October 07, 2014

Learning the History of Perth with a Walking Tour and Trip to the Museum

History of Perth with a Walking Tour and Trip to the Museum

The town of Perth, Ontario has an extremely rich heritage. A beautiful one that can be seen in all the sandstone buildings throughout town. In fact, Perth was one of the first Rideau Military Settlements. It was born as a defense for Upper Canada from the invasion of the United States! Also, as I mentioned previously, Perth was originally a contender to be the capital of Canada, but lost out to Ottawa.

History of Perth with a Walking Tour and Trip to the Museum

When I visited Perth, one of the activities I was lucky enough to participate in was a walking history tour put on by a great group of young actors. These actors would perform as multiple different distinguished personalities that played a part in the history of Perth. They walked us through town, all while staying in character and giving us the history of the different founding families, as well as the homes and buildings that they occupied and that are actually still standing in town  

History of Perth with a Walking Tour and Trip to the Museum

Perth is quite known for its theatre community, and actually has four theatres in town! A lot of people from the Ottawa Valley, Ottawa and even the GTA and Montreal head into Perth every summer for the Classic Theatre Festival. The Heritage Walking Tour is put on by the same production company, however they use young adults for the cast. All of whom, except for one, were actually from Perth themselves! This was a fun alternative to walking through town solo and reading up about the history. The cast was great and the entire group of people that were on the tour really enjoyed it! I stayed up front with all the kids - obviously, and was immersed in the story! LOL

History of Perth with a Walking Tour and Trip to the Museum

After the walking tour, I headed over to the Heritage Perth Museum - Matheson House, for a personal tour. My tour guide walked me through the entire museum, which is actually the former home of the Matheson family, a prominent Perth family over the years. The house was built in 1840 for Roderick Matheson who was the first banker in Perth and actually became a life member of the Upper Canada Legislative Council and a Confederation Senator. The home remained in the Matheson family for almost 100 years! After that it was home to a Bed & Breakfast as well as the Royal Canadian Legion Hall and finally becoming the town museum in 1966.



History of Perth with a Walking Tour and Trip to the Museum

History of Perth with a Walking Tour and Trip to the Museum

It was great walking through the museum, with a personal escort who knew her stuff because she actually worked in the museum for over 20 years and was from Perth herself! So - like I said, she really knew her stuff. I was shown pieces of history that belonged to the different founding families, such as household items, clothing and personal items as well as things that contributed to the history of Perth. Such as The Mammoth Cheese artifacts. You'll remember I mentioned The Mammoth Cheese before - it was a 22,000 pound cheese produced in Perth in 1893 to be exhibited at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. I also saw the guns from the last fatal duel in Canada! Of course, it was over a woman - Elizabeth Hughes. 

I highly suggest that when you go on a trip, especially to small towns - you take the time to learn some of the history. Visit the museums and learn about the heritage. The stories you'll hear are priceless! If you're lucky enough to speak with some people from the original founding families - even better!

You can learn more about The Matheson House and the history of Perth HERE