War of 1812 seaman’s sword donated to Old Mill Heritage Centre Museum

Tim Gallagher, left in photo, presented a War of 1812 seaman’s sword to Rick Nelson, curator of the Old Mill Heritage Centre in Kagawong, on July 1.

KAGAWONG – On its first day of opening for the 2020 season, the Old Mill Heritage Centre in Billings received a terrific donation from a long-time supporter of the museum.

“Today I visited the Kagawong Museum to donate British historical artifacts. One artifact is a War of 1812 seaman’s sword found about 40 years ago along the shore of Providence Bay which I purchased at an antique shop there as the area museums would not pay money for it,” explained Tim Gallagher. 

“I also donated a replica 1763 Kings Eighth Regiment uniform which I purchased over 30 years ago,” explained Mr. Gallagher. “This regiment was first stationed at Detroit and would have passed by the Manitoulin Island to take over a French built fort in 1761 renamed Fort Michilimackinac which was located in the Mackinaw Straits. It was occupied until 1783 when the British decided to build a stronger fort out of stone and mortar on Mackinac Island. Nowadays, Fort Michilmackinac is an American National Park and the soldiers there are garbed in the similar uniforms as the one donated.”

“Mr. Gallagher visited the museum on July 1 with a box loaded with items; I was pretty amazed with the things he loaned to the museum, especially the sword,” stated Rick Nelson, curator of the Heritage Centre, late last week.
“It was definitely a gracious contribution to our museum and a very wonderful surprise,” added Mr. Nelson. Mr. Gallagher, “has always been very good to the museum providing war artifacts for our Remembrance Day ceremony display, and some great models of battle ships for instance, over the past few years. He has always been a friend of the museum.”

The museum is now open to the public for the season, with practices in place to follow all COVID-19 guidelines. One of the changes is that the entrance to the museum is now on the south side of the building facing the beach.  

“We have reduced the operation of the museum, we will be open five days a week instead of seven, Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm,” said Mr. Nelson. The museum is open under strict conditions. 

There will be a limited number of visitors (10) allowed inside the museum at a time, while the Old Post Office building will remain closed for the season. Sanitization and social distancing will also be a key part of the new reality.

“We will be refreshing our 2019 exhibits,” said Mr. Nelson, and we are still planning to do virtual tours for those people that can’t make it up to the Island or Kagawong,” said Mr. Nelson. “And we are looking at possibly holding an online History Day in Kagawong, later in the summer.”

“We wanted to have ceremonies marking the 95th anniversary of the Old Mill, but it’s not looking like a possibility this year,” continued Mr. Nelson. 

“No, we don’t expect to make any money this season, we will probably lose some money,” said Mr. Nelson. “We are doing all of this because we want to support the village. Our board couldn’t see not being open this year.”

Anyone wanting to make a donation to the museum can do so by going on its website at KagawongMuseum.ca and following the links.