people wondering what they looked like on the inside and the house tours gave people that glimpse.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

A Park Ave. home was decorated on two floors, with the photo being taken on an upper floor.

Not only did people willingly open their homes this year, but Rota said there are already six requests from homeowners to be on the Holiday House Tours in 2017. She remarked there could soon be a waiting list for homes.

Rota added that early estimates had about 50 per cent of the attendees be from outside of Amherstburg as a lot of people from the Windsor-Essex County area converged on the town for the tours.

Carolyn Davies and Merv Richards had their home, the Bondy House Bed & Breakfast, as one of the stops on the tour. Davies, the current president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC), agreed that it was a great event that brought hundreds of people to town. She said not only did it bring the people, but it strengthened the local economy in the process.

“It’s an event, it’s an experience,” added Bunde. “It’s for everyone.”

It is estimated that 500 people turned out for this year’s Holiday House Tours.