1851 seems to be following me. It was a key year in the excellent and informative book “At Home” by Bill Bryson, and last week it turned out to be the year we were inhabiting while behind the gates of Fort Garry National Historic Site. That was a fascinating juxtaposition, as it gave me insight into the first settlers of Canada that I’d never had before. Having just listened to 16 hours of excellent audio book information on the history of why our homes look and feel the way that they do, I was able to look at the fort through much more focused lenses.
I’d always wondered why people came over here. The mosquitoes, the winters, the having to build everything using a tree and your ax…it all seemed a bit much. It seemed like a thousand steps down the ladder of comfort, ease, and familiarity. Turns out I was wrong. Housing and daily life over in the Old World wasn’t quite what a three-decade obsession with “Anne of Green Gables” had led me to assume ‘ye olde dayes’ were like. It’s not that I’m ignorant about history, and have spent a fair bit of time reading about the middle ages, but I hadn’t quite put it all together in a way that made all the elements of daily life make sense. Or perhaps it was this book distilling many things I’d known and then adding whole new elements.
Who cares about the kids? I had an excellent moment of informational synthesis at the field trip.
Learning the basics of Red River frame construction. No nails needed.
“The Big House”. Where all the top men of Hudson’s Bay Company and their wives stayed.
Note the fence to keep the plebs off the lawn.