Enough procrastinating. After picnik-ing some pictures to get rid of terrible glares and praying to the blog gods to take pity on me and send me a better camera (ahem, Nikon, cough) without further ado I give you… the wonders of Fort York.
York was for a time the name of current-day Toronto. To be able to spend a weekend in a two-hundred year old fort, surrounded by one of the busiest cities in Canada was an incomparable experience. Like the sign says, Fort York played an important role during the War of 1812, and in 1813 was occupied during six days by American troops.
He asked the kids to guess how many soldiers slept in that room. After counting the total of beds –16–, they shouted an equal number of soldiers. Boy, were we surprised to find out that THIRTY-TWO stinky, smelly soldiers slept in those eight bunk-beds. Two per mattress! To top it off, the few “lucky” families that were drawn to come and live with their soldier husband/father had to share that same room with 20+ lonely men. Can you imagine?! Yep, families had it tough 200 years ago.
After viewing the living conditions of soldiers, we were taken to the Officers’ Barracks. What a difference!
I wonder who wore those boots. Did he walk the same steps we walked during our visit? Are these the boots that carried him as he knelt beside his wounded men? Maybe I think too much into things, but for me that’s part of the magic.
The kitchen was the most beautiful part of the Officers’ Barracks, in my opinion. That’s where you can truly see the difference between two eras.
You see that dark dome at the bottom of the picture? That’s the tip of a cannon. Would you believe that 200 years ago, this cannon was aiming directly out to water? It’s true! Fort York is located in what used to be the lake shore! That’s right, Lake Ontario (which is huge as an ocean, by the way!) used to begin right there in front of the cannon. What happened was that as people began digging cellars and basements all that dirt and soil got dumped on the shore, filling it out and “creating” extended land. In the picture, the grass, the bridge and all those tall buildings that you see in the back are built on that filled-out waterfront. Impressive, eh?
You’ll notice some stairs leading the way down to the door. Do you know why this building was built lower than ground level? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? It was built like this to keep the gunpowder cool; plus, if it ever caught fire the design of the building would guarantee that the building would explode up and not to the sides, avoiding damage to surrounding buildings. Interesting!
We took the kids inside one of the buildings and listened to an explanation about the musical instruments used at the time. We learned that the bands were comprised mainly of young men (11 to 14 years old), which were usually sons of soldiers and living in the Fort as well. Some kids had the chance to play the instruments! There’s Anna giving the trumpet a go:
After music class and practicing some routine formations (including constant giggling and yelling “noooo, your other left flank!) we were all ready for supper. We ate just like soldiers did, a beef stew and curried rice. Curry was very popular at the time, given that many of the British officers had visited India and brought the spice back with them, making it a favorite.
After that, the kids changed into their pj’s and we got ready for hot chocolate and… scary stories! Here is Anna playing the role of the lady who found some mysterious bones after the carer of the lighthouse had suddenly disappeared.
When else can you get the chance to sing around a fire at night, in the middle of busy Toronto, with the iconic CN Tower as your witness? I’m telling you, I love home-schooling.
It was an unforgettable experience. I can’t wait to do it again next year!
For more information on this amazing place, go here.