The Cobourg Museum Foundation works to increase the knowledge of the unique local history of this area on the part of residents and visitors alike, and works to collaborate with other organizations having complementary objectives.
The Cobourg Museum Foundation (CMF) is a volunteer run, registered, not-for-profit charity, founded in 1999 by a group of citizens concerned about the state of near collapse of the limestone building locally known as the “barracks” believed to be the only limestone building ever constructed in the area.
The “barracks” reference is anecdotal, and likely first came about as a result of an article published in the Cobourg Daily Star in the mid-1930s. The article stated that the building was built by the British in support of the War of 1812. However, this has yet to be substantiated by any direct evidence.
In 2000 the CMF negotiated the purchase of the building and its site, and began to work to preserve it and develop it as a local museum with a focus on military history. In this same year the CMF was successful in obtaining the first of a number of government and institutional grants in support of the preservation and enhancement of the building as well as supporting other projects such as the staging of a successful and ongoing annual summer series of Ghost Walks in partnership with the Cobourg Downtown Business Improvement Association.
In 2001 the CMF produced its first newsletter and the first of an annual series of September Open House events was held.
Also in 2001 the CMF began a series of fund raising projects to help defray the costs of restoration.
In 2002 the CMF began its Outreach Program by putting on the first of its annual February Ontario Heritage Day displays at a local mall.
In 2003 the CMF continued its Outreach Program by putting on an exhibit about the War of 1812 at the local library and staging a re-enactment event. Since then exhibits have been created on the subject of “The Role of the Blacksmith in the Early Economy of Upper Canada” and “The History of the Mississauga First Nation at Alderville”.
On two occasions the “barracks” has been included in the Ontario Doors Open event in Cobourg.
The CMF has participated in Cobourg’s popular July 1st Waterfront Festival a number of times with the purpose of informing visitors about the unique history of the area.
In 2006, and with expertise provided by the United Way, the CMF undertook a year long process that resulted in a Strategic Plan and a refined definition of its goal entitled “Vision 2012“. This plan has identified the primary role of the CMF as that of working with existing heritage interests to promote the history of the area to visitors and residents.
After consulting with the Ontario Ministry of Culture it was decided that the “barracks” and its site will become the Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre, named in honour of two of the founders of the Foundation now deceased. The Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre is planned to be completed by June 2012.
In late 2007 the CMF was given an 1860s storey and a half wooden heritage cottage to be used on the site to provide meeting rooms, offices and a gift shop. Through a partnership with West Colony Bay, Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable, Lakefront Utilities and Cobourg Fiberoptic Networks Inc., the building was moved to the site at no cost to the CMF.
The barracks and cottage officially opened as the Sifton-Heritage Centre on June 9, 2012 in conjunction with the Town of Cobourg’s 175th Celebration and a public parade from Victoria Hall led by the Cobourg Concert Band to the site.