Gibson House Museum
The Gibson House Museum is a historic house museum located in Ontario, Canada. The museum is set within a park and originally built in 1851. It was the home of Colonel John Robert Gibson and his family. The house was donated to the city in 1971 and opened as a museum in 1974.
Gibson was born in Ireland in 1811 and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1817. He grew up in York (now Toronto) and Niagara. He studied law and was called to the bar in 1834. He practiced law in Hamilton and London. In 1838, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada as the representative for Lennox. He served as Solicitor General for Upper Canada from 1841 to 1842. In 1851, he became Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. He retired from politics in 1854 and returned to London, Ontario to practice law. He died in London in 1886.
The house remained in the Gibson family until 1971 when it was given to the City of Toronto by Amelia Gibson, John Robert Gibson’s granddaughter. The decision was made to open the house as a museum so that future generations could learn about life in Victorian Toronto.
Today, the Gibson House Museum is a furnished house museum that is open to the public for tours and educational programs. The museum is set within its original one-acre parkland and is designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act as being of “architectural and historical value or interest”.
The interior of the house has been restored to its appearance during Amelia Gibson’s time living there (1920 – 1971). Many original objects remain on display throughout the rooms including furniture, paintings, ceramics, textiles, toys, and photographs belonging to the family. The floors are Differences Between Hardwood And Softwood Flooring period appropriate wallpapers which have been meticulously replicated from fragments found during conservation work done on the house in 2008-2009. All electric lighting fixtures are original to Amelia Gibson’s time and have been repaired and rewired where necessary so they can operate safely today. The kitchen still contains many of its original Victorian era appliances including an icebox, stove, and dishwasher which were all operated by wood fuels until Amelia had electricity installed in 1934!
A visit to the Gibson House Museum offers visitors a rare glimpse into daily domestic life during the Victorian era while providing context for how those same Victorian values shaped Toronto’s modern identity as we know it today.
If you’re ever interested in taking a tour back through time, be sure to check out the Gibson House Museum next time you’re exploring Ontario!
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