Archives & Artifacts

Scope of the Collection at Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre

Approximately 300 linear feet of storage house the archival resources and local artifacts at the Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre.

The archives and artifacts document the history of Clarington and the individuals, organizations, businesses and events that contributed to that history. It is divided into categories ranging from churches, businesses, agriculture, clubs/associations, buildings and individual families.

The Archives contain several subjects and various formats of material including account books, photographs, land deeds, records, census reports and ledgers from 19th century Clarington businesses and citizens. It is comprised of the collections of both the Bowmanville Museum and the Clarke Museum and Archives. We have been collecting material since 1961 and many of our information resources are unique. The Archives are located in the Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre, 62 Temperance Street, Bowmanville.

NEW — We now offer a research area on the main floor of the Centre in which items of interest may be perused. We also have a large reference library of books on local history, dolls, and antiques displayed for researcher’s use.

In addition, the archives have a large collection of newspapers including the Canadian Statesman, Bowmanville Merchant, and Orono times. In 2012 a partnership was made with the Clarington Public Library to plan the digitization of the newspaper collection onto the Clarington Public Libraries website. It was decided that the company: MTL Microimage Technologies Limited would complete the digitization. We still have all copies of the physical newspapers until such a time preservation is no longer possible or needed.


Check out the online digitized copies on the Clarington Library Website .


Among our archives the Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Center preserves many artifacts that tell stories of what life was like in the past on Clarington soil.

Historical artifacts include:

  • A large physical collection of period clothing (ranging from early 1800s – present)
  • A Collection of Canadian dolls and accessories E.g. European porcelain and china dolls, Canadian and American dolls, Modern collector dolls, Cloth dolls, Stuffed toys, Character dolls, Doll houses and doll furniture.
  • Local citizen’s personal household items E.g. cameras, records, record players, toiletries, knitting, bedding, furniture, toys, dolls, carriages, lamps, etc.
  • Business items E.g. Signs, registers, uniforms, equipment, marketing, advertising, stamps, etc.
  • Dominion Organ and Piano Company Collection – made by Local craftsmen.
  • Agricultural and farming equipment (ranging from 1800s – present)

Spotlight of artifacts

  • Charles Bowman’s Legal Documents
  • Werry Family History
  • Evelyn Strahlendorf Canadian Doll Collection
  • Boy’s Training School / Camp 30 Collection

Scope of the Bowmanville Museum

The Bowmanville Museum contains 3300 square feet of public space staged to depict a late Victorian (1900-1930s) wealthy merchants home. It is set up in period fashion and shows the lifestyle of a wealthy merchant family. We have various artifacts on display throughout the house’s nine rooms including: portraits, china, silverware, furniture, quilts, bedding, clothing, toys, books, fireplace fittings, area carpets/rugs, appliances, etc. Many of the items were made in Clarington or have a strong historical connection to the area.

In addition to our household collection, on the upper floor of the house we have our permanent exhibit: Clarington’s History Gallery. The History Gallery consists of four rooms displaying various artifacts specific to the pioneer and settlement era, local history/Camp 30, local geography and antique dolls. Some artifacts on display include:

  • A handmade diorama of Camp 30 depicting various escapes that occurred by prisoners of war.
  • Small local native and pioneer artifacts included in our interactive display units (one per room)
  • Sports and Toys
  • Photo enlargements and maps covering the walls and floor.

Spotlight of artifacts

  • Trull Mortar – Lydia Trull’s Medicine Pot, c. 1700s
  • Jury Dominion upright concert Grand Piano, c. 1901
  • Carruthers Family Silk Embroidery – Map of England. c.1801
  • Bowmanville Built Furniture: Wardrobe, Baby’s Bed, Chairs, and Bureau.

Scope of the Clarke Museum  

The Clarke Museum houses a number of artifacts that help to tell the story of Kirby’s history. On the Clarke Museum grounds there are 3 buildings which include:

  • an 1878 one room schoolhouse, approx. 1200 square feet
  • An original blacksmith’s shop, approx. 100 square feet
  • A separate storage building, approx. 2500 square feet,

The one room school house is staged to depict how it would have appeared in the late 1800/early 1900s. Some artifacts on display include: Student desks, a dominion piano, school textbooks, and student writing tools (E.g. Individual chalk boards, feather pens).

The blacksmith shop was originally built and used by local farmer, Garland Cathcart from 1914 – 1970s. It was moved to the Clarke Museum ground in the early 1990s. Artifacts original to Mr. Cathcart are currently on display with additional artifacts from the Tyrone Blacksmith shop.

Our Storage Building preserves the bulk of our local artifact collection. It contains a large number of agricultural machinery & equipment, horse carriages/wagons, locally built furniture, framed art work & portraits, business storefront signs, masonry, china, household and business items distinct to local development, clothing, pioneer archeological material (E.g. shells, fossils, native artifacts, etc), plus many more.

Spotlight of artifacts

  • Massey Harris, show room, “Reaper” and “Tedder”
  • Linton Plow – Made in Orono
  • Dominion Organ and Piano Large Floor Safe

Popular Research Topics

Many of the requests we get are regarding genealogy. However, the number of requests to research properties and homes continues to grow steadily. We can often help with such requests, but a visit by the researcher to the registry office may be required first.

The German Prisoner of War Camp in Bowmanville (Camp 30) is also a popular research topic. We have some records pertaining to this camp as well as a detailed scale model.


Museum members may come in to use the archives for FREE. Non-members are charged $10.00 per request. Museum staff are able to do research for those who cannot visit. The cost is $25.00 per hour (members get a 10% discount). Photocopies are 25 cents. Photograph copies on disc are $1.00.

The Archives are open during regular hours of operation by appointment.
To book your appointment, please contact the Museum offices at or call the Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre at 905 623 2734.