Pioneer Village

Victorian Tea China        Last month I blogged about a Victorian tea party I attended on the grounds of a local museum.    If you are a history lover, please join me for part two of the tour,  a visit to yesteryear.   

Moore museum collage

While the Victorian cottage is one of the original buildings on the museum site, there are many others.   Most have been moved to the site, including a one room schoolhouse, a small church and a log cabin from the days of the early settlers, as well as a local lighthouse.           

The 1919 church with the original pipe organ in the corner.

 

The one room schoolhouse.

schoolhouse

At the risk of sounding like someone from Little House on the Prairie, I seldom admit I once attended a one room schoolhouse.   It was located less than half a mile down the road from our farm, within walking distance even for a first grader, and was the same school my dad and all his ancestors had attended.   In 1963 the government closed all the remaining rural schools, and our parents drove us into town to the Catholic school until the bus system was started a few years later.  

What do I remember from my year and a half there?   Not much, as I was only six.   The big wood burning stove, so hot you could cook hot dogs wrapped in tin foil on top for lunch, schoolhouse

games of baseball for all ages at recess, getting the strap once (just a little tap on our hands) for talking in class and being made to stand in the corner with my cousin – much more humiliating.  schoolhouseThe teacher was always yelling and in a bad mood – can you imagine trying to teach 40 kids of all ages.   It may sound archaic, but I suppose it would be similar to home schooling now, with different age appropriate lessons.    As there were only three of us in grade one, myself, my cousin and an unkempt boy whose family no one knew, we did not get much attention, but I must have absorbed something from listening to her teach the older grades, as when we were given tests at the new school I passed with 92%.  (They thought we were country hicks who would have to be held back a year).   My new grade two teacher was pleasantly surprised and told my parents I was smart, a moment I remember to this day.   I always had a friendly rivalry with the boy sitting in front of me over who would get top honors, sometimes it was him, sometimes me, and as I went on to graduate from the University of Toronto, it didn’t to me any harm, although I admit some kids who needed extra attention were not as lucky.    

Compare this slate with the tablets of today.   I vaguely remember the sound of the school bell being rung.  

schoolhouse

At the one room schoolhouse the grade ones were let out half an hour early, and my cousin, who lived next door, and I would dawdle along, catching tadpoles in the ditches, playing in the snowbanks and making up fairy stories, the road being lined with beautiful trees, (channeling Anne of Green Gables here), and arrive home the same time as my siblings.    It seems I remember more than I had thought.   

Here is a picture of the class of 1934, with the school in the background appearing larger than I remember. 

schoolhouse dad

This is a log cabin from 1874, not a replica but an actual cabin moved to the site to preserve a part of history. 

cabin

My great-grandparents John and Ellen were married in 1870 and I try to imagine my Irish ancestors living in such a small drafty house during their early years on the farm.  The old white farmhouse I grew up in had two parts, the initial smaller dwelling and a larger addition with bedrooms upstairs to accommodate their growing family of nine children. 

This picture of an old stove certainly puts my complaints about the ongoing delays in my kitchen reno into perspective.   What my ancestors would have given for such modern conveniences as a stove you could turn on with the touch of a button.

cabin

Not too keen on the sleeping arrangements, a loft accessed by very steep stairs.    I remember my dad saying some of his uncles slept upstairs in the granary when it was new, which probably looked like this.  I imagine it was freezing in the winter, hence the quilts. 

cabin

Open concept floor plans were popular back then too!   We have an antique farm table dating from 1870, longer than this one.  

cabin

While most farms had large vegetable gardens, including rhubarb, and were mainly self-sufficient,

cabin

there were times you simply had to go into town for a few provisions at the general store,  

general store

and perhaps a new hat.

general store hats

The model train room, which boasts three large train sets, is always a hit with the guys.  

model train

 As well as the individual buildings, there is a large agricultural building full of old farm implements such as this cutter/sleigh.    We had one just like it and my dad sometimes took it for a spin behind the Clydesdales.

cutter sleigh

There is also a large exhibition hall, with a marine room and different display rooms and lots of historical archives.   It does seem strange that my Barbie/Skipper carry case has now achieved vintage status.   

vintage toys

I remember playing with this doll house too. 

vintage doll house

Several volunteers were setting up the loom for a display of weaving the day of our visit, a time consuming process.   There was no fast fashion back then.  

loom

And of course, I always enjoy looking at old medical exhibits, such as this infirmary,

infirmary

and pharmacy.   

pharmacy

The tools of my trade

Perhaps somewhere among those antique bottles is a clue for my (long neglected) murder mystery?    Agatha Christie used the knowledge acquired during her days as an apothecary apprentice when writing her books.   

