Ingersoll ready to say cheese as Doors Open event returns

·2 min read

INGERSOLL — A museum in this small Southwestern Ontario town is inviting visitors to embark on a cheesy tour this weekend.

A replica of a historic 3,300-kilogram (7,300-pound) cheese will be on display Saturday as part of Oxford County’s annual Doors Open event, the first in-person tour since the pandemic struck two years ago.

Oxford, known as the dairy capital of Canada, is hosting this year’s event in Ingersoll — a community known as “the cradle of the cheese industry,” said Scott Gillies, curator of the town’s Cheese and Agricultural Museum.

“Beginning in the 1860s, running for over 100 years, the two terms of Ingersoll and cheese were synonymous,” he said. “If you thought of one you immediately thought of the other.”

Created in 1866 at the James Harris Cheese Factory in Ingersoll, the mammoth cheese — measuring two metres in diameter, more than 6.4 metres in circumference and nearly a metre high — was paraded through the town before it travelled to the State Fair in New York, and later, shipped to England.

Participants of this year’s Doors Open event will have the chance to learn about the town’s rich cheese and dairy history while exploring up to 18 cultural and heritage sites on the tour that runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday.

Starting at the museum at 290 Harris St., just north of Highway 401, visitors will receive vouchers to use downtown and a map with all the stops that include everything from Centennial Park and the Creative Arts Centre to First Baptist Church and a local farmers’ market.

Participants also can check out the Sports Hall of Fame in the town’s memorial centre arena. “Some of the hall of fame inductees are promising to be in attendance, so you can come meet some of the old-timers, or some of the young ones, and learn about their experiences,” said Gillies.

The Doors Open Ontario program is run by Ontario Heritage Trust that works with more than 40 centres province-wide to educate the public about local history.

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What: Doors Open Oxford-Ingersoll is a free, in-person event showcasing several of the town’s cultural and heritage sites. To learn more, visit www.doorsopenontario.on.ca/pages/events/oxford-Ingersoll or call Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum at 519-485-5510

When: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: The 18-stop tour begins at the Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum at 290 Harris St.

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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