Black Creek Pioneer Village

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

More Than a Collection of Buildings
The following is an excerpt from the Black Creek Pioneer Village website. The Village was created over 40 years ago to honour the ways of our early settlers. "Black Creek Pioneer Village is more than a collection of buildings and artifacts. Here, you will become immersed in the lifestyles, customs, and surroundings of early residents who built the foundations for modern Toronto and Ontario. Spanning more than 30 acres of pristine country landscapes, the Village is a living history experience featuring heritage buildings originating in communities across south central Ontario that have been faithfully furnished with original furniture and artifacts."

 

"Here's photo video of our visit to the Black Creek Pioneer Village." 

 

"The following is a description of our tour of Black Creek Pioneer Village"
Pioneer Days…
I hadn’t visited Black Creek Pioneer Village in a long, long time. When Judi’s Newmarket sister told us that she and the Newmarket Citizens Band would be performing at the Village, we jumped at the chance to visit the Village and hear her and the Band play. The concert was starting at 1:00 pm. We wanted to arrive at the Village a little earlier so that we could start our exploration of time gone by. The Village is located in the north part of Metro Toronto just west of York University. When the Village was built in the ‘50s, nothing surrounded in but fields. Now the whole area is built up, The pioneer village is an oasis in the middle of an urban desert. It’s easy to get to. We just followed the directions on the Village's website. As we turned into the Pioneer Village property, we were greeted with a huge parking area. The cost to park was $8.00. After we parked, we walked towards the Visitors’ Centre. You had to walk down a set of stairs to get to it. The building looks new and very modern. Initially it would seem out of place in such a historic setting, but the architecture blends the building in nicely so it doesn’t look out of place. Once in the building we paid our $13.00 each admission fee. The inside of the building houses a gift shop, administrative offices, a museum and banquet facilities. We walked through the building to the rear exit. As we passed through the door of the Centre, we entered a different world! Just like Alice in Wonderland we were going to follow our own wooden road to wonderland…

Following The Historical Path…
Our first visit on our 19th century journey was to the Tinsmith Shop and Black Creek Masonic Lodge. Inside we were greeted by the tinsmith himself! We talked about the goods he produced and what they were used for in the 1860’s. The tinsmith was very knowledgeable and answered all our questions. From there we moved to the Broom Maker’s Shop. He was teaching some young children how to make brooms. Across the street was Edgeley Slaughter House. Thank goodness it was empty! Attached to it was the Snider Drive Shed. A wagon was housed in the shed. Back across the street, next to the Broom Maker’s Shop was the Edgeley Mennonite Meeting House, with a drive shed attaches to it. There was no meeting today. As we wandered on we came to the Bolton Shop. Inside an artist was painting colourful needle cases. She explained her technique and what the boxes were used for. Across the street was the Town Hall Green. Several children and adults were playing different period games, rolling a hoop, stilts, tag and badminton. The Town Hall was located on the north part of the Green. We went inside the building to see a court room type setting. A notice on the steps told us there was going to be a trial that would demonstrate how crime and punishment was handled in the 1860’s. The trail wouldn’t start for a few hours. We heard the tuning of instruments and knew that the band was close by and that the concert would be starting soon…

Newmarket Citizens Band In Concert…
We walked over to the Event Pavilion. The orchestra was on the stage tuning up. Judi’s sister plays the percussion instruments - kettle drums, cymbals, xylophone, triangle, bones. If it makes a big noise, she likely plays! We said our hellos and then found a table near the stage. Others were entering the open air hall and finding tables to sit at. While the orchestra were tuning up, Judi and I purchased lunch from the pavilion snack bar. They were cooking hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages on an open flame barbeque. The food was freshly cooked and tasted great. Finally the band was all tuned and ready to play. The conductor took her place in front of the musicians, taped the lectern and then waved the baton in the air signalling for the music to start. It did and it was terrific. At the end of the first selection, the listeners gave the group a warm round. Then one of the bands’ members came to the front of the stage and described in detail the selection the group would be playing next. This procedure was followed throughout the concert. The selections were diverse, ranging from musical masterpieces to television theme songs. The citizens band played great enthusiasm and the audience loved them for it. All too soon the concert was over. We said our goodbyes to Judi’s sister and returned to our historical road…
Note: If you would like to find more about the Newmarket Citizens' Band, see their website at http://www.newmarketcitizensband.ca/

