Christmas at the Museum

Amherstburg Freedom Museum hosting “Christmas at the Museum” Dec. 12



By RTT Staff


The Amherstburg Freedom Museum is encouraging people to ring in the holiday season with them.

The annual “Christmas at the Museum” concert is returning Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., in the Nazrey AME Church National Historic Site.

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum invites the community to “join us for a warm and friendly celebration of the Christmas Season with special musical guest Brynda and Company! The hour and a half program is sprinkled with traditional songs of the season and heart warming carols to start the holiday season off right!”

A dessert buffet will be served following the Wednesday night concert. The Amherstburg Freedom Museum is also asking people to bring a canned good which will be donated to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

The public is asked to purchase tickets in advance as seating is limited. Tickets are $30 each and can be purchased by contacting the Amherstburg Freedom Museum by phone at 519-736-5433 or on

The museum is also thanking the event sponsors, which include Detroit Memorial Park Association Inc., Dollars and Cents Investments Inc., and James H. Sutton Funeral Home.

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum is located at 277 King St. Their website is

Amherstburg Freedom Museum welcomed holiday season with “joyous sounds”


By Jolene Perron


“We want to welcome the season with joyous sounds and welcome the community to celebrate the sounds of the season and bring everyone together one last time before the end of the year.”

Curator and administrator at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, Mary-Katherine Whelan, said their annual Christmas event, which has been happening at the museum for a number of years, is a way to celebrate the holidays and cap off the year with “one last hurrah.”

Renée King-Jackson sang Christmas tunes and jazz numbers at Amherstburg’s Freedom Museum Dec. 20, during their fundraising event, which their curator explained is held every year as a final “hurrah” heading into the holiday season.

“I think in the history of Amherstburg, the history of the Underground Railroad is sort of overlooked and I think it’s definitely important to recall that history and share that history with everyone so they are aware of how important and integral it was to this area and Amherstburg,” said Whelan. “It’s important for people to realize that it wasn’t something that was specifically just in the states, or somewhere else, it did specifically happen in Amherstburg.”

The Dec. 20 event featured soprano vocalist Renée King-Jackson singing with her ensemble of jazz musicians. King-Jackson has performed at the museum previously throughout its history.

“I love this event,” said Whelan. “It’s a breezy, fun kind of event where you can enjoy music and socialize with people that you may not have seen for a little big and just relax and enjoy things before the wrap up of the year.”

Amherstburg Freedom Museum seeking funding to replace Nazrey AME Church roof


By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Freedom Museum is hoping to replace the roof on the Nazrey AME Church and is looking for the public’s help to do it.

The cedar shake roof is leaking and museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan said it is evident particularly in heavy rain. Plaster and paint is flaking around windows due to moisture and a tarp or buckets have to be used to protect the floor.

“We first noticed the damage in the summer,” said Whelan. “It’s been something we’ve been noticing since mid-August.”

David Van Dyke, a member of the museum’s board of directors, said the leaks aren’t concentrated to one specific area though they are mainly in the southern side of the roof.

“It’s one of those leaks that doesn’t come to the same spot every time,” said Van Dyke, adding sometimes it takes a pail to catch the water while a tarp is needed other times.

“I have to check it every day,” added Whelan.

Amherstburg Freedom Museum board member David Van Dyke and curator Mary-Katherine Whelan view water that has dropped on a tarp inside the Nazrey AME Church.

Amherstburg Freedom Museum board member David Van Dyke and curator Mary-Katherine Whelan view water that has dropped on a tarp inside the Nazrey AME Church.

No artifacts, pews or floorboards have been damaged due to the leaky roof, she continued, but the museum doesn’t want it to get to that point either.

“It’s been a slow process over the summer but we want to nip it in the bud right now,” she said. “We don’t want this to manifest into a major issue.”

The cedar shake roof was put on when the Nazrey AME Church was restored in the late 1990’s. Van Dyke indicated that the current roof lasted likely longer than it was supposed to, stating cedar shake roofs don’t last as long as house roofs.

“Roofs generally last 10-15 years for a house roof,” he added.

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum has started a GoFundMe account with the online crowd sourcing campaign setting a goal of $35,000. Whelan said an appeal was sent out to museum members through letters and the newsletter and that has raised some funds.

Whelan notes that even though the Nazrey AME Church is designated as a national historic site, it does not entitle them to federal funding though they are seeking grant funding from multiple sources.

Van Dyke added that they hope the online fundraising campaign also raises awareness of the museum as well. He said they are on the web, social media and are digitizing their materials and they hope more and more people find out what the museum is all about.

“It’s all part of having more people find us than ever before,” said Van Dyke.

Refugees from American slavery established the Nazrey AME Church in 1848. It was an end point on the Underground Railroad as people came to Canada seeking freedom.

“It’s definitely important to keep history alive and educate people on the Underground Railroad and Amherstburg’s role in it,” said Whelan.

Van Dyke added that people still “look for their roots” and if they have left the area and moved to different locations, they can still look to the museum for their family histories and stories of the Underground Railroad.

“It’s just important to keep preserving history,” said Whelan.

The leak in the roof does not prevent the Amherstburg Freedom Museum from putting on programming inside of it, with one event planned for mid-December.

The annual Christmas at the Museum concert is taking place Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., in the Nazrey A.M.E Church National Historic Site.

Special musical guests are the Jazzus Ensemble, a jazz trio that includes local musicians Jules Carreira, Jeffrey Sims and Gregory Moore. The 90-minute program will also feature traditional songs of the season and heart warming holiday classics that beautifully capture the spirit of the season.

There will also be a presentation of the Melvin (Mac) Simpson Award to Sara Tesfay, in her first year in the Medical Laboratory Technician program at St. Clair College and Keenan Wilson who began his studies at Sheridan College in the Art Fundamentals/Illustration program.

The Nazrey AME Church, on the grounds of the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, needs a new cedar shake roof. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help raise money for the museum.

The Nazrey AME Church, on the grounds of the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, needs a new cedar shake roof. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help raise money for the museum.

The award honours the memory of Melvin “Mac” Simson, the museum’s founder while financially assisting the two deserving young people with their post-secondary education.

Tickets are $30 each and the museum recommends purchasing tickets in advance. The Amherstburg Freedom Museum can be reached by phone at 519-736-5433 or online at and searching “Christmas at the Museum.” The direct link for “Christmas at the Museum” is

The GoFundMe page for the roof can be found by searching “Heritage Site Roof Needs Repair.” The direct link is

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum is located at 277 King St.