Expanded Museum in Dressler House

Friday saw the grand opening of the new/expanded Museum in Dressler House – it’s now called the Canadian Women in Film Museum and as well as Marie Dressler, features early Canadian women movie stars Mary Pickford and Norma Shearer.  It was conducted on Zoom and featured speeches by Minister David Piccini, Mayor John Henderson, MP Philip Lawrence, Cara Krmpotich Associate Professor of Museum Studies at U of T, Cari Beauchamp of the Mary Pickford Foundation and Darin Barnes collector and Curator for Norma Shearer.  In the audience were other supporters and people like Michelle Wright (more below) who were involved with project.  The Design of the Museum, was done by students of Museum Studies at the University of Toronto – as was the Marie Dressler Museum 5 years ago.  Michelle Wright was one of these and was also the Project Manager when the Museum was created.

The Three stars with their Oscars
The Three stars with their Oscars

The Canadian Women in Film Museum is interactive with ipads being provided to access text plus bring up video on large TV displays.  This allows a lot of information to be provided at the pace that visitors want.  In 2018, the then Ontario Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport (Daiene Vernile) visited the Marie Dressler Museum and was suitably impressed.  The current Minister, Lisa McLeod has not yet visited (she sent a letter instead) but MPP Piccini and MP Lawrence did visit along with major donors (photos below).

Why these women?

The short version is that during the first four years of the Academy Awards, the Best Actress Oscar went to three Canadian-born women who found their way to Hollywood, namely Mary Pickford (1929), Norma Shearer (1930), and Marie Dressler (1931).  It’s housed in Cobourg because Marie Dressler was born here.

Funding for the Museum has been by private donations as well as Government – Federal, Provincial and Municipal (Cobourg).  The work was organized by the Marie Dressler Foundation. You can get more information from these web sites:

For details on the new Museum, see also these articles on Cobourg News Blog.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols and capacity limits, the museum will be open by appointment only – at least until approx. Spring 2022 when it may be able to open fully.
To book an appointment, send an email to: [email protected] with the following information:

  • The number of adults and children in your group, and
  • 1st choice of day / time to visit, and
  • Your name and email address

Usual Covid-19 protocols apply. Expect a response within 24 hours of receiving your request.

Admission is by donation only onsite. Your generosity is appreciated.

For complete details go here: museum’s website

If you would like, you can donate online to the Marie Dressler Foundation (registered charity) – go to this link. Canada Helps – Marie Dressler Foundation.

Below are some relevant photos. Note titles of slides at top left.


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Deborah OConnor
2 years ago

It would have been nice to see my father’s name included as one of those who worked endless hours to make the museum happen. He – Ed Haynes – and Lenah Fisher played a huge role in its creation. Lenah at one point owned the building and ran a classy restaurant there. I remember when this project generated interest from TV Ontario’s famous representative, Elwy Yost. Dad was thrilled when Elwy came to town to see the museum and meet them.

It’s great that others have carried on with the tradition, but let’s not forget the people who got it rolling.

2 years ago

Marie Dressler and Greta Garbo in Anna Christie (1930) in the scene where Garbo’s voice is first heard on film.

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Last edited 2 years ago by JimT
2 years ago

Thanks John. Did you write this? Without even a mention of Rick Miller? Congratulations to Rick and all involved!