A Return to the Past…
The concert was a great respite, but it was time to continue our historical journey. Our first stop was to be the MacKenzie House. Unfortunately the house was closed with a note on the door that the occupant had “gone to town”. Disappointed we crossed over the street to Charles Irvine’s Weavers’ Shop. Inside a lady was demonstrating the use of a loom to produce yarn goods. The shop had a colourful array of yarn and completed produces. From the weaver’s shop we went around the corner to the Black Creek Pioneer Village Printing Office. The office was crammed with printing presses and type. The printer, who had been working at the back of the shop came forward to greet us. We talked about the different types of printing that took place and how it had changed over the years. It was fascinating to me having been in the fine art print business for a number of years. Reluctantly we took our leave and continue our investigations. Across from the printing shop was the Doctor’s House. This was a beautiful large home with ornate furnishings throughout. My great grandfather had been a country doctor and I often visualized that he had lived like this, likely not, as he was run out of town for thievery, but that’s another story. From the Doctor’s House we traveled a short distance to Dominion Carriage Works and Cabinet Maker’s Shop. This was ironic because my other great grandfather has been a carriage maker in Lakefield, Ontario. One end of the building was devoted to the Carriage Works, while the other end was the cabinet maker. The cabinet maker had set up a numbers of interactive displays that the children visiting the shop loved. We moved on to the next building which was Daniel Flynn’s Boot & Shoe Shop. The shop was wide open, peeking in we saw a wide array of tolls and gadgets hanging on the wall. Our final shop along this part of the village was Rose Blacksmith Shop. At the back of the building the blacksmith was working at his forge, hammering metal into shape. The open fire was blasting on a very warm summer day. We left quickly! We had seen a lot and it was now time to find a seat and sit down and rest our feet. There is still a lot left to see…

Continuing Our Journey…
We had come to crossroad and decided to continue straight. The first buildings we came to were the Burwick House and Stable. This had been the home of a country gentlemen. We toured the dwelling throughout. We passed a maid sewing in one of the front rooms and a gentlemen painting a landscape in the kitchen area. The second floor has three or four bedrooms plus a sewing room. The house was beautifully furnished throughout. Much of the furniture had been made in Upper Canada, elegant living in early time. We left from the front of the house, turned right and walked along the side a white picket fence. Inside the fenced in area were several geese squawking for attention. A barn was located at the back of the building next to a drive shed. Grazing behind the barn were two magnificent draft horses. These beautiful animals were begging for attention, but a sign cautioned us that the horses might bit. We came as close to the fence as we could to take close up photos. Across the street from the house was an old one room School House. It was the Dickson’s Hill School built in 1861. Inside there were several rows of desks and chairs. The front of the room contained a podium for the teacher and a table with 2 dunce hats (memories, memories, memories!). Along part of the side walls and the whole front wall were several large blackboards, filled with all kinds of learnin’! We left the school to continue our journey. To get to our next set of buildings, we had to pass a pond and marsh area…

Across the Pond…
Moving passed the pond; we came to Roblin’s Mill. This is was where the community’s grain was milled into floor. The grinding stones are powered by a large wooded waterwheel. Inside the miller was discussing how the grain was processed and the sent to market. Just to the north of the mill was a smaller building that housed Taylor Cooperage. Unfortunately the building was not open. We continued to follow the lane north. A short distance from the Cooperage, on the right hand side was Richmond Hill Manse. This was the home of the Fisherville Presbyterian Church Minister and his family. The Manse was tastefully appointed. Inside we were welcomed in the kitchen and told about life at the Manse. Across the lane was the Fisherville Church. The church was a simple structure surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside the church rows of box pews faced a high pulpit. Located just north of the church is the church cemetery. Here is the final resting place for members of several local founding families. This was the end of the buildings in the area. We retraced our steps along the lane and passed the pond until we can to the crossroads. It was a very hot day at the Black Creek Pioneer Village, so we decided to find a cool bottle of water and a shady place to rest…

