Explore the diverse and fascinating historical trades at the Blacksmith, Cabinetmaker, Cooperage, Printing Office, and Tinsmith shops. Learn about footwear and shoes, or broom-making at the homes of the Shoemaker and Broommaker. Each trades person uses their unique skills and specialized tools to contribute to daily life in the 1860s. Watch them work and ask about their latest project.
While some might dispute the claim that “Agriculture is the source of all wealth in society” clearly it was central to daily life, survival and progress in the 1860s. Visit Louck’s Farm to see an impressive barn, livestock (don’t miss the pigs!) and the horse-powered machinery of an established prosperous farm, the Tenant Farm to see how a family leasing land worked with simpler tools and oxen, or the Ross Farm, to find a horse-powered drag saw and learn about cordwood.
See in the action and explore the impressive ingenuity of the settlers who harnessed water and steam power at the Woollen Factory, Flour Mill and Sawmill. Early mills processed wool, grain and logs harvested so-called to provide valuable products such as cloth, flour, and lumber. They also provided employment, and their operating machinery automated work in different ways, reminding us how the industrial revolution changed lives. Don't forget to drop in at the nearby Cooperage and Engine House.
Many businesses in the 19th century, like Cook’s Tavern, helped house and feed travelers and itinerant workers. Crysler’s Store dispensed medicines, and sold foodstuffs as well as a wide variety of hardware, tools and household items. The Cheese Factory received and preserved milk by making cheese, one of Canada’s first major export products. With bread being baked in a wood-fire oven daily, you’ll probably smell the Bakery, before you open the door. Visit the Village Store to take home a delicious loaf of bread or cheddar cheese made right here at Upper Canada Village!
Visit the working kitchens at the Louck’s Farm and Tenant Farm to see what’s on the menu! Preparing meals and preserving food for the winter months ahead was a time-consuming but important part of daily life. Orchards and the large kitchen gardens at Louck’s Farm and Cook’s Tavern were essential to provide this food. Other heirloom gardens at the Robertson Home and Crysler Hall were grown for personal enjoyment, to celebrate the natural world, and perhaps to make a statement.
In the mid-19th century, travel was often difficult. People used available roads to walk, ride or drive a horse-drawn vehicle. They also travelled on the waterways and by rail. Keep an eye out for the variety of horse-drawn vehicles working from Cook’s Tavern Livery service and Loucks Farm, from dump cart, farm wagon and surrey, to the Omnibus and Stagecoach. Upper Canada Village raises and trains more than 20 Canadian horses. And, don’t miss a ride of your own on the Carry-all, Tow Scow and Miniature Train.
Twice a day, the pungent smell of freshly baked bread spreads over the central part of the Village. It comes from this red frame building, where the baker has been kneading dough since the early morning.
A hardwood fire is built in the red brick oven and once this is hot enough and the coals have been raked out, the pans are put in. The bakers make the dough from flour, ground at nearby Bellamy's Mills. The bread is baked by heat radiating from the hot oven bricks.
While most farmers and townspeople baked their own bread, there was always a need for bread for travellers and inns.
Visitors can purchase loaves at the Village Store located at the front entrance of the Village.
This building was found on property formerly belonging to John Pliny Crysler, the builder of Crysler Hall. General stores were an integral part of the life of the villages of Upper Canada, handling most of the needs of a local population. In fact, they functioned as small department stores. The shelves inside this store are designed to show the wide variety of goods that were available at the time of Confederation, such as dress material and trimmings, tea and tools, sugar and spices, pots, pans and patent medicines.
The storekeeper often acted as the village postmaster. Until the coming of the stage-lines in the 1830s, the mail service along the "front" was slow and infrequent. It was important that the storekeeper understood the needs of the townspeople and farmers, for they relied on him to import all the goods they might need throughout the year. It was also essential for the storekeeper to be able to extend credit for up to a year at a time, as it was common for farmers to pay all their bills in the fall, after harvest.
Visiting the store was a feast for the eyes and nose, as customers were treated to a wide variety of shapes and colour on the shelves, as well as the smell of spices, foodstuff and leather goods.
This white frame house in the classical style was built by the congregation during 1842-44 for the Reverend William Sharts, who had accepted a call to serve as pastor of the Lutheran congregation of Williamsburg, Dundas County, providing that they constructed a suitable home for himself and his family. Lutheranism had come to Upper Canada in 1784 with the Loyalist migration from central New York State. Many Loyalists were German Palatines brought to the Mohawk River Valley in the early 1700s by Queen Anne's government to secure the area for the British. Most remained loyal to the British during the American Revolution.
By 1788, the Loyalist refugees who settled along the riverfront of Dundas County were already planning to build their first Lutheran church, a white frame edifice called Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. Services were held in German and hymns were sung from the "Marburger Gesangbuch". A parsonage was built in 1792 for the first pastor, Father Samuel Schwerdtfeger. A second larger home built in 1810 for Pastor John Weagant was lost to the Lutherans when he defected to the Anglicans in 1814 and took both church and house with him. The congregation made sure, in 1844, that legal ownership for their new parsonage was firmly in the hands of the Lutheran parish and not the pastor himself.
