This weekend, amidst the cold, the snow and the Christmas parties, we set off along a new extension to Toronto's subway system to step back in time at the Black Creek Pioneer Village.
One of numerous ongoing infrastructure projects in the city has been an extension to the Yonge-University line, which Elizabeth's company had played a role in. To celebrate the opening of the extension this weekend, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) made the subway free for a day, so on our way up to the newly opened Pioneer Village Station we were joined by many other subway tourists. Subway Saturdays are really starting to take off!
But we weren't in it just to check out the brand new subway stations - we had set our sights on Black Creek Pioneer Village, newly accessible to us car-free folk. Black Creek Pioneer Village is an outdoor museum made up of heritage buildings from the early 19th century, intended to bring history to life and shed a light on the lives of Toronto's early settlers. It was an interesting spot, and as we wandered the village in the snow we stopped in at a few of the buildings - mostly for warmth, but also to learn a bit about our Torontonian forefathers.
Among the buildings were tinsmiths, weavers, printers and doctors, and stepping inside we were greeted by costumed guides ready to share a bit of historical insight with us. Having been to similar spots in both Wales and Newfoundland, it was interesting to compare the lives of people way back when. For instance, in the saddlery we learned that Canada's first transportation law was mandatory sleigh bells, so that pedestrians would be alerted to approaching (one) horse (open) sleighs. We also made sure to stop in at the halfway house to visit the brewery in the cellar, where we samples some old-fashioned ales and learned a bit about how the recent craft beer movement in Ontario is bringing with it a revival of such old recipes.
The last buildings we visited were Daniel Stong's first and second houses. Both were fairly primitive, and very small for the family of 10 that they sheltered, but the first house, a 3-room log cabin, really gave a sense of how tough life might have been in Canada 150 years ago. While the fire was roaring in the hearth to keep us warm, there wasn't much else to protect against the bitter cold outside.
On our way back home we stopped off for just a little bit of subway tourism at York University Station, one of the two stations that Arup had done the engineering for. All in all, a successful day out, and a nice chance to get outside after hiding from the cold indoors all week!
We're Elizabeth and Luke.
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