The rich heritage of Northeastern Ontario consists of its indigenous population and its gold mining history. Known as the City with a Heart of Gold, Timmins is located in one of the most affluent mineral-producing areas in the western hemisphere—and has received worldwide recognition as a major player in global mining.
For those interested to learn more about this charming town, a stop at the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre is certainly in order. This vibrant public museum proudly presents Timmins’ local history and culture, giving visitors a glimpse into the past and allowing them to discover how Timmins became the primary commercial center during the Porcupine Gold Rush.
Situated in the heart of downtown Timmins, the museum is a local treasure and will attract you with its extravagant modern exterior. Take a deep breath of fresh, northern air and step inside to experience an educational and transformative journey.
Immerse Yourself in Timmins’ Gold Rush Era
What do A.J. Casson, a jackleg drill, and the Porcupine Advance have in common? All of these pieces can be found in the collections of the Timmins Museum. Here, visitors can admire oil artworks, clay sculptures, and photographs alongside textiles, tools, furniture, transportation, and communication devices, as well as the minerals extracted during the Gold Rush.
One of the most impressive collections is the museum’s archive, which includes more than 20,000 images dating from 1908. While the pictures tell the tale of the early days of the Porcupine Gold Rush and the development of the mining communities, there are maps, historic photographs, film footage as well as an extensive book collection that add a sense of depth to the collection. So much so, that it’s even possible to find miners’ home addresses, the names of spouses and children.
Another permanent local history exhibition, Where We Stand: Stories of the Land, features rotating exhibitions on the Porcupine Camp, which was attached to one of Canada’s most important gold mining areas.
In the early 1900s, thousands of fortune seekers poured into the region in an attempt to stake their own claims or look for work in high-paying mining jobs. This meant that tented cities would pop up in a matter of days or weeks. The Porcupine Camp was one of these and Where We Stand chronicles the story of the under canvas town.
Next, step outside and stroll across the lawn to Hollinger House to learn more about the history of Timmins’ gold mines. Enter the prospectors’ cabin to view the wild frontier and hear the story of early prospectors who arrived in the area circa 1912. Be sure to get involved inthe virtual mining experience, which allows you to get a feel for the underground mining process. This provides an especially interesting look at mining in the area seeing as all of the Timmins mines have been decommissioned.
Year-round Entertainment at Timmins Museum
Aside from being a gallery of the town’s history, the Timmins Museum marks itself as an important place for community gatherings. Its soul comes alive with a variety of art workshops, craft evenings, and books sales for adults and children.
Events like the Autumn Centerpiece Workshop invite locals and visitors alike to make seasonal centerpieces for their dining tables using indigenous Canadian botanicals. There are also drawing workshops with local artists and craft sessions for children on Kids Saturdays, where the young ones can expect fun like creating autumn leaf lanterns.
There are also plenty of temporary exhibits that make Timmins Museum a stop on their itineraries across Canada. And there is plenty to get you thinking. Recently, Linda Finn’s The War Letters showcased artworks based on letters written to the artist’s grandmother during both world wars. Works from the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario are regularly showcased here too.
Another recent touring exhibition was the Fragments of Humanity: Archaeology in Quebec exhibition, which showcased the artifacts from the province. The display is especially relevant in Timmins, which is a cultural melting pot and a home to one of Canada’s first nations of aboriginal people. If you’re looking to learn more about these ancient peoples, take a photo tour of Timmins and check out their teaching murals in town.
Timmins Museum Location and Opening Times
The museum is located at 325 Second Avenue in downtown Timmins and is open seven days a week (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends), year-round.
Admission to the museum is free and tours are available up to 30 minutes before closing. You can even visit the museum with your pet.
With beauty, history, and charm to boot, Timmins is hard to beat as a destination. Read more about this stellar town and start planning your trip in our Northeastern Ontario Travel Guide.