Some of the furnishings in the Lutheran Pastor's Home reflect a German heritage, notably books in the study and engravings and pictures that speak to Lutheran religious and domestic themes. By the 1860s, however, English had become the language of worship in most Lutheran churches.
Visitors will notice that the rooms exhibit comfortable middle-class prosperity, showing evidence of a young family of the professional class. The pastor has a home office with a separate outside entrance for parish visitors. Many clergymen also took an interest in education, whether as private tutors for university entrance examinations or as superintendents of the local common school.
During the 1840s and 50s, a series of school acts were passed in Canada West creating a province-wide framework within which a system of common school education could develop. The driving force behind the progress in the three decades before Confederation was the Rev. Egerton Ryerson, a Methodist divine who believed in a government-run system that provided a basic education for all young people, without tuition fees. As the Superintendent of Education in the province, he set up school sections at the local level, with trustees elected to put up buildings and hire teachers, and to collect the necessary local taxes to supplement government grants from the province. A local Superintendent, hired by the Trustees, supervised and reported on the teacher's efficiency, adherence to curriculum and use of approved texts.
Most young people attended for at least six or more years and left after completing a basic education in literacy, mathematics, some rudimentary science and history, as well the most important Christian principles of morality and proper behaviour. Bright children whose parents could afford it could, at some point, proceed to Grammar schools who prepared young men for further education or for training in the professions of law, medicine and the church. Young ladies from affluent families often attended private schools for young women that specialized in the arts and social graces.
In the local Common schools, however, the emphasis was on rote-learning of a set body of knowledge which had to be mastered or memorized to pass the oral examinations conducted by the local Superintendent. Discipline was reinforced by the threat of physical punishment or the use of guilt or public humiliation.
Schools were generally uncomfortable places, heated by wood stoves, poorly lighted, with few books or supplies. Much of the daily work was done on slates. Permanent notes were re-copied into "copy books" (notebooks) provided by the students, as were all other personal school supplies.
The quality of the Common school education varied as greatly as the competence of the teachers involved, but, in the decades before Confederation, there were steady improvements in the teaching profession, in the range and number of texts available - standardized texts were introduced mid-century - and in the curricula offered to the students.
Our school house at Upper Canada Village is a re-construction originally meant to represent a small local school of earlier days. It is reminiscent of the school described by Ralph Connor in the novel, Glengarry School Days. For the 1860s, it is rather old-fashioned and the local Trustees speak longingly of the days when they can afford a new modern school with all the latest amenities and equipment. They will need it, for in 1871, the province of Ontario will decide to make school compulsory for all and attendance will surely increase.
In Canada West of the 1860s, approximately 15% of farm land was operated by tenant farmers. By this time period, there was a shortage of good, cleared farm land in the south of the province and the government tried to encourage a new generation of pioneer settlement in the unpopulated counties of Muskoka, Haliburton and Renfrew. For those who wanted to farm but did not want to leave their home territory, tenancy was an alternative.
Between 1855 and 1866, in the area around Upper Canada Village, there was a 90% increase in the number of tenant farmers. Much of this farm-land was owned by several large land-holders who recognized the potential profit in owning large numbers of farms and renting them out to tenant farmers.
Many tenant farmers, however, dreamed of owning their own farms and tried to save the money to do so. Unlike farmers who owned or inherited their own land, tenant farmers only spent what was necessary on maintenance, equipment and general improvements. Thus, tenant farms often appeared to be run on a poorer level than their owner neighbours.
At the tenant farm here at Upper Canada Village, the farmer runs a smaller and more rudimentary operation than the nearby Loucks family. He uses a yoke of oxen instead of more expensive horses. He has fewer cows and does most of his farm work by hand instead of by machinery. The tenant farm wife still struggles to cook over an open hearth and has no fancy sitting room in which to spend her few leisure moments.
As many young tenant farming families of the 1860s, they continue to dream of a brighter future when they can afford to buy their own far
The fire engine house on the corner of Albert and Church streets was specially constructed to house a prize possession of Upper Canada Village, our "Queen" Fire Engine. It is a hand-pumper built in 1851 by George Perry & Bros. of Montreal. It was previously owned by the Brockville and Lyn fire departments. In small villages and towns, firefighting equipment was generally purchased by the municipality and they often bought second-hand equipment from larger towns and cities, who, by the 1860s, needed larger engines that had up to five hose outlets and took up to 40 men to operate.
It was not uncommon, however, for fundraising events to be held to raise money for further equipment, or for donations to be made by businesses and individuals who had an interest in having fire-fighting capability on hand. It is not by accident that our engine house is near the mills and businesses in the village. Fundraising would include musical concerts, Annual Balls, picnics or excursions, as well as money raised by subscription from those wishing to join the volunteer fire company.
