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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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!
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.
Check out the split rail fencing and the lovely perennial flowers and blossoming trees our pioneers would have treasured.
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?
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.
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!
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.
“Elaine, I enjoyed reading your story about growing up in Oxford County. (My Story, My Song) As I read along I kept saying to myself …yes, I remember that. I knew/ know some of the people you mentioned as well. Your river story reminded me of our three season farm ponds which were so massive we felt sorry for the poor kids in town who had to skate in a circle and could only change direction when the whistle blew. I was not impressed with that when I first skated in an arena and yes I also started out with second hand black skates.” Bernice
“Elaine, I just finished your book, The Loyalist’s Daughter. It was a great read and is hard to imagine how someone can put together such a book. Well done!”
Terry and Sally
“We both loved The Loyalist’s Daughter. So happy we have a ‘signed’ copy. Thanks for doing that.” Carol and Dennis.
“What a remarkable book! I just finished yesterday….It is one of those books that, at the end of each chapter, the urge is to ‘just read one more chapter’ before turning out the light….I had no idea what is involved in organizing such a fund raising venture and ventures across Canada and you explained it so well….[This] book that you wrote on his life and huge contributions needed to be written….Thanks for putting your writing skills to work into the life of Ron Calhoun.” John Snoddy
“Just finished your first book in your Loyalist trilogy – really, really enjoyed it. Those folks sure were hardy types in those days – I don’t think I could even survive a walk to the outhouse – hahaha. Looking forward to reading the next one.” Lisa Hutchison
“I loved the book. [The Man Behind the Marathons] So glad for the way you set it up. It kept me reading. And then the section on Ron came just as I was about headed to Google to see what led Ron to be the guy he was. The quality of the paper was a real asset. Top quality for a top quality story about a top quality guy. Congratulations. I felt your heart in every page. Thanks for letting me have an early look at the book. Very cherished.” Sue Hilborn
“Just finished your book. [The Man Behind the Marathons] It is great – so many interesting things about Terry and Steve (whom I had forgotten about). Ron’s story is, if possible, even more interesting. I can see why you were drawn into his life as a suitable subject for your first nonfiction. I did wonder how Ron’s one set of clothes washed by his mother every night were dry for school the next morning . . . and which race your ‘young daughter’ beat you in.” Wayne C.
“Just finished all three and enjoyed the stories as they were woven into the history of that area. Congratulations!” Lorrie Miller on Facebook, reacting to The Loyalist Legacy‘s Chill With a Book Award.
“It was a pleasure to be at the LWS meeting last night. Great information shared. Love your books and writing style. I will give them as gifts. They bring this time in history to life in a way that one will never forget. Thank you!” Rosemary
“Elaine Cougler has written a page-turning novel of the American Revolution through the eyes of a conflicted loyalist soldier and his indomitable wife. You’ll feel the hardship of homesteading, the fear of the enemy, the blows of battle, and the pain of separation. You’ll be transported through history. This is not just a novel written about another time, it seems written in another time.” Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans, Stephen Leacock medal winner
“I bought all three books at Probus club meeting in London. I loved the stories. I am now a student reading more about the war of 1812. Thank you for your stories. Love your writing style.” Gwen Moore
“I was delighted with the way you handled the Norwich Rebellion in the last Loyalist book, Elaine, and have heard many positive comments about it.” Marie A.
“I’m an impatient reader. If my interest isn’t piqued right from the get-go, I simply don’t continue reading the book. Both of the Loyalist books drew me in immediately!” Elaine B
“The Loyalist’s Luck is one of the best sequels I’ve read in a long time. It picks up right where The Loyalist’s Wife left off and takes the reader to Canada with a group of Loyalists escaping the American Revolution.” Denise F