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March 10, 2012


"I know nothing of the museum business, but these hours would seem overly restrictive, especially on the weekend when families are looking for things to do."

... In the end, it's about whether or not it's competing with the any number of other ways people can spend their time and money. It's about competing for the public's engagement and commitment to a facility that is not without controversy.

Messaging to the public: Now that the investment has been made and the ribbon's cut the thing is closed when we wanted to visit it.

Good that the weekday hours have been extended for the break... we all have our peak periods, and for some March Break is no doubt known to be one of them.

Well that must have been a very frustrating discovery for the Saturday crowd that was undoubtedly building outside the museum waiting to get inside.... ;)

C'mon Craig and Bridget: Cut the City some slack!
After wasting many millions on renovating a building that they do not own on property that they also do not own but also pays mo taxes, there is just no money left to pay employees.
Oh yes this is Guelph , so the City will rely on Volunteers to pick up the weekend slack. What bettr way to do that than limiting the weekend hours for the two days of the week that people have recreation time for such visits.
Would it really be that difficult to have the Museum closed on some lesser traffic mid-week days?
While I am at it, just what exactly does a section on optical illusion have to do with a Guelph Civic Museum??
Oh hold it - I get it know - it is the illusion that the Gang of Eight really, really care about the taxpayer!!
Enjoy the kiddies play area :-)

Ha! Okay, Cynic, that was a good one.

Sorry Cynic - I don't know what got into me.

I took my son to the museum during the free time period and we both came away with the same optimistic view of the experience. That it was well worth the price of admission. :)

For what it's worth I went back in the afternoon with my daughter and her friend and we all enjoyed ourselves. (And further, Serious, I spent more time in the optical illusion exhibit than anywhere else)

The hours have been like this, 1 to 5pm since the 1990's. I would hope we could have the city look at changing those hours now that the new facility is open.

So now we have a "Journalist" and Bridget who do not understand the difference between a CIVIC MUSEUM and a Chilren's playground. Wow! Fantastic!
I would love to see both of you as curators of a space museum - it would feature - Oh forget it!
I would explain it to both of you but I don't think I can type slow enough that you both can get my point.
And without destroying the sanctity of the ballot box, I think I can bet on who you both voted for as Mayor!
Where is Magda when we could really use her?
Or Gerry for that matter.


Not sure if you missed out on an education or it was just a long time ago? I can only assume you haven't been too many museums. If you had you'd understand why there is a variety of exhibits that appeal to all ages.

Either way, you need to lighten up.

I agree that the hours need to be improved however I think that issue could be addressed by communicating with council directly rather than bleating about it on here.

Time will tell whether the new civic museum will be regarded as a success or not. I have to say that I expect it will be seen as excellent value for money in years to come.

I suppose we should be thankful that you, like your Grumpy chum, just troll anonymously on here. It would be so much worse if you started to make decisions for the rest of us.

Serious Cynic, you missed Bridget's tongue-in-cheek -- but I'd also say you are making a point about something I've been thinking about.

There is a lot of energy around the projects we've taken on. For sure, it has to do with the trade-offs those projects mean in terms of the timing for other projects, their impact on our debt/ debt servicing, depletion of our reserves, the talk of selling of what I would call strategic assets, their impact as public goods on our ability to provide other services, the extent to which we seem to be preoccupied with fufilling political legacies, the fighting with the County, fighting with others...

But some of that energy is in the general sense that the costs aren't actually THE COSTS of these projects.

There is the sense that in various ways, these things are having a bigger impact on our operations and staff time than is being reported.

It all comes down to a mistrust that the numbers we are getting are actually the numbers. That we actually know the complete cost of doing X or Y. That things are being "subsidized" with staff time that isn't appearing in tbe costs.

In sum, it's about a doubt in the transparency regarding the costs and trade-offs of what we are doing as a community. It's a hard thing to turn around.

The good news for the leadership of course is it can be addressed -- but it has to be done fully and completely. That may mean expensive audits, of this project and others. It could be embarrassing. But at the end of the day, isn't that the duty here? Isn't better to own the outcome of an audit?

Is it not a matter of public confidence? In our leadership, in our watch-dogs?

It has been my observation that when something or someone thinks they are the only game in town, they're in the process of being replaced.

I'm sorry. Is Jan Hall the person who toils at what is Guelph's answer to the Remco Carravelle? Excellent value for the money, relly! Want to buy a bridge?
And lets not forget our local "Journalist" AKA the news author from the Mayor's stenno pool.
These people wouldn't say s@#t if they had a mouthfull.
Maybe the ROM should think abou shorter hours to save money.

