The Unsung Hero of Tweed
Dedicated to the memory of Evan Morton
Curators, just like artists, are storytellers. Evan Morton, curator of the Tweed Heritage Centre, has been collecting local art, artifacts, family and business histories, memorabilia, and heirlooms for almost fifty years. The collection is eclectic and extensive – inside the Centre there are rooms brimming with antiques, filing cabinets and shelves packed with written histories, village assessments, cemetery, birth, and marriage records dating back to 1891, recent artisanal works, and more than 200 paintings by local artists. Much of this has been donated over the years, and Morton has been its caregiver.
There are many specific collections throughout the Centre: a military tribute, Scottish history, childrens’ toys, antique radios, needlework, railroad memorabilia, organizations and businesses now long gone, items made in Tweed (eg Hawkins Cheezies), Indigenous art and artifacts, and Doug Connor’s impressive tool collection. There is also a room which showcases local artists’ works on a rotational basis. Venture further inside and there’s the Meiklejohn Reference Room and the Morton Archive with over 500 family histories.
Morton recalls becoming enthusiastic about old things in 1977 after seeing an exhibit at the Hungerford Township Hall. It took another ten years before the Tweed Historical Society became a collective. Initially, items were housed in rooms vacated when the Tweed Police Force disbanded; later, the Centre moved to Colbourne Street, and then in 1994 to its current location – formally known as Houston House. An annex was added in 2000.
“I think it’s so important to preserve the past because once it’s gone, it’s gone,” says Morton. “If we don’t know our background, what have we got to build on?” Preserving the history of the area has been Morton’s life’s work. A true ‘unsung hero’, he has single-handedly built an amazing collection of history and art that tell the story of a community. “I’ve had the desire to preserve and promote what we have received from those who came before us,” he says humbly, “but, I also want to encourage local artists and younger people.”
“The municipality pays for the tourism component, and there are six regular volunteers, as well as others for special events, but the donors who have been the most committed are now passing,” says Morton. His major concern is to “set in place a plan that involves the municipality because so many people ask what’s going to happen to this when I’m gone.”
The Centre is truly one-of-a-kind: its combination of archives, museum, and public art gallery have been ‘all in one’ and that’s what has made it viable until now. Its contents are irreplaceable.
Morton says that he’s “always learning.” He’s been writing a weekly column for The Tweed News for the past 30 years which he says is becoming “more demanding” given the wealth of material he now possesses. After almost 50 years of protecting and collecting local history, Morton is not only a wealth of knowledge, but a true storyteller who is Tweed’s ‘unsung hero’.
Youtube.com/UNSUNG HEROES Ep. 3 Evan Morton, Museum Curator, Tweed Ontario