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 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 artifacts and Chisholm family-related materials. Artifacts that are not currently part of our permanent or temporary exhibits are carefully stored to ensure their preservation. For information on donating artifacts to the collection, please visit the support page.

From Workwear to Everywhere: The Story of Denim

July 10 to September 1, 2019
QEPCCC main gallery,  2302 Bridge Road
Hours: Mon-Fri, noon-7 p.m. Sat-Sun, noon-5 p.m.

Originally conceived as a utilitarian workwear fabric, denim has evolved from its blue collar roots to the heights of haute-couture. This exhibit examines denim at a local level using clothing and stories from Oakville residents to reflect upon a fabric that is in almost every closet.

What's Your Type: Textiles and Typewriters

March 30, 2019 to April 2020
Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, 2302 Bridge Road

This exhibit explores two machines with complex relationships with women, their societal roles and their voices. It features typewriters and sewing machines from 1875 to 1975 and considers their material aspects and design. It provokes questions about the status of these machines and how they act as a reflection of the women who owned and used them.

Hair: The Long and Short of It!

Now on until October 2019 at Erchless Estate, 8 Navy Street

Can hair be an outward expression of our thoughts? What can the artifacts relating to hair in the Oakville Museum tell us? Whether exploring fashion statements, tools of the trade, valued keepsakes or objects of art, explore how hair has been used to mark rites of passage throughout time.

Decade Dolls

Now on until August 2019 at Erchless Estate, 8 Navy Street

In the early 1970s the Oakville Historical Society Women's Auxiliary began a project to generate interest in the museum's extraordinary costume collection. The project was called Decade Dolls and it recreated fashions of the past 150 years. The women used scraps of fabrics from historic garments and were able to recreate, with loving care, gowns and menswear from the early 1820s to the late 1960s. The dolls are made of paper mache on a wire  and replica materials were used when historic fabric was not available.

Freedom, Opportunity and Family: Oakville’s Black History

Permanent Exhibit at Erchless Estate, 8 Navy Street

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, 8 Navy Street

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.

History of Sledge Hockey

Now on until September 2019 at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex, 3070 Neyagawa Blvd

What is sledge hockey? Sledge Hockey of Canada (SHOC) was established over twenty-five years ago. Learn about the history of the sport, the rules of the game and get introduced to some of its leading athletes, some of which call Oakville home.

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.