New welcome centre opens May 24

  • Trina Berlo, Staff
  • May 08, 2012 – 1:37 PM


Ready for the party. The new welcome centre at Nancy Island Historic Site will host a grand opening celebration on May 24. The centre was completed this year in preparation for the War of 1812 bicentennial events planned over the next three summers. Staff photo: Trina Berlo

WASAGA BEACH – The community is invited to celebrate the grand opening of the new welcome centre at Nancy Island Historic Site in Wasaga Beach on May 24.

The centre, built last year, is now fully furnished with exhibits. Improvements have been made to the island and museum, in preparation for the War of 1812 bicentennial, marking the 200th anniversary of the victory over the United States.

Nancy Island’s significance as a relic of the war has made it one of the focal points for the bicentennial.

The island is home to a museum that houses the charred hull of the HMS Nancy, a two-masted schooner was under the command of British Lieutenant Miller Worsley during the War of 1812.

The ship was attacked and destroyed by three American ships on August 14, 1814.

Over the years, sediment gathered around the ship’s hull and formed Nancy Island.

Visitors to the nautical themed welcome centre will be greeted by a 3D topographical map, showing ecological, cultural and historically significant areas of Wasaga Beach.

One of the exhibits, called Sharing Memories, uses postcards sourced from the Wasaga Beach Archives and other sources. People can browse the postcards and even e-mail themselves copies. People can also record their memories of Wasaga Beach, which may be incorporated into the exhibit. There’s also video clips, a reproduction of Playland Park sign and a carousel horse and some of the activities there used to be at the beach.

There’s also an exhibit on the ecology if Wasaga Beach, including the ecological features and species, especially species at risk.

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park natural heritage education coordinator Laurel Finney said the Wasaga and the War of 1812 exhibit serves as an introduction to Nancy Island Historic Site to encourage people to visit the museum on the island.

Finney said there have been upgrades to the museum, including a panel on women in the war.

The island is also home to Wasaga Under Siege, a War of 1812 reenactment that is celebrating its tenth year.

Finney said organizers are working on a provincial grant that would enable it to get tall ships to visit during Wasaga Under Siege 2013.

She said there could be as many as 15 tall ships sailing past.

During Wasaga Under Siege 2014, the 200th anniversary of the sinking of the HMS Nancy, the Colonial Sailor Program of the Royal Canadian Navy Directorate of Naval History and Heritage has chosen to do the Miller Worsley voyage for its annual reenactment, a week long flotilla voyage on Nottawasaga Bay visiting Owen Sound, Meaford, Thornbury, Collingwood and ending in Wasaga Beach.

The welcome centre houses a gift shop, staff offices, meeting space, tourist information, washrooms, and interpretative displays relating to both Nancy Island and Wasaga Beach.

Admission is free, although the Friends of Nancy and Wasaga Beach Park gratefully accept donations.

The grand opening begins at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 24 and will include a ribbon cutting and speeches. Scott Thomas, the signing superintendent, will be performing. The island will be visited that day by War of 1812 reenactors and park staff in period costume and Finney said there will likely be muskets and cannons fired.

Nancy Island Historic Site is open late May to mid June: weekends 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekdays for group reservations only; mid June to Labour Day: daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Labour Day to Thanksgiving: weekends 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays for group reservations only. Call 705-429-2728.

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