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Welcome to Dundas!
Dundas is a community tucked beneath the Niagara Escarpment in Southern Ontario, Canada. It became incorporated as a town on July 28, 1847, and remained a distinct municipality until its amalgamation with the City of Hamilton on January 1, 2001. The Community of Dundas today, with its picturesque downtown, heritage homes, and tree-lined streets, has become the arts and cultural heart of the area.
About the Museum
From the beginning, the Dundas Museum & Archives has brought people together. Today, we are your award-winning community museum with a regional reach.
Our collections, exhibits, and events showcase how history and geography have unfolded in our unique Dundas Valley. As a place to gather, learn and discover, we invite visitors of all ages to experience these stories and help keep them alive.
At the Dundas Museum & Archives, you’ll always find fascinating facts and a warm welcome. Our high standards in heritage education and preservation are maintained by our dedicated team of museum and archives professionals and a diverse group of volunteers.
As a privately funded non-profit corporation, we are grateful for additional support from the community.
As a heritage organization dedicated to historical memory and the spirit of reconciliation, the Dundas Museum and Archives acknowledges that the community of Dundas is situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississauga Peoples. This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. This land is also covered by the Between the Lakes Purchase, 1792, made between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit Nation.
Today, Dundas and the City of Hamilton are home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island (North America). We recognize that we must do more to learn about the rich history of this land so that we can better understand our roles as residents, neighbours, partners and caretakers.
The Naming of Dundas
John Graves Simcoe arrived in Upper Canada as its first Lieutenant Governor in 1792. With the possibility of attack by the United States being of great concern, Simcoe ordered a military road be built from Cootes Paradise (today’s Dundas) to Oxford (Woodstock), ensuring the transport of troops and supplies by land. He named it ‘Dundas Street’ for Sir Henry Dundas, Secretary for Home Affairs in Britain (although he never visited Canada). Today, the road is named both Dundas Street and Governor’s Road within Dundas limits.
In 1801 the wealthy Englishman Richard Hatt moved to the area from Ancaster and began constructing a large milling complex at the conjunction of Dundas Street and Spencer Creek. He named his operation the ‘Dundas Mills’ after the street on which they were located.
Hatt was interested in attracting settlers to the valley to work in his various mills and workshops and so opened a post office in his mill so that locals could correspond with the outside world. Mail coming to this office was first addressed to the ‘Dundas Mills,’ and eventually just ‘Dundas.’ By the end of the War of 1812, the name had stuck, and the various settlers who came to the area after writing to their friends and family knew it only as ‘Dundas.’
About Our Collections
The Dundas Museum & Archives houses more than 16,000 artifacts and nearly 300 metres of documents, spanning the entire history of the Dundas Valley – from 150 million-year-old calcite crystals to photos from the 2010 Dundas Hockeyville to memories of the COVID-19 pandemic! These valuable resources can tell us the stories of how we used to live and who we have become over time.
Our extensive collection of antique everyday objects – from tools to toys and furniture to fashion – tells us about vanished ways of life. We are also the stewards of one of Ontario’s finest collections of early Indigenous artifacts related to the Neutral People of the Valley. Some of our other collection strengths include both the decorative and fine arts.
Our rich archival collections include historical records such as letters, diaries, photographs, newspapers, maps, and account books. These documents give us a firsthand glimpse of the activities and thoughts of people from the last two centuries.
Together, our collections form an important source of understanding about our region’s social, political, architectural, and economic history.
About Our Facilities
The Atrium is our light-filled entrance hall with architectural features, recalling the ecological setting and industrial past of Dundas while connecting the original 1956 building to the 1873 Pirie House, creating the Museum as it is today. It also holds our Gift Shop!
Gallery 1 features our rotating Community Curator exhibit, as well as some of the natural history of the Dundas Valley, an escarpment climbing wall and a 3-D topographical map.
Gallery 2 contains our main exhibit, “Welcome to Dundas,” which traces the valley’s history from its first Indigenous inhabitants through the arrival of British Loyalists following the American Revolution and the development of the town’s industry and business during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Gallery 3 is our Feature Gallery – a versatile space for our scheduled rotating exhibits – you can look for something new every three to four months.
The C.E. (Clare) Crozier Reference Room is an inviting space where you can browse our collection of books and other research resources and view archival materials.
Our Education Centre is a spacious gathering place that combines the warmth of Victorian architecture with a state-of-the-art audiovisual system. It’s also available to rent!
Our Workroom and Collection Storage rooms (including the Vault) are where exhibits are built, and our collections are appraised, preserved, interpreted and stored.
The Doctor’s Office (circa 1848) was moved from its original location on King Street to the Museum grounds in 1974. It’s a rare example of the vernacular Gothic Revival style and has been restored to showcase the medical traditions of the Victorian period.
The mission of the Dundas Museum and Archives is to act as stewards of the community’s heritage as represented by the objects and archival material entrusted to us. We make this history available through our accessible exhibitions, education programming, research facilities, online presence and the support of community initiatives.
A welcoming space where the community engages with Dundas’ past.
The Dundas Museum and Archives is passionate about the community of Dundas and committed to these values:
- Ensure our actions are environmentally sustainable.
- Pursue excellence through continuous learning.
- Maintain and enhance an open, accessible and inclusive environment.
- Embrace our responsibility as stewards of the community’s history.
- Present innovative exhibitions and programs.