Today we have the opportunity to learn a bit more about a very unique site in Durham Region, the Ontario Regiment Museum. Up until 2015, this amazing site had been run entirely by dedicated volunteers like Earl Wotton. These passionate individuals created fascinating exhibits, maintained a large archival collection and share their love of this collection with citizens from Durham Region and beyond.
What do you do at the Ontario Regiment Museum?
I serve as the curator of the static display section at the Ontario Regiment Museum. We have a number of volunteers who share the work of maintaining, interpreting and displaying our collection of military artefacts, photos and documents.
Why did you choose this career?
This is not a career for me in the classic sense. Following my retirement from the corporate world in 2008, I volunteered to support the museum as a tour guide. In 2010, I was asked to fill the vacant role of curator.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of the job is researching, interpreting and displaying artefacts. Every artefact has a story to tell. I see it as our job here at this museum to help these inanimate objects tell their story.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?
Insufficient space, time, resources and money to do all the things we would like to do. I imagine that every other respondent has said something similar.
How did you get into the field?
I have always had an interest in military history, especially that of the Ontario Regiment as my father commanded the unit in the early 1950s. I also have an interest in education having taught business courses at night school for over 20 years. Volunteering here has provided a platform to explore both interests.
What is your favourite memory of the museum?
Believe it or not, my favourite memory was demolishing the interior of the museum and rebuilding it as a more modern, accessible space to tell the story of our regiment.
Do you have a favourite artifact/ collection?
There is one. A simple newsletter “De Nieuwesbode” (News messenger). This newspaper had been published illegally in Holland during the German occupation. The copy we have is dated May 5, 1945, the day of the German surrender. This simple document represents the first free press in Holland. It contains the following quote “Our liberation is the last page and the happy end of a bitter novel and at the same time the first page of a new book that shall be written by us.” Powerful stuff.