If you live in North America, chances are you’ve heard of the Corn Belt, the Bible Belt, and maybe even the Rust Belt. The Delhi Tobacco Museum and Heritage Centre in Canada’s Norfolk County wants to put one more notch in that belt: The Ontario Tobacco Belt.
Norfolk County was an area of major tobacco production over the last century, which is how it got to be known as the Ontario Tobacco Belt. The Delhi Tobacco Museum is an unassuming but unique place — the only museum of its kind in Canada, and one of only a handful worldwide.
Built in 1979, the intention was to replicate a typical tobacco packaging barn, to give the feel of what it was like to work in the processing industry. The museum has since expanded to include displays on alternative local produce, such as ginseng, and exhibits on local cultural heritage groups that migrated to the Delhi area from around the globe to take advantage of a booming Canadian tobacco industry.
The museum houses a collection of equipment ranging from antique tractors to machinery used for drying, processing, and packaging cured tobacco. They also have an interactive display of tobacco cards, which were kind of like the baseball cards you’d find in packages of chewing gum. These trading cards were included in tobacco products over the years, celebrating everything from famous ships, birds, authors, and countless others — and of course, advertising the tobacco brand.
The Delhi Tobacco Museum provides a window into a rich regional history of an industry that fueled the southern Ontario economy for nearly a century, now mostly gone (not such a good thing), as rates of smokers have continually gone down (definitely a good thing!). Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Know Before You Go
Delhi is about 75 miles southwest of Toronto, and about 15 miles from the shores of Lake Erie. You can get there easily by following Rt. 3 from the east or west. In addition to the Museum exhibits, there are outdoor displays, demonstrations and picnic areas – all close to area beaches, camping and biking trails. Admission to the Museum is free, but donations as a Friend of the Museum are welcomed.