Museum of History offers a peek at its new hall

The Passageway into the new Canadian History Hall. Photo: Canadian Museum of History

With more than 1,500 artifacts on display, the Canadian History Hall is expected to be the “largest and most comprehensive exhibition on Canadian history ever developed,” says the museum that hosts this massive sesquicentennial project.

Museum of History officials offered a glimpse of the Hall Wednesday morning. It will open to the public on July 1.

The hall begins at the beginning of human habitation on this continent some 15,000 years ago and carries on up to the present day.

Among the artifacts on view:

• The handcuffs worn to the gallows by Louis Riel.

This astrolabe is believed to have belonged to Samuel de Champlain. Photo: Canadian Museum of History

• An astrolabe said to have belonged to Samuel de Champlain. The explorer lost such a device on the shores of the Ottawa River near the town of Cobden.,

• Former prime minister Lester B. Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize medal, which he was awarded when he was foreign minister and proposed the very first peacekeeping mission in the 1950s

• A T-shirt worn by Terry Fox during his Marathon of Hope.

This T-shirt was worn by Terry Fox during his Marathon of Hope. Photo: Canadian Museum of History

The hall took five years to develop and prepare, the museum says, and is based on what it calls an “unprecedented” program of public outreach and community consultation. In size the hall occupies 4,000 square metres of exhibition space on two floors.

The Hub is a gathering point inside the new hall. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

Visitors will enter the hall through a passageway that features 101 silhouettes of familiar Canadian landmarks, all leading to an area known as The Hub, that is a gathering space with a domed ceiling that connects to three exhibition galleries.

The Rossy Family Gallery tells the story from 15,000 years ago to 1763. Photo: Canadian Museum of History

The Rossy Family Gallery: 15,000 years ago to 1763

The early history in Gallery 1 draws on archaeological evidence and on Indigenous oral histories passed down by Elders in each generation. The gallery explores the expansion of Indigenous peoples across the land that would become Canada; the arrival of Europeans about 1,000 years ago; the establishment of permanent European settlements and the battle for North America between France and Britain.

The Fredrik Eaton Family Gallery follows the history from 1763 to 1914. Photo: Canadian Museum of History

The Fredrik Eaton Family Gallery: 1763 to 1914

This outlines the evolution of the British North American colonies to Confederation and Dominion status.

Gallery 3 explores the changes that have shaped this country since 1914.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.