The Crossroads…
The Half Way House Inn & Restaurant is located on the southeast corner of the crossroads. The Inn was a regular stop for farmers on their way to or from market and a stop for stage coaches. The Inn is quite large and contains a variety of rooms. On the bottom floor there was a sitting room with a fireplace, a large dining room, a drinking room with a bar and a kitchen. In the kitchen the cook told us about the Inn and the type of travelers who came to rest and eat. Upstairs were the bedrooms plus there was a large meeting room. In the basement area there is a restaurant that serves current day visitors an excellent fare, in the tradition of the Inn’s past. The Laskay Emporium and Post Office is located next to the Half Way House. Inside you can purchase souvenirs and, for us, cold water. A large farm is located across the road. We took the trail down to an old log cabin. This was the homestead of the area’s original settlers. The building was built by Daniel Strong in 1816. The home contains 3 small rooms and a large fireplace. The lady of the house was there dying wool. She told us about the home and the struggles of it original occupants. Abutting the cabin is Daniel Strong’s Smoke House and Butchery. Just north of the log cabin is Daniel Strong’s second home. This is a two storey structure that showed the prosperity of Strong and his family. Inside a lady sat by a window sewing pin cushions. It had been a long tour, so I asked if I could sit for a moment or two. During that time we talked about her sewing and the importance of her work as it applied to the 1860’s. She told us that they were not only made for personal gifts, but were taken to market and sold for cash. The discussion was very interesting and it was obvious that this presenter knew a great deal about her subject. Outside we heard the sheep bleating and the pigs onking. Rested, we decided to investigate…

The Final Stretch…
After we had left the Strong’s second residence, we headed for the barn area. We were just in time to see them feeding the pigs. They raced around the pen, sliding in the mud, chasing one another and generally having a great time. The all of a sudden the pigs ran into their building and were gone from sight. We moved to the other side of the Piggery, but they were still inside. Disappointed we moved on to the Hen House. The only hen visible was just coming out of the house through a small opening. It was a beautiful animal with glossy black feathers. In the field adjacent to the buildings was a fenced field with a number sheep grazing on it. When they saw Judi and I coming to the fence a few ran towards us. I think they thought we had food. Sound familiar? Our dog, Dusty, does the same thing! We moved away from the farm houses and back up the lane. Part way up I spied an underground opening. I walked over to it and peered in. It contained a number of wooden bins. I later found out that it was an Apple Storage Cellar with heavy double doors and straw lined bins. It was used to store apples and root vegetables without them freezing in the winter. Back on the main road, we came to the Harness Shop and Saddlery. I looked into the building and saw a craftsman working on a leather shoe. A little to the south was the Fire House. Inside was a beautiful pumper wagon. At the end of the street, on the east side, was Henry Snider’s Cider Mill. No one was in the building, but there was a huge press in the middle of the building, ready for action. On the other side of the street was Daniel Strong’s Grain Barn. Again, there was no one in the barn, but at the back of the building two cows and a ground hog shared the field! We had come full circle and were now back at the visitors centre. We bid our goodbye to history and the Black Creek Pioneer Village and walk back into the future…

Black Creek Pioneer Village has a number of special events that are held throughout the year. Here is a list of events that was available at the time of writing this article.
May - Mothers Day Brunch
May - Alice in Wonderland
May - Doors Open Toronto
June - Battle of Black Creek - Revolutionary War Re-enactment
July - Canada Day Celebration & Citizenship Ceremony
September - Annual Pioneer Festival
October - Thanksgiving Dinners
October - Howling Hootenanny
October - All Hallows Eve
November/December - Christmas at Black Creek
December - Lunch with Santa
December - Christmas by Lamplight
You can visit the Black Creek Pioneer Village website for current event information.

TPL_KALLYAS_TOTOP