Maritime history comes alive at Doran Bay Model Ship Museum

Doran Bay Model Ship Museum, located on County Road #2 east of Iroquois, opened its doors on September 9th.

Among those welcomed to the new museum by Burt and Simla Cunningham were Max Keeping, former MPP Jim Brownell, MP Guy Lauzon, Mayor Steven Byvelds, Deputy Mayor Jim Locke, Councillor Evonne Delegarde, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Brian Cox.

The ceremony began with Keeping  who claimed that “the time couldn’t be better” for the opening of the maritime museum. The anniversary of the War of 1812 is next year and included in the exhibit are models of both Canadian and American ships.

Keeping went on to say that this is an “opportunity not to go back to war, but to celebrate the two countries and how their friendship has developed.”

Brownell complimented the detail in the design of the models, which were built from original plans using exotic woods.

He ventured that the museum will have a beneficial effect on tourism and infrastructure in the area.

In Lauzon’s address, he said that he “welcomed to South Dundas, this expansion of business. This is a jewel in our riding. The community is so supportive.”

Byvelds agreed with Lauzon, saying that the museum “certainly is going to be another jewel in South Dundas’s coffers.”

Cox thanked the Cunninghams for their contribution, declaring that he was “really looking forward to the [museum] bringing in the tourism and bringing in the people.”

Cunningham claims that “Doran Bay Model Ship Museum contains one of the finest collections of historic model ships in the world.”

Remarking on the genesis of the project, he shared a little bit about his life leading up to this point.
He “spent the last few years on paradise island” where he met his wife, Simla.

The island in question is the Mauritius. It was there that Cunningham “discovered a small group of people who had this craft” for building model ships.

He “befriended these artisans (and later) employed them to do these ships.”

“As I was doing a lot of research,” stated Cunningham, “a lot of this history seems to have been lost.”

Earlier in the ceremony, Keeping pointed out that “Canada is a great maritime nation.”

And, what better way to honour that then with a ship museum whose collection, according to Cunningham, “traces the history of sail around the world with emphasis on famous Canadian and U.S. ships.”

Cunningham continued, saying that his family “had this house sitting here idle,” giving the perfect opportunity to display the model ships.

Currently the museum occupies the ground floor of the house. At the moment, only about half of the ships in Cunningham’s collection are on display.

Cunningham plans to monitor the response from the public and,  if substantial, he will expand, allowing for more of the collection to be seen.

He went on to say that this has “been a family project (and that) it’s a private collection, but we’re opening it up to the public.”

Cunningham invites: “see maritime history come to life.”

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