In a small village or town, ringing a church bell served as the alarm system, when a fire was discovered. Firemen were equipped with axes, ladders and pike poles. If caught in the early stages, fires could often be contained, if not put out entirely. Once out of control, firemen were often powerless to stop the spread. In 1849, a fire in Toronto consumed a large part of the town and was brought under control only because of a change in wind direction and because it started to rain.
Fire companies often staged demonstrations of their prowess in pumping trials or competitions against neighbouring fire companies. Pumping trials determined who could shoot water the farthest and for the longest time. Wash contests determined which company could most quickly flood the opposing fire engine. These were popular events at community celebrations of the Queen's Birthday, as well as at Agricultural Exhibitions held every autumn. Decked out in red shirts, fire companies often marched in local parades, displaying their decorated fire engines, the same way that local military units would display their weaponry.
This simple, frame structure houses a single, water-driven vertical saw. It is a typical example of a small country sawmill of the first half of the 19th century, which provided its local population with all their needs in sawn lumber. Prior to the erection of a sawmill, all lumber was "pit sawn". It required two men, one in a pit and another standing on the log above him working a long two handed saw. The man below pulled the saw down along and the method was slow and back breaking to produce lumber. Community mills imitated the vertical sawing action of the pit saw. The men were replaced by a frame to support the saw blade. Later a style of blade called the muley saw was designed to eliminate the frame, and this is the type of saw working in this mill.
The sawmill provided for all the wood needs of the village, and in fact was often the first public building to be erected in a pioneer community. Early settlers had a constant need for lumber; not just planks for building houses, but also wood for furniture, barrels, guns, and wagons. Like the flour mill, the sawmill was powered by water. Water was gathered by damming a stream to create a millpond. This water was then directed against a power wheel, which operated the saw.
Beach's Sawmill was capable of producing 2000 feet of board in 24 hours. The availability of wood enabled the community to grow quickly, and encourage trade. The miller kept half the wood that was brought in, and sold it to other businesses.
Today, the old sawmill produces planks (more than 2 inches thick) or boards (less than two inches thick) for use in the Village and for sale to the public.
The Doric columns of this imposing structure, each made from one great pine tree, were moved from the original site when Crysler Hall was taken down and reconstructed in Upper Canada Village. It was originally built by John Pliny Crysler, a timber merchant. He was the son of the John Crysler upon whose farm the Battle of Crysler's Farm, had been fought (part of the War of 1812).
Crysler Hall was built as a residence. The sweeping circular drive, cast iron fence and formal gardens all add to the dignity of this fine example of Greek revival architecture. It is not typical of most houses of the period, and would have been considered pompous by most residents. The gardens; kidney bed to the left side, centre walkway and four square ornamental at the back; all emphasize the Victorian interest in flower gardens as part of the landscape, and complement the architecture of Crysler Hall.
The interior of Crysler Hall is modern, and contains exhibits related to Upper Canada Village and the history of the area. Included are the spectacular stained glass window that once adorned St. John's Anglican Church of Crysler, Ontario, and the stained glass windows painted and fabricated by the famous Harry Horwood for the J. P. Wiser mansion of Prescott, Ontario
In the earliest days of the province almost every settler took in travellers overnight, but as immigration increased, many took out inn licences so as to be able to charge their guests
Michael Cook, a loyalist of German descent from the Mohawk Valley, obtained his first licence in 1804. His tavern was ideally situated to serve immigrants and visitors coming up the St. Lawrence River on boat; and to serve as a stopping place for stage coaches and carriages travelling on the King's Highway between Kingston and Montreal. As roads improved, and people began travelling more for business and pleasure, the need increased for decent inns..
As well as serving an increasing number of travellers, the better inns of a district became the focal point for local community activity. They were places to talk about news and the weather, to play cards and to contract business deals. Their ballrooms were used less for dancing than for political gatherings, lodge meetings, lectures, concerts and as courts of law. In the early days, church congregations would often meet at the local inn or tavern until a church was built.
In the inn yard, the large drive shed offered shelter for the horses and vehicles of travellers and other patrons of the tavern. It was customary for a traveller to buy feed and at least one drink from the innkeeper in return for sheltering his horse. If the traveller elected to stay the night, he could expect a comfortable bed, food, and a choice of rooms in which to meet fellow travellers. The retiring room provided a quiet place to sit and relax. Many people, however, chose to sit in the bar room, where they could drink, gossip and gamble. If the inn was crowded, people would share bedrooms, or sleep on straw pallets in the ballroom.
With the coming of the railway, traffic decreased on the roads, and this affected inns and taverns. Some reverted back to farmhouses, while others remained open, serving the local entertainment needs of the community.