When I think back to the changes in my profession over the past one hundred years – the invention of penicillin and antibiotics, vaccines, insulin – these are discoveries which saved lives.   In my student days pharmacy labels were prepared on typewriters, not as ancient as this one as ours were electric with correcto-tape.

typewriter

The last forty years of my career has seen the implementation of computers (a massive improvement for record keeping, drug information and drug interactions), clot-busters for preventing damage in heart attack and stroke, palliative care measures for end of life, improved chemotherapy, drugs for depression and mental illness, biologicals for autoimmune diseases, and more new drugs on the market than you can possibly keep up with.   When I think of the future – targeted chemotherapy, gene therapy, cures for diseases never thought possible – it is amazing the amount of change that can happen over the course of a century. 

One Christmas my father was given one of those autobiography books to document your life for the grandchildren.   One of the questions was what are the most important changes you have seen in your life as compared to that of your grandparents.  

“When my grandparents settled here the land was all bush.   Roads were Indian trails.  People lived far apart.   They had to build houses, barns, roads, clear land.   Walking and horses were the main modes of travel.   Machinery was crude or non-existent.   Since then tractors and combines have been invented.  Hydro, paved roads, cars, radios, toasters, tvs, micowaves, computers.   Household goods and furnishings have changed such as washers and dryers, refrigerators and stoves, air conditioning in summer and furnaces in winter instead of a wood stove.    My mother churned butter and we had an ice box and a root cellar for vegetables, an outhouse, no running water in the house and having to heat water on the stove for a bath.    Materials are softer now than the scratchy clothes I wore as a child.  You have toys now that we never dreamed of.   The biggest changes are education and modern schools, and medicines and childhood diseases.”

My father was a child of the Depression, and one of changes he recalled was hydro.  The farm didn’t get hydro until after WW2, 1947, and all of a sudden you had lights in the barn and weren’t milking cows by lantern light, and you could stay up late with hydro in the house.   Worth thinking about  the next time I grumble because the power is out a few hours due to a storm.   As to the future, he commented on computers and the internet which was just starting up.   In the twenty years since he died we now have – Google, Youtube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Siri, Spotify, Netflix, IPods, IPads, GPS, digital cameras and clouds which are not rain clouds, although we have plenty of those too!   We are now testing cars that drive themselves, robots and artificial intelligence.   It feels like something out of the Jetsons –  that old 60’s cartoon about a futuristic world which was very predictive.   Does anyone else remember the theme music?

What will the future hold?    Maybe someday my old 1986 DOS computer, currently residing in the basement, with it’s orange blinking screen and large floppy disks, will be on display at the museum, resting behind the electronics exhibit, along with a  Sony Walkman and a ghetto-blaster.

As a history lover, I feel it is important to preserve our heritage, and I hope you have enjoyed this peek into the past.  

Postscript:   My mother painted the log cabin (two versions), but she placed it in winter time, as my ancestors arrived here in late October, not expecting snow.   Is the lighthouse a beacon to the new world?    You can tell I’ve been hanging around the art world too much…

Postscript:  This is my 100th post.  I never would have imagined that!

 

33 thoughts on “Pioneer Village

  1. J P says:

    I would love visiting that place! This all brings back the stories my mother told. Life in northwestern Ohio was not much different from your part of Canada then. I guess the relative prosperity of the US showed up in my grandparents getting electricity in 1939 instead of 1946, and getting a tractor some time in the late 30s.

    Mom also went to a one-room school and lived in a house heated with an oil-fired space heater. I feel sorry for my kids’ generation, most of whom have no idea what it was like in the world as recently as 80 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I agree – it was a simpler time. I was going to edit it to add, that although they didn’t have as many luxuries/things as today, they also didn’t have all the stresses of the modern world. The local schools here take the kids for a day trip to the museum so they can see what the past was like – I think it’s part of the grade 4 or 5 curriculum, and they get an old-fashioned taffy pull and make Victorian Christmas decorations, so I’m sure they enjoy it, but generally I think you have to be older to appreciate history. I remember my dad saying many farmers here couldn’t pay their property taxes for years during the Depression, and then when the war came, times were better economically with all the war plants, but no one could get hydro until after the war. He bought his first tractor in 1948, over the objections of my grandfather who died in 1951, who did not want to part with the horses! My brother still has the tractor and restored it a few years ago. It had a side seat which we kids used to sit on when we were older over the objections of my mother – no one would let their kids do that today!

