Friday, 10 May 2019
Location: Rockton, Ontario, Canada
Address: 1049 Kirkwall Road
Date: May 2019
In October 1960 two Brantford area high school teachers started Westfield Village in order to educate children and adults on how life was lived in 19th century Ontario. They started the process of moving heritage buildings to a thirty acre property that they had purchased. Today that property has over 40 buildings and is known as Westfield Heritage Museum. During Doors Open Hamilton we visted the museum and learned a thing or two about how life used to be.
We started our tour in the area representing the years 1775 up to 1825. The first houses we came across were Hill House (pictured above on the right) and Westbrook House (white house in distance). Hill House was built in 1911 on the Six Nations Reserve in Brantford but was built in a similar style to homes built in the early 1800s. Westbrook House came from Brant County and was a much fancier home. It originally overlooked the "Battle of Malcolm's Mills" in 1814 which was the last land battle on Canadian soil.
Across the road from Hill House stood a log chapel. This was built in 1814 and is believed to be the oldest log chapel in all of Ontario.
Two other buildings in this area are the Queen's Rangers' cabin built in 1792 and the Bamberger House (the one with four windows on the left) built in 1810. Bamberger House was the oldest home in Hamilton before being moved to Westfield. The Queen's Ranger's cabin is one of the oldest log cabins in Ontario. If you want old homes made of logs, then Westfield is your place.
The most interesting building in this section of Westfield was the 19th Century Trading Post. As we walked by, the man out front said "Before you head into the future let me tell you a few things about life in the early 1800s." We followed him into the building.
Now some of what the man told us is true and some of it is just tall tales. All of it was entertaining. First he explained different levels of poor. The expression "dirt poor" is someone who could not afford to have wooden floors put in their house so the ground level was just dirt. The building we were in had wooden floors. He also stated that horses were also kept on the ground floor so they would stand in the dirt and the family would live upstairs. The expression "mad as a hatter" came from the hat makers who used mercury to make hats out of animal skins like beavers. The hatmaker and sometimes the frequent hat wearer would suffer from mercury posioning and often become delirious and live a shortened life from prolonged exposure. A beaver hat in the early 1800s could cost up to $500 dollars. Only the very well-to-do could afford such a luxury. A building such as the trading post itself would cost only $100 dollars. Madness!
Another level of poor is "piss poor". In order to tan the hides of animals, urine was used in the process. A very poor family could fill a bucket and take it to the Trading Post in exchange for some money. Unfortunately, some people didn't even have a pot to piss in. The man also went on to explain the origin of a threshold in the home and "throwing the baby out with the bath water".
We left the Trading Post and headed deeper into the Westfield Heritage Village. We were headed towards the 1900s. All the tales we had just heard are passed on through the years much like the information about the old homes at Westfield. Thankfully someone is around to preserve them.
Map of Our World
Westfield Heritage Museum
Post # 250
Saturday, 10 October 2015
Location: Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada
Address: 232 Eighth Road East.
Date: May 2015
During Hamilton's Doors Open 2015 we went to visit an alpaca farm. Alpacas are a domesticated species similar to the llama and are most often kept for their wool. We have always loved alpacas as there is something special about them. The group of alpacas at Eighth and Mud is no exception, as each one has its own look and personality. Below are just a few of the alpacas that greeted us as we arrived.
Actually, the first one to greet us was a Canada goose that was protecting its nest by the side of the driveway. It even tried to take a nip out of the man directing traffic when he ventured too close.
We parked our car and carefully walked past the goose on our way to the farm. It was a very busy day as the Doors Open event had drawn more of a crowd than anticipated.
After spending some time with the alpacas outside, we decided to head into the barn and see what was going on. Inside was a group of younger, fluffier alpacas. They have been trained to only relieve themselves inside a wooden square area on the floor of the barn and they all took turns using it. They all kept making sounds like they couldn't come to a decision. Such as "What would you like to do today?" "Hmmmm? I don't know." You can hear this in the video below.
Attached to the barn was an area where they prepared the alpaca fibres so that they could use them to make the clothing and gifts they sell in their store. The fibres are combed and sorted and finally spun into wool. You can see the blue machine for spinning the wool in the corner of the picture below. They also had a giant calculator for adding big numbers.
The alpacas come in all sorts of patterns and colours. We were told that some people request wool from a specific animal and when they spin the wool they keep each fleece separate. We were also told that we could come back on alpaca shearing day in a few weeks time and see the first step of the whole process. Actually, the real first step is that this colourful group of alpacas works on growing their coats. We planned to return again and pay them another visit.
Map of Our World
Alpacas From Eighth & Mud
Post # 75