We end the year of Wild Daffodil’s Windows photo challenge with a holiday bounty of images – most of them containing windows – from an excursion to Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto. My husband and I, who hadn’t visited since our school days, spent a leisurely weekday there when it was crowd-free and quiet. (We did encounter a couple of small and very well-behaved school classes.) The day was grey and damp, and a dusting of snow lingered from a recent storm, but inside the buildings, each demonstrating what mid-19th century rural life was like for families, tradespeople and farmers, fireplaces were stoked and lamps were lit, tables were laid for Christmas dinner, trees were decorated with handmade ornaments and gifts, and each door and window donned swags of evergreens and flowers from the gardens.
Black Creek Pioneer Village is an open-air heritage museum consisting of over forty authentic buildings, some original to the site, and others moved or rebuilt from elsewhere in the province. A massive collection of artifacts and period furnishings all accurately re-create Ontario village life in the early to mid-1800s, with the help of costumed history interpreters and craftspeople. Since we had the place virtually to ourselves, we enjoyed one-on-one talks with several of them, learning about tinsmithing, dressmaking and housekeeping, printing, weaving and more. Please join me as I take you ’round the village. Wild Daffodil … keep your eyes peeled! (Buildings’ original Ontario locations and dates of construction are given.)
The first building you see when you walk through the gates is the workshop of the village tinsmith (1850, Woodbridge).
I have a thing for whimsical antique trade signs, and this one fits the bill nicely.
Being somewhat of a magpie attracted to shiny things, I was really taken by the tinsmith’s handcrafted wares. This fellow gave us a demonstration of tin punching and explained why these storm lanterns are so effective. Oh, how I wanted to take one of them home!
More of the craftsman’s work. Many items made onsite, including those lanterns, are available in the gift shop. The lantern wasn’t destined to be, but I did purchase a couple of small tin ornaments with a punched floral design – beautiful in their own right!
The broom maker’s shop (1844, Sherwood) is located within a square log building which may have been the first school in Maple, Ontario.
This very knowledgeable interpreter taught us about the upper middle class life of a village doctor. His comfortably-furnished house (1830, Brampton) has a separate entrance for a two-room medical practice. In the waiting room, an 1866 notice shows that an office consultation (with or without medicine) cost fifty cents; house calls charged by the mile. Minor operations such as removal of tonsils or finger amputations cost from four to ten dollars. “Capital” operations such as cataracts, tumour removal or major amputations cost a whopping fifteen to fifty dollars!
I love the attention to detail such as the flowers and herbs hung to dry in the kitchen of the doctor’s house.
A pineapple for Wild Daffodil! The doctor’s dining room is set for a sumptuous Christmas feast. Pineapples were rare and expensive to buy, so it was possible for the more well-to-do family to rent one for special occasions.
The rustic simplicity of the Taylor Cooperage (1850, Paris). A display inside offers barrel-making equipment including a steamer for bending wooden staves.
The Black Creek Printing Office (1850, Kettleby) is fascinating. There are many fine examples of presses and typesetting equipment, plus reproductions of period broadsheets and advertisements, all printed on site. Here, the printer rolls ink on the press before stamping out a flyer for us.
We even had a brain-taxing opportunity to try our hand at typesetting using a mirror as a cheat, since each letter block is backwards. Obviously, this beautiful example wasn’t typeset by us!
I was drawn to this lovely window tableau in the print shop. You can just see the doctor’s house across the lane.
Roblin’s Mill began its life in Ameliasburg, Ontario in 1842 and operated as a gristmill until 1920. The five-storey building with its original timbers, flooring and machinery was dismantled and reassembled when Black Creek opened in 1960.
Another delightful trade sign, at the doorway of Daniel Flynn’s Boot & Shoe Shop (1858, Toronto). The workshop is filled with leatherworking tools and wooden shoe lasts of all sizes and styles.
Imagine coming to buy dressmaking cloth, buttons, thread and lace, dry goods and patent medicine, a handmade broom, blanket or basket, a leather powder horn or a hat, spices and other sundries at the Laskay Emporium and Post Office (1845, Laskay)!
Being an avid sender of postcards, I was naturally drawn to the post office and telegraph located inside the Emporium.
The weaver’s shop (1850, Kettleby) contains a functional Washington flat bed press, a Gordon press and a flying shuttle loom; mats and rugs made here are available to purchase. This young lady had her banjo with her and treated us to an impromptu folk song!
A quiet corner in a guest room of the Half Way House Inn (1849, Scarborough). The Georgian style structure is typical of taverns common in southern Ontario prior to Canadian Confederation in 1867.
An old lock guards the gates of the Townline Cemetery, which opened in 1845 and saw its last interment in 1927. Daniel Stong (1791-1868) and his wife Elizabeth, who emigrated from Pennsylvania in 1816 and eventually built two houses, a church and school on this site, are buried here along with other pioneers.
An 1860s stable on the grounds of Burwick House (1844, Woodbridge) shelters farm animals such as these hard-working Clydesdales. These friendly beasts power the wagon rides offered to visitors at certain times of year. (Sadly, not while we were there.)
We saw many more buildings and took oodles more photographs, but alas I must conclude the tour here. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Black Creek Pioneer Village as much as we did!
The saddlery was originally built in North York in 1845.
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