Three Places to Learn About Oakville History

Since its establishment in 1857, the town of Oakville has been overflowing with artistic and cultural development.  Many sites have been established in order to pay homage to the town’s past, offering visitors a chance to engage with thought-provoking narratives and insightful experiences.  Read on to discover three key places where you can learn more about Oakville’s history.

The Oakville Museum

The Oakville Museum allows visitors to tour Erchless Estate, the home of Oakville’s founding family.  The museum explores the history of Oakville through art, artifacts, and textiles.  Currently, the museum offers drop-in guided tours of the estate that explain the significance of family heirlooms and architectural design.  The estate has also been partially converted into an exhibit on the Underground Railroad that features a multimedia presentation. 

Photo of The Oakville Museum's front entrance.The exterior of the historic Erchless Estate.  Photo courtesy of #HistoryPlacesDay.

Current exhibits explore Canada’s role in international peacekeeping and the importance of political commemoration and family celebrations.  The museum also offers registered programs, such as medieval writing workshops, gardening sessions, and summer day camps.  This is a great place to visit if you want learn about the early history of Oakville, especially if you’re interested in viewing artifacts from its founding family.

Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre

This location hosts a variety of exhibits that celebrate Oakville’s history and showcase local artists.  It is recognized as one of Canada’s largest facilities dedicated to artistic and cultural programmingThe centre houses a number of local cultural organizations, such as the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton and the Oakville Oriental Arts Club.

The front entrance of Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural CentreAn exterior view of the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre.  Photo courtesy of Culture Days.

Current exhibits include a display dedicated to the achievements of black citizens in Oakville and an exhibit analyzing the thematic and aesthetic influences of fairytales.  Throughout the building, you can often find panels that feature historic Oakville athletes, such as Sandra Post and Donovan Bailey.  This is a great place to learn about Oakville’s artistic and cultural history, as the centre strives to foster an accessible and innovative space for local heritage and art.

A display about Cinderella at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural CentreA display from the current fairytale exhibit at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre.  Photo courtesy of The Oakville Museum via Facebook.

Oakville Public Library, Central Branch

This branch is home to the Oakville Galleries, a forward-thinking, not-for-profit space dedicated to artistic innovation.  The library features “The Oakville Room”, a space dedicated to the preservation of local history.  It houses old yearbooks, illustrated township maps, and a wide range of historical books. 

The entrance of the Central Branch of the Oakville Public LibraryThe entrance of the Central Branch of the Oakville Public Library.

The Oakville Room also offers a microfilm machine, allowing you to view newspaper archives as far back as the 1860s.  This library is a great place for referencing primary sources such as newspapers and yearbooks.  It houses almost every scholarly book written about Oakville, providing you with everything you might want to know, from the development of the dairy industry to the history of gardening.

Oakville newspaper records on microfilmAn example of newspapers available to view via the microfilm reader at the library.

All of these locations offer a unique look into Oakville’s history, providing modernized interpretations of past events that still hold plenty of relevance today.  The prominence of such institutions emphasizes the importance of actively engaging with the past to recognize its significance in contemporary society.  These places truly offer something for everyone, and I highly suggest that you take a look.  You never know what you may discover!

  • Learn more about The Oakville Museum’s current exhibitions and programs here 
  • Find out more about the art and historical exhibits currently on display at QEP here
  • Discover more about the Oakville Public Library’s historical resources here