Bayfield Historical Society
Wandering north along the pebbled Historic Main Street in Bayfield you will find a little gem tucked back slightly, but noticeable for its creative window displays and distinct architectural look. Originally built by the Erwin brothers in 1893 for the brothers’ furniture company, today it’s the home of the Bayfield Historical Society and Archives.
The building, once located across the street and next to the Erwins’ residence (their home was located in the building currently occupied by Bayberry Shoppe), was moved to its current location when its purpose shifted from a furniture shop to the village library.
While it may look tiny and quaint from the outside, step inside and you may be surprised. The archival collection housed here is mighty. One cabinet is dedicated to the war paraphernalia – documents, stories from World War I and World War II – collected from residents across Huron County. Another cabinet showcases Indigenous stone tools that were found in the Bayfield River Flats. For those looking to reminisce, artworks on display recall bygone days.
Given its coastal location, an exhibit on shipwrecks is extensive and includes items found on board these vessels. Meanwhile, an exhibit put together in 2020 focuses on fossils collected on the Bayfield beach. Ruth Gibson, the society’s president, explains that one fossil is organ pipe coral that is still found in oceans today.
She also explains that there’s “petrified wood too as there is a petrified forest under Lake Huron 20 kilometres from Bayfield and we think that this piece is from there.”
While the society had been preparing to host the Admiral Bayfield Project in August of this year, organizers postponed the event until 2022, but will be releasing a book about Admiral Henry Wolsey Bayfield as written by local historian David Yates. The Admiral, for whom the village is named, “was in the Royal Navy at 11 years old and fought. He spoke five Indigenous languages learned from mapping the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and other waterways,” explains Gibson of some of the Admiral’s achievements. The book will be out in July and available for purchase at the Archives and the Village Bookshop further along Main Street.
For those with ancestors in the region, the Bayfield Historical Society will research a family tree. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $100 for a pedigree with prices increasing depending on the level of research required. The society has received requests from across the U.S. as families seek to trace their ancestors who started here. 20 Main St N, Bayfield. www.bayfieldhistorical.ca