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‘Friends’ of Elman W. Campbell Museum volunteer time, funds to preserve Newmarket's history

'Passionate and dedicated' volunteers support the museum through fundraising and volunteer efforts that include leading tours, accession and research, gift shop operation, organizing events

Reno Pipia’s now 10 years of volunteering at Newmarket’s Elman W. Campbell Museum began with a tour.

“I remember the first time this fellow took me. You talk about history, and that made me get really involved,” said Pipia. “That little tour that he gave me got me into it. It was amazing. I learned off of him how to do the same thing.”

A skilled woodworker, Pipia first began helping out by crafting displays, picture and board frames, and other wooden objects for the museum, meticulously replicating the styles of the period where needed. Today, his volunteer efforts have expanded to helping the museum with tours and displays, crafts, construction, and more.

In a typical week, Pipia volunteers at the museum three hours each morning Monday through Friday, and often will stay the entire day if staff need the extra help on busier days.

“I’d like to see more people volunteer and help out the town,” said Pipia, who is also a six-year volunteer with Newmarket’s NewRoads Performing Arts Centre. “I think it’s something we should do, after we retire, put our time back into our community.”

Dedicated volunteers like Pipia are crucial to the operation of the museum.

The Friends of the Museum (FOM), established the same year as the Elman W. Campbell Museum itself, is a dedicated and independent group of volunteers that support the museum through a variety of fundraising, promotional, and volunteer activities. Funds raised by the group are used to purchase supplies and equipment for the museum. Volunteers also operate the building’s gift shop, the Elsie Czernick General Store.

“We are very proud of all of our passionate and dedicated volunteers and their continuous commitment to the Elman W. Campbell Museum,” said Whitney Broydell, curatorial assistant at the Elman W. Campbell Museum.

“Our volunteers help the museum in many ways: helping to raise public awareness of the museum and its activities through social media, gift shop operation, participating and leading tours, behind-the-scenes work, accessioning and research, assisting at special events, and more,” said Janet Charpentier, program heritage instructor at the Elman W. Campbell Museum.

Located at 134 Main St. South, the Elman W. Campbell Museum covers the history of Newmarket and surrounding areas from the region’s first Quaker settlers in the early 1800s up to 30 years before present day.

Often described as Newmarket’s “hidden gem”, the non-profit aims to collect, preserve, research, and exhibit artifacts related to the social, political, and economic history of the area. Visitors can explore the museum’s model train diorama, replica log cabin, table-top activities, and permanent and temporary displays and exhibits.

In addition to regular tours, the Elman W. Campbell Museum also offers educational school programs, interactive, hands-on presentations, and Wee Fun Wednesdays, a fun drop-in program for children aged 1-4.

Established June 25, 1982, the museum is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year.

Those interested in volunteering with the museum can contact museum@newmarket.ca or call 905-953-5314 for more information.

“It’s a good experience,” said Pipia. “And it does save them money, too.”