Good one, Doug. :)

Had to look that one up.

"When we were very young Rush (Limbaugh) persuaded his parents to buy him a Remco Caravelle, a little toy that served as a mini-broadcast studio. That little device enabled Rush to simulate his own radio broadcasts and actually transmit them over the AM radio waves within the confines of his home. His parents dutifully and indulgently listened downstairs as Rush held forth from his bedroom on the second floor."

Really wish they'd bought him a train set instead.

Nice to know where you are coming from, though.

Are you Serious Cynic's angry twin?

Thanks, Craig. I guess I didn't type slow enough...

"Time will tell whether the new civic museum will be regarded as a success or not. I have to say that I expect it will be seen as excellent value for money in years to come."

Perhaps, but you need to have the metrics to evaluate that. Actual costs, and use, measured against the former facility/ location, measured against comparable facilities in other municipalities, weighed against other uses of that money for other public goods, measured against impacts on our overall finances and (residential) taxes. And there has to be public confidence in that data provided. The basic question is, how does this facility and service compare to others we are providing, or not providing in terms of the return on our investment? How competitive is it? How broadly relevant is it to Guelphites?

Jan, the thing to know about me is I don't write blank cheques. We need to get away from doing that, shades of which are in doing something where "time will tell". I use that as well, which is about trying to be fair, but I think we deserve better than that before we plow forward. Also, know that in everything I am and do it is in good faith, even if the message isn't entirely what everyone would agree with.

Jan, you had to look it up because you're not old enough to have owned one.
Limbaugh is not the only kid that got one as a gift.
By the way, have you ever actually heard a Limbaugh broadcast or studied his methods from a learning perspective?
Even his harshest critics admit his show prep and broadcast methods are the best in the industry.

Well Doug your take on Limbaugh may say more about American broadcast radio that anything else:


Even on Rush Limbaugh’s Stage of Rage it was a showstopper.

“What does that make her?” the shock jock fumed into his radio mike. “It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”

And the kicker, “if we are going to pay for your contraceptives — and thus pay for you to have sex — we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

The target of Limbaugh’s anger, and the more controlled chagrin of his conservative fans, was not a high-profile hooker, but a soberly spoken young woman testifying before a congressional panel to oppose a federal health-care exemption that would allow employers with religious beliefs to opt out of covering the cost of contraception.

Limbaugh backed off from his tirade against Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke with a vague apology as advertisers cancelled their contracts. But not before a political tornado that had been brewing for the past two years in the United States spiralled out of control.


I read the article, which has little to say about Limbaugh, and was not surprised that the Red Star was the paper it was in.
Now to the point.
How is it possible that so many people get so upset just at the mention of a man's name?
How is it that so many people know so much about a radio program that they never listen to?
How is it possible for some unknown law student can show up before congress and speak without being vetted?
As it turns out Ms. Fluke was anything but a fluke.
She is an activist, has a personal connection to the Obama administratio and her PR firm is run by a former Obama advisor.
She has stated that one reason she picked this Catholic school was so she could make them change a policy she disaggrees with.
Did Rush use words that were wrong?
Yes, absolutely.
Was Sandra Fluke looking to make waves and cause as much trouble as possible?
Yes, absolutely!

Rush Limbaugh is objectionable not for his shock-jock tactics or his choice of language. He is objectionable for his mindless, unthinking, automatic support of one particular end of the political spectrum, regardless of evidence.

He reminds me of another, more local radio personality.

GOC: I usually agree with your point of view, but not this time. Ever actually hear the broadcast?
Most people who hate Limbaugh have never heard his program and are just reacting to what they have read or been told.
As a person who has lived on both sides of the border I can say that if you really listen and understand what is being said, it makes a lot of sense.
Was he wrong in this situation? Yes, no question.
When Bill Maher called Palin the "C" word was he wrong?
Not according to the lefties because he was making a joke.

Anyhoo... To get back on topic, the Civic Museum has to walk a fine line. It has a handful of staff that works at both museums (remember, we have 2 museums in town). Not only do they have to engage the public, but they have their specific managerial, educational and administrative duties.

The current hours are comparable to the old museum. It's funny hearing people complain about hours, considering how many people that post on this board would flip their lids if the museum hired more staff to increase hours of operation. And for the record, one of the reasons that the museum is open weekdays is for school programs.

