In and Around
Black Creek Pioneer Village
Toronto Canada
Frances Spiegel - Click to Enlarge

By Frances Spiegel 

I was last in Toronto for Christmas 2000 when temperatures were well below freezing. 

If you're game for a day out in the cold then wrap up warm and head for Black Creek Pioneer Village, one of Toronto's top historic attractions.   We took the subway to Finch station and then Bus #60 B, D or E.  The village is situated at 1000 Murray Ross Parkway at Jane Street and Steeples Avenue, Yorkville.  

Forget the 21st century with all its mod cons, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, microwave ovens, etc, and enter a replica working village representing life just as it might have been in 19th Century rural Ontario.

At the risk of repeating the word authentic too many times I have to tell you that everything about the Village is as near authentic as possible.

Costumed villagers go about their daily business using authentic tools and methods. Replica stores, a mill, the printer's workshop, the clock maker, authentically furnished homesteads, and public buildings reveal times gone.  Explore the foundry, the Fisherville Church, the school, the Doctor's House, the Town Hall, the tinsmith or the broom-maker's shop.

In the bitterly cold weather the cozy warmth of these homely buildings was very welcome. In the Village hotel we were greeted by the smell of home baking as we sampled delicious cheese buns straight from the oven.

In the mill spinners and weavers, using carefully preserved equipment, demonstrated dyeing, quilting, tatting and other early crafts. There is a fine choice of handicrafts produced by the villagers for sale to visitors.

Crafts demonstrated during our visit included harness making, baking, tin engraving, flour milling, and broom making. I did not realize just how much there was to see until we took the horse-drawn wagon on a tour of the village.

The Masonic Hall, above the Tinsmith, is one of the older buildings in the Village thought to date from the mid-nineteenth century.  At different times in its history it has been a dwelling, a store, a tinsmith shop, and in the 1870's it was home to the newly founded Blackwood Masonic Lodge. The Lodge occupied this building until 1899 when it moved to a new venue.

This building originally stood in Woodbridge, a short distance from the Village, until the 1980's when it was in poor condition and about to be demolished.  However, the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority joined forces with members of the Masonic Order and moved the building piece by piece from its original site thus ensuring its preservation in the Village.

Inside the Masonic Hall displays relate the history of freemasonry in Ontario. On the day of our visit there was a volunteer present to answer our questions and tell the history of the Lodge.

Elga impatiently went ahead to see the Doctor's House (fully accessible). This was of far greater interest to her with its display of instruments that appeared more suited to torture than to medicine. The Doctor would have had his own medicinal herb garden and this has been recreated next to his house. You can just imagine the Doctor picking herbs to make his medicines.

Herbs and vegetables played a major part in the lives of 19th century settlers, and you can see several typical vegetable gardens. Most of the vegetables currently grown at the Village were common in the 19th century but they looked very different to what we might find in our shops today.

Even in the thick snow and bitterly cold temperatures we found the energy to explore these extensive grounds. It was certainly a full day out and very good value for money.


Black Creek Pioneer Village
1000 Murray Ross Parkway
at Jane Street and Steeples Avenue

Subway: Finch then Bus #60 B, D or E

Admission:  $9 adults; $7 seniors and students; $5 children (5 to 14 )  Children four and under - No charge    (Prices correct at time of writing.)

Seasonal times applya(416) 736 1733.  Events a(416) 661 6600. 

Disabled Access: There are 35 restored buildings to explore of which 12 are accessible to wheelchairs. In the Visitors' Center washrooms are accessible and the facilities were excellent. (I was advised to check on arrival which buildings are accessible as adaptations are in progress.)

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Email: (Frances Spiegel)

Frances Spiegel was born in Bushey, Hertfordshire, UK, and has made London, England, her home where she lives with her husband and children. Frances writes about travel, crime fiction, autobiographical short stories, and historical theme pieces and her other interests include architecture and history. (More about this writer.)


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