Oakville Museum Exhibitions and Collections

The beautiful historic home and gardens of the Erchless Estate were once the home of our town’s founding family, but are now the setting for Oakville’s Community Museum. You can also visit our new satellite exhibition gallery at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre. General admission at both locations during public hours is free!

The museum holds a diverse collection of objects reflecting the history of Oakville from its establishment to the present day including costumes and textiles, fine and decorative arts, ethnological artefacts and Chisholm family-related materials. Artefacts that are not currently part of our permanent or temporary exhibits are carefully stored to ensure their preservation. For information on donating artefacts to the collection, please visit the support page. 


What about Water? Oakville’s H20 & History

June 21, 2013 to May 3, 2015 at Erchless Estate

What About Water exhibitWater is life – and life in Oakville has always been tied to water. Discover the influence water had on Oakville’s beginnings, its settlement, its growth and how Oakville’s existence remains dependent on water! This exhibit sponsored by Pets Plus Us.

Exhibit Sponsor

Link to Pets Plus Us website

Colour Coded

May 12 – December 5, 2014 at QEPCCC, 2302 Bridge Rd

Colour Coded exhibitYour local museum holds and shares the treasures identifying our community’s past! Colour-Coded offers a kaleidoscopic look into the Oakville Museum’s rich and diverse permanent collection ranging from paintings to sculpture, costume to decorative arts. The objects on display offer colourful insight into Oakville’s unique character and culture.

For many of us, our mental image of the past is monochromatic, based on black and white photos or old movies. But it comes to life in vivid colour when we consider the artifacts of the past. Clothing, china, carpets, jewellery, and other everyday objects in a glorious riot of rainbow colours show us how wrong it is to believe that our ancestors lived drab, colourless lives.

Covering the seven colours of the spectrum; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet; this exhibit showcases the Oakville Museum’s vast array of colourful artifacts. Brilliant blues, rich reds, gorgeous greens, youthful yellows, vibrant violets, intense indigos and optimistic.

This spectacular new costume exhibition will follow the black dress from its origins as mourning wear to becoming the party colour of choice. Fifty rarely seen black dresses from the Oakville Museum’s extensive costume collection chart the course of this essential fashion item.

Great Friends and the Great War: George Brock Chisholm and Hugh Gordon Munro

November 2014 at Erchless Estate

Great Friends and the Great War exhibit photoNo one who went to the trenches of Europe in 1914 came back the same. They all saw horrors beyond imagination and many were wounded or lost their lives. What they all cared about most were their families and friends back home. Correspondence from the Great War is a powerful reminder that Canadians who served were not just soldiers, they were fathers, husbands, brothers, sons and friends. Each of these men had a distinct voice. This exhibit explores the Great War through the lives of two great Oakville friends.

George Brock Chisholm and Hugh Gordon Munro enlisted together as Privates in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (C.E.F.) on May 26, 1915. They joined the 15th Canadian Battalion, 48th Highlanders of Canada upon enlistment at the Military Camp, Niagara. After embarking for England on June 9 the men arrived in France on July 17, 1915. The 15th Battalion had approximately 1,000 Officers and men divided into 4 Companies. Private Chisholm was part of the Machine Gun Company and Private Munro was part of the Grenade Company. Chisholm and Munro had similar experiences in the 15th Battalion but with very different results.

H.M.C.S. Oakville

November 2014 at Erchless Estate

HMCS Oakville exhibit photoSince the Canadian Navy was established in 1910, over 300 Canadian Navy ships have been named for communities from coast to coast. H.M.C.S. Oakville was christened at Lakeside Park in Oakville on November 5, 1941. This Second World War flower class corvette, only visited its namesake port once, but it has enjoyed a very close connection with its community.

This history is highlighted through images and artifacts which remind us of Oakville’s rich naval history.

"Conceived as a coastal patrol vessel in the late 1930s, the corvette was rushed into production when war became imminent. Because of overtaxed British shipbuilding facilities, it was decided to assign much of the corvette construction program to Canada. In addition, the supply of most officer and crew requirements was to be undertaken by the Royal Canadian Navy." source: Sean Livingston, Oakville's Forgotten Fame

Freedom, Opportunity and Family: Oakville’s Black History

Permanent Exhibit at Erchless Estate

Artifacts, pictures, text and a documentary video tell the stories of many of the African-American families who settled in Oakville and were important to the development of our community. Visitors will discover the story of Branson Johnson, a freeborn African-American, who arrived in Oakville with his family in 1855. His Certificate of Freedom from a Maryland court and the pocket watch in which it was hidden for many years are featured. Passed down from one generation to the next, the certificate shows how subsequent generations defined and preserved evidence of freedom.

The Underground Railroad: Next Stop Freedom

Permanent Exhibit at Erchless Estate

In this exciting and moving multi-media presentation, the ghost of Deborah Brown tells the true story of her heroic flight from a life of slavery in Maryland to her new life of freedom in 19th-century Toronto. The exhibit was created by Parks Canada in partnership with the Ontario Black History Society and the Royal Ontario Museum (Presentation available in French and English).

Past Exhibitions

For more information about previous listings, visit our past exhibition page.

Community Outreach Presentations

Throughout the year, museum staff present a series of mini exhibits coupled with conversational-style presentations to seniors’ residences in our community. Various themes are covered including oddities in the museum’s collections, an overview of Oakville’s history, vintage quilts and cocktail party gowns. If you are interested in booking an outreach exhibit at your facility, please call 905-338-4400 or email carolyn.cross@oakville.ca.

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