Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fort William Historical Park

We drove into Thunder Bay to visit the Fort William Historical Park today.  They are having a special event commemorating the 1814 this weekend and we were afraid we'd have to fight off crowds, but it seemed pretty quiet.

These tree trunks were used as pillars to the visitor center

birch bark canoes

We arrived about 10:30 and I was prepared for a full day of taking it all in, seeing the costumed guides interpreting the events of the day, watching the attack of the Americans. 

Our first stop was an Ojibwa Indian village and to me this was worth the entire price of admission.  It was like going home since my early adulthood (18) was being married to an Ojibwa Indian in Canada and learning about his culture.

It was so cool to be able to show the girls the tikinogin that my son slept in as a child.  I explained how the blanket was wrapped around the ropes and the weight of the baby held it all together.  We put a stick at the head so it didn't close up tightly over his face.

This model even had the rope attached to it to rock the baby.  I explained that when my son was born we strung a rope from one windowsill to the other and I had the rope attached to the blanket swing tied to my big toe at night.  When he would cry I could find the end of the rope without having to become fully awake and pull it to start him rocking and soothing him back to sleep.

The cradle board was used more with my ex-husband's older siblings.  His older brother's head is still flat in the back from being strapped into one of these.  And then there was the time when the parents were drinking too much and sat it upside down until somebody pointed out that the baby was getting really red in the face.  The bar in the front was used to keep the cloth from pressing against the baby's face if one was used for cold weather or rain.  It was also a nice place to tie some toys to keep the little one entertained.

The buildings in the fort were all reconstructed using methods of the time and as we pointed out to the kids no nails or screws could be seen.  It's all done with wooden pegs to hold things in place.

When we visited the apothecary the guide explained how different herbs and medicines were used back in the 1800's.  It reminded the kids of the Harry Potter stories.

In the fur house the guide explained how the furs were hung until dry enough for storage and then packed into bundles for transport.

The Great Hall was used as the dining room for North West Company partners, clerks, guides and interpreters.  It had by far the grandest of furniture and decorations.

It was a lot of fun and I was looking forward to some of the enactments, but the kids were looking bored and were thirsty and hungry so we cut the stay short. 

all the windows had leaded pane glass

We went back to Kakabecca Falls and ate at a little restaurant next to a combination laundry mat and gift shop.  The girls are wrapping up their shopping and finding gifts to take back to friends.  But the prices were marked up too high so we went back to the RV.

Where else can you do your laundry and shop for jewelry at the same time?  Oddly enough, some of the necklaces were priced at $ a laundrymat?  Seriously?
The girls got on their swimsuits and headed for the pool and plan to finish their shopping in the campground gift shop where the prices are better afterwards.

The old folks?  I'm writing the blog, Left Brain is sound asleep in his chair and the cats are enjoying the quiet of the afternoon.

Soon our adventures with the grandkids will be over.  I'll miss seeing them, but each day we can feel our energy waning a bit more, so I think the timing will be just about perfect.

Long Live the Queen of Canada


  1. I guess you used the first swingomatic.

  2. This was very interesting. I am familiar with the Ojibwa, so rfeally enjoyed this. I used to have a ring made by them in Minnesota long ago, but gifted it to someone. Maybe someday I will find another. Enjoy your times. You are making memories.

  3. How fitting to use the tree trunk for a pillar. I love the photography and the history you're sharing. I had a neighbor once who built all my shelves (in my store) and my second floor screened in porch. He used wooden pegs only, no nails or screws. The man was a wonder with wood. It looks like you folks are having a fabulous time in Canada. Enjoy your granddaughters, and have a wonderful day. Hugs, Edna B.