Upper Canada Village

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The family and I took another weekend jaunt and, in her generous humorings, my wife agreed that another historic location from the 19th century would be fun. I think we were all pleasantly surprised by Upper Canada Village. This amalgamation of buildings, actual and reconstructions, combined with the amazing scenery, is a carefully constructed walk back in time. Just mind your step behind the horses.

My book takes place in 1812 and the focus of UCV is the 1860s, but daily life was similar enough that this would still benefit my eagerness to immerse myself in my own story. I assumed incorrectly that this place would be small. There were working farms with livestock, homes of various sizes and status, beautifully ancient trees, and wagons and horse drawn boats (the horse stays on land and pulls it near the canal) to take you from one end of the village to the other.

The characters are all in full wardrobe and living their lives, allowing you to walk through their environment like ghosts in fond observance. Tinmakers craft cups and dust pans. Cobblers and seamstresses cloth the townspeople. The farmer’s wife prepares supper while he feeds the pigs. The sawyer works the logs through the saw blade, stacks of planed lumber outside the churning mill. My wife had to pull me away from here or I would have watched this guy work all day.

We had tea time at the restaurant and hotel, listened to the soft tones of a melodium, and listened to history and facts of the times told to us by the actors. And there was a miniature train ride. It’s still my dream to Silver Spoons it and have one running through my house, but for now I settle for riding other people’s tiny trains.

UCV is place near the St. Lawrence seaway and the location of the Battle of Chrysler’s Farm. This, like our visit to Gananoque, was also a war of 1812 event. Here the British defeated the Americans, which ended their campaign to take Montreal. The actual site was submerged when a dam was constructed in 1958. A monument now stands to mark the battle. The museum was closed when we got to this area so I’ll have to go back another time, to which I’m looking forward.

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