      Liked by 1 person

      • J P says:

        Yes, my mother would reminisce about the pair of horses they owned when she was very young. I still remember their names: Frances and Charlie. She said that one was blind and the other was crazy, but I don’t know which was which. She said her father was happy to be rid of them, but then he was much more interested in machines than livestock.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jo Shafer says:

    You have counted your posts? Congratulations on your hundredth!

    I though your mother had painted the village. It’s a charming piece of a charming, to us today, life of long ago, or not so long ago. Growing up, hearing similar stories from my elders, I wished I had experienced those times, too. We would not have known the difference of doing homework by lantern light, or bathing only on Saturday nights; but I do know about walking home from school — all of three lovely country miles along a two-lane highway on a fall afternoon when I had missed the bus. A grassy ditch bank, dry except during storm run-offs, stretched between the road and the post-and-wire fencing bordering a pecan grove and gracious country houses.

    My junior high school was a sprawling white clapboard building with tall sash windows and wood floors, attached desks lined in rows, even a large hand bell like the one at your school. No computers, obviously; everything written by hand after daily penmanship classes. Lots of history and literature, even Shakespeare, along with geography. So, even in the early 1950s, I was able to experience a bit of “old-fashioned” schooling.

    I still have dreams of walking home from school, just the scene along the highway, no houses, just pastures with grazing horses, magnificent bays which nobody saddled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      WordPress notifies you when it’s your 100th post! You can also go to Site on the Left Hand Side then click on Posts, and it will bring up all your previous posts with the total number at the top and also your drafts etc. I knew it was coming up, as I am approaching my 2 year anniversary in August, and I usually post once a week. It’s nice to have those memories of walking to school – do kids even walk to school anymore with so much traffic and such. Most here are bused or driven by parents. If they do, will they have any memories of the scenery as their heads are always down looking at their cell phones! I have heard they are not even teaching cursive writing anymore? I do love a pasture scene with horses – the countryside used to be dotted with them here and I knew every farm along the road and would watch for them out the car window! I wondered if I should have added a line about how maybe people didn’t have as many luxuries or things back then but they also didn’t have all the problems/stress of the modern world. I may think on that and edit. Thanks for sharing your memories.

      Like

      • Jo Shafer says:

        My second year comes up in August, too! My daughter set up the WordPress site for me when she was visiting that summer. I’ve had SO MUCH FUN with these writing projects, not to mention learning a lot by combining my love of history with gardens and garden design. I just follow my curiosity down a road of discovery, plus ideas you and my other new blogger friends suggest. This is better than Facebook for talking about things that really matter!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I agree. I am seldom on Facebook anymore. A summer student at the library helped me with set-up, otherwise it’s not likely I would have persisted.

        Like

    • Joni says:

      PS. No that picture of the entire village was on a mural inside the main building, but it is in folkart style. I asked who the artist was, but the volunteer didn’t seem to know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jo Shafer says:

    By the way, I had a dollhouse just like yours, painted tin, with intricate plastic furniture. Dollhouses — or, “dolls’ houses” — have come a long way by reverting to earlier English and European wood constructions and carved wood furniture. Several years ago, my husband built a Victorian farmhouse for our daughter (which I redid for her first daughter) and another smaller one for me! I’ve been working on an adaptation of Mount Vernon ever since. Quite a project!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      An artist friend of my mothers exhibits miniature houses – I didn’t realize they were an art genre until I saw hers – gorgeous – all with little pieces of furniture/food/furnishings!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thank you Diane! Yes, I wonder what the world will be like in fifty years? Better I hope. We have so much more these days in some ways, but also the kids have more stresses and pressures. There was a whole section in the book my dad wrote about what he hoped for the future for his grandkids which I thought to include, but the post was already so long. It is a nice idea to do a book like that for your grandkids ,if they still make them? I know they were popular for awhile. My sister gave it to him one Christmas, and he procrastinated. There he was in late November sitting at the dining room table trying to get the thing done to give back the next Christmas, and asking me for correct spelling etc. My dad was not a writer. But it’s something to keep as a memory. My mother re-wrote the whole book later into blank books, (her side and his), so each of us siblings could have a copy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Anne says:

    This has been a wonderful trip down memory lane – beautifully expressed and illustrated. I too attended a tiny school, only five of us were in the grade 7 (then standard five) group. We learned to write on slates before moving on to pencils and then dipping pens! Tinkertoy and Fiddlesticks: what fun they were – now we have Lego. Thanks to your historical bent and technology, so many of us are able to share in what must have been a most enjoyable visit – thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lindasschaub says:

