What do you think of when you hear the words Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum? Do you think of a bunch of cheese wheels lying around or old farm equipment on display? Yes, they have those but so much more awaits you as you tour this informative and interesting Museum!
Ingersoll is famous for producing one of the largest cheese wheels in history (over 7300 pounds) way back in 1866, but did you know this as well: Ingersoll was part of the Underground Railway, was founded by the father of Laura Secord and was home of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson? Some other notably famous people are the world champion husband and wife racing team of Harold and Lorna Wilson, and internationally renowned wood carver Wilson Johnston. Every life has a story and telling that story is one of prime importance to the staff of the Museum.
On the property you will find several different and unique buildings including a replica 19th century Cheese Factory, the Sherbrooke Barn, a blacksmith shop and the Ingersoll Community Museum. From one building to the next you will be surprised, entertained and awed while learning about the past. A past just begging to be heard!
As you walk into the main building to begin your tour take note of the gift shop as you will want to take home a souvenir of your experience. To the left of the gift shop is where the tour begins with a rather large display case housing the most amazing and jaw dropping wood carving I’ve ever seen. You can see that every detail was lovingly carved to perfection! This is one of the permanent items on display and not to be missed. Around the room are more displays of local history, changed often so as to always surprise and entice the visitor for a return visit. And return you shall!
As you stroll into the next room be sure to check out the Interactive Heritage Video on Laura Secord. It was fascinating! Did you know that Laura Secord’s father was Thomas Ingersoll? Yes, that Thomas Ingersoll, if you want to know more you’ll have to visit.
Of all the information and artifacts on display, the Underground Railway by far captured my heart and my interest the most. You will be both fascinated and informed as you read the stories of determination, struggle and triumph from individuals over the last 200 years.
One of the more popular items is the cradle that Aimee Semple McPherson used as a baby. Aimee Semple McPherson was a very theatrical person and this ability was no better demonstrated then during her sermons. Also known as Sister Aimee, she was a Canadian-American based evangelist and media celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s who founded the Foursquare Church. She was the first woman to be granted a broadcast license, a real pioneer in the use of modern media. If you would like to know more about this remarkable woman you’ll just have to drop into the Museum and read all about her.
Some of the other memorable displays include a 150-year-old barn loom and a bicycle that has travelled around the world. These have to be experienced on your own to feel the true appreciation of these items. Take your time in these two rooms as there is a lot of history to take in and you’re definitely going to want to take it all in. There is so much more I could tell you about what is in these two rooms, but that would spoil your adventure and I most certainly do not want to do that!
As well as cheese and agricultural history, the Museum also houses the Sports Hall of Fame exhibiting various photographs, memorabilia and awards. Items from local athletes like Olympic diver Ken Armstrong and NHL linesman George Hayes are on display. The Museum is proud to display not only their local accomplishments and achievements but also their national and international ones too! Through fundraising activities, a new wing, to be added onto the main building, is in the works. You can make a donation to the building campaign at the front desk.
While you’re visiting the other truly informative and awesome displays, check out the Oxford County Museum School. The school was relocated from Burgessville after 38 years of operation. Now that’s some re-cycling! To “learn” (pun intended) more about the school simply ask one of the staff or volunteers to show you through.
I bet you thought I was going to forget to talk about what made the Museum famous, the mammoth 7300 pound cheese wheel. Surprise! I haven’t!
It all happened a very long time ago, the year was 1866 at the James Harris Cheese Company a very special and rather large wheel of cheese was born. Weighing in at 7300 pounds it was created by three local cheese factories to promote Oxford County’s cheddar cheese. The promotion was aimed at the English, French and US markets. The greatest success was achieved in the English market and for over 50 years Oxford County exported their cheese abroad.
As well as historical information, community involvement is important to the Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum as it plays host to Santa’s Festival Village and the Festival of Lights.
Many visitors have gone through the Museum and these are some of the comments they left “Astounding”, Unique & Interesting”, “Extremely Well Done” and my favorite “Breathless”. Visit today and come up with your own experience comment.
I have only touched on all that the Museum is, there is so much more, but you’ll have to experience it yourself.
While the story of the “Big Cheese” might get you in the door, it is everything else the Museum has to offer that keeps you there and keeps you coming back!
Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum
290 Harris St., Ingersoll, ON
Posted By: Debbie Solta, Cultural Events Coordinator