Friday, August 18, 2006

King's Landing with the kids.

On Wednesday, Husband and I booked the day off work and took our two nieces, their girlfriend who's here for the summer, and our nephew to King's Landing for the afternoon. (Three girls - aged 10 to 12. One boy - aged 6. A day out - challenging! It was C. who initially suggested King's Landing as a day trip. Brill idea, as is par for C.)

How King's Landing came to be
- or how a dam and a flood generated a provincial historical project and jewel - might be of interest to some of you.

Each home and trades shop in the village is faithful to a specific year, and contain rooms like this one. For my part, the antiques, fabrics, china and embellishments were so beautiful they could have kept me interested all afternoon. This bedroom is from Jones House - 1830. "Thomas Jones, a prominent Justice of the Peace and farmer, built this fine house for his new bride in 1828. Typical of many St. John River Valley homes, it is built into the side of a hill. It is furnished with Colonial American objects as well as some fine New Brunswick-made furniture..."

The place is populated with a large number of actors, locals from the surrounding communities; young ladies stroll about with market baskets over their arms, nodding to visitors and saying "Good Morning, Madame! How are you today, Misses and young Master?"; little girls and boys sit on the front stoop of the general store gossiping and giggling and playing with tops. Every working building has a tradesman or woman who can explain in detail the work they are doing, from keeping house to spinning yarn to - well, you'll see. These two ladies were keeping house and baking bread over a hot fireplace on a hot day. They were appropriately modest and camera-shy for their characters, but happily posed when I asked "May I take a photo?"

Particular highlights for our crew included the working sawmill, its great vertical saw and the log-pulls that fed it powered by its mighty waterwheel. The mill is "typical of the many mills along the Saint John River valley...".

(On the other side of the river is a water-powered grist mill that today produces a variety of grinds of buckwheat, including buckwheat flour for resale at King's Landing's gift shop.)

Inside the sawmill there was not only incredibly cool working machinery - but this guy - playing the role of mill operator, who was remarkably entertaining and really knew how to engage the kids. By the end of his patter, he was asking questions which even Husband and I were shooting our hands up in response to.

"And not only did the boards which these mills produced build houses, and barns, and carts, like the ones ya see around here, but the vast majority of them went to Saint John, where they built... do you know?"


"YES! Ships! Saint John, New Brunswick was one of the major shipbuilding centres in the new world, and they built some of the fastest ships in the world. They built one in 1851 which was the first ship to sail around the world in under six months. Does anyone know her name?"

"The Marco Polo?"

"Yes! The Marco Polo! A three-masted wooden clipper, she was built with boards cut in sawmills just like this one..."

We also went to the print shop, where the printer answered all the kids' questions and a couple of dozen from Husband and I as well. This is a long shot of about 1/4 of the shop - I made it a little bigger than the others so you could see some of the massive print equipment he had.

The printer also demonstrated a very simple form of small-item roller-printing for the kids. He showed how a business card, for example, or a calling card might've been printed 200 years ago.

We also enjoyed the sash and door factory, where they do the glazing and... oh, gosh, a whole bunch of other building stuff, including stained glass windows they were working on. Oh, and the Carriageworks - carriages and buggies and sleighs - had been moved in there temporarily because - true to the spirit of the project - they were in the middle of moving another Loyalist-era barn to the Landing, (or "up where they're raisin' the barn" as one of the employees told us) and had to temporarily move the site of the Carriageworks to do so.

There was a whole lot more - a general store and a team of oxen and a blacksmith and a cooper and horses and a boat (The Brunswick Lion) but the whole visit would take much more time and bandwidth than you have to spare. But we did have a really, really good time, and my niece found some lady's glasses and we turned them in at the visitor's center and they were so happy because the lady had been looking and looking for them; and god I love those kids.

And whether we take them to Science East, or shopping (I remember one day we laughed our asses off riding all the plastic animals in the mall - without putting coins in) or hanging out at the lake and looking at the beaver dam, or going for ice cream, they are just so happy to be with us and they are just the best. I hope we are helping them make memories they will carry with them for the rest of long and happy lives.



Blogger Mike said...

I'm reading this saying "Sounds kind of like Upper Canada Village" and then, as I read on, "Sounds a lot like Upper Canada Village!" So I click on the link and read about how it all came about ... and now it sounds exactly like Upper Canada Village, except that, rather than flooded and displaced by a dam, the Loyalist villages there were flooded and displaced by the Seaway project.

Which leads to this question: What kind of land did you people grant to those Tories we chased out? "Yeah, yeah, let's stick'em down there on the floodplain ... "

Or maybe the plan was that, two centuries later, you'd make them immortal through some really cool historical reenactment centers ...

9:08 a.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Hey, hey, they were refugees - they took what they got and they liked it.

(Seriously, after living for 15 years on a river that floods every spring, with greater or lesser degree of trouble, I find myself wondering, "Didn't the first settlers ask themselves why the soil along here was so damn fertile? Ask a Maliseet? A Mik'maq? Anything?")

8:36 p.m.  

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