Visitors get first glimpse of Chimczuk Museum

History buffs in Windsor finally got their chance to step into the Chimczuk Museum on Thursday.
Melissa Ospino, a Grade 4 student at St. Anne elementary school looks at the Chimczuk Museum's exhibit on Hiram Walker. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

History buffs in Windsor finally got their chance to step into the Chimczuk Museum Thursday.

The grand opening ceremony for the museum, located on the ground floor of the Art Gallery of Windsor, featured a traditional greeting from a First Nations elder and a reading from Marty Gervais, Windsor's poet laureate.

The museum is named after Joseph Chimzcuk, a tinsmith at Ford Motor Company who left $1 million to the City of Windsor when he died in 1990 in order to "build a building to be known as the C(h)imczuk Museum," according to his will.

Cecil Eric Isaac, an elder on Walpole Island blesses the Chimczuk Museum in Windsor. (CBC)

"I think it's pretty cool," said Melissa Ospino, while looking at a portrait of Hiram Walker. "I like the part about black history. It shows the lanterns they made and how the slaves became free."

Ospino is one of the fourth-grade students at St. Anne elementary school who took in the opening ceremony. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said it was sixth graders from St. Anne who first convinced the city to get moving on the museum project a few years ago.

Other students stopped by an interactive portion of the museum showing aboriginal pottery. The kids were required to tape together pieces of a clay pot.

"Opening this museum is a bold and important statement that this is what matters: our history," Gervais said. "Our heroes, and our villains too."

Gervais read from a poem about the Detroit River, and talked about the importance of Windsor's Francois-Baby House in finding stories during his career as a journalist.

Admission was free Thursday and will be again for a community celebration on Saturday. Regular admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors and children.

Couldn't make it out today? CBC Windsor Morning's Tony Doucette was able to get a sneak peak of the museum.

Check out the pictures below:

Learn about Windsor's ABCs.

The gallows' doors from the former Windsor Jail hang from the museum's ceiling.

Canadian Club, founded by Hiram Walker, is still produced in Windsor. 

And Chrysler, the company that employed generations of Windsorites, has its own display.


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