by Gary McWilliams (aka Festival Nomad)
Here’s a question for you! When was the first known Museum opened? If you guessed 540 BC, you’d be correct and likely should apply to be a contestant on Jeopardy!
So why did I ask such a hard and obscure question? That’s an easy one, because May is International Museum Month.
Museums have been fascinating and education us for centuries, so it’s only fitting that they should have a month of appreciation. During the month many Ontario Museums open their doors to visitors for “Free”. The “Free” admission day or days for many museums is May 7th and/or 8th. You are best to check websites for the exact timing.
When thinking about this article, I decided to check our records to find out just how many museums we had visited over the past 10 years. I was amazed to see that we had visited over 40.
Ontario Museums come in all sizes and genres. Most of us think of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) as the typical museum, but what about Pioneer Villages and Historic Sites.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “Museums” as “an institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value;also: a place where objects are exhibited”
However you “define” museums, they are a wonderful place visit, especially with your family! Last year Judi and I had the privilege to tour over 15 “Ontario Museums”! Below is a list of the museums that we visited in 2015. We have been able to create “You Tube” videos for many of the museums visited. To view the videos, “click” on the word “VIDEO”.
- Ameliasburg Historical Museum (Video)
- Wellington Heritage Museum (Video)
- Macaulay Heritage Park (Video)
- Rose House Museum (Video)
- Mariners’ Park Museum (Video)
- Lang Pioneer Village Museum (Video)
- Nancy Island Historic Site (Video – Oh Canada Eh! Game)
- Grey Roots Museum (Video)
- Moreston Heritage Village (Video)
- Canada Aviation Museum (Video)
- Canadian Museum of Nature (Video - Oh Canada Eh! Game)
- Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (Video – Oh Canada Eh! Game)
- Ermatinger.Clergue National Historic Site (Video - Oh Canada Eh! Game)
- Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site
- Sault Ste. Marie Museum (Video – Oh Canada Eh! Game)
- Cabot Head Lighthouse
- Discovery Harbour (Video)
Judi and I hope that you will start your “SPRING” event visits by exploring and discovering Ontario’s fantastic Museums!
Festival Nomad’s Report
The “BIG Yellow Chariot” “charged” down the long narrow road. Trees with long tubes rushed by! Suddenly the “Chariot” came to a “gentle” stop in front of Landonde’s. We had finally reached our destination, our first stop on the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival tour!
The Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival is one the best well run and well attended community volunteer events held in Ontario. It happens every April and has been for 50+ years. It was appropriate, then, for us to visit this great traditional Canadian Maple Syrup event. It was also a significant event for us. It marked the 10th anniversary of our “FIRST” Ontario Festival Visited!
Yes, 10 years ago we started our journey across Ontario, visiting Ontario communities and their festivals and events. Who knew then what those 10 years would bring and how much it would change our lives! It seems that most everything we do centres around our mission ~ “dedicated to discovering, visiting and promoting Ontario’s great festivals, events, fairs, attractions, heritage and communities”.
Since that 1st “visit”, we have had the privilege of visiting over 500 communities and events. We’ve visited communities and their events “Kingsville to Ottawa” and from “Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie”. We are proud of this accomplishment. It has allowed us to meet so many wonderful event organizers and volunteers. It has given us a great opportunity to understand the inner workings of how events are formed and managed. It has also allowed us to share our discoveries with over 600,000 festival and event visitors each year.
10 years ago we started out as a “Blog” and then, at the suggestion of a friend, we changed into a “Website”! Now that small “Idea” has expanded in so many ways.
500+ communities visited
600,000+ event visitors to our websites
6 unique “Visited” websites, including Festivals & Events; Fairs; Communities; Attractions; Heritage and the War of 1812
700+ content rich web pages
50 Oh Canada Eh! Game You Tube videos
1000+ Twitter “Followers”
1000’s of Facebook “Reaches” per week
150+ You Tube Videos
8,000+ You Tube “Views”
102 INSIDER newsletter issues
5,000+ of Ontario Event News submissions each year
200+ INSIDE Scoop interview Blogs
New Ontario Festivals Visited initiatives include ~
ü “Ontario Visited Adventure” Video Articles
ü “GIFF’s” Festival Tips (GIFF, the newest member and “Mascot” of our “Festival Team”
ü Our NEW and IMPROVED “Ontario Event Directory” is now available for organizers to list their event[s]. This is a “complimentary” service.
ü Powerful “Slider Photos” are now available on all Ontario Visited web pages, including the Ontario Event Directory.