One of the earliest buildings in the Village, this house is a survivor of the many single-roomed log homes built by the loyalists along the riverfront. It is exceptionally large for a single unit house and was later partitioned. It was built by Thomas Ross, of Scottish descent, who was given the land close to the present Ontario-Quebec border, and settled between the French on one side and the Palatine Germans from New York State on the other.
Today the house, restored as a one-room dwelling, serves as an interpretive piece displaying domestic crafts like quilting and needlework.
In the early days of the community, nothing was ever wasted or thrown away. As clothing and blankets wore out, pioneer women saved every scrap of cloth to use as either linings or tops for quilted comforters. Patterns were designed and passed on from mother to daughter. Settlers would often hold a quilting bee, where women from neighbouring farms would gather to help each other, and gossip and exchange news while working.
Scraps of cloth were also saved for rugmaking. Cloth was cut into strips, and everything was stitched together. These long strips were then used to either weave or hook rugs. Quilts and rugs added warmth and colour to the house, especially in winter.
Aside from the main house, the rest of the Ross Farm property represents a small farm whose main income is created by running a wood yard producing and selling split and corded stove wood for the local residents. A horse-powered drag saw cuts the logs into bolts that are then split by hand. The frame barn shelters horses and some outbuildings house poultry and swine.
Originally built in the 1790s by Daniel Myers, a New York Loyalist whose family came from the Palatinate region of Germany, as a house, it was also used as an inn. It was known to travellers as the "Halfway House" because it was located centrally between Cornwall and Prescott. The inn was purchased in the 1830s by John Willard, a tavern keeper from Montreal who came north from the United States.
It is restored to 1850, at which time it would have been at the height of its prosperity. The use of contemporary prints, chairs, wallpaper and curtains reflects the desire of rural innkeepers to copy the elegant styles of the new large hotels in the cities of mid 19th Century North America.
Like many of the other houses in the village, the fact that the building required few alterations over the years reflects the high quality of building material available hundreds of years ago.
The hotel is open to visitors who wish to purchase a traditional meal, such as roast meat, potatoes, vegetables and (in season) home-baked apple pie.
Hours of Operation
Closed for the 2021 season
For reservations or questions, please call 613-543-0660
Christ Church was built in 1837 in an aesthetic style known as Picturesque. Although the building reflects that sense of order, symmetry and balance that were the hallmarks of 18th century classicism, the pointed Gothic window arches and decorative trim on the tower add a Romantic touch to the building.
The land for the church and the financial support for its construction were given to the Church of England congregation of Moulinette by Adam Dixson, a wealthy, local miller. The first service conducted in the church, before it was actually completed, was for his wife's funeral, and within a year, his own funeral service had also taken place.
When visiting the church, visitors can see plain wooden box pews, which, in the early days, were rented by the parishioners. The rear pews and those in the back gallery, were free. The church has a fine melodeon, a reed organ built in 1862 by Samuel Warren of Montreal. There is no cross in the church and no candles on the altar; such things were unacceptable to this congregation in the 1860s.
Like so many other community institutions, the church was a meeting place for families, particularly for young people seeking a partner. People were baptized, married and buried all in one location, and the church witnessed the joys and sorrows of life's important events. In earlier, pioneer times, a strong religious faith helped settlers cope with the harsh realities of life in a new land and continued to do so in the decade before Confederation.
The importance of Bellamy's Flour Mill lies in the economic impact of such mills on rural Upper Canada and the effect of steam power in industrial development.
In 1821, the principal agricultural crop in the province was wheat. For the wheat to become useful it had to be ground into flour, and so mills were required. When Samuel Bellamy constructed his mill in Augusta Township, there was an immediate demand for his services. His business was custom work. He received grain from his farming neighbours, milled it to their specifications and returned it to them. As payment for his work he kept 1/12th of the wheat ground. This toll was established by law, so the miller could make a living, but not charge exorbitant prices.
The relationship between farmer and miller was very important; the farmer expected quick service, to be able to supervise the exact grade of flour he wanted, and a good return on his wheat. Like the village store, the flour mill provided a meeting place for farmers and tradespeople. Activity at the mill provided business opportunities for other entrepreneurs, hotel owners and storekeepers, tradesmen and professionals.
Before 1863, the mill operated solely by water power. Water turned large stones, which ground the wheat into different grades of flour. Because the supply of water was limited, this meant the mill only ran efficiently for about four months of the year. The community need for water in summer, and cold in winter made it difficult to use the water supply for grinding all year. In 1863 a fire destroyed the interior of the mill. Three months later, it was back in operation, with new steam-powered machinery. Additional stones were also purchased. This meant that the mill could produce more flour at a time, and more importantly, could now operate all year.
On its new site in Upper Canada Village, Bellamy's Mill represents the focal point of a village and demonstrated the importance of the milling industry.
