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Can you tell me a little bit about how and why your organization began? 

The Fredericton Region Museum began its journey in 1932 as a York-Sunbury Historical Society, a local initiative aimed at preserving and showcasing the rich history and diverse heritage of central New Brunswick. Its inception was rooted in a desire to preserve its material culture and educate the community about the region’s cultural, social, and economic past. 

Throughout its evolution, the Museum has remained committed to its core mission of being a gateway into the fascinating history of central New Brunswick. It serves not only as a repository of artifacts and documents but also as a dynamic space for education, exploration, and community engagement. Managed by The York-Sunbury Historical Society, Ltd., a non-profit charitable organization run by a volunteer Board of Directors, through exhibitions, programs, and outreach efforts, the Museum continues to play a vital role in connecting people with their heritage and fostering a deeper appreciation for the region’s past. Today, the Fredericton Region Museum uniquely offers visitors the opportunity to explore the histories of the Wabanaki nations, the Acadians, the Black community, and the Loyalists all under one roof.

The Fredericton Region Museum serves the greater Fredericton area, which has a population of around 100,000 people and is located along the picturesque Wolastoq (St. John) River. Housed in a historic 1853 Military Barracks, the museum occupies a significant 10,000 square foot, three-story stone building that was designated a National Historic Site in 1965. Strategically located in downtown Fredericton, known as “The Historic Garrison District,” the museum is a pivotal element in fulfilling visitor expectations for the area. Adjacent to the museum, a public square hosts numerous cultural and tourism events throughout the year, in which the museum actively participates. Despite ongoing municipal construction in Officers’ Square, just outside the building, the museum typically welcomes around 6,000 visitors annually.

The Museum is run by a Board of Directors made up of professional historians, educators, retired military, other professionals and interested citizens, as well as the Executive Director. With the help of many volunteers, they work tirelessly to create informative exhibits on the history of Fredericton and the surrounding areas, organize programs and events, as well as publish a well respected, local history journal “The Officers’ Quarters”. The Museum has an Exhibits Committee, a Collections committe, a Finance Committe and a Health & Safety Committee. 

The Museum secures funding from multiple sources, including the City of Fredericton, the Province of New Brunswick, and the federal government. Additionally, it generates revenue through admissions and the rental of its spaces. 

What are the best ways to help your organization?

One of the easiest ways to support our organization is by becoming a member of the York-Sunbury Historical Society, which offers numerous benefits. Members enjoy perks such as receiving a complimentary copy of the Society’s journal, “The Officers’ Quarters”, and exclusive invitations to our highly sought-after speaker series that covers diverse historical subjects. Another avenue of assistance is through volunteering, where individuals can contribute their time to research, outreach initiatives, and managing collections, gaining valuable insights into Central New Brunswick’s history along the way. Additionally, staying connected with us on Facebook ensures that you stay up-to-date with our events and gives you the chance to extend invitations to your friends to join us, for facilitating broader awareness of our Museum serves as the greatest form of endorsement and recognition for our efforts.

Can you tell me about one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had while working for this organization?

Certainly, while the museum’s primary focus is on serving the residents of Greater Fredericton, it also welcomes visitors from other Canadian provinces, as well as from far off countries, such as South Africa and New Zealand. Witnessing their genuine enthusiasm and hearing that the museum surpasses their expectations by revealing the captivating history of a maritime province, is incredibly gratifying. Another joyous aspect of the museum’s journey is observing the countless children who partake in its summer events, like scavenger hunts and trivia, and leave with lasting memories.

What kind of challenges has your organization encountered and how did you adapt to overcome them? 

The Museum has encountered various challenges, and adaptation has been key to overcoming them. One challenge can be financial constraints, especially if funding sources are uncertain. To address this, the Museum strived to diversify its revenue streams by increasing fundraising efforts, seeking out grants from different sources, or exploring new avenues for generating income, such as offering additional programs or services.

Another challenge might have been maintaining relevance and engaging with the community, particularly during periods of low visitation or changing demographics. In response, the Museum is constantly revamping its exhibitions and programs to appeal to a broader audience. It also collaborates with local schools and community groups to increase outreach efforts, as well as utilizes digital platforms to reach a wider audience, especially during times when physical visitation may have been restricted (e.g., during the COVID-19 pandemic).

Infrastructure and maintenance issues also pose challenges, especially when the historic building requires significant repairs or updates. To address this, the Museum has collaborated with the City od Fredericton, as well as the federal government to secure necessary resources for building maintenance. Several additional projects are in the planning stages, including the potential installation of an elevator to enhance accessibility for individuals with limited mobility and better insulation of the museum’s stone walls.

What is something that you wish more people knew about your organization?

The Fredericton Region Museum houses over 30,000 artefacts that offer a fun and exciting way to look into our past. For example, it is the home of the famous Coleman Frog – 42-pound wonder that lived in the Killarney Lake just north of Fredericton over a hundred years ago. 

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