Mystery of the Stolen Golden Egg
(Black Creek Pioneer Village - March Break)
by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Stuart
They call it a hands-on history experience and, during March Break 2014, Black Creek Pioneer Village offered a chance to be active sleuths. Situated in the northern part of the city of Toronto, Black Creek Pioneer Village is an oasis from the bustle of the 21st century urban existence. Its main operating season is from May-October but there are also seasonal activities such as during March Break. Budding junior detectives of all ages get to try out their skills of reason and deduction in solving the Mystery of the Stolen Golden Egg. Like the village itself, the time is that of the classic fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes who invites visitors to assist in solving the whodunit after a precious golden egg is stolen from the village harness shop.
Our visit began with a stop inside the interpretive centre where we were given a video orientation from Sherlock Holmes and Watson. From there we were led to the entrance of the village to begin the search.
Clues were provided by the residents and shopkeepers in each of the buildings and from the four suspects themselves. Crime solvers are encouraged to ask probing questions and make note of what they see and hear. Holmes and his able assistant Watson also roam throughout the village in an effort to keep everyone on the right trail.
We began at the tinsmith shop where we were given our first bit of information about one of the suspects as well as material to look for in certain other stops along the way. Many of the characters are quite colourful which, of course, contributes to making it an authentic experience.
Firstly, we hitched a ride aboard the horse-drawn carriage to have an overall look at the village before making out stops. At the Tinsmith shop we ran into a rather colourful character who told us who to watch out for and what clues certain materials in his shop and others would provide.
It added to the interest factor to combine exploring the village buildings with searching for clues. We were able to see some of the artifacts from the mid 19th century period in which the village is set.
We also found many crafters producing woven goods, household items, tools and much more. Naturally there was even the odd sampling of homemade treats to delight the visitors.
For anyone wanting a nature walk, there is a trail that winds through the woods where wildlife in one form or another can be found. We managed to see a few wild turkeys as well as a few other animals that were in a display area.
Because the day we visited was quite mild, we were able to sit rather comfortably and have lunch at the outdoor concession before resuming our quest.
Naturally, I won’t reveal the actual perpetrator but the whole event was so well-crafted that it took us the better part of the day to explore the various buildings and interview the suspects before determining the perpetrator.
Once back in the centre, we were once more ushered into a room to watch Holmes and Watson reveal the thief who stole the golden egg. It was gratifying to have our hard work pay off as we had chosen correctly.
With what little time remained, we took a look at the museum which featured, among other items, a genuine Conestoga wagon.
For the remainder of this review, I would also like to provide a perspective from the children.
It was very fun and I like how it was not too hard or too easy to figure out who stole the egg. You could not tell you were in Toronto. I think they should give a prize for guessing the right criminal mastermind.
This was the second year they had run this mystery during March Break which made us even more impressed at how well it was put together. To find out more about special events that bring history to life as well as the Black Creek Pioneer Village, go to http://www.blackcreek.ca/ .