Address and Directions:1296 Rte 243. Melbourne Township, Quebec, Canada J0B 2B0
From Autoroute 55, take exit 85 and head North on Rte 243.
Museum of Richmond County Historical Society, Melbourne Township
1296, Route 243, Melbourne, Township, Quebec, Canada.
The former Museum of RCHS pre-dates 1867 but neither the date of its construction nor the builder/owner is known. During this time, it is believed to have served as a hospital and as Hardy’s Inn. In 1867, the newly wedded Mr. and Mrs. James Mairs made this building their home and for the next ninety years, the Mairs family lived there. Many older Melbournites today remember Johnny Mairs selling homemade ice cream from the south- side doorway of his home for five-cents a cone!
Along the west bank of the St. Francis River, in the vicinity of the Museum, there appears to be a dike, which is believed to have been built in anticipation of a railroad passing through Melbourne on its way to Sherbrooke and beyond. It is known that the plans for the route of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad (forerunner of the Grand Trunk) were diverted by political persuasion to the Richmond side of the river.
About 1958, the property was purchased by Mr. Ed Odell of Melbourne who converted the Mairs home into a two-family dwelling and made several changes to the appearance of the property. The barn and carriage house were dismantled and three tall spruce trees, landmarks for almost a century, were cut down. The wide veranda which wrapped the house on three sides was removed, as was the side door in the south wall of the house, from which Mr. Mairs is said to have served the ice cream.
In 1967, Richmond County Historical Society acquired the property from Mr. Newlands Coburn, a nephew of the esteemed artist Frederick Simpson Coburn. In the summer of 1968, after considerable restoration, the Museum of Richmond County Historical Society was opened. Over the years, severe flooding caused the museum’s foundation and under structure to deteriorate seriously, so, in 2005, a new basement and other renovations were undertaken to give the old house a new lease on life. The veranda was rebuilt much like the original and finishing touches continue to this day.
The museum represents a typical middle-class home of the nineteenth century. It houses the treasures donated by families of the area, including artifacts and furnishings which were once common in most homes. Bilingual tours are offered weekend afternoons in July and by reservation.
For more information, visit our Museum Policy page.