A thief or thieves broke down the door at the Monro Heritage Museum in Port Elgin in late August, and made off with a donation box containing a small sum of money.
“One of our summer students discovered the break-in when she opened the museum on Monday morning. Needless to say she was very upset that someone would do this to our little museum,” Jack Lines, a member of the Westford Historical Society, managers of the museum, said last week.
The Monro Heritage Museum, which opened in 2000, houses a number of exhibits depicting life in the Port Elgin region over the past century including a replicate of an old-time blacksmith’s forge, farmhouse kitchen and salon as well as displays on Fort Monckton, sports in the area, Fred Magee, the local fisheries and military, among others.
“We’re proud of the museum and pleased that people have been generous is loaning and donating their heritage items for the displays. But there’s nothing of any financial value there, nothing you could actually sell for money. Its value is solely in its history,” he explained.
Historical society members were shocked to hear of the break-in, he said.
“The museum has been open for almost 20 years and this is the first time there’s been a break-in; hopefully it will be the last,” he said.
Lines said the museum charges no admission fee, preferring instead to place a donation box for visitors.
“The box is really our only fund-raiser for the year, but this year the box will be empty. Actually, we don’t even have the box, because it was stolen too,” he said.
Lines admitted that the society was remiss in not removing the donation box nightly, during its annual operation period, from July 1 – Sept. 1. But that has changed, he said.
“There is no money kept on the museum premises, period. Each day any donations received will be removed from the box - when we get a new one made - and taken out of the building, so it won’t be a temptation for anyone. We’ve also beefed up the security system in the building, which unfortunately we had to do,” he said.
Once the break-in was discovered, RCMP were summoned and investigated the incident, but no charges have been laid.
“It really is very disappointing that someone or some people would steal from a little community museum,” Lines said.