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History comes alive at Black Creek Pioneer Village

September 2023

Black Creek Pioneer Village, previously known as Dalziel Pioneer Park, is an open-air living heritage museum in Toronto, Ontario, in 1960, consisting of more than 30 historic buildings arranged in a village setting. Built on the original farm of Daniel Stong, an of Upper Canada, the village is a recreation of life in 19th-century Ontario.

Featuring costumed interpreters, Black Creek Pioneer Village provides visitors a glimpse of life in rural Ontario in the early-to-mid-19th century. The costumed interpreters also provide guided-tours on weekdays and conduct demonstrations of the various jobs and daily chores done by the pioneers in Ontario.

Indigenous scholars, artists, elders, and community members also provide an Indigenous perspective, educational programing and historically accurate and artful permanent installations, giving a voice to the First Nations communities that was absent prior to being established at the village in 2017.

Open year-round, seasonally-themed special events are held throughout the year, as are educational school programs suitable for all grade levels, including skills-based workshops and a chance to spend a half-day as a 19th century student, taught by a costumed schoolteacher, in the 1860s schoolhouse.

The village and various buildings can be booked for special events and photoshoots.

Just some of the historic buildings that can be found at Black Creek Pioneer Village include:

Laskay Emporium

Laskay Emporium, built in 1845, was the general store and post office from the Hamlet of Laskay in nearby King Township. It was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1960.

Half Way House Inn

The Half Way House Inn, is a two-storey Georgian building, built in 1847-48, at the corner of what is now Kingston Road and Midland Avenue in Scarborough Township. It’s a typical example of a pre-Confederation tavern and hotel for stagecoach passengers, found in Southern Ontario.

The Half Way House Inn, with its single-storey kitchen tail and shed extension, was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1966.

Daniel Stong’s First House

Built in 1816 at Lot 25, Concession 4 West, York Township, by Daniel Stong and Elizabeth Fisher Stong, immigrants from Pennsylvania. Featuring three small rooms and large stone fireplace, it is an example of an early pioneer home in what was then known as Upper Canada (present day Ontario). The Stong family lived in the house until 1832, when they built a new home on their land. The old log home became an outbuilding used for poultry and storage.

The 1816 house, the adjoining smokehouse, the Second Stong House and the barn are all in their original locations, as Black Creek Pioneer Village sits on a portion the former Stong farm, with York University occupying the majority of the property.

Roblin’s Mill

Roblin’s Mill was built in 1842 by Owen Roblin, the grandson of a United Empire Loyalist, in Ameliasburg, in Prince Edward County.

By the 1960s, the mill was had closed and was scheduled for demolition. The original timbers, flooring and machinery were all salvaged and moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1964.

Burwick House

Built by Rowland Burr on Pine Street in the Village of Woodbridge, then known as Burwick. The house, two-storey building, with a kitchen wing at the rear and an adjoining coach house, is a great example of rural Georgian architecture. It was constructed using mortise and tenon framing, covered with clapboard, while the interiors were finished with lath and plaster

The front portion of Burwick House was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village more or less intact in 1958, but the kitchen wing is a recreation, done as authentically as possible.

Mackenzie House

Originally built as a tiny log cabin around 1830 at the corner of Concession 7 and Side Road 5 (modern day Islington Avenue and King’s Highway 7) in the Village of Woodbridge.

The house was enlarged in 1850 to a one-and-a-half storey home, with the addition of a kitchen wing to accommodate the growing family. The final occupant was the great-grandson of the original settler, Major Addison Alexander “Lex” Mackenzie, for whom Major Mackenzie Drive in York Region is named.

Wilmot Township Hall

The Wilmot Township Hall was built in 1858, in Baden, an unincorporated village in Wilmot Township, near modern-day Kitchener (then called Berlin), to house the Fifth Division Court of the County of Waterloo. The circuit judge also presided regularly over court to settle small claims, contract disputes and property rights issues. The timber frame structure with clapboard siding was also where the Township council met once a month to deal with government business.

The town hall was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1967 and is now a popular venue for weddings.

Dickson’s Hill School (S.S. #17)

Built in 1861 on Concession 7 in Markham Township, the school is a great example of a typical one-room schoolhouse of the period. Constructed with hand-made local brick, the school has large windows on both sides allowing for improved light and cross-ventilation. In the winter, the school was heated by a box stove at the back of the room with a stove pipe running the full length of the room to the chimney at the front.

After standing for 99 years, it was dismantled brick by brick and moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1960, complete with the original school bell.

Edgeley Mennonite Meeting House

Built around 1824 at the corner of Concession 4 and Sideroad 5 (present-day Jane Street and Highway 7) the Hamlet of Edgeley, in Vaughan Township, it’s building the oldest surviving log Meeting House in Ontario. Constructed of first growth white pine, all the wood is unfinished, following Mennonite custom. Services were held in the church every fourth Sunday.

The building was moved intact to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1976. Very little restoration was required to return the meeting house to its original state. The benches and wood stove are the original furnishings.

Map of Black Creek Pioneer Village

Sources: York Unknown: Stong House, A Stong Family Heritage, Pioneer Settlers in Early Ontario (kawarthagenealogy.ca), Black Creek Pioneer Village – Step into 1860s Ontario.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/history-comes-alive-at-black-creek-pioneer-village/

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