Fanshawe Pioneer Village: Big on History. Big on Fun! #LdnOnt

 Fanshawe Pioneer Village London Ontario

We took a much needed family road trip to London in South Western Ontario this weekend and stopped at a few fun destinations for families.  The first attraction we took in was Fanshawe Pioneer Village.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village is an interactive museum that allows visitors to explore the story of rural communities in South Western Ontario from 1820 to 1920 as well as the founding and development of the City of London up to 1840.

The village is staffed with costumed historical interpreters who demonstrate daily life in the 19th century through trade-work, farming, domestic chores and social pastimes.  There are original houses, churches, a woodworking shop, a school and more.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

 Many of the buildings are wheelchair and stroller accessible however it is a good idea if you are bringing a baby to take along a baby carrier instead or be prepared to take baby in and out of the stroller repeatedly to view buildings that are not accessible or have an upper floor.

There is also a Village Café which offers homemade soups, baked goods and other fare perfect for stopping in for lunch or even just a little snack.  The Denfield General Store  operates as a full gift shop offering a unique variety of hand crafted gifts and souvenirs.

 
Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

One of the many buildings you can explore is the village’s blacksmith shop which is a working reproduction, designed by Park Superintendent Rex H. Bishop, and constructed in 1958 by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.   You will find a historical interpreter on site happy to demonstrate how a smithy worked his trade during the 19th century with plenty of examples of what would have been produced at the time.  The Blacksmith shop is also used to fabricate metal pieces for maintenance around the village as needed.

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

The history of Labatt’s Breweries is unequivocally linked with the history of London.  The two have shared a long and prosperous relationship that dates back to 1828, when John Balkwill first opened his London Brewery on Simcoe Street.  The London Brewery, as it was called, produced 400 barrels of beer a year, and much of it was sold through Balkwill’s own tavern.  In 1847, Samuel Eccles purchased the operation from Balkwill and his brother-in-law, George Snell.  Eccles later partnered with his friend John Kinder Labatt, an Irish immigrant who had returned to England to study the craft of the brewmaster.

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

The London Brewery in Fanshawe Pioneer Village is a replica of the original brewery.  When we visited there were no historical interpreters but we were able to freely look around the brewery and with the help of information posted outside we got a good idea about the history behind the Original brewery.

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

 

Paul Peel (1860-1892), the London-born and world-renowned artist, lived in this home during his childhood.  The house was originally located at 230 Richmond Street, south of Horton Street.  Paul’s parents, John and Amelia Peel, bought the house in 1865, when Paul was five years old. The family resided at this house for approximately two and a half years. In 1868, the Peel family moved to a house at 167 Oxford Street where Paul lived for the remainder of his adolescent years.

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

Inside the Peel home we found another costumed interpreter who explained the history of the home to us.  It was also an opportunity for Keira to play with replica’s of toys that would have been available at the time.  While most of the buildings follow a look but don’t touch rule, at times the interpreters will invite you to a hands on experience such as this.

Upstairs there is also a bedroom setup with real toys from the 19th century; set up as if a child had just been playing with them. 

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

Boyhood home of Wilfrid Jury, the founder of Fanshawe Pioneer Village.  It is an excellent 1888 example of a typical Ontario farmhouse.

The Jury house was built on Lot 12 Concession 2 of Lobo Township and is the childhood home of Wilfrid Jury, the founding curator of Fanshawe Pioneer Village. William Jury Jr., built this home in 1888 for his son Amos on the occasion of his marriage to Charlotte Julia “Jewel” Alder, the daughter of the weaver Thomas Alder. The house was occupied by the Jury family until Amos’ death in 1964. The farmhouse was rented to various tenants before it was sold in 1968 to Murray Manson. When Manson donated the house to Fanshawe Pioneer Village in 1973, the building had to be cut in two with a chain saw and the roof removed in order to transport it. 

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

This house was pretty interesting as the furnishings belonged with the home and it was returned to how it would have looked under the guidance of Wilfrid Jury.

I was also intrigued by the fact that one of the bedrooms had a window out over the stairwell with a view of the other two bedrooms.  I found out after asking the historical interpreter in the home that the bedroom was part of a later addition and at the time they would not have been able to fill in the window to instead it was just left.

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

The village also offers a look into farming life in the 19th century with plenty of farm equipment and barns located in the village.

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

Keira loved seeing the animals and was talking for the rest of the day about the Sheep, Piggy and Ducks that she saw.

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

Of course the village also offers many opportunities for really cool photographs.  I’d love to go back when the girls are a bit older so I can attempt some photography without having my arm tugged at. 

