Tena McDonald purchased a house and had it moved to her acreage close to town and worked to start a local museum. She died in 1972 and in 1973 The Hart Cam Museum committee was established. They began to store and catalog artifacts in temporary quarters. In 1977, the Municipality of Cameron moved to new quarters and the Museum Committee was provided with that two story building. The museum was officially opened on June 27th, 1978. The upstairs was renovated in 1981 and displays were established on the second floor.
In 1989 plans were made to add addition onto the back of the building as the collection was growing. In 1991 this was done. Gordon Phillips was instrumental in acquiring a caboose from the CPR as one of the museum’s artifacts. It is now the Tourism Information Booth.
In 1998 the roof was leaking badly and had destroyed several artifacts. Repairs were costly and so it was decided to purchase the building known as Hill Street Market, the former A, E, Hill co, Ltd. store. After months of hard work and lots of volunteer hours moving artifacts and setting up displays the Hart Cam Museum opened on Oct. 21, 1999.
For some time, the old fire truck and an old Ford car were housed within the museum. With the addition of new windows in 2006 these items could no longer be moved in and out of the museum through the windows and as they were on loan, they were returned to their owners.
In 2000 the Museum acquired a computer and scanner to make record keeping easier.
Shortly after this the Odd Fellows made the offer to build a room upstairs to house their regalia in exchange for rewiring the upstairs and putting in a new suspended ceiling.
In 2002 the committee decided to add theme window displays. These displays depict earlier times, but relate to important dates during the year and are changed frequently.
In 2006 Disney Pictures contacted the museum committee regarding renting the museum to film the movie The Lookout. Volunteers packaged up all the artifacts in the museum, placing them in storage in a C-can and in a couple of unused areas in the Civic Centre. Disney in return provided a monetary rent, new front windows (since they planned to blow one up during the movie) and new flooring. They also build a vault area and an office area which they left after the movie was shot. When it was over all the artifacts were returned to the museum.
In 2007, the Stone Angel was filmed in museum. It became Currie’s General Store. The committee again packed up the artifacts and placed them in storage. The museum received a monetary rental as well as all the counters and cupboards used in the film and funds to build a kitchen in the back of the museum.
In the fall of 2007 the back room of the museum was renovated and made into a tea room with kitchen displays. The vault area was enlarged and turned into a World War area and an archive room. A kitchen was installed.
In 2008 the upstairs was renovated with lots of insulation in the walls and ceiling, new windows in the front, and a second stairway built to the first floor. The upper floor was opened on July 26, 2012.
In 2010 upon attending a meeting of the Association of Manitoba Museums, the committee found that they were not meeting some of the accepted museum practices re cataloging and inventorying. They replaced the computer with a new one and installed a Past Perfect Program for keeping track of their inventory. The volunteers then spent almost every day of their lives for the next two years inventorying the artifacts in the museum and the many artifacts that were still in storage from the movie that had to be moved back into the museum.
2012 saw the installation of UV protection installed on the front windows.
In 2013 the knob and tube wiring was replaced in the bottom floor and new lights installed.
2020 saw the installation of a stair lift to the second floor, an item the committee had been fundraising for. Many elderly people had difficulty visiting the second floor and this was seen as a priority.
2020 also saw another long planned for project come to fruition. The museum had been donated 132 letters written by Ernest Diss, a WW1 soldier, to Amy Graham, a girl from Hartney. The committee had felt that they were historically significant and should not only be preserved but reach a larger audience than local visitors so with the help of Tellwell Publishers, the book A Soldier’s Wish was published. A Facebook page called A Soldier’s Wish was set up.
2021 plans are in place to build website for the museum and have a virtual tour done and posted on it. The committee will also try to record memories of people from the area of historical significance which will be posted on the website but can be viewed in the museum as well. These plans are really a result of the Covid Pandemic which has made it clear we need to be more flexible in how we present and preserve our collection in the future.
Plans are also in place to repoint the bricks on the outside of the building and replace the furnace.