05-06-2023 Upper Canada Village trip after the morning shopping with Sharkboy and Glenn. (https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2023/05/15/more-shopping-for-the-mers-again-looking-for-hair/)
When last we chatted we had left the fibre festival in Spencerville and headed a bit further south and east heading to Upper Canada Village (UCV).
The Village has an interesting history. The plan was to make the St. Lawrence River deeper and thus navigable, to larger oceangoing ships, thus providing them access to the great lakes. Unfortunately, this would require the flooding of 10 small villages that had grown up along the river’s edge. To save some of the historic architecture from these soon to be flooded areas, some of the buildings were moved to two new locations. Some went to Ault Park and over 40 structures went to Upper Canada Village, whose construction began in 1958. The buildings included several working mills (woollen mill, grist mill and sawmill) and trades buildings (blacksmith, tinsmith, cabinetmaker, cooper, bakery, cheese-maker) as well as a doctors home, chapel, livery stable, taverns/dining room, and two farm complex. The village is set up to represent life in the 1860s. There is a large team of costumed interpreters working at the village to help show you what the 1860s were like.
On the Saturday that we visited Up UCV had decreed free entrance to the village in celebration of the Coronation of King Charles, so it was very busy. We were lucky and found a good parking spot. I think shark-boy was miffed since he had not found locks to make his hair at the fibre festival, so he stayed in the car to sulk and we went off to have fun looking at everything without him.
1) Just inside the village of Upper Canada, that is the sawmill over to the left.
I knew I had limited walking and didn’t want to tick off my back so we consulted the site map and made a plan. The Woolen Mill, the Blacksmith shop, the Weaving and spinning house, the dressmaker’s shop and the stables. I didn’t think I could make it to the farms to see the oxen and sheep.
2) The map of UCV showing the main spots we wanted to make sure to see.
Our first stop (not just because I really wanted to see it, but it was also the closest building), was the Woolen mill (Asselstine Woollen Factory). This was a two story building, with the downstairs levels accessible to a walker or wheelchair. Providing fibre UCV has its own flock of sheep, which they sheered and the fleeces used on site. I did not see the sheep, so was unable to ask the interpreters what breeds were prevalent in 1860s Canada.
3) Large mounds of fleece (possibly raw behind the rope and washed closer to us), on what might be skirting tables
4) Washing tubs were located on the other side of the room from the tables with fleece.
Between the fleeces and the washing area was a stairway to the second floor. That just will not be happening today! So, I went around to the other side of the ground floor at the back of the building. We passed these fabulous kettles for dyeing fibre or spun yarn as we found the way in to see the rest of the lower level.
5) dye kettles sitting upside down along the foundation of the woollen mill
At the back end of the lower level of the mill is an industrial water-driven loom, a fuller, and the intake of water to run all the machines. (I understand on the next floor are the spinning and plying machines to create the yarn.)
6) Water powered industrial loom with a fly shuttle
7) This is the fulling machine. Notice the rows of teasels to raze the fabric’s nap.
8) The teasel row close up
9) This blanket has been rubbed by the teasels, which brings up the nap or fuzziness.
10) At the farthest end of the building was a display of dried teasels and oilcans. To the right, hidden behind the timbers, is the intake of water to power the mill.
11) The intake for the water that runs the mill. I didn’t see anyone to ask how they kept the water from getting past the wood and flooding the lower level of the mill.
12) All the machines are belt driven in the mill.
While we were there admiring the equipment, the machinery started and the belts began to turn. Since the loom and fuller did not run, I suspect they were working on the spinning or plying machines upstairs. Also, likely, why we didn’t see any mill workers in the lower level.
13) Our second stop, the blacksmith shop
Our next stop was at the village Blacksmith. He was in the process of repairing part of one of the wagon harness attachments. (I was a bit vague on how it would all go together once completed.)
14) Working over the anvil, the blacksmith is making the end of what seems to be a pin with a handle. This end will have a faceted face to add a bit more decoration as well as be functional.
15) It was a well-equipped blacksmith shop, having 2 anvils (similar in weight to Glenn’s) 2 swage blocks, and there is a foot vice attached to the work table just left of the picture.
He used a piece of chalk on the floor to draw his pattern and get the correct proportions as well as explain to his audience what he was doing. It was like having a giant working blackboard at his feet. I wonder if we should draw on our work tables when we felt?
16) When he had the pin end made he sketched out the handle that would be attached to the pin.
17) He used the pin to check the size of the handle to be added to the pull pin. He has already flattened one end of the bar and punched a hole through it (to attach it to the pin.)
