Top Ten Most Interesting Artefacts at the Albert County Museum

A Top Ten List of the 10 Most Interesting Artefacts at the Museum sounds like a easy list to make, until you ask people to submit their ideas. It turns out, when you ask 12 different people to submit their top 10 items at the museum, you're going to get almost 120 different items. Which causes a problem when 10 is what you need. 

So we had a decision, narrow down the items or narrow down the people we ask. For safety sake, we narrowed down the people we asked. So, we asked our Manager/Curator Mr. Donald Alward, who pretty much lives at the museum during the summer months, what he thought were the Top Ten Most Interesting Artifacts at the Museum.

His list is quite surprising, it ranges from the spectacular to the more mundane, some items he picked because of the story behind them, others from their sheer historic significance, and others for their curiosity. Each one has their own unique place in our past and an important story to tell. If you're curious why Donald picked these, and the story behind them, then come to the museum and find out! We're open May long Weekend until Mid-September. 

This is his list: 

We encourage you to write in the comments some of the other artefacts you love from the museum. 

The Answer is in the Search.


In our continued effort to improve our visitor experience we have just added the ability to Search the Museum's Website. If you look in the header of the site, just click on SEARCH and a new Search page will open. It's really amazing what you can find by a simple search. For example if you search Steif (the original spelling of Steeves), it brings up three different articles from the website. I encourage you to give it a try and see what amazing things we have hidden away online. 

Origin of the Species

A group of history minded people from all over Albert County met in Alma to form a group called the Albert County Historical Society.  The Albert County Historical Society was incorporated as a Non-profit organization in New Brunswick in 1957.  The Society held regular meetings to decide how to best preserve the history of the county.  They decided to establish a museum and chose a building in Hillsborough to look at.  A short time later an opportunity arose in the shiretown of Hopewell Cape.  The County Council had recently built a new Municipal Office building so the former offices were now surplus.  It so happened that the President of the Historical Society, Judson Cleveland, was also a member of the County Council.  Arrangements were made for the Historical Society to lease the former Records Office for use as a museum.

Pye Store, Tax Office and Records Office in Hopewell Cape

Pye Store, Tax Office and Records Office in Hopewell Cape

The Historical Society began collecting artefacts in 1960 to be on display in the museum.  After some modifications were made to the Records Office, including removal of the stone wall between the two sections of the vault, the Albert County Museum was opened to the public in 1962.

Later that year, after an act of council to exhume the body of Thomas F. Collins was completed, the Albert County Gaol was sold to the Society for use as a permanent museum.  Modifications were made to open up the Gaolkeeper’s apartment rooms for use as galleries as well as upgrades to the electrical service.  When the museum opened for the season in 1965, it was in the Gaol.

All County Councils were dissolved in December 1966 and all assets became the property of the province of New Brunswick.  In 1972 the Albert County Court House was sold to the Historical Society and opened to the public as part of the museum in 1975.  The County Records Office, Tax Office and the Carriage Shed associated with them was also sold to the Historical Society in 1972 in the same transaction as the Court House, but these other buildings were only used as storage.

The Historical Society saw the growing need for space to properly display and interpret the industrial aspects of the county so they obtained funding over the first few years of the 1980’s to build the Exhibition Hall.  It was built in three stages with the last piece completed in 1983.

In 2003, the boards of directors for the Hopewell Cape Community Hall and the Silver Jubilee Lodge & Library both decided to merge with the Historical Society in the hope of being able to preserve the buildings.

After several years of effort the Historical Society was finally able to secure funding for an entire site redevelopment in 2007.  Over the next 3 years the $1.4 Million project saw all of the buildings refurbished.  In 2010 the revitalized Albert County Museum was officially opened.  It now consists of eight buildings featuring 22 themed galleries that tell the stories of “The People of the Tides” – the human and industrial history of Albert County.

Museum to Celebrate Albert County Remembers Day and Kick-Off Victory Cannon Campaign

HOPEWELL CAPE – The Albert County Museum and RB Bennett Commemorative Centre is hosting the first “Albert County Remembers” Day on Saturday, June 7 in memory of the accomplishments and sacrifices by the people of Albert County throughout the wars. Located in Hopewell Cape at 3940 Route 114, (just 2 minutes from the Hopewell Rocks), activities begin directly following the weekly Farmers and Crafters Market.

The afternoon events will start at 12 noon with a “show and tell”, where members of the public are encouraged to bring their personal mementos and artefacts from the various conflicts, from World War I to the present. A number of displays have been coordinated with local museums and prominent collections through the province highlighting the involvement from the people of New Brunswick in these armed conflicts.

Brent Wilson, Director of NB Military Heritage Project UNB Gregg Centre, will give an introductory talk on the famous “Fighting 26th”, the New Brunswick Battalion. As part of the presentation there will be readings from letters written (1914-1918) by Hugh C Wright, an Albert County soldier from Hopewell who served in the 26th.  Actual film footage of the 1914-1915 training of the soldiers in Saint John will be shown.

The highlight of the afternoon will be the official launch of the 2014 Victory Cannon Campaign to restore the captured war trophies that have stood in Hopewell Cape for the past 94 years. The cannons or field guns, proudly displayed in the square in Hopewell Cape since 1920, are a German 10.5cm k14 (1917) and a German 7.7 cm fk96 n.A.(1914).

Both cannons were captured by Canadian forces at the battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917. The larger 10.5 cm cannon was captured by the 27th Winnipeg Battalion and the smaller 7.7cm by the 26th New Brunswick Battalion.

A presentation will be shown on the capture of the 10.5cm k14, as its history is extremely well documented, right down to the place and time of capture.  Donald Alward, Museum Manager and Curator said, “The documentation is so complete that you can pin-point the exact location of capture on Google-earth today, and when you compare the topography from 1917 to today, it is almost identical, the same trees, same railway, and the same roads. It really is amazing how little has changed, considering the destruction that occurred.”

If the military significance of the cannons wasn't enough, both cannons hold special meaning to the people of Albert County.

The German 10.5cm k14 (1917) cannon was won by the people of Albert County in the Victory Loans Campaign of 1919. The government set specific targets for each county in the country. A prize was awarded in each province to the county that surpassed the goal by the most. In New Brunswick, Albert County had the distinction of nearly tripling their goal of $110,000.00 by raising a total of $317,000.00, which was enough to win the special War Trophy.

The second cannon, the 7.7cm fk96 n.A. was awarded to the people of Albert County in recognition of the sheer number of men who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.). Albert County holds the distinction of having had the highest level of enlistment in the First World War in all of Canada on a per capita basis. A remarkable achievement!

When asked about the restoration of the cannons, Donald said “The estimated cost to restore the cannons will be about $15,000.00. We are very fortunate that they are in such good condition considering they have stood outside in the weather for 96 years. It's our goal to preserve them for another one hundred years.” Donald, went on to say, “We have arranged to have new wheels built using the original parts by a renown wheelwright and have sourced local professionals to do the repairs to the cannons and their foundations.  It's our plan to paint the cannons in their 'as captured' camouflage colours, using original photos and expert technical advice.”

The Museum will offer free admission with a free-will donation to the Victory Cannon Campaign during the day to see all the displays and exhibits through-out the Museum.