In Canada, in the 1860s, every village and town had its resident tinsmith who usually set up shop in the business area and made a wide variety of practical tin goods for household and farm use. In such a shop, one could find such useful items as pails, basins, scoops, candle sconces, oil lamps, and even tin bathtubs. Containers of all sizes and shapes can be found in our village tinshop. Even stove-pipes and eavestroughing were being made locally in most rural communities. Over time, his bright, light and relatively inexpensive tinware became a popular replacement for pewter, wood and earthenware.
The tinsmith's raw material came from Britain. Large boxes of tin-plated iron were shipped to North America, already cut into thin sheets approximately 10" by 14". The tin mines of Cornwall, England, still provided most of the world's exported tin and did so until the late 1870s. Tinsmiths occasionally made some objects out of sheet copper or sheet brass, especially where frequent contact with water might make the use of tin inappropriate. Most tinsmiths sealed their joints and seams with a solder that was half tin and half lead, bonded with the aid of a flux.
A visit to the village tinshop provides an opportunity to browse through the many articles made there and displayed on shelves. Visitors can purchase some of these articles in the village gift shop.
Watch the tinsmith or one of his assistants work on some new piece and get some advice on how to keep your own tinware bright and rust-free. You might even be talked into putting a modern tin roof on your house, one which will last for many years.
Originally belonging to Jeremiah French, the house was enlarged twice to accommodate the needs of his growing family and to reflect his position of wealth and influence in the community. In 1812, he sold it to his son-in-law, George Robertson, who also enlarged and renovated the house, creating a fine example of the neo-classic style.
Like many other houses of that time period, the parlour was the showroom of the house. Parlours were designed to show the outside world how prosperous a family was, and were filled with furniture and decorations that were not used every day by the family. These rooms were usually dark and gloomy, as blinds were kept drawn, furniture covered, and doors were shut. Many families expected to furnish their parlour only once in a lifetime. At Robertson House, the parlour wallpaper, imported from England and authenticated as being printed before 1820, has been on the walls ever since that time.
Robertson House is furnished and set up as if occupied by elderly George Robertson Sr. a widower in the 1860s, who is cared for by his loyal and devoted housekeeper. The house has deliberately old-fashioned "time past" look to it, with a large formal dining room, now seldom used, featuring elegant Georgian furniture and early 19th century porcelain. A small study off the main hall testifies to the intellectual and business interests of a well-educated and affluent older man. Even the front gardens and surrounding property have a nostalgic feel of an earlier time and the leisured enjoyment of a Loyalist family who have prospered over the years.
The settlers of Upper Canada frequently made their own cheese, using home prepared rennet and their own small supply of milk. Cheese for market, however, was most efficiently made in a cheese factory to which the dairy farmers of a district could bring their own milk on a regular basis. The cheesemaker would make and store the cheese until it had aged properly.
The idea of the cooperative factory, which allowed farmers to share in both management and profits, originated in the dairying regions of central New York state and spread into Canada in the 1860s to become a feature of its rural life. The first known factory in this area was built at Gray's Creek, near Cornwall. This one in Upper Canada Village, whose set up and operation are based upon the features of early factories, serves as a reminder of the importance of such establishments to the growth of one of Ontario's major industries.
The operation of these cheese factories also led to a new interest in breeding dairy cows, as farmers could make a profit from the extra milk they produced.
Today, cheese is made using 19th century techniques and equipment at the Union Cheese Factory on select days from Tuesday through Friday, and production generally finishes later in the afternoon. Visitors to Upper Canada Village may purchase Village Cheese daily at the Village Store.
A blacksmith's most important function was to make tools - for himself and other craftsmen. In an age of horse-drawn vehicles he also shod horses and made, fitted and repaired the parts of a wide variety of wagons, carriages, sleighs, and agricultural implements. From the beginning of the 19th century, blacksmiths were also involved with the making and repair of mill machinery, as many mills of various kinds were being built, and their machines had to be kept in good running order. The blacksmith's services were essential to the smooth running of the community.
Visitors to the smithy can see the forge, which is always kept hot. Here the blacksmith heats and softens the metal he works with. He then transfers it to the anvil, where he uses a variety of hammers to pound and shape the metal into a variety of shapes, such as horseshoes, hinges, weathervanes, and grill work for fences and railings. Most blacksmiths developed distinctive patterns to their work, and these became known as their signatures.
Today, the Village blacksmith, practising his ancient skill, provides much of the current hardware needs of the Village, and shoes all the oxen and horses.
There were few true cabinetmakers in Upper Canada before the 1820s, but with the expanding population of the province came wealth, and in many of the homes of the larger settlements, a greater refinement of taste. As a result, cabinet shops became established in many centres, and while the craftsmen continued to make a wide variety of things, from window sashes to cradles and spinning wheels, they also made to order many finely finished pieces of dining room, drawing room and bedroom furniture. On a more serious note, the cabinetmakers also made coffins, and in years when there was an epidemic, were kept very busy. Like the blacksmith and shoemaker, the cabinetmaker provided an essential service to the Village.
