Perth has lost a valued historian and promoter of
the town's historical significance.
Doug McNichol, curator of the Perth Museum, died
suddenly Monday night.
Responsible for much of the museum's evolution to
its current splendor, Mr. McNichol believed in strong community
involvement in the local landmark.
Born in Sudbury, he moved to Ottawa and was employed
as a mapping technologist. He then worked as a legal assistant for ten
years in a downtown Toronto law firm.
At age 38, his interest in collecting and history led
to Algonquin College's three-year museum technology course.
After graduation he worked with Parks Canada and as
the director of the Haliburton Highlands Museum.
He moved to Perth in 1985 to become the curator of
the Perth Museum.
Under Mr. McNichols direction, Matheson House became
a unique combination of a heritage house museum of 1840, showing the
lifestyle of an upper class Perth family, and a showplace of Perth's
history from 1816 to the present.
In his first eight years as curator, he raised about
$1 million for the museum.
A big promoter of community involvement in the life
of the museum, Mr. McNichol was always quick to pay tribute to the
efforts and hard work of volunteers.
He worked with staff and volunteers to catalogue,
store or display artifacts, treating each with utmost care.
The Perth Museum was more than just a tourist stop,
he felt, always promoting it as a museum for the people of Perth
John Stewart, museum board chairman, expressed shock
at the town's loss.
Describing him as a competent curator, Mr. Stewart
said "he lived the museum - gave it his all.
"He was generous with his knowledge... a very good
teacher. Doug understood and preached the importance of the museum to
Mr. Stewart credits Mr. McNichol for engineering the
completion of the Inderwick Wing at the museum, built in the
Perth Town Councillor Steve Forster, who sits on the
museum board, worked with Mr. McNichol both as a councillor and prior
to that when he was editor of The Courier.
"He was a decent man - a man who took his job
seriously. He was a dedicated employee and was devoted to the museum
and the care of it's artifacts," he said.
"I genuinely liked Doug. It's so unfortunate. In any
of my dealings with him he was always so positive."
Gord Cowie, another councillor who was involved with
Mr. McNichol through the town's association with Inge-Va, said he had
"a keen desire to further an understanding and appreciation of our
"His dedication and passion to preserving the
artifacts of Perth's history will be greatly missed."
Mr. McNichol loved his work. In a 1993 interview, he
described the Perth Museum as "a warm, energetic place. I find it
exhilarating... I wouldn't change places with anybody," he said.
The Perth Courier - April 30, 1997
The Perth Courier - July 16, 1997