The Callander Bay Heritage Museum is located in the former home and practice of Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, world famous country doctor of the Dionne Quintuplets and has been open to the public for over 35 years. The building itself, however, is over 100 years old and is a designated heritage building.
Prior to 1883 the property was Crown land. Through a Land Grant the 100 acre lot (Lot 2 Concession 26)
was awarded to George Kilby who settled in Callander in 1883; Kilby did not develop the property, but
kept it until 1886 when he sold it to Silas Huntington.
Silas Huntington, a Methodist missionary, was credited with reaching many northern communities. Huntington
kept the land until 1904. Once again, the property was not developed.
John McBurney, born in 1863, was a lumber mill operator who owned McBurney’s Lumber Mill (the present
site of Centennial Park). McBurney purchased the property from Huntington in May of 1904. He built a
six room house; the same month, John McBurney sold the house to his wife, Marie, for the sum of $1.00
so as to protect his asset from possible bankruptcy. They kept the house until 1910.
John Darling, again a lumber entrepreneur, bought the property in March of 1910; as did McBurney, he
sold the property to his wife, Kathleen within a month for the same reasons. One of John and Kathleen’s
sons, Stan Darling (who was born in the house), was elected MP in the 1972 federal election. The Darling family lived in the home
In June of 1914 Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe purchased the property; this was the year that he married
Bertha Leila Morrison, a Red Cross nurse with whom he often worked. The Dr. used the house as his home
and practice. Since the two front rooms were used for his practice, the Dr. immediately added a kitchen
dining area to the east side of the house. He later added the reading room on the westerly side of the
house. For many years Dr. Dafoe was a little-known country doctor that suddenly rose to international fame
for his involvement with the birth of the Dionne Quintuplets. Upon the sudden death of Dr. Dafoe in 1943,
his brother, Dr. William Dafoe of Toronto, came to settle his brother’s estate.
The house was sold twice after; first to Arthur Dunlop who owned the property from 1943 to 1967 then to
Henry and Jacqueline White from 1967 to 1979.
With the determination of Alex Dufresne and several others the property was purchased from the Whites
by the Corporation of the Township of North Himsworth in 1979 with the specific intent to have a community
museum. Within two years the museum was open to the public and features eight rooms of area artifacts and
history. In 1995 an addition was built onto the museum on the south end of the building. This addition
is now an art gallery, and in honour of the vision of Alex Dufresne it is now known as the Alex Dufresne Gallery.