In the early days, the furniture that was produced was plain, consisting mainly of bedframes, chairs, tables and shelves. As settlement increased from 1820 to 1850, there was a growing demand for household furnishings. Waterpowered sawmills made it easier for cabinetmakers to purchase high quality wood. In the beginning, cabinetmakers copied pieces of furniture that had arrived from England with wealthy settlers. As time went on, styles were influenced by settlers from other countries, and cabinetmakers became increasingly proficient at crafting more elaborate designs.
By the 1860s, the quantity of furniture being produced in the factories of the larger centres and sold by retail merchants was undercutting severely the custom-made furniture business of cabinet shops such as this. A number of cabinetmakers continued to serve those people who were accustomed to having personal attention and to their pieces of fine furniture being made to order and repaired.
The cabinetmakers's shop at Upper Canada Village is the workshop of a skilled craftsman who restores and keeps in good repair the finer furniture of the Village collection. His tools are of 19th century origin or form: They include a foot powered lathe, a mortising machine and a wide variety of molding planes and other small hand tools. True to tradition, the cabinetmaker will make his own tools as a job requires.
In eastern Upper Canada, before Confederation, there were at least 65 licensed physicians, most of whom were Canadian graduates of medical schools at McGill or Queen's.
These physicians made a good living even though they seldom collected all their fees. For a working-class family, a single visit by a doctor represented a day's wage. Hence, one only called for the local doctor in extreme need. Otherwise, self-medication was the norm. The local store sold many inexpensive and harmless patent medicines and anxious mothers often consulted either a trusted neighbour or home medicine book.
Most general practitioners, however, were kept busy travelling around the countryside seeing sick people in their own homes. Aside from delivering babies, they treated various ailments by means of common remedies such as bleeding, blistering, or emetics and purgatives to rid the body of the poisons of disease. Surgery at this time was confined to the removal of tumours or amputations and infection was a common risk. The anaesthetic in general use in the 1860s was chloroform administered by a mask. The first medical use of antiseptic sterilization did not occur in Canada until after 1867.
Doctors prepared and dispensed their own medications even though there were pharmacies in larger cities and towns. Rural doctors also pulled teeth although there were licensed dentists in cities who could save them with gold or silver fillings.
The Physician's house at Upper Canada Village is an attractive neo-Grecian cottage which, in its original location in the village of Aultsville was not the home of a physician but was the home of Michael Cook, the man who first bred Holstein cattle in Canada.
The Upper Canada Village Discovery Centre offers brand new, state-of-the-art interactive exhibits that tell fascinating stories about life in 1860s along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. An exciting audio-visual show tells about the national importance of the Battle of Crysler's Farm and the War of 1812. The Discovery Centre is the perfect way to start your journey into the 1860s!
The building that now houses the Masonic Lodge was originally built in 1863 and moved in 2008 from the Village of Kars in south-west Ottawa. Many original 19th century Masonic items gathered from eastern Ontario are on exhibit in the lodge. The building offers visitors the chance to learn about the history and role of the Masons and other fraternal societies in Upper Canada during the 19th century.
The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, founded in Britain in 1717, was the most important of several fraternal organizations in pre-Confederation Canada. Such organizations met several significant social needs of the time. Freemasonry was a brotherhood, whose teachings and behaviour mirrored the values of other institutions of society: the church, the school, the home, and the law courts. Even though Freemasons were not actually "operative" masons-that is, earning their living in the trade of stonemasonry-their "work" was to build a moral human being, much as stonemasons build the actual structure.
Freemasonry has been described as "a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Their rituals and teachings use the metaphor of a stonemason's tools and implements, which are given symbolic meanings, drawing on Greek and Roman architectural history, Old Testament Hebrew history, and medieval trade guild traditions.
All Freemasons had a moral obligation to assist, in times of need, their brothers, the families of their brothers, and society in general. In the 19th century, Freemasons responded with generosity to provide money, food, and assistance for the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the unfortunate in the community, ensuring the stability of our early social fabric when there was no social safety net.
Freemasonry also provided a venue for men to meet socially; men who shared a common moral and religious vision of the world; men who believed that the Creator wanted them to lead good, moral lives and to serve their fellow human beings. As Very Worshipful Brother Otto Klotz put it in 1864, "A Freemason's lodge is a temple of peace, harmony and brotherly love. The object of a Mason's meeting in a lodge is of a two-fold nature: Moral instruction and social intercourse."
In the 19th century, many church leaders, lawyers, judges, doctors, other professionals and social leaders were Masons. Canadian Prime Ministers John A. Macdonald, John Abbott, Mackenzie Bowell, Robert Borden, R.B. Bennett, and John Diefenbaker were all Masons, as was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Queen Victoria's son Albert (later Edward VII) and the Kings following-Edward VIII and George VI-were also Masons.