I haven't been to the new Civic Museum yet, but I went to the old one several times, and always enjoyed it. It also amazes me how "controversial" the notion of preserving and celebrating our local heritage and history is on this forum.

Perhaps museum management does not wish to (or has been requested not to) compete with church goers on Sunday mornings for parking, attendance, etc.

Anyhoo, to get back off topic: Doug, don't get me wrong. I have heard the broadcast. Sometimes Rush has the right idea, which the lefties miss because it's delivered in the angriest way possible. I get that. The guy's running a show, has ratings to think of, and is legitimately angry on a lot of issues.

I absolutely love the story about AshleyMadison.com wanting to buy up all of his ads left unsold by sponsors who dropped him due to Sandra Fluke contraversy. Brilliant marketing! Free market at work.

I've heard Jan's show too.

As a libertarian I agree with Rush and Jan about the same amount of the time: not often. Generally they are about equally objectionable, each mindlessly wedded to a different ideology. One speaks out on every issue, no matter how contraversial; the other would never dare to ask a question that might be deemed offensive. I couldn't decide who's worse, either on issues or delivery.

Critical thinking must take energy: I find it exhausting to listen to either of them. When I find either too annoying, instead of trying to shut them up, I generally exercise my right to turn the dial.

I will, however, defend both their rights to continue broadcasting.

C'mon Scott. It's Guelph. The museum is only open four hours in an effort to conserve energy. It's the Guelph contingency, remember?

And, you better hope Maggie Laidlaw didn't spy you leaving your car idle while you ran up to the door to check the hours!

I checked the sign and was back in the car in two minutes and 45 seconds, so I'm all good. :-)

The civic museum doesn't have to compete, doesn't have to be interesting, doesn't have to be relevant. It's existence is guaranteed. That's the problem.

"Compete?" How? "Be interesting?" Who says it isn't interesting? "Relevant?" It's an institution dedicated to preserving our local history, culture and heritage. How is that not relevant to the City of Guelph and its citizens?

Compete? not at all
Be Interesting? It fails to exploit our Civic History and heritage.
It should exploit the creative past. Guelph was involved in developing SouthWest Ontario as a key player in the Industrial Revolution of this region. That was because of many far sighted businessmen like George Sleeman, Carter, the Hammonds, and so on.
The CIVIC Museum fails to remind people of what it once had that no longer exists. It also fails to deal with what it has today - thanks to the College on the Hill, the Hasenfratz family, to just name a couple of current visionaires.
It does not do justice to Bell Piano and Organ Factory, Raymond Sewing Machines, the Original Sleeman Brewery, the Streetcar System, Gilson Manufacturing, Steele Wire Springs, The Toronto Electric Rail Commuter System, Guelph Junction Railway, The reborn Sleeman Brewery. IMICO, Hammond Manufaturing, Biltmore Hats, the Grain Mill on Cardigan, Stewarts Lumber. I could go on but I hope you can see where I am going on this. The presence of a childrens sandbox and a display on optical illusions are a testimony of how little the curator knows about the City's Industrial and Civic past. Guelph was responsible for the administrative model for Municipalities - a model that has been totally ignored thanks in no small part to the Mayor's annual City reorganizations, which have just ensured that the City has collided with the Financial Iceberg and is now manning the financial bailout boats. Rearranging the deckchairs annually does not cut it.
I know that the last time I mentioned the sand box and the optical illusions as not fitting in to a Civic Musem, there were a bunch of criticisms from the supporters of the present regime, but the issue is there and some people are capable of critical thinking.
I would suggest that the people responsible for running the museum should think seriously about hiring the Guelph Historian to advise on how to have the Guelph CIVIC Museum fulfill its role.
Guelph has an intersting past, present and future. That is the story the CIVIC Museum should be chronicling.


I'm not sure how the Civic Museum is not chronicling those stories. I haven't been to the new facility yet, but a lot of the stuff you listed off were components of the original displays there... or did you not go beyond the Children's portion of the museum?

Because at the end of that hall was a large reproduction of a street car with a bullet point history as well as pictures and graphics of the old system, from its inception by Sleeman to when a portion of the track was dug up under Carden St in the 70s.

Bell Pianos? The museum had a couple on the third floor. The city's industrial roots, the OAC, Guelph's distant past and war history? Chronicled in the permanent display on the second floor.

Was the old museum everything to everyone? Did it have the room for all the things you mentioned, plus the traveling collections it frequently hosts? No, but I think that's why they moved to a bigger facility.