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

My husband was really intrigued by the Mount Moriah Masonic Lodge.

This structure, which is currently interpreted as a Masonic Lodge, was once the Pond Mills School, formally known as School Section #7. The school was originally located in the village of Pond Mills, Westminster Township, which is now a subdivision in south east London. S.S. #7 was in existence from 1825 -1966 and began as a one-room schoolhouse on land which is now part of Pond Mills Cemetery. In 1844, the original log structure was replaced with a wooden frame building. In 1860, the one-room brick structure, the building now at the Village, was built on an adjacent lot.

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  Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

This building is reminiscent of the first log schools built by Talbot settlers for the children on their concession after homes were established. Circa 1830s.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village’s Log School is a replica building, constructed by a “Students Working on Environmental Enhancement Projects” (SWEEP) crew in 1974. The school was originally built beside Lochaber Church, on what is now Concession I of Fanshawe Pioneer Village. The building was later relocated to Orchard Road, and then moved once again in 2006 to its present location on Concession I.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

Can you imagine going to a school like this?  Things certainly have changed and quickly!

 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

The Elgie Log House was built about 1865 on Lot 24, Concession 7, West Nissouri Township. This building was the boyhood home of Michael Elgie. Elgie’s father, James, moved to West Nissouri Township around 1877 where he purchased the log home and farm. The log house was originally built as a one and a half storey structure typical of the period, but was reconstructed as a single storey dwelling when it was moved to the Village.

The Elgie Log House was certainly interesting and I challenge you to visit it and not feel grateful for the type of life we are all accustomed to thanks to modern conveniences.n  I can’t even begin to image how miserably cold a winter spent in this house would be. 
 

Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London Ontario

There are of course many other buildings in the village which makes it a wonderful day trip for the family.  I can’t think of a more interesting and fun way to learn about Canadian history than to take a trip to Fanshawe Pioneer Village!  Visit the Fanshawe Pioneer Village website for hours of operation and ticket information.

Shaped by nature and steeped in history, culture, and charm, Ontario’s Southwest is the perfect place to plan a summer escape. Home to over 900 kilometres of Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair and Grand River shoreline the region boasts a diverse range of unique waterfront sights to explore and enjoy including the second longest freshwater peninsula in the world, freshwater coastal sand dunes, the southern-most tip of Canada, and some of the continent’s best birding, and a rapidly evolving wine and culinary scene.

Planning to visit Ontario’s Southwest?  Visitors can access a complete list of offers as well as find a number of helpful travel planning tools including a Waterfront Guide, a South Coast Birding Trail map, a Cruise the Coast motorcycle map and five tasting and touring itineraries at ontariossouthwest.com.

33 thoughts on “Fanshawe Pioneer Village: Big on History. Big on Fun! #LdnOnt

  1. As a Londoner, the Fanshawe Pioneer Village is a staple in our city. They always have great events to celebrate holidays like Canada Day etc. I also attended a wedding there last fall. We love it there too!

  2. That is so funny as I work for a City of Ottawa Museum that reflects the era of the 1920-1930! I love this and will definitely put it in my itinerary if I ever visit London. It’s so important to preserve our ancestors way of life to show to our children the evolution of time. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love places like this in the fall. Black Creek Pioneer village in Toronto was where we went every year when I was a kid. Fanshawe might make for a great road trip 🙂

  4. Great photos! Fanshawe Pioneer Village sounds like such a fun place. When I was a child we always went to Upper Canada Village (I think it was the name) in Ottawa. I loved it there so much.

  5. I am a Londoner and frankly didn’t know a lot of that history. Both of my girls have been here many times on field trips with their schools and their preschools before that. It’s almost one of those things we take for granted in London. I adore the shot of Keira looking at the sheep. Super cute. Also I didn’t know that about Wilfrid Jury. We have a public school named for him and I had no clue he was founder of Fanshawe Pioneer Village.

  6. Too much fun!
    We have pictures of myself and my little sister standing outside of the yellow house way back in the 80’s.
    Oh my hair!! LOL!!
    I would love to take my kids there..they would have a riot!

  7. Oh what total fun. Hubby is a huge history buff and what better way to teach the kids about the past then to bring them to it. Thanks so much for this post

  8. Wow! Great photos, and it looks like an amazing experience 🙂 This reminds me of a pioneer village I visited with my family when I was a kid. It was soooo much fun. I’d love to take my boys to Fanshawe–it looks so great!

  9. I love these historical sites where they actually have people in the original dress of the day. It was certainly a much tougher life in those days that’s for sure.

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