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Preserving Wilmot Township’s fire fighting heritage

June 13, 2024 
By Jared Dodds


Image Credit: Peter D. Gingerich

Founded in 1995, the Wilmot Heritage Fire Brigades Museum has grown from a group of seven retired firefighters to a membership of over 80, with aspirations to expand even further.

The charity, created 137 years after Wilmot Township introduced its first fire service, strives to memorialize the deep history of firefighting in the region, which was established by the New Hamburg, Baden, and New Dundee brigades.

The organization is one of five active fire service museums in Ontario, and boasts a collection of six motorized vehicles, three horse drawn units, and six hand pulled pieces of historic firefighting equipment, all restored and maintained by volunteers.

These restorations are core to the mission statement of the charity, which is to promote and educate the public in the heritage of firefighting in Wilmot Township and the firefighting service in general.

Their collection of fire fighting apparatus is bolstered by an early 110-volt plug in electric defibrillator and the first set of Jaws of Life used by the Waterloo Region, purchased by Baden firefighters.

Other pieces of their static display of memorabilia include nozzles, uniforms, turnout gear, extinguishers, photographs, and a list naming the firefighters who served the township alongside their years of service.

The organization’s collection has previously been featured in heritage displays in Wilmot Township, across the Waterloo Region, and in a semi-permanent display at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto.

The charity has no paid staff, and the operations of volunteers are almost entirely funded through fundraising efforts, including the sorting and selling of scrap metal and electronics, a monthly can and bottle drive, and a 50/50 raffle open to all residents of Ontario.

The public can become members for a $10 fee, enjoying benefits including an invitation to the organization’s monthly meeting, voting privileges at regular and annual meetings, and access to archival reference materials and publications.

Free tours of the museum are available Wednesday evenings year-round and on Saturday mornings during June, July, and August, as well as by appointment, where donations are gratefully accepted.

As the organization continues to grow, both in the size of their membership and the expansiveness of their collection, they are aiming to move to a larger location which would facilitate a better display of their collection and more space to complete their restorations.

For more information about the charity, to donate or become a member, visit the Wilmot Heritage Museum website.


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