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Catch a glimpse of the past at one of our local museums and historic properties.

Visit our Events Calendar to find out more about what's happening in Essex.


John R ParkJohn R. Park Homestead

Journey back in time at John R. Park Homestead, winner of the Ontario Historical Society’s Russell K. Cooper Award for Best Living History Museum. Built in 1842 along the banks of Lake Erie, the home of John and Amelia Park has been fully restored and costumed guides welcome visitors all year round.  Explore the historic home, taste baking from the kitchen fireplace, and play with wooden toys in the children’s bedrooms. Witness the workings of an 1885 steam engine powered sawmill and stop by the blacksmith shop to see what’s happening at the coal-fired forge. The view of the lake from the wooden boardwalk is breathtaking. 



John R Park

Essex County Steam & Engine Museum

Small engines, antique tractors and turn-of-the-century steam engines have found a home at the Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum, the largest steam engine museum in Ontario. Come for the tractors but discover so much more, like the Walkerville steam engine and the Carl Smith saw mill. The annual Steam and Gas Engine Show in August is a time to appreciate our past and to marvel at the antique tractors, steam engines and farm equipment that helped our ancestors settle and prosper in this area. Tours are available by appointment.




John R Park

Canadian Transportation Museum and Heritage Village

Local history and our automotive past come alive at the Canadian Transportation Museum and Heritage Village. The 100-acre site houses one of the largest vehicle museums in Ontario and over 20 buildings of local significance dating back to the early 1800s. Check out the fine collection of classic, antique and vintage vehicles, including everything from motorcycles to race cars and roadsters. Don’t miss the one-of-a-kind EMS museum, complete with vehicles, switchboards, sirens and uniforms. Outside, take a walk through Heritage Village, a collection of historic buildings dating from 1820 to 1930. When the time is right, grab a bite to eat at the 50’s Diner inside the museum.



John R ParkEssex Railway Station

Embark on a “blast from the past” heritage experience at the historic Essex Railway Station. Built in 1887, the train station and the tracks that were laid across the Talbot Trail established Essex Centre as a primary transportation hub. Two explosive events are part of the property’s history. Learn about the natural gas explosion that literally shook people out of bed on Valentine’s Day 1980, as well as the boxcar explosion that occurred just feet away from the station on a hot August morning in 1907. The station has been fully restored by Heritage Essex and is home to a variety of railway memorabilia, photographs and historical artifacts. A small gift shop is located on site showcasing written works of local authors and local artwork. 


John R ParkEssex Memorial Spitfire Monument 

Near the Railway Station you'll notice a full-scale replica World War Two MK-IX Spitfire on the high end of a plinth. The Essex Memorial Spitfire monument honours all Essex County RAF and RCAF veterans, but is especially significant to Essex Centre, home of Jerry Billing, a Second World War Spitfire pilot who was shot down three times in the course of making 250 sorties over Malta and Normandy. In 1995, the President of France made Billing a Chevalier dans l'Ordre National du Merité (Knight of the National Order of Merit) for his contribution to the liberation of France.

Find out more about local history, by contacting our historical societies.


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