Carman House reopening soon

Carman House – File photo

IROQUOIS – It was confirmed at the May 24 regular meeting of South Dundas council that the chair of the Carman House Committee has officially resigned, not only as chair but from the committee entirely.

“I would like to publicly thank Murray Richer for all the years of service to the Carman House,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds. “He was very devoted to making sure that the Carman House was historically accurate. He will certainly be missed. I can understand fully why he needed to step aside, but he certainly was a great asset to South Dundas.”

“Having said that, we need to move on,” added the mayor.

South Dundas councillor Donald Lewis, the council appointed committee member, said there should be some changes.

“Carman House is our only museum,” said South Dundas deputy mayor Kirsten Gardner. Personalities aside, she suggested putting the remaining committee members on sabbatical to see if the municipality can find a way to get the doors open to the public a couple of days a week.

“I was criticized in the paper for saying it was a dead museum,” acknowledged Gardner. “But a museum is not alive if it’s not open for the public to learn about history. That’s the sole purpose of a museum.” She added that perhaps dormant would have been a better word to use than dead.

“We started this term of council not having it (Carman House Museum) open. I would like to go out having it open,” said Gardner. “For me it’s not about any personality: it’s about the heritage in South Dundas.”

“Carman House from the get go has been a challenge,” said South Dundas councillor Lloyd Wells. “I would like to see it open too.” He added that working on re-establishing a committee and terms of reference at this point would just be a waste of staff’s time. “Let’s just get it open and go from there,” said Wells.

South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan also agreed. “Let’s just get the thing open and up and running at some level this year. Bring it in-house and have staff oversee it,” he said.

At this point, staff is working towards a plan to have the Carman House Museum open a couple of days a week in July and August. They will present council with a proposed plan at the June 13 meeting. Carman House Museum has been closed since 2018.

In October 2018 the previous council approved the “decommissioning of the public museum until further notice to allow residential tenancy only at the discretion of the chief building official.” It was approved by that council and was effective immediately.

The Carman House Museum has not been open to the public since then.

In December 2019 the current council approved the museum’s decommissioning to allow the building’s tenant to occupy the building’s upstairs apartment.

After that the global pandemic meant that the museum had to stay closed due to various regulations. However, since then, despite the regulations being lifted, the committee was never successful in getting the building reopened to the public.

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