Fanshawe Pioneer Village is a living history museum nestled in the scenic Fanshawe Conservation Area just outside of London Ontario. Come along with me for a quick tour!
This open-air museum in London Ontario boasts more than thirty historic buildings, most of them originals dating from 1820 to 1920, with some very impressive replicas. By spanning those 100 years, the museum covers the early rustic period when the area was mostly farms, right up to the time when the area was becoming more “urbanized”, so you get a real sense of the rapid changes that occurred over that century. Costumed guides are on hand in many of the buildings demonstrating tasks from the past like spinning, weaving and blacksmithing.
The village has a cozy feel to it. Unlike some other pioneer villages, where buildings can be spread out, at Fanshawe everything is close by ... so if you have visitors with you who can’t walk very far, you won’t tire them out quite as quickly!
The Buildings at Fanshawe Pioneer Village
One of the first buildings you encounter as you enter the village is the 1865 log house:
It’s very dark and rustic, but compare this to the buttery yellow Paul Peel House (1850s) on the other side of the village and note the contrast! Although they are roughly the same period (the Peel House is actually earlier), the levels of comfort are striking. Paul Peel was a famous Canadian artist and this house is named after him because he lived there when he was child from the ages of 5 to 7 years old. It was moved to the Village from London when it faced the danger of demolition. London is justifiably proud of its native son who made quite a name for himself internationally. You’ve probably seen a print of his painting “After the Bath” even if the name isn’t familiar.
Go upstairs and see the children’s nursery, which is filled with antique toys.
If you have children or teachers along with you on your visit, be sure to check out the two school houses on site. One’s a very plain rustic log-house style building:
… and the other is a solid brick schoolhouse with a cute pot-bellied stove and adorable little desks.
One of my favourite buildings on site, and right near the entrance to the village, is the Printer’s Shop. This one is not an original but a replica built in 1967. It was built to resemble the original London Free Press which was torched by arsonists (so much for the “Free” press).
Some of the other interesting public buildings on site are the Mount Moriah Lodge. This is set up to look like a typical 19th century Masonic lodge although it actually used to be a schoolhouse. There's also a Tavern (1843) which was also an inn, so you could sleep off the booze overnight. You can imagine this used to be a popular place back in the day! Just close your eyes and imagine the brawls... It was built by an Irish immigrant from Tipperary.
There’s also a replica of Labatt’s original 1828 brewery on site, which is fitting because Labatt’s Breweries has always been a big business in London (local history ...that’s what these sites are all about). Although the building is a copy, it was built with vintage logs, so it feels like the real thing.
There are also a couple of churches (one extremely stark), a sawmill and a barn with some livestock:
Visitor Facilities at Fanshawe Pioneer Village
The village has a rustic restaurant that serves delicious lunches on special occasions. We went for Canada Day and had barbecue ribs (so tender) and potato salad.
Washrooms are behind the restaurant.
The General Store (built in 1877) is today used as the village’s gift shop, where you can buy decorative items, old-fashioned candy and souvenirs.
Parking, included in the admission fee, is plentiful.
The village green is an open, grassy space with nice shady trees and benches and a playground with antique games and toys ... a great space for the kids to burn off energy while the parents relax nearby.
The village hosts events for all the major public statutory holidays. We attended the Dominion Day (Canada Day) celebration which featured live music, food, and costumed demonstrators.
They also host teddy bear picnics, live theatre, and Thanksgiving, Hallowe’en and Christmas events.
You’ll find the village at 2609 Fanshawe Park Rd. E., London, Ontario inside the Fanshawe Conservation Area. This conservation area has boating and camping facilities too.
For more information
For current admission prices, hours and more information see their web site www.fanshawepioneervillage.ca
You may enjoy