“James Street State of Mind: downtown St. Catharines over the last 100 years”


Saturday, April 25, 2015


In the Soil Arts Festival Hub, James Street, downtown St. Catharines

How many people exhibited objects?

57 people shared their James Street memories

How many people came but did not bring objects?

200+ people dropped by throughout the weekend event


St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre: www.stcatharinesmuseum.ca
In the Soil Arts Festival: http://www.inthesoil.on.ca/

Posted by Meredith Leonard, Visitor Services Coordinator, St. Catharines Museum

What was it about?

The St. Catharines Museum was excited to be invited to be part of the 2015 In the Soil Festival – a weekend-long arts festival that takes over our City’s downtown core. We hosted a pop-up museum on James Street at the Festival hub, which was part of our 2015 aMUSE: Sideshow series. This year, our aMUSE: Sideshow is travelling around the City of St. Catharines, with pop-up museum exhibits at locations including Brock University, the Farmer’s Market and Mahtay Café and Lounge.

For our pop-up at In the Soil, we created an exhibit of historic photographs of James Street and invited visitors to share their own James Street memories with us – we hoped to encourage sharing and conversation among visitors and offer a sense of the rich history of downtown St. Catharines for residents and visitors alike. Our downtown is currently undergoing a major revitalization – a new performing arts centre is slated to open this fall and there is a great deal of new construction happening. These are all exciting developments, but we hoped our small pop-up exhibit could provide a look back at the rich history of our downtown streetscapes. To this end, we provided copies of historic fire insurance maps and challenged visitors to investigate changes on James Street over the last century.

How did it go?

Our first In the Soil experience was a success! We collected stories and memories of James Street and our City from visitors throughout the weekend, who added their many diverse contributions (which included everything from first homes to a love of Beechwood donuts) to our "It Happened on James Street" memory board. The historic maps proved a popular activity and encouraged new ways of looking at the built heritage of James Street.

We were fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful group of creative people who enhanced and enriched our pop-up museum offering - FIXT POINT's “Tale of a Town Canada Storymobile” was stationed right across from our pop-up museum, and they spent the weekend collecting stories and memories of downtown St. Catharines.


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