Stephanie Pouget-Papak

Park House looking to increase accessibility



By Ron Giofu


The Park House Museum has turned to a television on the main floor as a way to alleviate some of the accessibility issues the historic building has.

Although the first floor is wheelchair accessible, the second floor is not, noted curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak. An elevator is not an option for the historic building, she said, and a chair lift option has proven difficult to bring to fruition as that could damage the historic staircase.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” she said. “I came up with an idea to put a television in.”

Park House curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak stands next to the main floor TV that was recently installed.

The television can show visitors what is offered on the second floor if someone is physically unable to climb the stairs. If needed, it can also serve as a message board for visitors and also play videos from the National Film Board of Canada. The latter ties into a future exhibit, as Pouget-Papak said the Park House is looking at commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and what the Park family was doing at that time.

Another plan for 2018 is an archaeological exhibit for the second floor.

“We’re probably going to start on that in the second week in January,” she said.

For more information on the Park House Museum, phone 519-736-2511, visit, check out their Facebook page at or follow them on Twitter at

Visitors experience traditional “tree trimming” at Park House



By Jolene Perron


Amherstburg’s annual River Lights festival brings together a number of local businesses during the holiday season, allowing for residents to experience a number of unique events throughout the town.

The Park House Museum took advantage of this, coordinating their Park House by Candle Light event to coincide with the downtown Holiday Festival over the weekend.

“The Park House Museum likes to collaborate with other organizations, so that the visitor experience is maximized to its full potential,” explained Stephanie Pouget, curator/administrator for the Park House Museum. “The main idea behind this event is to create a traditional ambience for visitors who celebrate Christmas and to give new Canadians the opportunity to see how the winter season was experienced during the Victorian-era in Amherstburg.”

Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak creates a gingerbread house as part of the Park House Museum’s candlelight event last Friday.

The second-annual self guided tour of the main floor allowed visitors to see the “Park Family” gathering together for a “tree trimming” party. Visitors were able to see the true Victorian fashion and how they prepared their house for the holiday season with use of true greenery.

The Park House Museum also invites guests to take place in their Charles Dickens/Victorian Christmas program where visitors can see all three floors of the main house, demonstrations, the new toy exhibit and activities this Sunday (Nov. 26) from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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 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.