I volunteered at the museum for years and was impressed by the work the small staff does (almost all of whom are long term Guelph residents). I was in the museum's archives and saw how dire the need for more space was.

And you can't tell me Cynic that if the city paid for a historian to... CONSULTANT (dum dum dum) and tell us what our museum was lacking, then you would be one of the first, if not THE first, to wag your finger decrying the expense.

I went thru the whole 3 floors thoroughly, but was not allowed onto the top 2 floors where the archives are kept.
As for the displays, whatever was there, including the streetcar was superficial at best. That is why I suggested the local historian, because he works for free, which is the first error in your assumptions. KA Ching, Ka Ching!! No Charge Mr. Mom!
Yes Hammond's is "there" if you call three small wall hangings a display. Nothing on Imico, Steele,the many foundries that used to operate in Guelph, Guelph Stove, etc. The Civic Museum is a great opportunity for the City to tell about the innovative leaders we have had in the past. I did not mention the needle trade which was a natural spinoff from Raymond's.
You are obviousl more easily satisfied with a veneer presentation than I am. I look on the Civic Museum as an opportunity to remind people of the business leaders who contributed to the success of this City. There is a story to be told and I feel that it is at best told superficially.
By the way one of the most interesting displays in the former site was the display on Thomas Crapper. Although having nothing to do with Guelph, the display was creative and caught people's attention. That is what we need to tell Guelph's Civic story. Oh and as a final thought, the many hotels that once existed in the original downtown area.
What about all the tests that were run in Guelph? Every time Bell wanted to market test a communication innovation Guelph was the test site of choice.
So much to tell, so little time to remember.
And the Military? Lest we forget.

Yes, exactly. So much to tell, and so little space to tell it in...

And for the record, the archives were in the basement, the top 2 floors were other areas of open museum.

And "Mr Mom?" Really?

Adam, friend, it's about scale, how the expenses and benefits of delivering this public good ranks against the expenses and benefits other public goods or priorities with Guelphites.

I suggest a new facility for this museum really wasn't a burning priority for most of us -- and we can go around in circles why that was and is the case -- and yet, look how the timing of this project from no-where for most Guelphites seemed to have affected other things we were wanting/needing to do.

Again, it's about scale, and if the expenses associated with developing and operating this new facility is aligned with people's priorities. If it's not, then something is askew.

It comes down to not writing blank cheques. Is it a public good? Of course it is. But there are others and all have to make their case. Does it make the cut in terms of people's priorities, and what they want done, to the extent they want it done, with their taxes? Taken together, all of that adds up to "relevance".

I was talking about the new 5 Story Civic Museum not the old one on Waterloo Ave.
I am quite aware that the archives were kept in the basement of the former site and there were a number of problems not just space.
But why would anyone use the top two floors of the new facility to store archives? This is probably the best view of Catholic Hill and Downtown Guelph.
Can you reasonably justify the expense of renovating the convent? Remember that the New Library was to be built in 2009, but the Gang of Eleven moved it out into the unforeseen future. The Museum could have had that building which had more than enough room for its needs, plus a better location, plus a source of revenue - the Metered parking lot which is part of the property. Add to that the renovation cost would have been more like $1 million not the $12-16 million that was frittered away on the heritage ego of the previous Council!
I think that the person who suggested that the 1 p.m. opening time on Weekends made sense as those are busy times for the Church doing what it is supposed to do - Services, weddings, funeral services, baptisms, and so on. I am glad to see that some property owners still have property rights!!!
When is the Waterloo building going up for sale? It would make a lovely site for another Condo Development!!

I forgot to compliment you on your post. You hit the nail right on the head. The gang of eight have fast-tracked this heritage project and pushed the Library of the schedule indefinitely, It is too bad that you did not get onto Council as you would have brought a much needed skill - research, logic and common sense(cents?).
You would have made Council an interesting 7-6 split, and who knows - the backbones of the two Councillors that currently support the Mayor's agenda may have actually stiffened.
Thanks for your thoughts.

(Thanks for the vote of confidence! I agree that we may have seen more swing voting, Serious Cynic. But it wasn't in the cards.)

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Joanne Shuttleworth is the newsroom lead in municipal affairs coverage for the Guelph Mercury. She is a former Guelph YWCA Woman of Distinction honouree and a past winner of an Ontario Newspapers Award for her work as an editor. You can reach her at jshuttleworth@guelphmercury.com

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