The River of History Museum

Welcome to The River of History Museum. We are your local non-profit organization operating as The Sault Ste. Marie Foundation for Culture and History; it was incorporated in 1992. Over the past three centuries, Sault Ste. Marie has been the home of the Anishinaabek, the French, the British and the Americans. Located on the banks of the St. Mary’s River, we have a colorful history to share.

I am the St. Mary’s River and I am 8,000 years old. I was born out of the trauma of this land, as it buckled and ruptured and gave way amidst thunderous sound and gigantic force. I was carved and formed by nature’s relentless sculptor, the glacier. I am The River and this is my story.

The museum began in what is now the City Hall on East Portage Avenue. Under the visionary efforts of Dr. Susan Schacher Ph. D. (Director 1990 – 2007), our past came to life. In 2009, when this 1910 historical building was converted to our City Hall, the museum found a new home. It is now situated in downtown Sault Ste. Marie at 531 Ashmun Street, across from the Sault Theatre Arts Resource Studio (STARS). All of the exhibits and artifacts were packaged, stored and then displayed within a brand new venue. Set up in chronological order, the museum’s galleries are furnished with exhibits of local artifacts and information about the surrounding area. The displays are narrated with a self-monitored audio presentation. You can listen to the tales of Native Americans, French fur traders, and others who helped to tame the St. Mary’s River.

The transition was the result of cooperative efforts among the River of History Museum Board, the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Ojibway, the City of Sault Ste. Marie, and Lake Superior State University. These three entities, along with a core group of community volunteers, provided the leadership for this organization. The Board consists of 16 members, elected annually and assigned the scope of responsibility for the efficient management of the museum. If you wish, you are invited to be a member of the organization, with benefits and privileges.

Becoming a member is not just about receiving privileges at our local museum, but most importantly about investing in the community and keeping the local history alive for future generations. A variety of categories are available from single, senior, family, and benefactor, ranging from $10.00 to $500.00, as well as business sponsorship from $100.00 to $5,000.00!

In addition to the tax benefits, you get free entry into the museum for a year and VIP discounts on gift shop items. A membership with the River of History makes you part of a growing number of businesses and people who have helped to create a tourist destination in Sault Ste. Marie. Our wall of sponsors proudly displays your name, or business name, for others to see. The benefactor level is acknowledged with a plaque, for display at your business, to show others that you support our local museum.

Thanks to your support, the River of History is able to host their web site (www.riverofhistory.org), produce and print new brochures, develop new exhibits, and pay the daily operating costs of the museum. If you so choose, there is an optional $50.00 donation to help support costs of our billboards on M-28 and I-75.

The day to day administration and staffing is contracted with the Sault Historic Sites, whose main historical facilities are the Museum Ship Valley Camp and the Tower of History. From this office, the public can acquire information and access services such as admission details, reservation bookings, and additional resources. The telephone number is 906-632-3658, while the direct line to the museum is 906-632-1990.

The museum and the Gift Shop are open to the general public on a seasonal basis from Mid-May to Mid-October. The hours are from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday; it is closed on Sundays. The admission rate is $7.00 for adults 18 years of age and over, and $3.50 for children 6 to 17 years of age; admission is free for those 5 and under. Deluxe Combination tickets can be purchased, to combine visits to the River of History Museum, with the Tower of History and the Museum Ship Valley Camp for a reduced price of $23.50 for Adults and $16.00 for Children. In addition, if you are also interested in visiting the Historic Water Street Homes and the Kemp Industrial Museum, the Historical Passport will be your best option. Eight sites for one low admission price of $26.00 for Adults and $13.25 for Children. You will need to schedule your visits before Labor Day, prior to the Historic Water Street Homes and the Kemp Industrial Museum closing for the season.

At the River of History, we offer a self-guided tour. You are handed a sound wand that will narrate your journey. Your visit through the museum will be flowing in a chronological order from the Ice Age, through the 17th to the 19th Century, and to our present time. Visitors benefit from a two-hour free parking in the front on Ashmun Street or park in the Court Street Metered Parking Lot. Group rates are available for any size party or school class. Private parties or group functions can be accommodated within the facility, with catering and guided tours.

Over the course of the next few months, this column will be dedicated to the various displays that one can find within the museum. We hope that you will make it a point of following our Features and becoming familiar with the River of History Museum. It is your key to our history.