STEPPING BACK IN TIME AT UPPER CANADA VILLAGE

by Pam Hobbs

Morrisburg, Ontario: At a glance it could have been any rural community coming alive to a new day. Horses were being brought from the barn, and the pigs fed, while querulous geese strutted by the millpond on grass drenched in early morning dew. When villagers appeared, it was obvious I had stepped back in time. The proprietor opened up his general store showing shelves crammed with goods essential to l9th-century pioneers. A stagecoach rumbled past. And when I stopped to admire a particularly pretty garden, a costumed 'housewife' came out of her cottage to identify some of 50 different flowers growing there. Soon, crowds of visitors would spoil the tranquillity. Until then, on that sunny summer's morning, life seemed idyllic here on the banks of the St. Lawrence River a century or two ago.

The scene is Upper Canada Village, a superb recreation typical of farm settlements in the St. Lawrence Valley between 1784 and 1867. It came about in the late 1950s when eight villages settled by Loyalists in 1784 had to be flooded during construction of the Seaway Power Project. The best of their buildings were rescued, to form the nucleus of this village.

The region's earliest settlers were Loyalists who crossed the border following the American revolution. Brave and hardy souls, they arrived with no more than a few tools, seeds, food and livestock, to settle lands given them by the British government. In the mid 1800s a new wave of immigrants came from England, Scotland and Ireland. Most were uneducated, and few had farm experience......etc, etc, ending as:



IF YOU GO: Upper Canada Village is near Brockville, 215 miles (345km) east of Toronto or 125 miles (200km) west of Montréal. Buildings are open daily between mid May and mid October. For more information tel (613) 543-2847, 1-800-437-2233 in North America or visit www.parks.on.ca/village