145th Anniversary of the House of Industry and Refuge

Join us at Wellington County Museum and Archives (WCMA) for several events in 2022 dedicated to celebrating 145 years of the Poor House!

Photo Gallery: WCMA_145 Anniversary interior will appear here on the public site.

 Important Events:

 The Poor House Book Launch (NEW VIDEO!)

image, front profile of Susan Dunlop

On Thursday, June 9, Wellington County Museum and Archives unveiled the stories of the Poor House to celebrate their new book If These Walls Could Speak: The Story of the Wellington County House of Industry and Refuge by author Susan Dunlop, past‐curator of the Wellington County Museum and Archives. 

“The story of the rural Houses of Industry and Refuge has been a forgotten part of Ontario's early history. This book explores how the issues of poverty laid the foundations of our modern social welfare policies, told through the experiences of the women, men and children who passed through the doors of the Wellington County Poor House. “ – Susan Dunlop



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New Exhibit on the Poor House 

A new exhibit featuring artifacts and photographs from the Poor House coincides with the book launch event on June 9. This expansion to our award-winning “If These Walls Could Speak” exhibit brings inmate stories and Poor House history to life.


Photo Gallery: WCMA_2022_Poor House Exhibit will appear here on the public site.

The Poor House Event on September 24 

Take a step back in time and join us as we commemorate the 145th anniversary of the opening of the House of Industry and Refuge!


A brief itinerary of the day includes:

- 11:00 am: Opening Statements and and Welcome Remarks, including a re-enactment of a council debate surrounding the opening of the House of Industry in 1877.

- 11:45 am: Head to the Aboyne Hall for a performance of the special play based on life in the House of Industry, performed by a local theatre company and created just for this event.

- 12:30 pm: Enjoy a historical lunch in the Nicholas Keith Room, transformed in to the House of Industry dining room, featuring stew, warm bread and beverages. Everything you need for a hard day's work!

Join in on guided tours of the site lead by Museum staff, taking you into the corners of the Museum and to some of the lesser known areas of the old Poor House. Tours will be ongoing throughout the afternoon.

- 1:30 pm: Encore performance of the play.


For more information, please contact Kyle Smith, Activity Programmer at 519.846.0916 x 5224 or kyles@wellington.ca

House of Industry and Refuge Resident Database 

Check out our new online database this fall! It is centred around the House of Industry Admission Register. This database will unveil the residents who lived in the House during the period from 1877 to 1922. 




© 2023 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909