Friday, August 22, 2014

Upper Canada Village -- the other side

A couple of years ago we were visiting Don's co-worker Chris in Montreal and brainstorming something fun to do. It was raining. Chris suggested Upper Canada Village. I took a look at their website, and realized that would be the perfect place to go, but not in the rain. Meanwhile, I noticed their summer camp program.

I've asked Ashley to write about the summer camp program, but I realize I have not shared our experiences with visiting the site. Last year when we picked up Ashley she was ready to go home. We were planning on making the 9 hour drive that same day. This meant Don and I did not have a chance to explore the village.

This year we made a point of arriving earlier on drop off day and explored the place. As most of our friends and family know, we tend to visit a lot of historic sites. This is one of the best ones we have ever visited. Yes, that is saying a lot.

The Village is made up of a collection of buildings rescued during the St. Lawrence Seaway project. The building are from a variety of places and have been assembled to represent an English village in 1866 Canada -- the year before they became a country. UCV opened in 1961.

What I like about Upper Canada Village is that each house has a history apart from being part of UCV, and rather than hiding those histories the costumed interpreters embrace it and share it with anyone who asks. 

During quiet times the docents can be found working on projects -- baking, cooking, sewing, quilting, etc. It takes them a long time to finish any project because they don't have a lot of downtime.

They are also a very hands-on place. At some point each day people are invited to milk the cows or help out with other farm chores. 

Their summer camp program grew out of a desire to show what children would be during that time -- attending school, learning trades, fishing, etc. Even in Canada you can't hire small children to work, so instead they charge their parents and call it camp. ;) No complaints. Ashley loves it.

Each one of the interpreters adds their on knowledge to their parts. We spoke with the shoemaker who told us at that time shoes were starting to be mass produced, so he was not needed as much. He said the tinsmith was making too much money. We spoke with the tinsmith who told us his wares were needed because in those days "tin was the plastic of its day." is the key to the success of UCV -- unlike Plimouth Plantation and some other sites, UCV was willing to admit life continued after 1866 and could put things in context and make us better understand life at that time. They could talk about money by comparing it to today's money.

Their staff of costumed interpreters seemed unending. Throughout the day we would often see a horse-drawn vehicle on the path, or people walking from one site to another. Each building (and there are a lot of buildings) had at least one docent in it explaining and answering questions, but not being overly intrusive. For those interested in learning there was much to learn. For those who wanted to do a quick peek, they let you do that, too. 

Now as I'm looking through their website and clicking on each individual building I'm realizing I did not visit everything. It is a good thing she wants to return next summer.

Before long it was time to drop Ashley off into her new world. She had two costumes waiting for her along with shoes. The blue dress she wore on Loyalist Day. Yes, our Patriot girl learned about the other side, from the Canadian perspective. 

She wore a different dress on Tuesday and Wednesday and a third dress on Thursday and Friday. As you can tell from her post, she loved it.

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