    That was interesting and a lot of fun to read Joni. The buildings remind me of the old buildings at Heritage Park and how nice you can tour them. They have several days a year where you can tour the Little Red Schoolhouse and the Old Log Cabin, but it seems like every time this tour of the small buildings is available it has been bad weather. (Torrential rain both times.) How interesting that you went to school, even for a short time, in a one-room schoolhouse. I really liked the show “Little House on the Prairie” and never missed an episode. That dollhouse sure brought back memories; like you, I had the same type dollhouse made out of a light tin. Look at how easy renovations were with our dollhouses!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I seldom admit that re going to a one room school as people think of them as being from the time of Anne of Green Gables, but every country line/road had one back then, although even by the 60’s they were archaic. There wasn’t any bus system so the rural kids just walked to the nearby school. I do remember that the dollhouse was made of light tin. It seems to have been a popular toy. I remember reading the Little House books and finding them interesting that people could live with so little. Renos should be finished this week. Movers are coming to move the stove and fridge back tomorrow, and installer on Wednesday to finish doors and pantry. The break has done me good, as I was able to sleep in a few days and clean up a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        You will be so happy when this is all done – too bad the weather will be so hot that you won’t want to get out and work in the garden or walk – the unrelenting heat and humidity. I liked the “Anne of Green Gables” books and saw a movie years ago and really enjoyed the “Little House” books and the TV show.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Installer will be back tomorrow and hopefully finish. I am looking forward to Thursday and having no one here, but I’m going to pace myself re trying to get everything back into the cupboards, which is hard for me to do as I tend to be a Type A personality, but my back can only handle so much lifting. I have all summer to get it reorganized and hope to put some stuff I no longer use aside for a garage sale…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        That’s a good idea – you’ll be like me after the week before and people here and all the commotion, I was just glad to have some time to myself over the long holiday. That was too much commotion for me – I like peace and quiet. Yes, do some of it at your leisure – enjoy the Summer before the ugly cold and snow settles in. Half the year is over already!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. annieasksyou says:

    Joni—

    I came to visit as a result of your liking one of my comments to JP. It has been a pleasure to take this journey into your past with you—dramatically different from my suburban upbringing. I look forward to reading more of your posts—and congratulations on reaching 100!

    Cheers,
    Annie

    Liked by 1 person

  7. annieasksyou says:

    I’m so pleased to welcome you to annieasksyou.com. As my emphasis is on dialogue, I hope you’ll visit whenever it’s convenient and comment as you see fit.

    And now I am about to follow you!

    Cheers,
    Annie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Well I don’t know how cool it was, as I sometimes felt different being country kids in the town school, but I survived as we all do. Thank you for the compliment, and I will pass the praise on to mom. I feel like I have been neglecting her lately with the reno. She is not exhibiting anywhere this year, except a couple of pictures in August in a group show, but is still busy painting, as she loves to paint. I need to get back to my agenting duties soon, to confirm a show for next summer we already had lined up and hopefully to get a new one. There are so many local artists here it’s hard to get a solo show, but her “advanced age” 93yr is always a plus! and her “folkart” style is different. We went to a gallery last Sunday and the young artist exhibiting, was astounded she was still alive, let alone painting!

      Like

  8. Ally Bean says:

    I’m totally charmed by the fact that you went to a one room school. You do have the experiences, don’t you? As for the progress we’ve seen in the last twenty years, I’ve been thinking on that, too. So many ways to communicate now that seem, at least on the surface of things, to be improvements when used properly. Great 100th post. Congrats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Thank you Ally. I don’t know how charming it was, as when we attended the town school, we always felt “different” and it was certainly more isolated growing up in the country, but I survived, as we all learn to do. I agree the social media aspect has been the biggest change in the past 20 years, both for good and bad. No more posts for me until I get some of those kitchen cupboards back together. The kitchen reno is mostly done, and I am pleased, all the fuss and drama was worth it. It looks so clean and bright now….I may even cook more!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Shelley says:

    Congratulations on your 100th post. I love seeing all the photos and the history you shared. The town where we live is the home of the founder for Cray Research – there is a museum with the different versions of computers. It’s fun to see how they’ve changed over the years too. Technology is a wonderful thing. But I’m still in awe of the olden days and how much they were able to accomplish without all the fancy stuff! Cheers to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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