Fanshawe Pioneer Village brings history to life

Recipient: London and Middlesex Heritage Museum’s Fanshawe Pioneer Village
Region: London and Middlesex
Program: Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund; Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program
Total funding received: $259,374

The newly restored boardwalk at Cooper Marsh has revitalized a key nature attraction.
Volunteers stroll through the Village in costume, re-enacting 19th-century rural living.

Preserving the historical heritage of the area is a top priority for Fanshawe Pioneer Village, the 46-acre living history site that is owned and operated by the London and Middlesex Heritage Museum. Yet, due to the size of the village, the task of maintaining its physical structure is an ongoing challenge.

The Village received funding through FedDev Ontario’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) and the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program to make necessary repairs and restorations to its buildings. The projects contribute to an accessible and enjoyable experience for the public in a friendly environment that accurately represents the history of the area.

“This is truly a success story!” says Sheila A. Johnson, former-executive director of the London and Middlesex Heritage Museum and lead on the CIIF project. “As you can imagine, Fanshawe Pioneer Village is a big place to maintain when most of your staff are volunteers. Thanks to two partnerships with FedDev Ontario, that job has been made easier.”

Fanshawe Pioneer Village is a regional tourism draw contributing a minimum of $1.8 million to the local economy annually. It boasts 33 original and replica heritage buildings, set in a picturesque, natural landscape. The living village attracts 43,000 visitors annually—including 15,000 school children involved in the heritage education program—to enjoy a variety of high-quality special events, from the history of dance to historic holidays to military manoeuvers.

According to current Executive Director, Shanna Dunlop, FedDev Ontario’s investment, along with funds raised by the community, have ensured the long-term maintenance of the Village’s heritage structures and will extend the Village’s function as a fun, educational and safe destination. Prior to the renovations, specifically roof repairs and storefront restorations, she says that deterioration of the buildings were threatening their continued use.

Recently, Canada 150 funds helped transform the Villages’streetscape, providing a renewed platform for interpreting early trades and businesses in turn-of-the-century London. “It is so fitting that we will be opening our new tinsmith shop and historic Rotary office displays this summer in time to celebrate our country’s 150th anniversary,” says Dunlop.

All in all, Fanshawe Pioneer Village is a vivid reflection of the past with a clear vision for the future of London and Middlesex in promoting civic engagement through experiences with local history.

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Thanks to FedDev Ontario and all of our community supporters who generously matched the funding we received, we are able to share and celebrate our community history in an accessible and immersive way.
Shanna Dunlop, Executive Director of London and Middlesex Heritage Museum