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The Renfrew Museum is housed in the former Carnegie library, built in 1903. The museum contains many historical artifacts and photographs of the town’s past. It also has a collection of hockey memorabilia donated by local resident Frank McGee, who played for both Ottawa Senators and Montreal Wanderers teams that won Stanley Cups before World War I. Renfrew was founded as a military outpost by Colonel James Balfour in 1816 with an aim to keep American expansionists out of British North America during the War of 1812. In its early days it was called Pembroke but renamed Renfrew after its Scottish birthplace when it was incorporated as a village on January 1, 1850. A post office opened shortly thereafter on March 28, followed by commercial interests such as sawmills and grist mills powered first by water then steam engines from coal mined at nearby Black Lake.