Volunteer Training

The first of three volunteer training workshops took place at the Museum on Saturday, February 10th and was very well attended. We welcomed experienced volunteers who came for a refresher, along with three brand new volunteers eager to get their feet wet.

Volunteers were taken on a tour of the museum including the exhibit area, research and storage rooms. Detailed information was presented about the museum shop and reception process. The next workshop, March 10th will begin with a review of material presented at the first workshop and include more detailed information on the accession and catalogue process. April 14th will also start with a review and then we will focus on researching.

Thanks to all who helped with the refreshments and photocopying. See you next month!

For more information about volunteering with PMHS, please contact us at info@theparismuseum.com

Ursula O’Brien

Annual General Meeting

Sunday February 25, 2018
2:00 PM — 4:00 PM

Each year, members of the Paris Museum & Historical Society are encouraged to attend our Annual General Meeting. It’s a perfect opportunity to catch up with what’s going on at the Paris Museum. It’s also a great time to give us your feedback about the past year and let us know what you would like to see happen in the coming year. All members in good standing have a vote, and memberships can be renewed at or before the AGM.

Join us as we prepare for an exciting 2018 together!

The Paris Museum & Historical Society
Syl Apps Community Centre,
51 William Street
Paris, Ontario.
(Enter directly from the parking lot)


Portrait of a Passionate Collector

Sean Murphy, whose historic bottles and pottery line the north wall of the Paris Museum, can remember exactly when he became a collector. He was 14 years of age. His father took him to a dump in the woods near the family cottage in Underwood Ontario (about 20 km north of Kincardine). They searched for treasures. Sean found an old gold pocket watch, some early pop bottles and a few blue turn-of-the-century shampoo bottles. He was hooked. His father took him to more rural dumps, a riverbed, then a farm auction. He bought his son the 1969 classic Bottles in Canada by Doris and Peter Unitt.

The teenager turned his bedroom into a museum filled with bottles and pottery. “That is what you find in rural dumps and farm sales,” he explained.

Forty-seven years later, Sean’s collection of stoneware and bottles — from China Russia, India, Chile, the U.S. and Canada — fills his entire basement. He estimates the number at 500. The book his father bought him has grown into a library of 160 volumes about bottles and earthenware. He has developed a transcontinental network of fellow collectors.

Since retiring from his job as a technician at the nuclear division of Ontario Power Generation, Sean has devoted more time to auctions and sales, acquired more knowledge about antiques and retained all of his passion for searching for historic bottles and stoneware.

“Half the pleasure is in the hunt,” he says. “The other half is learning where it was made, who the original owner was and how it fits in the history of the region.”
The Paris area — as far south as the U.S. border — is the second-best area in the province for bottle collecting because it was settled in the 18th century. The best area is eastern Ontario because it was settled first.

He has paid as much as $1,200 for a single bottle in cash and trade; $900 for cash alone. Right now, prices are dropping because young people aren’t interested in antiques. But the cycle will change, Sean says.

He plans to sell off the majority of his collection when he and wife Sharon, a PMHS board member, downsize. He has already begun paring, trading 5 bottles for example for one he really wants.

Sean enjoys sharing his knowledge with members of the museum. He gave a talk entitled “Pottery of Paris” when he and Sharon joined the museum four and a half years ago. It proved so popular that the board asked him to deliver an updated version at its 2017 annual general meeting. Once again, the audience listened attentively and responded positively.

Today, he is less hungry to acquire new artifacts than to delve into the knowledge they bring. “Collecting is like opening a door,” he says. “It leads to history.”

– Carol Goar

The PMHS Outreach Program

The Paris Museum strives to inform and educate the public about the history of Paris, its buildings and families. However, some people, such as seniors, may not be able to come to the museum. So the museum comes to them.

The volunteers that are involved in our Outreach program visit Telfer Place on Grand River Street in Paris, Tranquility Place in Brantford and starting in March will visit Park Lane Terrace, also on Grand River Street in Paris.

The presentations may include videos about the Penmans factories, farming in the area and parades and events in 1940s Paris. Outreach volunteers also bring artifacts to show during presentations. The Museum has a traveling “What’s This” box. Seniors can look at and handle objects from the box while trying to guess what the objects were used for. Some volunteers bring storyboards about topics like the Coronation of Elizabeth II or Prohibition.

The presentations are informative and cover topics like how the cobblestone houses unique to our area were built and how exclusive miniatures depicting those cobblestone buildings, on display in our museum, are made.

The presentations also often evoke memories for the seniors who attend. For instance, a PMHS video showing interviews with area farmers brought back vivid memories of growing up on farms or owning farms for some seniors who attended a recent presentation. And they happily shared their memories with others who attended.

If you are interested in helping with the Outreach program, or would like more information, send an email to info@theparismuseum.com. The Outreach Program Co-ordinator will also have a sign-up sheet at PMHS’s upcoming Annual General Meeting and will be available to answer questions at that time. The AGM will be held on Sunday, February 25th starting at 2 pm.

– Ursula O’Brien