Written by museum assistant Talia Collins, who is helping to coordinate this year’s National Historic Places Days event.
Despite the dreary nature of the Huron Historic Gaol, music would often fill the halls of the Gaol. This music was able to help brighten the lives of both the prisoners and the staff alike. It was a welcome relief from the footsteps of the guards doing walk around and the creaks of the metal cells doors, reminding them of their imprisonment.
One such instance of music filling the hallways was in 1951, coming from Lucille Martin, a volunteer for the Salvation Army. She recounts visiting the Gaol about once a month with her fellow volunteers to sing to the prisoners. The purpose of these visits was as an act of kindness towards the prisoners, a sentiment that was shared by many of the locals. Martin also recounted people throwing candy over the wall as gifts for the prisoners as they were walking by.
Another instance of music was from the Gaoler, Joseph Griffin’s, daughter, Winifred Griffin, who would play the organ for the local church. Her practicing could be heard throughout the Griffin’s home and the attached Gaol, bringing life to the otherwise solemn building and residence alike.
Today, music rarely finds home in the Gaol, but on Sunday, July 9, to celebrate National Historic Places Days, there will be performers at the Gaol once more! We are excited to welcome the Bayfield Ukulele Society and Elsie Puska, a skilled harp player from Huron Harp School, to liven up these halls once again with their music. Along with music, there will be games, free admission, and selfie station to take part in the Nation Historic places selfie contest. At the Huron County Museum, an ice cream social is going to be held with even more games, activities, and, of course, free admission!
Mahogany pump organ, an early 1900s model pump organ manufactured by W. Doherty Piano & Organ Co, Clinton, Ontario, which produced organs from 1875 to 1960s. Object ID M995.0007.001