We saw him demonstrate upending, punch, drift as well as bending over the horn and a few other ways to reshape mettle. When Glenn was happy and had his fill, we wandered on to see the weaver’s house (McDiarmid house built in 1864).
18) McDiarmid house built in 1864, 2 story log hewn house.
This house has a handloom and a number of spinning wheels. We recognized Shirley, the spinner/weaver demonstrating here. She had a few die-stuffs on display, the most popular was the bug cochineal which makes a beautiful red colour.
19-20) Shirley talking to visitors
The 2 side rooms were set up as bedrooms. Each side room had 2 wheels (all different) as well as the 3 wheels in the main room. There is a large barn loom which presently does not have a warp on it. There was also a small tape loom on the far side of the room.
21) Tape loom, drop spindle and nitty noddy in front are some of the natural die samples.
As more people came in, we left Shirley to chat with them and headed off to find the dressmaker’s house.
22) this is one of the Views on the way to the house of the dressmaker. (Old farm building with log rail fence and man in 1860 attire in the foreground.) We saw a number of different log rail fence styles and I wish I had taken the opportunity to catalog all the variations.
23) The dressmaker’s stone two-story house and side yard those trees may be apple trees.
24) The dressmaker, with a display of some of her wares on the table before her. There are bonnets and a crinoline in the corner cabinet behind her.
25) This is a device that sets Crimp in fabric. It is usually used in pairs, one is heating while the other is in use. It requires the fabric to be damp as it runs through to set the ridges.
26) Handmade Dorset buttons are examples made over rings and one over a wooden base.
27) Buttonhole scissors, Has a notch and screw between the grips, to set the length of hole required for the button. I might like buttons better if I had such high-tech scissors.
I enjoyed looking at pictures of the upper floor with the tricky turning staircase. I appreciated the inclusion of pictures so I didn’t have to try the stairs. It would not likely have gone well! with a new surge of visitors to her shop we made a retreat to allow them space and headed back towards the park entrance, and our final stop at the livery stables.
28) At the livery barn, the working UCV horses live for the summer. This one is being harnessed to pull a barge.
UCV have a small herd of pure-bread Canadians. This breed was a popular working horse used for multiple types of farm jobs (Similar to the Morgan Horse in the states). This one is getting tack so he can go pull a barge along the edge of a channel. Other horses were pulling a wagon with seats today and often pull other carriages and delivery carts around the village. They also power a saw and till the fields of the main farm (the oxen, who are at the tenant farm, also can pull and plough but I did not see them today)
29) Another way to get to see the village is by wagon with seats pulled by horses. Two more of the villages Canadians are providing the horsepower.
30) As you can see Canadians are not huge horses being built more on the small but strong theme.
31) Here he is pulling the towrope while showing off, some Canada geese from the shoreline path.
I was told that not all of the village horses like to pull the barge but that this one does.
32) The barge with the rudder in the back is filled with tourists. The horsepower is on the shoreline with the tow rope. Across the river are some very not 1860s houses on the American side of the water. I bet they have a fabulous view of the Canadians’ side and all the historical happenings.
After a long walk through the park, we took a quick look through the gift shop and then back to the car.
33) Shark boy was studying the map but luckily does not have the appendages or height to operate the vehicle and leave without us. (There I finally have a felting-oriented picture!)
May 6th, was a great day, shopping in the morning, with lots more photos while visiting UCV in the afternoon. I was not as sore as I feared by the time I got home. But on the morning of Tuesday, May 9th, I got in the car to head into the guild, just to do some extra library work and maybe teach inkle weaving and got caught in a battle between my seatbelt and my jacket. There was a popping noise in my low back and a lot of pain but I did get the seat belt done up and made it down to the studio! I headed home early since the back just would not settle. I saw my doctor but when my back kept getting worse, not better, Glenn and I had a trip to the emergency room and got new drugs. After a week stuck in bed, I was ecstatic when I could get out of bed on my own and get as far as the bathroom (it’s a very small house that really isn’t as impressive an achievement as it sounds!) I have missed being online for most of 2 weeks and have likely made too big a blog post again to make up for that! There is so much to catch up on! But I will try to take it slow and pace myself. (Being stuck in bed on heavy meds has given me a few felting ideas I would like to try! But not today.)
If you are ever in the southeast end of Ontario Canada, I hope you will take the opportunity to visit UCV (Take walking shoes and a good camera). It is a fabulous representation of the 1860s, it was both educational and fun. I hope I will be able to go again and see the farms that I missed on this visit! Then I will be able to tell you all about the sheep!!!