'You are our first guests': Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame opening hopes to kick start tourism season in St. Marys, Ont.
Dorene Bowyer and Dennis Quinn were the first tourists to walk through the doors of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (CBHOF) in 11 months.
The couple from Kingston, Ont. were excited to hear the CBHOF in St. Marys, Ont. opened for the season Tuesday after the province moved into Step 3 of the reopening plan.
"It's the first museum we've been in, in probably two years," says Quinn, wearing a Montreal Expos hat. "The first time we've been out of Kingston for any length of time since March of 2020."
The pair are doing a seven-day road trip visiting friends in nearby London, Ont.
Bowyer said for the first time it felt closer to being 'back to normal.'
"We're getting a little tired of being around the house and we could go for a little road trip," says Bowyer.
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer Andrew North, left, gives a tour to Dennis Quinn and Dorene Bowyer of Kington, Ont. in St Marys, Ont. on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (Brent Lale / CTV News)
Since the beginning of the pandemic began the CBHOF has only been open for two months. They were able to welcome visitors last July and August.
"We're now able to open the doors and let people in," says Scott Crawford, director of operations at CBHOF. "We still have to limit the amount of people, and wear masks inside but we're open and we're really excited."
The opening of the hall of fame is welcome news for everyone in Stonetown.
Tourism dollars have been lost in the community by missing out on a pair of CBHOF induction weekends, Heritage Festivals, Teddy Bear Reunions, Canada Days and also Homecoming.
"We survived," says Julie Docker-Johnson, owner of The Flower Shop on Queen Street.
"The more things that open, the better it is. The tourists are coming, and the Hall of Fame's open, the Quarry's open. There's loads of different activities that the town's created to drive tourism, and our downtown looks fabulous. Everybody has learned a lot and there's far more to do in St Marys now than there ever was before."
With the museum now open, the hope is that the small town of 7,000 people will be filled with people wearing baseball jerseys.
"When they're in town the streets are busier, the stores are busier, and the restaurants are busier," says Crawford, who is trying to use social media, and retweets from prominent baseball personalities in this country to let people know they are open.
"We know tourism season goes to the end of August, and so we're about six weeks left for to get as many people out of their houses and into all the museums all over the province. It's a short season and we hope to make the most of it and entertain people, and talk baseball."