Located in the heart of Quinte West in Trenton’s Town Hall is the Trent Port Museum, a historic hub dedicated to preserving the rich history of the city. Originally constructed in 1861, the two storey building divides its contents by room, each representing a different facet from either its own history or the history of the town. These artifacts act as a physical manifestation of the ever changing city of Quinte West and provides visitors with the opportunity to take a trip through history and learn about the region.
The symmetrical hall was built in 1861 and was designed by Kivas Tulley, an important figure in Canada’s architectural history. He created the building in a classical revival style with Greek and Roman influences evident for their ties to democratic principles, the pillars a direct representation of the columns of a Greek Temple. The town hall was deemed a heritage building by the Trenton Town Council in 1983.
Immediately through it’s doors you are welcomed into the Heritage Cafe. The room is quaint and offers a myriad of snacks and sandwiches for the museum goers and daily patrons. The non-profit organization relies on its volunteers to keep it up and running and all profits earned help directly in supporting the heritage and culture of Quinte West.
One of the volunteers in particular stands out, she immediately demands your attention and lures you in with the scent of maple bacon. If you didn’t have any interest in the town hall before, Laura Rickards makes sure you most certainly do now.
The walls are lined with cabinets filled with relics of the past, antique silverware, hand sewn quilts and butter stamps to name a few. For this, you have the Trenton historical society to thank. The passionate members strive to keep the Trenton’s history alive and have for the past 37 years. These cabinets are indicative of the building’s rich history and the various stages the building has gone under throughout the years.
What you’ll also find inside are photographs of various police officers in uniform, an apparent nod to the building’s past life as a police station. According to Rickards, traffic violators to this day still find themselves wandering in inquiring about where they should pay their fines.
Our knowledgable tour guide then leads us to the next room and immediately it’s as though we’re inside a museum of cinema. Hanging on the walls are hundreds of gold framed pictures of newspaper clippings, movie posters, and facts taken from or about the Quinte area’s film history. Between the years of 1917- 1934 over 1,500 silent films were created in the region, appropriately crowning Trenton “Hollywood North”.
If you go up the stairs and pass the large collection of vintage cameras you’ll find yourself in a beautiful crimson room with shining hardwood. To your left is a large stage and various items tucked away, everything but a doll wielding baby carriage prop placed to the side. The theatre, once home to many community productions, has unfortunately been forced to close its curtains due to its inability to support the financial burden of a new fire curtain.
There is no denying Trenton Town Hall’s historical importance within the city of Quinte West. For any historical junkie, it is a time capsule that reminds you of it’s humble upbringings and paints a picture of life before in the small community.