The Loucks Farm represents a typical progressive farm of the 1860s. It is named for the family that owned the impressive stone farmhouse that originally sat on the banks of the St. Lawrence in Canada's Dundas County. The Loucks family was descended from a Loyalist of German ancestry who settled in the area after the American revolution.
Visitors to the farm can visit a large collection of farm buildings including several barns, a hired man's house, and animal pens, as well as tour the main home and gardens. According to the season, costumed interpreters will be involved in typical farming tasks of the era, whether in the home or in the fields, and around the barnyard. Children, especially, enjoy a visit to the farm and are encouraged to assist with daily tasks, including milking cows or leading the new-born calves around the barnyard.
There is an air of affluence around the Loucks farm since the 1860s were a prosperous decade for ambitious farmers who developed improved breeding stock, bought the latest agricultural machinery, or who joined together to build a co-operative cheese factory to turn their excess milk production into export dairy products for domestic or international consumption
This sense of economic well-being also pervades the interior of the main farmhouse as visitors admire the impressive square piano in the parlour, the substantial dining room furniture, or the luxurious fabrics and wall-papers so admired by mid-century Canadian housewives.
The Loucks family is typical of many affluent pre-Confederation farm families who looked forward to an even brighter future for their next generation as agricultural trade expanded into the new provinces to the east and the west.
Although the various ways of making woollen cloth are age-old in tradition, it was not until the middle of the 19th century that mechanization was applied to many of them on any grand scale. The first settlers in Upper Canada were not unaware of the advances being made in woollen cloth manufacturing in Britain and the United States, but it was some years before an increasing tide of immigration could provide sufficient labour, markets and raw material to make the operation of mills profitable.
In the early 1800s small water-powered mills began to offer settlers' wives some relief from the tedious and unpleasant tasks of carding and fulling by hand. By the 1840s woollen mills and factories had made their appearance in Upper Canada. These mills were able to clean and card wool, spin it into yarn, and weave and fold cloth. Like most other mills, they were water-powered.
Historically, woollen mills employed both men and women, with unequal pay. Women were generally favoured for this industry, to reduce the cost of labour. Likewise, the drive towards the reduction in labour costs meant the implementation of machinery (the powered looms, carding machines, spinning machines, etc.) modeled after the process of mechanization already in use in the United States. During this time, children under the age of 16 formed a large part of the workforce in textile factories.
Evidence suggests that the Asselstine family was involved in the manufacture of woollen material from the first quarter of the 19th century. The Asselstine Factory was run as a family business, employing up to 12 men and women. It produced yarn, batts for quilt filling, blankets, tweeds, flannels, wool sheeting and stripe carpeting.
The woollen mill is presently used as a functional exhibit for the production of blankets and textile goods.
The village dressmaker is located in a small stone house at the corner of Queen Street and Maple Road. The house is an excellent example of masonry techniques used by veterans of the British army when they worked on bridge and canal construction in the 1820s. This stone building was originally a rear addition to the large brick home, in Upper Canada Village, which is called Crysler Hall.
Step inside the dressmaker's house and admire the stone slop sink in the kitchen's east window, but watch your head on the sloping ceiling as you go upstairs to the bedrooms. Low ceilings were a practical, but sometimes awkward, solution to space and heating considerations.
By the 1860s, communities were well established along the Front - the earliest settled areas on the northern banks of the St. Lawrence. While most women continued to make everyday clothing for themselves and their families, there were social occasions when women wanted to look their best, and there were local dressmakers to help them. By 1871, there was one dressmaker for every 200 women in the area.
Women in North America and Britain looked to France for the latest styles. Empress Eugenie of France set the fashion and designer, Charles Worth, provided the latest designs. The 1860s brought a dramatic change in the fashionable silhouette. At the beginning of the decade, a triangular body shape with oversized hoop skirts and wide pagoda sleeves was the fashion. By the end of the decade, the style was rectangular, with slimmer bustled skirts and tightly-fitted sleeves.
A visit to the village dressmaker offers visitors an opportunity to understand the role of women who, by practicing a trade in their own home, contributed to the family's economic fortunes. Unlike the businesswoman who, perhaps, operated a local store, or an employee who worked in a business or factory, or even the farmer's wife whose economic contribution was hidden within the farm's financial success, a local dressmaker actually was paid cash for work done in her home.
Visitors to the dressmaker will be able to ask for fashion advice, look at fashion illustrations from Godey's magazine, and handle reproduction garments made from a variety of fabrics. Adults, and also children, will be challenged to discover the purpose of some of the tools used in the trade, to understand the differences between the tailoring and dressmaking trades, and to learn the hand-sewing techniques employed in creating a garment of the 1860s.
In a small log home just inside the front gate and near the sawmill, visitors will find the village broommaker hard at work. In the 1860s, making brooms was not a full-time occupation. Most were farmers who also made brooms to supplement the family income and hence, it was a small home trade done in the family home or in an adjacent farm-building. At this time, there was also competition from mass-produced brooms from the United States and Canada.
