Posts Tagged ‘Black Creek Pioneer Village’


A final visit to Black Creek Pioneer Village at the week’s end.


The colours are desaturated and warmed up a bit — gives the pics a nostalgic feel.

And I don’t know what comes first — faded pictures or faded memories.

Occasionally thoughts of my own childhood or my father’s family farm are dim as they’re replaced by more immediate and pressing and ultimately inconsequential challenges of the every day.


This little fellow’s grandfather remembers the very day the Germans invaded his family’s hometown in northern Italy.


My father always gives thanks for living in a country where freedom — religious, cultural, racial — is taken for granted.


Where we watch our children romp without fear.


Where women’s clothing is a personal choice.


Where evidence of our past has not been destroyed by deadly ordnance.


Where the rain falls and the sun shines in balance.


Where a child can be a child.

Amen, Dad.

When are you coming for a visit?


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As part of their unit on the pioneers, the Grade 3 students of our school spend a week going to school and experiencing, as much as possible, life as a child of the 1860s.

After being dropped off in an empty parking lot by a big yellow school bus, the children scuffed their way down wooden sidewalks and dusty paths, passing a brewery, tinsmith shop, inn and general store.

Arriving at the century-old school house, they lined up — boys on one side, girls on the other, each with their own entrance.


It was a cool autumn day but inside the school was warm, thanks to a cast-iron stove in the middle of the room.


Inside, boys on one side, girls on the other.

The teacher, our own Ms. K, ┬áhanded out slates and chalk for the day’s lessons, which she’d already written up on the chalk board.

Interestingly, our school has phased out its chalk boards — too many dust issues and sensitivities. White boards and erasable markers are now the norm.


Any questions posed by the teacher had to be answered by first standing up and then speaking. Not sure what Missy is doing here away from her desk!


Some clear benefits to being able to wipe away mistakes with your apron!


On this day the classroom is quite bright and the light streams in through the large windows. One forgets how we maintain constant brightness in our offices and houses.


After a tough morning of arithmetic and spelling the children are allowed a recess to burn off some of the bread and butter they made yesterday and ate today. The gals head over to see the horses, big draft animals, not like the racing breeds we see in the fields near our home.


Back inside it’s time for grammar. In a startling contrast with what they’re experiencing this week, next week for three days the Grade 3 students will take a CAT (Canadian Aptitude Test) test, a somewhat stressful regimen that’s a tad controversial ’round these parts.

But that’s for another time.


Shortly before lunch a bona fide exemplar of pioneer times clarifies terms such as artefact and museum for the children.


She sports a nifty little body warmer called a Hug Me Tight. Kinda cute.


It’s the non-stop smiles that tell you this is learning that’s going to last a lifetime. Every one of these students will have a vibrant memory of the week they lived like children of a century ago


Heading back to the school bus and the 21st century.

And while it pains me to do so, I have to be honest to the whole experience.

Everybody had to dress up.


In the spring, for another school pioneer field trip, I wore my great-grandmother’s 1890s-era silk dress. That day was balmy and warm.

It’s now October. Somewhat cooler.

So I decided to be a little truer to my *other* family’s roots — not the one with the china, upright grand piano and good posture.


I decided I would honour those family members who arrived in Canada by steamship carrying with them not much more than hope, faith, and a love for the land.

The similarity is striking.

All I’m missing is my immigration card.

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Every year the Ontario Grade 3 curriculum features an extended unit on Canadian pioneers.

Children learn about the various challenges and physical hardships faced by early settlers — food, shelter, climate, predators, disease and isolation. The children learn that clothes fastened sans zippers and velcro, that late-night lighting was a pleasure reserved for the long days of summer and that pioneer children laboured long and hard for the rare luxury that might cross their paths.

But neither was all dark and austere.

To show some of the brighter elements of life in early Canada, our school takes the Grade 3 students to a week of study at Black Creek Pioneer Village, a working farm and 1800’s-era village at Toronto’s northern edge.

The village is typical of those established in south central Ontario between the 1790s and the 1860s. In those days, moving water was the engine that turned the mill wheels of rural Canada, grinding grain and providing a focal point for young communities.

With the mill perched at the side of a stream it wasn’t long before stores, a tavern and a blacksmith shop were built nearby. Houses, churches and a school quickly followed.


On today’s field trip the children learned their maths arithmetic lesson using slates and chalk.

They churned butter, carded wool and patted some sheep.

Tomorrow to the blacksmith’s shop and preparation for a spelling bee.

No plastic allowed in the lunch basket, ┬áno heating in the school house — the teacher had to start a fire, no Gore-Tex, no Thinsulate, no polypropylene fleece.

Missy here is wearing my brother’s 1967 woollen sweater, my mother’s shawl, alpaca mittens from South America, an undershirt, long stockings, socks and a mess of thrift store finds.

A new-wave kind of pioneer kid.

My girl.

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