Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Osprey Museum and School, circa 1889

Without a doubt, one of my most favourite places to spend an afternoon in the summer is the Osprey Museum.  Located at the corner of Pretty River Road and Grey Road 31 in the little hamlet of Rob Roy just a short drive away from our cottage. This charming museum is home to many artifacts showcasing the local history of the area.  Although it is a museum now, it wasn't always so.

A little history.  The village is named for Rob Roy McGreggor who was a highland chief known as the "Scottish Robin Hood."  He lived from 1671 to 1734.  Depending on your clan loyalties, he was either regarded as a hero or a villain.

The first school was build in Rob Roy in 1881, but burned under mysterious circumstances in the spring of 1889.  It was quickly rebuilt within the same year in the incarnation of the handsome structure we now see here today.  It is known as one of the finest and most elaborate schoolhouse designs in Ontario,and one of the most well preserved.  Built of rust coloured brick with yellow buff corners, it boasts a wealth of elaborate brickwork design details and rather elegant fan lights above the windows and doors.  These are also accentuated by yellow brick arches.  Detailed brackets hold up the simple "A" frame roof.  The crowning glory of the structure has to be it's charming cupola bell tower where the bell indeed still resides and rings. 

  It continued to operate as a school until 1965 when it was declared surplus by the township.  The community then rallied together and pooled their resources to purchase it.  For many years it operated as a community centre, and since 1992 it has worn the title of The Osprey Museum.  An additional structure was added beside the school some twenty years ago, and it houses an excellent collection of vintage farm implements showing what were the tools of the trade for farmers in rural areas in the 19th century.

The main building has an excellent collection of old photos, furniture and other assorted odds and ends all cultivated from local families which showcase the heritage of this wonderful historic area.  There are even some from my own family on display here, including a photo of my grandfather and his brothers taken as they went off to the battlefields of Europe in World War II. The museum is completely operated by volunteers, and is open to the public from Thursday till Sunday during the good weather.  They still continue to run many annual events to bring the local communities together, including the annual museum summer picnic as detailed here in my sketch.  It is scheduled every year just after Canada Day, and the food is a tasty bounty of salads, delicious entrees and desserts all prepared by the local ladies.  It is well priced, and the money goes for the upkeep and maintenance of the museum.  Well worth a drive and a visit to the delightful hamlet of Rob Roy.

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