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Canal Days

Jul 25, 2016 12:00 AM

As events take place all over the city drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors during the long weekend, the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum continues to serve as the heart and soul of the Canal Days Marine Heritage Festival.

The festival began at the museum 38 years ago and it’s still the place to be — especially for families, says assistant curator Michelle Mason, who has spent the past several weeks preparing for the influx of visitors.

“I find that a lot of the families that come here enjoy it so much,” she says. “They have big smiles on their faces, and there’s something for the parents, there’s something for the kids, there’s something for everybody.”

Rather than just attracting history buffs, she says the museum seems to be attracting many families recently.

“It’s a big family destination, they stay here for hours and learn things,” Mason says.

In addition to the numerous displays, demonstrations and re-enactors that will part of the lineup of activities at the museum, she says it is introducing Niagara Mad Science shows specifically with families in mind.

“We’re really pleased. It kind of transformed itself. We’re really happy with the way it’s going.”

The museum also plans to unveil a new exhibit, called Pulling Into Port, as part of the annual celebration. It’s a display of incredibly detailed model ships not unlike the vessels that plied the waters of the Welland Canal throughout Port Colborne’s history.

“It’s not quite done,” Mason says as she opens the door of the climate-controlled building on the museum grounds, where the models are being displayed.

She says the display just needs a few finishing touches, such as a Port Colborne flag to highlight the community’s 50th anniversary of becoming a city.

“We’re going to have the grand opening at Canal Days,” Mason says, adding Philip Main — a creator of two of the models on display — will be at the event for the unveiling.

“This one took him three years to do,” she says gesturing to a tall ship model. “He’s now working on one where you can see the inside. We’re really happy to have him.”

She says the museum is considering opening the doors of the climate-controlled building for the exhibit opening, so people can see the models up close and give Main a place where he can meet with visitors.

Also this weekend, local musicians will be performing at the museum including Kindred, Barley Brae, and Niagara Old Tyme Fiddlers; as well as students from Tara’s School of Highland Dance. There will also be a giant sand castle, a display of a 1900 dory replica called The Gertrude, and presentations by Underwater Archeology.

“We’re really excited about Canal Days this year. We have a lot of marine activities, some new, some that have been coming here for 38 years,” says Mason. 

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