2019 Ontario Heritage Conference

May 30-June 1, 2019 ~ Bluewater/Goderich, ON  

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Self Guided Tour - Heritage Walks in the Port of Goderich

Thursday, May 30 from 1-4pm

The brochures will be available at the registration desk at the Knights of Columbus Hall where the registration will take place.

Experience the Heritage of Bluewater Free

With Five New Downloadable Tours

Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano once said, "History never really says goodbye.  History says, 'See you later.'"  

If you'd like to say ‘hello again’ to the rich heritage of Bluewater, or make its acquaintance in the first place, you’re in luck!

The Bluewater Heritage Tours allow both residents and visitors to enjoy approximately one hour walking tours of Bayfield, Hensall and Zurich, while driving tours cover Hay and Stanley Townships.

Created in 2018 by the Bluewater Heritage Advisory Committee, the heritage tours display the presence of almost 200 years of settlement, but the stories reveal the drama – the fires, the faith, the rebuilding, the ghost towns, the murders and the resilience of the people and places.

Many clues about the area’s past are scattered throughout Bluewater’s villages and countryside. The familiar brick Ontario Gothic farmhouses are more decorative, revealing the presence of highly skilled bricklayers whose unsigned work beautifies buildings large and small. The intricate work of blacksmiths shows up in the cemeteries. Imagination and invention looks down from church towers.

The tours are easily downloaded for free onto your SmartPhone or Tablet, or printed and brought along for those who prefer to do so.

It’s all waiting to be discovered at www.explorebeyondtheshore.ca.

The Bluewater Heritage Tours were created with the generous assistance of the Huron Heritage Fund and the Government of Ontario.

Thursday evening Welcome Reception at Hensall Heritage Hall

Nestled in the midst of tourist country with Stratford, Bayfield, Blyth, and Grand Bend all within easy driving distance the newly restored Hensall Heritage Hall offers a unique performance venue that should not be missed.
The Hensall Heritage Hall began its history in 1914 when the village's first mayor George Petty (nephew of the founding brothers ) circulated a petition that a town hall be built as the settlement did not have a council chamber at this point. A Mr. McEwen deeded a plot of land to the village and two Hensall men designed and oversaw the construction of the hall. The building which had its beginnings as a Town Hall and Council Chamber would soon become a popular venue for dances, theatre productions, wedding receptions, visits with Santa and recitals. The original plans allowed seating for 400. In the 1970s the upper floor was condemned for most activities. In 2011 a group of dedicated volunteers began efforts to restore the upper floor of the old town hall, preserving historical features such as an ornate tin ceiling, gallery, and circular floor grate while adding modern amenities such as a lift to allow for accessibility.

The Hensall Heritage Hall celebrated it's Grand Re-Opening in June of 2017 and has hosted a wide array of events since. The hall boasts outstanding acoustics, seating for 180 and unparalleled historical ambiance.

SATURDAY June 1, 2019


Perched on top of a bluff overlooking the Bayfield River, the village of Bayfield was at one time a busy port. Over the years it grew into a summer resort, inviting cottagers and boaters to its harbor and to its Main Street lined with beautiful trees. Many beginnings of Main Streets in Ontario villages and towns followed the building practices of its residents and tradesmen who had emigrated here. More specifically dwellings were built with no space in between them and about a yard back from the lot line so as to use up the whole property along the streetscape.

Bayfield developed differently. Records and early photos indicate that the Bayfield Main Street buildings were mostly built with space in between them for side window light and decorative lawns which stopped the spreading of fires in any wood buildings. And the brick structures erected later followed the same pattern only with front doors facing side streets and windows on all four sides. Many of Bayfield’s early buildings are still standing albeit some are covered in contemporary siding. Its brick buildings all stand alone in their distinctiveness making a unique streetscape to a unique village.

There are many buildings to view on our walking tour of the village. For example the Commercial Hotel that was built in 1847 and noted architecturally for its double balcony and widow’s roofwalk. It is now know as the Little Inn that is one of Ontario’s oldest Inns. The Bayfield Archives and Heritage Centre/Old Library structure was built in1893 to house the Erwin Bros. Furniture and Undertaking shop. It has an elegant and playful appearance with its delicate pattern of windows across the front. There is the iconic Bayfield Town Hall and with its bell tower and jail cell in its basement. The Albion Hotel originally built as a store in the 1840’s and became a stagecoach hotel 20 years later. It still has four guest rooms upstairs and a famous double balcony.

Hay Town Hall ... an (undesignated) heritage building in the village of Zurich in Bluewater . The Hall will be featured on our Bluewater tour during the Saturday afternoon program. View the video on the left.