Our tour guides will be here during the posted hours, to provide you with a tour of the buildings and tell you the story of each.
If you are at O'Hara off hours or prefer to wander about on your own, start with a map that will give you an overview of what there is and where they are.
Please note that you will need a tour guide to take you through the museum house.
Click here to download a printable copy of our Homestead Area Map.
The Following sections provide a more detailed story of each of the buildings at O'Hara.
MAPLE SYRUP! Who doesn't like maple syrup!!! In days gone by, smoke and steam rising from the sugar shack meant that spring was coming! For the Story of Maple Syrup at O'Hara, and our "sugar shack", click on the picture.
Nestled in the trees between the Visitors Centre and the large Display Shed stands our little Food Booth.
Food, Drinks available on Event Days.
For more information about this building click on the photo.
THE O'HARA HOUSE AND MUSEUM:
Stories of the house, its history, contents and the O'Hara family that lived here, can be found by clicking on the front door in the picture below.
The O’Hara sawmill was a typical small country mill. It employed an ‘English Gate’ or ‘Frame Saw’ technology in which a massive wooden frame stretched the saw blade taut while both the frame and blade were driven up and down by waterpower. Water also powered the log carriage towards the moving blade. Located on its original site, the mill illustrates the first technological advance over the “two man pit saw”, a saw that was labour intensive and very uncomfortable for the sawyer in the pit. Click here for an illustration. The saw is reputed to be the only such water powered ‘Frame Saw’ left in Ontario, and the only working one in North America that we know of. It was built in 1850 by James O'Hara Senior using the late 18th century English Gate design.
Lumber cut at O'Hara Mill in the 19th century can be found throughout the township. To read about one example, CLICK HERE.
One of the original buildings. Here you will find carriages, buggies, sleighs and different artifacts used in the pioneer days. The upstairs boasts a collection of many items used in the 1800's ranging from saddle making equipment to candle making items.
One of the original buildings. This building was first used as a wood shed and later converted to the carpenter shop. Ben Lear, James O'Hara's brother-in-law, built many of the pieces of furniture that you see in the house in this shop. Inside this building you will find many carpenter's tools, as well as equipment for making shoes, barrels and other household necessities. The "privy" (bathroom) was located to the back of this building where the sumac now stands.
On a homestead the size of this one, there would have been a great need for their own blacksmith shop. This shop would have been used to fix tools, saw blades, equipment and shoeing horses.
The Log School House
"Built in 1861, and known as S.S. #7 at Johnson's Corners, French Settlement Road in neighbouring Elezevir township, this pioneer log building was moved to the O'Hara Mill site in 1966.
This pioneer school is a fine tribute to the O'Hara family, among the earliest settlers in Madoc township (1823) who promoted the establishment of the first school in the township. Known as the O'Hara School, S.S. #2, it was situated on the corner of O'Hara Road and Mill Road."
Source: Card by Dave Little, 2015
Want to know more?
For the story of the school house at O'Hara Mill Homestead, click on the school bell.
Where did the school house come from?
For the story of the school before it came to be located at O'Hara Mill Homestead, click on the picture of the school house.
What was it like to go to school there?
For a sample lesson given to visiting school classes click on the photo of classroom.
Restorative Work on the School House:
A new roof in the summer of 2015. Click on the picture of the belfry below for that story.
The Log House
Standing on what is believed to be the location of the original log house built by the O'Hara's, is this vintage log house that was rebuilt by volunteers. To view its amazing story, click on the picture below.
To view a video of a windup chicken roaster used during cooking demonstrations on the fireplace, click here.
This new building contains our reception center and handicap-accessible washrooms. It is here you can get a glimpse of the O'Hara background through a lovely collection of artifacts and photo albums. There are also souveniers available such as note cards, coffee mugs and books. This is also the home base of our summer student tour guides, so this is the best place to begin your visit and, while here, you are asked to please sign our guestbook.
These two drive sheds behind the school house display a variety of vintage agricultural equipment. Some are in great need of restoration, some of which has already begun. There is also a mechanized shingle mill that is still operational, and this will be moved to its own building in the near future.
Our Covered bridge was a very creative addition, providing a facinating and welcoming entrance to the Homestead. Read the story about the amazing collaborative effort of volunteers and supporting donors that made it possible by clicking on the picture of the bridge.
A story of the background leading up to the decision to rebuild the dam can be found HERE.