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by Frances Spiegel
London, United Kingdom
July 2, 2001
Forget the 21st century with all its mod cons, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, microwave ovens, etc, and enter a replica working village representing life just as it might have been in 19th Century rural Ontario.
Costumed villagers go about their daily business using authentic tools and methods. Replica stores, a mill, the printer's workshop, the clock maker, authentically furnished homesteads and public buildings reveal times gone. Explore the foundry, the Fisherville Church, the school, the Doctor's House, the Town Hall, the Tinsmith or the broom-maker's shop.
It was bitterly cold during our visit and the cozy warmth of these homely buildings was very welcome. In the Village hotel we were greeted by the smell of home baking as we sampled delicious cheese buns straight from the oven.
In the mill spinners and weavers, using carefully preserved equipment, demonstrated dyeing, quilting, tatting and other early crafts. There is a fine choice of handicrafts produced by the villagers for sale to visitors. Crafts demonstrated during our visit included harness making, baking, tin engraving, flour milling, and broom making. Visitors are encouraged to try their hand at most of these skills.
The Masonic Hall, above the Tinsmith, is one of the older buildings in the Village thought to date from the mid-nineteenth century. At different times in its history it has been a dwelling, a store, a tinsmith's shop, and in the 1870's it was home to the newly founded Blackwood Masonic Lodge.
The Lodge occupied this building until 1899 when it moved to a new venue. This building originally stood in Woodbridge, a short distance from the Village, until the 1980's when it was in poor condition and about to be demolished. However, the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority joined forces with members of the Masonic Order and moved the building piece by piece from its original site thus ensuring its preservation in the Village.
Inside the Masonic Hall displays relate the history of freemasonry in Ontario. On the day of our visit there was a volunteer present to answer our questions and tell the history of the Lodge.
The Doctor's House was of great interest to me with its display of instruments that appeared more suited to torture than to medicine. The Doctor would have had his own medicinal herb garden and this has been recreated next to his house.
You can just imagine the Doctor picking herbs to make his medicines. Herbs and vegetables played a major part in the lives of 19th century settlers, and you can see several typical vegetable gardens. Most of the vegetables currently grown at the Village were common in the 19th century but they looked very different to what we might find in our shops today.
Even in the thick snow and bitterly cold temperatures we found the energy to explore these extensive grounds. It was certainly a full day out and very good value for money.
From journal Canada, Ontario, Toronto : Black Creek Pioneer Village
The gift shop offers a wide range of goods from small gifts for small people, i.e. pencils, rubbers, note pads, keyrings, through to high quality gifts such as silk scarves, leather goods, fancy candles, books, rugs and other goods based on pioneer experiences.
by Ana Astri-O'Reilly
July 27, 2010
From journal Toronto, the Meeting Place