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Give Me a Few Volunteers Who Love History!

Westfield Heritage Village first opened to the public in 1964. It was the culmination of the work of two teachers who purchased 30 acres of Ontario farmland near Rockton, Ontario and started collecting historic buildings. They didn’t grow corn or soybeans or wheat or any other modern crops. They laid out a collection of antique buildings in the form that our ancestors might have used when they first came here a couple of hundred years ago or more. Unlike our ancestors they planted trees rather than clearing the land of huge virgin forests. And they started Westfield Heritage Village.

Here is the gift shop which is off to the left as you enter the huge plot of land which is much larger than 30 acres today. We saved that for the end of our tour.

log cabin gift shop

We walked on. The day was pleasantly warm with cool breezes around every corner. Several of the buildings were staffed with volunteers and we were impressed with their knowledge and their enthusiasm for the facility. Not all of the buildings were open as the fear of Covid has slowed the return of volunteers but hopefully the village will soon be up to full volunteer staff.

pioneer home at the time of the Loyalists in Ontario

The volunteer in this building explained that the large room we were in basically was where the family lived. A stairway upstairs and a couple of side rooms completed the home.

outdoor image of bandstand and shops

We sat on a bench in this lovely bandstand/meeting place and waited for our tour to begin. Our forefathers didn’t spend a lot of time cutting grass and the grass in the village was mostly ‘au naturel’.

Doctor's drug store in historical times

This drug store looked like Dr. Beattie would be seeing patients and dispensing medicines if we just opened the door. I wondered if this was a fresh build as it looked pretty new.

Steam engine long since retired.

The most popular attraction was the steam engine, the pride of the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo railroad. I had not heard of that one but know a lot about the Grand Trunk Railway which my husband’s great grandfather is reputed to have been part of. I must learn more details about that!

Jerseyvile station historically

This is the old Jerseyville Station with just enough yards of track laid to accommodate the engine, the coal car and a caboose to give us the flavour.

steam engine and coal car

Check out the split rail fencing and the lovely perennial flowers and blossoming trees our pioneers would have treasured.

historical street scene early Ontario

I loved this street scene. Can’t you just see the mothers tugging their little ones along to the Dry Goods store and the fathers rushing into the hardware store to look over the ever increasing collection of tools and inventions coming on the ships from the old countries or from the newly named United States of America?

A wonderful heavy wood stove all ready for cooking.

And speaking of mothers–their faces would be red and their cotton sleeves rolled up as they lifted the burners and added more wood to the stove.

stocked shelves in village store

One of the last places we went was into the village store. We were met by two period-dressed volunteers who were as knowledgeable as they were historical. My husband took this amazing photo showing all the great things on the shelves. He was most interested in the penny candy, I think!

path out of Westfield Village

As we headed for the parking lot we passed the gift shop again but opted not to go in. All that walking was reminding us that our plush car seats were waiting for us. I’m kind of sorry about that decision. I should have checked out to see if they had any good historical books there or if they would like some of my historical fiction books on their shelves. Oh well, another time. We drifted off for home, well satisfied with our Sunday afternoon.

For more information about Westfield Village click here. This is a lovely video walk through.

Call for Submissions to My Coming Anthology. Entries due by November 1, 2022: Click for Information.

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