Stepping into the shoes of 1860 Cobourg

Group stands behind display of shoes in glass box on a round black table. Group includes left to right: NCAM Curator Katie Kennedy, Eileen James, Tom James and Warden Mandy Martin.

Northumberland County Archives and Museum welcomes artefact from Opening Ball of Victoria Hall

Photograph of shoes worn by Marguerite Pentland. Pictured in a glass case on a black tablecloth, with enlarged photo of Marguerite in front.Cobourg, ON – September 26, 2023 – Northumberland County Archives and Museum (NCAM), the Town of Cobourg, and volunteers from Victoria Hall in Cobourg gathered to welcome Tom and Eileen James today, who made a special journey to Victoria Hall to generously donate a cherished family heirloom to the NCAM collection.

Tom and Eileen James travelled from British Columbia to donate a pair of Victorian-era shoes worn by their ancestor Marguerite Pentland during a dance with the Prince of Wales at the Opening Ball of Victoria Hall in 1860.

“My grandparents were collectors and preserved a lot of memorabilia throughout their lives,” states Tom James. “My grandmother had been the keeper of these shoes for many years. We reached out to NCAM because it was important for our family to ensure the shoes were in an environment where more people could enjoy them and help preserve the artefact and the story behind them.”

These shoes have travelled thousands of miles and have been patiently waiting to join the NCAM collection for over a century. They are an important representation of the vibrant history in our community and the importance of preserving this history for generations to come.

“These are more than just a pair of shoes; they are a reflection of our history and culture,” states County Warden Mandy Martin. “This artefact donation provides a glimpse into the future of historical preservation in Northumberland as NCAM prepares to expand their collection with the opening of a new facility, alongside the Golden Plough Lodge Redevelopment Project. I look forward to new discoveries from our past, as NCAM continues to grow in their future space.”

Upon completion of construction for their new facility currently under development in Cobourg, NCAM will move across town to share space with the new Golden Plough Lodge long-term care facility. This groundbreaking partnership will increase access to cultural activities for long-term care residents, visitors, and staff, and will introduce an enhanced infrastructure to support NCAM exhibitions, programming, and public research. This expanded archives and museum space will offer increased capacity and enhanced exhibition features to be able to preserve and display an even greater number of community artefacts, including these historical shoes.

“Artefacts are the tangible remnants of our past,” states NCAM Curator Katie Kennedy. “At NCAM, we are humbled to be the custodians of these records of human experience. Being able to view, research and showcase historical artefacts allows us to gain a better understanding of our history and opens the door to important conversations about where we come from. By showcasing the many unique stories and experiences that make up Northumberland today, we will be better able to shape the Northumberland of tomorrow.”

Community members and researchers interested in viewing the shoes are invited to schedule an appointment with the NCAM team. To learn more, visit

Photos attached

1. (Left to Right): Katie Kennedy (NCAM Curator); Eileen James; Tom James; Mandy Martin (County Warden).

2. Photograph of shoes worn by Marguerite Pentland in 1860.