Cobourg has a good collection of Museums although not all are called museums.
Since they are mostly operated by Volunteers, most are not open all year nor all day – see the descriptions for their hours or better still, go to their web sites by clicking on the links provided. You can easily get directions to their locations by googling their addresses. With one exception (Sports Hall of fame), they are all within walking distance of each other and located in Downtown Cobourg. One is operated by the County and is not ready yet - meanwhile it's an archive.
- Canadian Women in Film - previously the Marie Dressler Museum - open by appointment
- Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre - open weekends Victoria Day (May) to Thanksgiving (October)
- Cobourg and District Sports Hall of Fame - open
- Art Gallery of Northumberland - open
- James Cockburn Room - closed - open on special occasions
- Northumberland County Archives & Museum (NCAM) - by appointment only
Canadian Women in Film
This museum is housed in the Marie Dressler House - which by itself is of interest - and uses current technology to full advantage.
Did you know that in the 1920s and 1930s women ruled Hollywood?
- Between 1922 and 1925 half of all films were written by women
- The important social issues of the day were raised by women screenwriters
- The largest salaries were earned by women actors
- Canadian Mary Pickford was the first actor to negotiate and receive a million dollar a year salary
- The top movie-making stars were women between 1932 and 1938
- The top grossing actor in Hollywood in both 1932 and 1933 was Canadian-born Marie Dressler
- By 1935 women comprised over 70% of movie audiences
During the first four years of the Academy Awards, the Best Actress Oscar went to three Canadian-born women who found their way to Hollywood, namely Mary Pickford (1929), Norma Shearer (1930), and Marie Dressler (1931).
But their ground-breaking influence came to an end in the mid-1940s and they are still working to gain their well deserved recognition and influence in the film industry!
Visit the Canadian Women in Film Museum to learn about the journey for women in film that connects to today’s efforts to achieve gender equality.
The Museum is operated by the Marie Dressler Foundation which is a registered charity whose mission is to make sure that Marie Dressler is remembered. It was created to raise money to restore her house when it was burnt down in 1989 and has a premium annual activity:
- A Vintage Film Festival held each Fall in Port Hope’s Capitol Theatre
In Dressler House at 212 King street West (Hwy 2), Cobourg.
Now open in 2023 by appointment via their web site here: Canadian Women in Film Go to Contact, Visit Us
Originally simply the Marie Dressler Museum, Marie Dressler Foundation has expanded the museum to include the other two female Oscar winning Canadian stars Mary Pickford and Norma Shearer.
Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre
The Centre is operated by the Cobourg Museum Foundation which is a volunteer run, registered, not-for-profit charity, founded in 1999 by a group of citizens concerned about the state of near collapse of the limestone building locally known as the “barracks” believed to be the only limestone building ever constructed in the area. The building is now thought to be a brewery house and is used to house different exhibitions every summer. The exhibits focus on different aspects of local history each year.
A popular extra is an operating outdoor model railway with a scale model of the since failed bridge over Rice Lake. There is also a gift shop on site.
141 Orr Street, Cobourg
For more details including hours of opening, see their Featured Events page here OR their web site.
Cobourg and District Sports Hall of Fame
Local Sports enthusiasts have collected some memorabilia and stories for the last century or so and remembered them in displays in the Cobourg Community Centre’s Grand Hall. Opened in early 2019, there will be 8 inductees each year with the first eight named at the opening ceremony.
Since the exhibits are housed in the Community Centre, the hours are the same as the Community Centre: Most days: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm; closed some Holidays and open later if there is a major event.
The Cobourg and District Sports Hall of Fame has a large web site: https://cdshf.ca/
Art Gallery of Northumberland
The mandate of the Art Gallery of Northumberland is to promote and provide access to art and related programs as a community gallery for the enjoyment and education of the people of Northumberland County.
The AGN exists to serve all of Northumberland County as a public gallery. It presents intellectually stimulating exhibitions and programming, as well as maintaining a permanent collection of visual arts. Along with exhibitions the AGN fulfills their mandate through educational activities which encourage active dialogue between the Gallery audience and the visual arts; including lectures, films, workshops, artist talks and tours.
There are professionally curated exhibitions at the gallery at all times – they are rotated through so that repeat visits are worthwhile.
Victoria Hall, 55 King Street West, West Wing, Third Floor
Monday and Sunday: Closed
Tuesday - Friday: 10 am – 4 pm
Saturday: 12 pm – 4 pm
James Cockburn Room
In Victoria Hall, there is a room set up as it might have been when James Cockburn had an office there in the 1860’s. James was one of Canada’s fathers of Confederation. On special occasions this room is open to the public – these days are not frequent but you can be assured that any day dedicated to James such as the James Cockburn day on the first Monday in August will be one of them. If you go on one of the tours of Victoria Hall in the summer, you will also likely see the room.
Each year Rob Franklin dresses as James Cockburn and performs in a play – usually held outside Victoria Hall on the Saturday of the long weekend at the start of August.
In 2017, the actual chair used by James was on loan to Cobourg – see the photo.
Victoria Hall, 55 King Street West, ground floor.
Northumberland County Archives & Museum (NCAM)
Currently housed in the Cobourg library building, this was previously called the County Archives. It is planned to expand the museum and the display of its collection when it moves into its new premises scheduled for summer 2024. That will be in the new Golden Plough building behind the County Offices at William and Elgin.
The logo for the new facility is at right.
The other picture shows what it's expected to look like.
The archive is operated by Northumberland County with a professional archivist.
Services currently available:
- Research support
- Access to artefacts and documents representing lives from all over Northumberland County - historical and contemporary - including municipal records, family and genealogical records, property records, photos, maps, and other items
- Programming-in-class 'Intro to Primary Sources' for young primaries, as well as a comprehensive lesson package for Grade 3 entitled 'Life in the 1800's in Northumberland County'
- Engaging tours to small groups, which can be customized by interest.
- Space to achieve mandated duties to preserve municipal records and deliver enhanced programming and exhibitions, increasing access to under-represented local historical and cultural collections.
- A permanent display about the history of Northumberland County
- An expanded reading room for public research
- A processing & conservation lab
- A quarantine area for new/unprocessed artefacts/documents
- A gallery for community groups to showcase the stories they wish to tell
The NCAM collection is built through the generous donation of materials by individuals and organizations. Staff seek to build a collection that represents the diverse experiences and histories of this area, and are available to answer questions about the primary sources NCAM is interested in collecting, and how to donate.
Cobourg library is at 200 Ontario Street. That is, the corner of King Street West and Ontario Street - accessed from Albert Street.
The Archives and Museum is open by appointment Monday to Friday. Contact us by email or phone.
Closures: The Archives and Museum is closed on all statutory holidays.
- Abigail Miller – Corporate Records and Archival Services Coordinator
- Katie Kennedy – Records and Archival Services Assistant
They can be reached at