Prior to our most recent visit, the last time my family and I were at Upper Canada Village was during their annual Alight the Night festival (in minus 30 degree weather). And while I highly recommend visiting the village at that festive time of year I also recommend visiting every other time of year – including during +35 degree weather, which is what the temperature was during our most recent visit.
Labour Day weekend was Horse Lovers Weekend at Upper Canada Village; and anyone who knows my daughter knows she loves horses and did not want to miss this special weekend – and so we went! This year Upper Canada Village celebrated the 350th anniversary of the Canadian horse and even included a contest and revealing of the name of the newest Canadian horse to Upper Canada Village, Champ (I still prefer my daughter’s choice of Chocolate though).
Because it was horse lovers weekend it meant there were more horses around then usual. You could still take a horse-drawn wagon ride around the village, or ride down the river on a horse powered cargo vessel, but you could also see a horse parade through the village, participate in a mock horse auction, witness roman riding and participate and watch other horse-related activities throughout the village.
My horse-loving daughter watched from start to finish as the village blacksmith made a horseshoe from a straight piece of iron, and then watched in awe the horse powered drag saw and threshing demonstrations; but her favourite activity was participating in the auction of village artisan-made items. With her very own auction card in hand she furiously bid against another bidder for fantastic village-made wall art that had the word “horses” printed all over it. Unfortunately, even though she won the heart of the auctioneer and other participants, she lost the auction to someone else. In the end it didn’t matter though, she had a great time and experienced something not a lot of other kids her age would have the opportunity to do.
The horse parade was my favourite. They horses were dressed beautifully and whether they were prancing, trotting or roman riding (which sees the rider standing on two horses as they walk), each horse served a purpose and was ridden by someone who didn’t hesitate to stop and answer questions from curious horse lovers.
Amidst the horse-loving theme of the weekend, the traditional village activities also took place. We watched women bake an apple pie from scratch and cook it in a cast iron pot over hot coals, watched the men from the bakery load up the day’s worth of fresh bread in their wagon to be delivered to the general store, and participated in part of a 1860s school day in the school house (although my daughter was quick to escape that building).
Upper Canada Village is truly a magical place. From the authentic buildings, the costumed interpreters who make the village come alive, to the realistic activities that take place everyday, Upper Canada Village is a great spot to teach children about what life was like in Canada in the 19th century.
In terms of tourist destinations, it is definitely worth the price of admission – if not more. My advice is to arrive when the village opens and plan to stay the day. The village closes at 5 p.m., and there is a lot to see in do in just one day (I didn’t even mention the miniature train ride yet!). Or if you want to make the village a two-day experience, there are also places to stay on site! We stayed with family in the Montgomery House during Alight the Night last year. The experience was one of a kind!
Since Upper Canada Village first opened in the 1960s, it has been a favourite destination for many people, including my parents, who repeatedly visit during Pumpkinferno, the Fall Fair, and Alight the Night. For a full listing of everything Upper Canada Village has to offer visit their website! I encourage you to visit a few times throughout the year – I guarantee your experiences (and memories) will be completely different depending on the time of year that you go and I bet after going just once that you will plan on returning again and again. I know I do!
Disclosure: I received complimentary passes to Upper Canada Village, however the opinions expressed in this post are my own.