Marie Dressler Museum Expansion Project on Track

The Marie Dressler Foundation (MDF) is well on its way to expanding the existing museum in Dressler House to add exhibits about Mary Pickford and Norma Shearer.  The Museum has not re-opened due to the fact that its heavy reliance on touch screens means it’s difficult to keep it sanitized against spreading the virus but that does not stop their expansion plans for when the virus crisis has passed or it’s manageable.  The five Toronto University Students have completed their design and the Foundation has received a grant of $50,048 from Heritage Canada as well as most of the artifacts promised from the “collectors”.  At Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, MDF Chair Rick Miller presented a progress report and asked that the Town waive Building permit fees estimated at $2,100.

Mary Pickford and Norma Shearer

Of the project’s budget of $284K, $220K has already been raised leaving a balance of $64K. Rick told Council that “the tourism draw of this Museum, the only one of its kind in Canada, will be compelling”.  The House is owned by the Town but leased to MDF on a long term lease and is one of a few museums in Cobourg as listed here. (Currently, only the Sifton-Cook Museum is open).

In response to Rick’s request, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin suggested that Rick pay the permit out of current funds and then he should put in a request for the amount as a Community Grant in the 2021 budget.  She noted that MDF already has a grant for $4000 paid from the 2020 budget.

Work is expected to start in the Fall of 2020 – opening will depend on the Virus situation.


Print Article: 


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Old guy
3 years ago

Lets be honest with our selves
We have watched diminishing interest and incomes from this Dressler Museum
over the years ,and as our ageing population passes on there will be even less
interest in Marie . Why don’t we keep the Decor and artifacts on display, open as a place of interest on weekends and on some special tourist occasions and allow the building to be actually used . A Senior center ie the Camera Club and cultural center that used to have its meeting in the Market Building , who knows what that is really used for now ? Thus bringing people back to the down town core once again
These people used to shop and dine locally before being ousted to the CCC. There is parking on site and possibly the churches next door will allow some overflow in their lots if there is any as meetings are usually off hours anyway .
Just a thought ! Trying to put people and responsible spending First .

Small town lover
Reply to  Old guy
3 years ago

I totally agree with you. It is such a waste of money. In all the times we have driven by we have never seen anyone enter or leave. I don’t understand why a beautiful heritage building like this could be so underused in this way. Is there no room at Victoria Hall for all the actresses memorabilia?

Reply to  Small town lover
3 years ago

Its does seem lIke a waste but at least we should know where the money went and have something to show for it.

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Old guy
3 years ago

For the most part, the love and passion behind the museum is Rick Miller. Without him, I doubt it would still exist. Having said that the other comments reflect what most of us already know. The building is underused. As a museum, I don’t see how it could be used for multi-purposes, such as office space for town staff.

It would appear that the Town’s ongoing commitment is to provide the building on a rent-fee basis plus a community grant of about $20,000 to cover building maintenance, snow clearing and building insurance (not the contents).

Subject to certain conditions, perhaps the Town should sell the building to the Foundation for $1 and let the Foundation manage and be responsible for all expenses moving forward. The sad truth is I’m not sure today’s generation cares about or knows much, if anything, about the original inhabitant. And most tourists who do visit, probably stumble across it while in Town. I question if few tourists make a special trip from the GTA to Cobourg specifically to visit the museum.

Now if we could just find somebody who turn the finances around at the AGN, so it is no longer a bottomless money pit that offers limited, and in many cases no value, to local residents who foot the bulk of its expenses.

Reply to  Canuck Patriot
3 years ago

Agreed. Budget for AGN for 2020 is $215,000. That’s $4,134. a week!

Last edited 3 years ago by JimT
Ken Strauss
Reply to  JimT
3 years ago

On March 14, 2019, Council passed a resolution requiring that the AGN provide quarterly financial statements. There appears to have been only one quarterly statement in the past year. Why?