Today’s post comes from Eva Paleczny, Ontario Parks Learning and Education Specialist.
Have you ever wondered what life would have been like in Ontario in the early 20th century or felt like you were born in the wrong era?
Are you drawn to books and shows like Alias Grace, Anne of Green Gables, Murdoch Mysteries, or Wind at My Back (for those old enough to remember that show)?
Would you like to dress up in Victorian attire for a day or two?
Do you like gardening, baking, crafts, carpentry or some other craft?
Do you like (or love!) Bronte Creek Provincial Park?
If you answered “YES!” If you answer one or more questions, you may want to consider volunteering at Bronte Creek Provincial Park during one of the many heritage festivals.
Next up is the Harvest Festival and the park needs your help to bring life to Spruce Lane, a historic farm in the heart of the park.
Last fall, I ventured from Peterborough to Bronte Creek Provincial Park to volunteer at the Harvest Festival, a two-day event hosted by Friends of Bronte Creek.
I arrived early in the morning to find staff and volunteers dressed in Victorian attire, setting up a variety of interactive stations (including a cider-making mill, quilting frame, and rope-making station).
I was soon taken to the stone cellar of the farmhouse, where I was dressed in a Victorian dress, complete with petticoat and apron.
At 9:30 a.m. we gathered around the park’s senior interpreter, who gave us the rundown of the day, and from there we dispersed to our assigned stations to greet visitors as they arrived.
Prior to the event, volunteers had participated in a separate orientation and training session (required for all events) and were ready to go.
To my delight, I spent the morning making strawberry jam on a wood stove. I had made jam many times before, but never on a wood stove! Our biggest challenge was keeping the stove hot enough.
By the time we finished the first batch of jam, we were overheated in our layered dresses, but we had managed to successfully set and seal all but one of the jars! Not bad for our first attempt.
During this process, visitors were able to observe and even participate in helping us crush the strawberries. It was challenging and fun!
A fall in time
In the afternoon I had the opportunity to see the cider mill in action, try my hand at quilt making and facilitate some early-century children’s games.
I also played some old fiddle tunes (a personal hobby of mine) for visitors who stopped for a snack of apple blossoms (mini apple pie/pastry) and cider.
I think perhaps the most memorable part of my day was walking up the stairs to the basement of the farmhouse.
I soon learned that walking up stairs in a Victorian-era dress required one hand to hold the skirt off the floor; Leaving me with one hand to carry jars of preserves and fruit from the basement to the kitchen!
With modern electricity on the farm, luckily I didn’t need to carry a flashlight. But he put the pulley system that runs from the basement to the kitchen into perspective: the people of Spruce Lane in Victorian times literally had their hands full!
I have always been fascinated by people’s past lives and have often been drawn to books, films and museum exhibits that help me imagine and understand what life was really like back then.
I can honestly say that tripping on some stairs and overheating while cooking jam on a wood stove (among other things) really immersed me in the past in a whole new (and perhaps more meaningful) way.
Sound like your cup of tea?
He harvest festival It’s fast approaching (September 28-29, 2019). And soon after, the park will be looking for volunteers for Victorian Christmas (December 27 to January 5, 2020).
A full list of events taking place at the park in 2019 can be found here.
Ready to register? Do you have questions? Call 905-827-6911 extension. 231 or send us an email.
Join the Friends of Bronte Creek mailing list to receive notifications about future volunteer experiences.