Waba Cottage Museum & Gardens, White Lake

<strong>Waba cottage museum</strong><strong>Waba cottage museum</strong>Image - /userfiles/image/cs/301554457_1532438160.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/1259726120_1532438163.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/1217342811_1532438276.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/848725843_1532438280.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/458198472_1532438408.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/128908355_1532438413.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/791847951_1532438418.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/1328235346_1532438501.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/1004083992_1532447271.jpgImage - /userfiles/image/cs/1344139941_1532447274.jpg

The Waba Cottage Museum and Gardens, on 8 acres, in White Lake feature:

a wonderful view of the lake

  • 11 themed gardens
  • heritage buildings, including the main building that houses museum artifacts
  • The buildings

The main building is a faithful reconstruction of the house built in 1835 by the founder of McNab Township, the controversial and colourful Archibald 13th Laird of McNab (c. 1781–1860).

The log schoolhouse (McNab School Section No. 15, built in 1978) was moved from the Clay Valley area between the village of White Lake and Arnprior, an area settled primarily by German immigrants in the 1860s and 1870s. A plaque commemorates broadcaster Frank Ryan (born 1901), who attended this school.

The log structure called The Temple dates back to 1868 and was moved to the site in 1978. It was originally built in the village of White Lake as a Penny Reading House.

The museum

The museum holds a number of unique artifacts, including replicas of whale bones from 11,500 years ago. In 1975, a resident of White Lake unearthed bones that were later determined to be from a mature Bowhead whale, an arctic sea mammal. The original bones are at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Ottawa.

Archibald Laird of McNab

Archibald 13th Laird of McNab was born about 1781 at Bouvain, Glen Dochart, Scotland. In 1816, when his illustrious Uncle Francis, 12th Laird of McNab, died without a legitimate heir, Archibald inherited the title of Chief along with insurmountable debts upon the family estate. In 1822, he fled from his creditors and came to Canada, where other members of the Clan McNab had already settled. (Sir Allan Napier McNab, Prime Minister of Canada from 1854 to 1856, was his first cousin.)

Soon after his arrival in Upper Canada, the government appointed Archibald administrator of a township. He promised to settle it with Highland clansmen, hoping the scheme would enable him to return to Scotland to regain his possessions. His first Scottish settlers arrived in 1825. Archibald ruled with an iron fist. It took 18 years of peaceful resistance, petitions, court battles and legal maneuvers to oust the only feudal lord that English Canada has ever seen.

In 1835, Archibald had a small stone house erected on the shores of White Lake. Here he lived for a number of years with his common-law wife Catherine Fisher, their son Allan, and their daughter Kitty. The Laird returned to Britain in 1852; Catherine remained in the house until her death in the 1870s.

Later the house became the property of Violet Box. It had fallen to disrepair, and efforts were made to have the historic building restored. However, on April 12, 1936, the owners demolished it with a few sticks of dynamite. In 1967, the Box family donated the ruins and 8 acres of surrounding lakefront property to the township. The McNab Centennial Committee built a replica of Archibald’s house, using some of the original stone. The hearthstone from one of the two old fireplaces became the threshold. Archibald Corry McNab, who had then assumed the Chiefship of the Clan, laid the cornerstone of the new building in 1967. The rebuilt Waba Cottage opened to the public as a museum on June 26, 1968.


Amenities include picnic tables, a boat launch and modern sanitary facilities.

Tours, picnics, weddings, family reunions, school outings and other special events can be arranged.

Hours of operation:

Open Friday-Monday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Victoria Day weekend to Thanksgiving Day weekend

To arrange a group tour or to make a donation:
613-623-8853 — Museum (May to October)

To book an event:
recreation@mcnabbraeside.com or 613-623-5756 ext. 226

For garden information or to volunteer:
613-623-8853 — Museum (May to October)


Directions from Hwy 17 (Arnprior)

  • Take the White Lake Road (County Rd. 2) for 12 km to the village of White Lake
  • Turn right at the four-way stop (White Lake General Store and Church)
  • Continue 1.5 km; the Museum is on your left

We are incredibly grateful for the very generous donation from John (Jack) Hayes of Pakenham

Photo by Jim Austin