SOUTH STORMONT – The fun thing about a staycation is revisiting something that seems so familiar, yet it’s been a long time since you’ve actually taken the time to properly visit it. It wasn’t until I parked the car that I realized it has been five years since I last visited the Lost Villages Museum in South Stormont. It didn’t seem that long as I drive by the museum on a near-weekly basis.
Located on County Road 2, about five minutes east of Long Sault, the Lost Villages Museum is run by the historical society of the same name. Its mission is to preserve the history of the villages and hamlets that were destroyed in the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the mid-1950s.
Set in Ault Park are several buildings that represent life in these villages. Many of the buildings were relocated in the Seaway project, then moved to the park. A few of the buildings are not from the Seaway project but either are representative of the types of buildings from those villages, or are from around South Stormont.
Normally most of the buildings are open to explore, but during this time of physical distancing, only one building is open to go into – the Manson/Lapierre Store. Other buildings have their doors open so I could look in, but couldn’t enter the buildings. This keeps the contact points and surface cleaning down for the staff and volunteers.
Inside the Manson/Lapierre Store, I was greeted by Ashley Harper, one of three summer students employed by the LVHS this year. The store hosts many historical artifacts to look at, and some books and other items available to buy. Cold drinks are also available in the store, which was good news to this writer as it was an extremely hot day when I visited.
While I wasn’t able go into the other buildings, wandering around the grounds of the park was just as informative. There are lots of signs available to tell the Seaway story.
Also on site is the American Civil War Monument. This monument, dedicated in 2017 by the Gray and Blues of Montreal, commemorates the over 40,000 Canadian volunteers who fought in that war. It is the only memorial in Canada to those soldiers, regardless of which side they fought for.
There is plenty of park land and even a few picnic tables, plus the washrooms are open. It is a great place to take your social bubble for a picnic, or just go for an afternoon to relax and get outside.
There is no admission fee to the Lost Villages, but donations are appreciated. This, and memberships to the LVHS, help fund the preservation and restoration activities of the museum.
Many of the well-known activities at the Lost Villages like the weekly ghost walks and the Seaway bus tour programming at the museum is on hold this year. The museum is still booking small weddings at its Sandtown Church.
Visiting the Lost Villages is a good way to spend a few hours reconnecting with part of this community.
If you want to make your trip longer, plan to visit on a Friday afternoon. Then stop over at the Long Sault Farmers’ Market. This bustling market is open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.
When I went there were nine vendors and safe, physically-distanced lineups for fresh fruit and vegetables, locally-produced honey, and even tasty Thai Spring Rolls.
If you want a tasty sweet treat on your way home, stop by the Beavertails, located outside of Upper Canada Village.