At Black Creek Pioneer Village, you can explore 40 authentically restored buildings in a 19th century village. Here are my tips for making the most of your journey.
Have you ever wondered what it was like living in a country village a century or more ago?
What did the buildings look like? How did people decorate their homes?
How did they make things for their daily needs?
How did they dress, eat, sleep, light and heat their homes?
I’ve always been kind of obsessed with the past and whenever I get the chance I like to visit historic places. Imagine getting to visit a whole village of them in one day! I was thrilled to have the chance to tour Black Creek Pioneer Village recently. It was the first time since childhood that I’ve been there.
Black Creek Pioneer Village is a collection of 40 authentic historic buildings laid out to reproduce the look and feel of a rural village in southern Ontario between the 1790s and the 1860s. There’s even a Village Green where kids can play games of old and several small gardens typical of the era. The Stong family farm buildings are original to the site and they date back to the period of 1816 to 1832. However, most of the other buildings were moved here from other locations in Ontario (to save them from demolition). Even this mill which is huge was actually disassembled and brought here from Prince Edward County.
There’s a working farm with sheep and chickens and horses too and you can even take a horse and buggy ride through town.
.... a lovely and friendly horse...
The Buildings and the Artifacts at Black Creek Pioneer Village
When you arrive at the Village you enter a modern-looking Interpretation Centre. Here you’ll find the Admissions Desk where you buy your tickets and pick up a map. You’ll also find the store, a seating area, washrooms, some glass cabinet displays and the entrance to a mini-museum. This “inside museum” (for lack of a better phrase) hosts temporary exhibits. When we were there it had three exhibits: the Conestoga trail; antique toys and games; and Craft Brewing in Ontario. The Conestoga trail exhibit was interesting because it reminded visitors of the hard journeys that people undertook to get to this area and settle here back in the late 1700s/early 1800s. Here is a picture of the wagon that people used:
The roads (where they existed) were so bad those days that many times people just walked alongside the wagon. Riding inside would have been much too bumpy! You would have risked being thrown out. Only the driver had to put up with that torture.
Once you exit the Interpretation Centre you find yourself in unknown territory: the Living Past. I always get that little shiver of excitement when I enter a pioneer village. The first building you come to is the Tinsmith Shop and Masonic Lodge built in 1850. This building was originally located in Woodbridge. On the day we were there, a tinsmith was on duty. Many of the houses at Black Creek Pioneer Village have these working demonstrators but not all (I suspect there are more on the weekend... we were there on a Friday so it was about half-occupied and half-not). You can actually buy some of the products of the craftspeople on duty at the store including a lovely tin chandelier for candles.
There’s also a working brewery on-site that produces craft beer that is sold in LCBO retail outlets. You’ll find the brewery in the basement of Half Way House Inn. It’s a Georgian style, two storey building with big balcony up top and a pub in basement where we had lunch.
On the main floor there’s a dining room and a tavern. Here’s me propped up at the bar:
(And NO, I did NOT sample the beer on tour! I was well-behaved.)
Since I am fond of the publishing/printing industries, I enjoyed visiting the Printing Office (c 1850; from Kettleby). This was originally built as a Temperance Hall (speaking of beer!). This building now houses a wide range of printing equipment. We watched the printer on duty ink the metal and pull off a fresh, wet copy of a picture. Very exciting.
There’s also a one-room school house built in Markham in 1861 on site (this must be really popular with school tours, right?). I tried to convince my friend who is a teacher to jump over the barrier and don the dunce cap up front or simply pose at the blackboard for a picture, but she was too law-abiding to comply with my naughty request. A great disappointment.
I liked the look of this town hall, Wilmot Township Hall (1858) originally from Baden and the nice big green space in front of it. I did pose inside at the front of the hall, brandishing my fist like a true rebel-rouser, but the photo is too scary to show here!
Another building that caught my eye was the Photography Studio which has two chairs and a supply of old-fashioned clothing you can pose in (bring your camera).