Smiths Falls railway museum seeks town funding

Posted on: January 24, 2017

Chris Must

In support of an application for $50,000 in funding from the Town of Smiths Falls, Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario curator Anne Shropshire updated town councillors on Jan. 23 on the progress of the museum’s plan to achieve financial sustainability.

“We have had a very successful two years,” said Shropshire, noting that the plan was first presented to council in January of 2015.

The museum faced some challenges in 2016, including lower than hoped for membership due to aging members and a decreased participation in community programs. The museum is currently seeking to hire a community engagement coordinator to address these challenges.

On the plus side, the museum had a record attendance of 8,217 visitors in 2016.

“We are doing fewer events, but we are doing them better and bringing more attendance and revenue,” said Shropshire. The key fundraising event in 2017 will be the Irish-themed Emerald Gala planned for March 18 at Hanley Hall.

Shropshire said the museum’s goals align closely with the town’s strategic priorities. “The more we grow, the more successful you are in achieving your goals,” she said. “We preserve and promote your history.”

A final decision on this and other funding requests from community groups will be made following council’s 2017 budget deliberations. A decision to award $50,000 to the railway museum may not be unanimous, since Councillor Joe Gallipeau commented at the Jan. 23 meeting that since the town has cut funding for Heritage House Museum, perhaps the railway museum should also make do with less.