A popular item throughout the Museum’s time has been Jerry, the ventriloquist dummy. Jerry came to the museum on loan in 1957, before being donated in 1981. Created ca. 1860s, Jerry belonged to Elderslie Township, then Paisley resident R.C. Pearce. The family story accompanying Jerry is that he travelled throughout Ontario performing along with another dummy, his “brother” Joe. Then one day, Joe was stolen.
Thanks to the efforts of past museum staff, Jerry has come to have his own myth and has become a local urban legend. The story below, from what appears to be a museum tour script, aided in cementing Jerry’s myth, as well as frightening young visitors:
“Imagine walking through these halls without a flashlight or the company of other people. Only the eerie darkness of the halls and the occasional creak of this old building. Spook stuff huh! Add to the spooky atmosphere, a wandering ghost who searches the halls. The ghost, I am speaking of resides in the General Store and is over 150 years old. He even has a name…….Jerry.
Jerry is no stranger to the Museum. He has been here for 34 years. But before he arrived a tragedy occurred in Jerry’s life that has haunted him day and night. Jerry, as you’ll see, is a ventriloquist puppet who was handmade by a ventriloquist from Paisley, Mr. R.C. Pearce. Jerry was not the only puppet he made. He also made Jerry, a brother named Joe. Over 150 years ago Jerry, Joe and Mr. Pearce travelled all over Ontario making people laugh and jokes and pranks. The laughter and happiness ceased when Joe was stolen. Somewhere along their journeys, Joe was puppet-napped, never to be seen again. Soon after his disappearance, the act folded and Jerry returned alone to Paisley with Mr. Pearce. Since then he has set and waited for Joe. Joe hasn’t appeared yet! It is whispered by some Museum staff that Jerry doesn’t just sit and wait for Joe. He, they say, wanders the halls at nights looking for Joe. He almost got caught once when an alarm went off. When the staff members and the police came in to investigate, they could find nothing amiss. But they did notice the door to Jerry’s case was wide open. Pretty spooky! So just watch yourselves to make sure Jerry Isn’t tagging along as we tour through the rest of the Museum.”