11 October 2015

Historic Houses and Fall Fairs

We're in the midst of another stunning Thanksgiving long weekend.  The skies are blue, the sun is shining, the colours, albeit a bit behind this year, are glorious, and the temperatures are still high enough to rake leaves in a t-shirt.  And this weekend is all about being outside as Thanksgiving is a marker for getting outside jobs wrapped up and switching sleeveless tops for sweaters.  Waking up to frost on the rooftops isn't that far off.

My husband and I spent an afternoon with our border collie wandering Bronte Creek Provincial Park.  There was a decidedly odd feel about the place, a sort of 'Children of the Corn' vibe; acres and acres of green space and only two other people roaming the outbuildings.  Switching mindset, I conjured up the intro music from The Archers while watching the piglets frolic....(must resist the urge to mention Helen's predicament).  I digress.

For my birthday I chose to spend some time being a tourist in my own backyard.  We visited Campbell House built by Upper Canada Chief Justice William Campbell and his wife Hannah in 1822.  The house was picked up and moved from it's original location, just over one kilometer away, in 1972.  The photo (above) is from another site because the facade is completely covered in plastic as part of Nuit Blanche, a dusk until dawn art festival.

The fripperies may be upstairs but it's downstairs that I find the most interesting.  The young lady directing our tour did tell an eye-widening story about another employee who heard a thump in the library and found a book on the floor.  There wasn't another soul in the room.  Then it happened again...said employee quickly packed up for the evening.  Who could blame her?

Then we walked over to Mackenzie House, a more modest abode but equally fascinating.  Built in 1830, this was the home of Toronto's first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie before he was exiled in Buffalo for many years for leading a rebellion against British rule.  His grandson went on to become the tenth Prime Minister of Canada.  While a well-liked man and leader, Mackenzie King frequently held seances to connect with his mother.  Strange but true!

The gas was lit once we made our way into the kitchen and I could have happily spent an hour in there with a pot of tea.  The staff are testing the waters with a Georgian baking class this weekend.  Hope it's a success!

A lovely young man, handsomely kitted out in period-appropriate clothing, talked to us about the print industry during the nineteenth century.  The politics of the day were at a fever pitch so the local paper was filled with hidden messages about rebellion and stories of independence in the United States.  The tedious process of picking out letters to form a story is unimaginable but apparently, as with anything else, the more you do it, the quicker you become.  When asked for a volunteer to try the 1845 press I jumped right in.  It took me several minutes to find the right letters, put them in the block right-side up, and going in the right direction....I would have been fired before lunch.  A roll of the wheel, a turn of the crank and 2,000 pounds of pressure was applied.  Not too bad for a first try! 

Yesterday we drove to Balls Falls for their annual fair; we never miss it.  We browse the artisan's stalls...and eat....and browse....and eat.  My husband can't resist the chippy wagon but I really enjoy something a bit healthier so it was eggplant parmesan for me - so delicious.  The Niagara region is wine country so it's also a good chance to sample new products.  Okay, forget what I said about healthy...every year the line-up for piping hot apple fritters is a long one.  And every year I can't believe that health and safety measures haven't put a stop to teens sitting around a boiling vat of oil.

We're having a roast dinner tonight and I've already helped myself to the pumpkin pie that's supposed to be for dessert.  I'm thankful for spandex in my jeans....Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Guess that's where I'd be volunteering, Darlene!

    1. There was the sweetest young man covering the fritters in icing sugar once they came out of the vat. Much safer and more conducive to sneaking samples...

  2. Happy Birthday! What a wonderful way to spend your birthday and the Thanksgiving weekend! Was any book shopping involved?
    The Georgian baking class sounds fascinating. And I love anything fried at fairs - even if it might be a bit of a safety hazard. :-)

    1. There was no book shopping...but the urge was there! Although, while we were having lunch I did look longingly across the street where one of my favourite bookshops used to be. It's a restaurant now...pffft.
      I know! There's just something about the aroma of grease in the air that just seems so right at events like that.