New Whey to Visit Ingersoll Museum!

This guest post is provided by Scott Gillies, Curator of the Ingersoll Cheese & Agricultural Museum.

In March of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic came to Canada and stayed, the Ingersoll Cheese & Agricultural Museum was, like every other business, attraction and household, shut down.

While being closed to the public, museum staff were able to continue their efforts in researching and documenting local history by working from home. In that time since the end of March until early August many of you and others across North America have become followers of the museum’s Facebook page, and by that means you have been able to visit the museum from a virtual point of view.

We are pleased to announce that as of August 10th, the Ingersoll Museum has been able to reopen for public tours, between Monday and Friday, although some of our operating procedures have changed.

As I write this blog entry, we ask that you contact the museum ahead of time to arrange a date and time for a scheduled tour. In other words, we are open by appointment. When you wish to come to the museum, we ask that you call 519-485-5510 and reserve a time that is convenient for you. By doing so, you will also enjoy (we hope) a personally guided tour of the main building, the Oxford County Museum School, and of course the historical cheese factory.

What will you see? 2020 marks the 110th anniversary of the Ingersoll Pipe Band so the museum has installed a special commemorative exhibition that delves into the history of this world famous community ambassador and some of the individuals who have been long-time members.  Originally slated to have closed in June, “A Piper’s Salute” has been extended until October 1st.

As many of you know, the museums of Oxford County were part of the award winning Oxford Remembers Oxford’s Own Project from 2014 until 2018 to commemorate the centennial of the Great War. One of the displays that we had hoped to have in Ingersoll was unavailable until now.

“Souterrain Impressions” is a travelling exhibit created by the London based Canadigm Group. For a number of years this local group of researchers have voluntarily travelled to “somewhere in France” in order to climb down many metres below ground level to explore and document a large chalk cave that had been home to dozens of Canadian troops in the days and weeks leading up to the attack on Vimy Ridge. While encamped in this cave, soldiers carved and sculpted their names, cartoons and cap badges into the walls of soft chalk.

By carefully and painstakingly documenting and photographing the walls, pillars and ceiling of this cave, the members of the Canadigm Group have documented over 200 different soldiers who lived below ground during this important time in Canadian history.

With the use of high-resolution laser technology, their names and creations have been photographed; taking plaster casts of the carvings was not an option because the chalk is so soft. Some examples have been recreated using 3-D printers to fashion lifelike and life-size reproductions.

All of the work done by this group of enthusiasts was turned into a travelling exhibition that was seen in different Canadian cities in 2016 and 2017. It was then sent to the interpretive centre at Vimy Ridge to mark the 100th anniversary. Supplementing this larger exhibition were two smaller displays; one of which is now on view at the Ingersoll Museum. This particular one had been at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC, and at Canada House in London England before coming here. We are honoured to be the current exhibitor.

With all this being said (or written), you can see that the Ingersoll Museum continues to be more than just cheese, and still has a lot to offer tourists from afar and visitors from around the corner. While things are not as they once were, and perhaps may not be for quite some time, we strive to offer a special experience to everyone who visits. We hope that you will be some of those people.

The Ingersoll Museum is located at 290 Harris Street in Ingersoll. For more details call 519-485-5510 or email

Salvation Army Burnside Lodge

Many thanks to Dr. Elaine Becker for providing the information in this post.

Stamp issued by Canada Post in October 2010

Your help is needed!

Dr. Elaine Becker is in the process of compiling another local history which is related to an important immigration scheme that ran from 1923 to 1936 – the story of Burnside Lodge over the years and the young men who became valued citizens in this area of Ontario should not be lost.

Small scale operations began in 1903 when The Salvation Army established the “Migration and Settlement Department”.

The principles of the department were:

  1. The needs of the individual were of major concern, including his mental and physical condition
  2. Ascertain the reasonable prospect of the individual succeeding overseas
  3. The absorbing power of the overseas Dominion was taken into account
  4. The after care of the migrant was to be undertaken as a moral obligation by The Army

The work that was carried on at Burnside Lodge in Woodstock, Ontario should not be confused with any of the programs, such as the Dr. Barnardo group which brought orphaned children to Canada. The young men who came to Woodstock came by their own choice and planning.

The Salvation Army Boy Farmers Scheme

The Boy Farmers program was only a small segment of The Salvation Army’s immigration scheme. The Army sponsored and oversaw the migration to Canada of more than 250,000 immigrants from England and other European countries.

Young men between the ages of 14 and 20 applied to the Salvation Army to come to Canada under this plan.  If accepted for the training, they attended farm training at Hadleigh Farm in England and then were examined for their suitability to immigrate to Canada.  Once accepted they were booked for transportation to Woodstock or to Smith Falls, Ontario. They were employed by local farmers and their situations were supervised by an officer from Burnside Lodge.  They stayed at the lodge until everything was settled.

Some of the boys who would arrive in Canada

Burnside Lodge was located on the present site of the YMCA at 808 Dundas St, Woodstock ON

Some of you may remember the building on Dundas Street and have pictures or memories of the facility later used during the war for housing the Women from the training base at the fairgrounds.

We are working to compile some of the stories of the young men who immigrated to Canada to work on local farms.  If you can help in any way with this story or if you know any of the families who share those roots or any of the farmers who engaged the young men when they arrived, please contact the Oxford historical Society by email at, thank you.

D. W. Karn Organ & Piano Co.

Many thanks to Longley Auctions for providing this guest post.

D. W. Karn & Co Advertising Cover

This information is taken from Longley Auctions FB page: D.W. Karn piano and organ company, formed in 1867, the year of Canada’s Confederation. It operated in Woodstock, Ontario and was owned by D.W. Karn, who was also the mayor and ran for Parliament twice. The first factory was located at Dundas and Reeve Street, later moving to larger facilities at Dundas and Wellington. This factory burned down twice and was later relocated to Dundas and Wilson.

Longley Auctions is a dealer in postal history and they came across this advertising cover for D.W. Karn & Co., and kindly sent it onto the Oxford Historical Society. The cover shown has a 3c Jubilee tied by a Woodstock postmark (1897) and shows the enormous factory. The cover is a front only (the back is missing). The item is available for purchase from Longley Auctions for $35.00, please contact them for more information.

More information and a display of some of the organs and pianos manufactured by the D.W. Karn Organ and Piano Co, can be found by visiting the Woodstock Museum NHS; or from the website Woodstock Newsgroup by Paul Roberts.

Correction notice: There was an error in the video contained in the post dated June 8, 2020 – Oxford County Library Local History. The Oxford County Branch Ontario Ancestors was mistakenly referred to as the Woodstock Branch of Ontario Ancestors (slide 13). The corrected video is located on the Society’s homepage.

If you have an article concerning the history of Oxford County that you would like published on the Society’s blog please email us at

Oxford County Library Local History

Hello Everyone,
The Ingersoll and Tillsonburg branches of Oxford County Libraries had planned a Local History week event; but then Covid-19 came along and the events were cancelled. Not to be deterred the Society still decided to create a video for the event. Our video will also be posted on the Oxford County Library Facebook page.

Please enjoy the video!

OxHS Presentation May 2020