Broom corn was grown in Canada, near Sarnia, but much of it came from the central United States. Planted in rows like Indian corn, which it resembles, broom corn is a form of sorghum whose seeds are formed in a large brush at the top of the plant. Once the seeds are separated from the harvested brush, it is dried, baled and sent to market. Even in the 1860s, broom handles and thread were already being commercially produced.
Our village broommaker makes two styles of brooms: a round, earlier style and a more "modern" flat broom. Visitors are encouraged to watch a broom being made, inspect the tools and machinery of the time, and then visit the village gift shop where our brooms are sold. The broommaker's house is a small log cabin built in the 1820s with an impressive stone fireplace of large, hammer-dressed limestone blocks. With its flagstone floor, the house is an excellent example of the skill of our early Scottish stonemasons.
When the McDiarmid family arrived in Canada, from Perthshire, Scotland, in the early 1860s, the lots on the riverfront were already occupied, primarily by families of loyalist origin. The immigrants who flooded into Canada in the middle of the 19th Century were obliged to seek land in the back townships, and the McDiarmid House was built during this stage of the province's development.
Since its arrival in Upper Canada Village, the house has been used for demonstration of spinning and weaving. In the early 19th century, farmers might have grown a little flax and kept a few sheep to provide for their clothing and other household needs, such as blankets and sacks. Early settlers had to be self-sufficient for their clothing needs, and every house had a spinning wheel and hand loom.
Sheep were kept for the production of wool. The sheep were sheared in spring time, when they no longer needed their heavy coats. The wool was then carded and spun into yarn, which could be used to make blankets and clothing.
Farmers also grew flax to make linen. The plant stalks were soaked and split open, and then left out to dry. The fibres were then combed and spun into thread. Until the growth of the cotton industry in the United States, linen thread was commonly used.
The spinning wheel was used for both wool and flax. Early models were quite large, and very simple. The spinner had to walk back and forth as she worked, and the wheel had to be turned by hand. Later models had foot treadles, which were easier to operate, and made the production of wool easier and more efficient.
As communities grew, the production of wool and linen began to change. Carding mills were established to sort and clean the dirty wool, but spinning and weaving were still done at home. As textile mills became more common, settlers had the opportunity to purchase a wide range of fabrics and design, and home production declined.
In the early days of the province, church services were held in a variety of buildings - courthouses, stores, homes and even taverns - until it was possible to erect a church building by the subscription and labour of a congregation.
While settlers were interested in raising funds to build a church, this meant increased hardship and sacrifice, especially in the early days. A traditional story relates that an old woman told the community to go ahead and begin, because "Providence would provide." The name stayed.
This small log church was built in a widely spread community of mixed denominations, and as a result was made available to any preacher who came into the area. Usually, this was the Methodist circuit rider, and the bare interior of this church with its high centrally placed pulpit typifies the early Methodist approach to religion.
Services would have been quite informal; men often removed their coats in warm weather and people felt free to walk in and out of the church during the course of the service. At a time when the back concessions were sparsely populated, attending church was as important a social function as it was a religious one.
Shoemaking was a popular trade in the 1860s. The census for that decade lists 221 boot and shoe makers in eastern Canada West, of which 141 were a single employee working in his own home or an adjacent shop. In smaller communities and in the rural areas, shoe making remained almost entirely handwork. A shoemaker needed only a small set of tools, a series of lasts (wooden forms) and leather hides to set himself up in business. A few shoemakers traveled door to door soliciting business, taking measurements and then making up the shoes in their own shops or homes. A good pair of men's shoes took one or two days to complete. A pair of boots took a little longer.
Shoemakers took exception to being called cobblers. Cobbling refers to a less skilled tradesman who was only able to repair shoes. Cordwaining was an old-fashioned term for shoe making but the term was not in common usage in the 1860s. Most shoemakers repaired shoes as well as made new ones for customers.
By mid-century, shoe and boot makers, and also other tradesmen, were feeling the pressure of competition from factory-made products. Shoe factories in larger urban centers were producing ready-made footwear that was sold in most general stores, and in urban shoe stores in Montreal and Toronto. Manufacturers often located their factories near tanneries and cross-ownership made the business more profitable. In the rural areas, the local shoemaker could order supplies directly from a local tannery or even through the local general store.
Current research suggests that shoemakers during the 19th century in Upper Canada were exclusively men. There is some census evidence that women were employed in urban shoe factories as well as younger boys.
Our shoemaker at Upper Canada Village works in a small log home on Church Street. The location is identified by a large wooden boot hanging above the door, a common business symbol at that time. Our shoemaker makes primarily men's brogues, a common style of work shoe during the mid-nineteenth century. Visitors can see, touch and learn about how these straight-lasted, wooden pegged work shoes in their various stages in their construction.