What will the next 10 years bring us? Who knows, but I’ll bet that it will be exciting and rewarding! We hope that will continue to join us on our journey.
"Photo taken at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie."
Oh Canada Eh! Game
Dead Men Talking!
A number of years ago I created a Blog entitled "The Adventures of the Festival Nomad". The following is one of articles I wrote. We had just visited an exciting War of 1812 Re-enactment.
Over the past few months Judi and I have visited a number of military re-enactments. They are great fun to see and experience! The sound of the cannons being fired and the smell of gunpowder all add to the adventure! Most of these re-enactments take place during the hot summer months and many of the re-enactors wear stifling wool uniforms. It makes me hot and sweaty just thinking about it! The re-enactors attention to detail is legendary. Everything has to be perfect, true to the period they are depicting. Walking through one of their encampments, you can actually visualize yourself being back in time! On the battlefield it is even more captivating. You can feel the intensity of the battle! Guns firing, smoke filling the air, soldiers marching and officers shouting orders, advances and retreats, all for the sake of authenticity! As the battle progresses, soldiers begin to fall as though they have been shot! They lie there as their comrades walk over them! The sun scorches their fallen bodies! Truly “in the heat of the battle”! There is so much happening; it’s hard to take it all in! Who notices that some of the “dead” have dragged themselves to the shade of the “old oak tree”? Who can tell that there are “dead men talking”!
"Battle scene at the Battle of Crysler's Farm, Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg."
Over the past few years the Festival Nomad and I have had wonderful experiences visiting War of 1812 Re-enactments around Ontario. We find these re-enactments amazing and extremely interesting! In this NEW War of 1812 Discovery Series, I want to share with you some of our experiences, while attempting to shed some light into the actual historic.
by Judi "Scoop" McWilliams
Do You Pass the Ten Foot Rule?
We have acquaintances who are “Professional Re-enactors”. Some of them have extensive collections of weapons and costumes. Being “Period Correct” in uniform, weapons and language seem to be a high priority for 1812 re-enacting and re-enactors! If a re-enactor is wise, he/she will do his/her homework! There are many terms used to help navigate and keep the accuracy of a re-enactment true. Knowing what you are doing will help with the continuity of the re-enactment. Beginning with the language spoken, for example, a person who chooses to be a “Representative Interpreter” attempts to accurately portray a character that did not actually exist but could have existed based on historical research. “First Person” interpretation is a person portraying someone from the past who has no knowledge of modern life and doesn’t “drop character”. This leads to the “My time – Your time” interpreter who may say such things as “In my time we didn’t know about 'fast food' as you do in your time”. These interpreters know about the modern times as well as the past. This sometimes helps the interpreter communicate with visitors better than the “First Person” interpreter.
The Festival Nomad and I have encountered such re-enactors and find that they truly added to our experience. Sometimes it’s even funny! Several highly skilled re-enactors stayed so much in character that it was difficult to follow the conversation. They spoke solely in the context of the period! Another time, two young re-enactors, although asked specific questions, kept within the period, as they answered the visitor’s questions. What was most impressive about these young re-enactors, in particular, was that when not being spoken to they continued the conversation between themselves in the period language. While visiting our nephew's War of 1812 re-enactment, it became obvious to us, again, just how important and seriously these young re-enactors take on their roles. In this case, the “battle” was taking place far down the field. This was where the majority of spectators were observing. We just happened to be at the other end of the field where the last batch of soldiers would join the battle. There were hardly any spectators there. However, the young re-enactors played their roles perfectly with all the correct commands bellowed and all the battle procedures followed! It seemed that these young re-enactors were drawn into the period, oblivious to “the spectators”. It was very real to them! They had become "living history"! By the re-enactors keeping within the framework of the battle, they drew us in and made the experience all the more enjoyable.
Beyond the actual re-enacting, I became aware of just how important being true to the Period Clothing was. Period Clothing now means, to us modern folk, that something is “old fashioned, junkie or, just outdated”! Ask someone “where’d you get that outfit … back in the 70’s?" and see what they say! Even the popular T.V. show “What Not To Wear” challenges people on “out-dated” clothing. However, Period Clothing to a re-enactor is clothing belonging to a very specific historical period and it needs to be is Period Correct in its accuracy! Apparently the "educated spectator" can be quite the “judgmental”! There are even terms used to demonstrate just how serious this "judgement" can be. The funniest term I found was “the ten foot rule”. This is a measurement from ten feet away. If it looks period from that distance, you just might pass! Who knows, from afar, if it's "leather or vinyl", has "too many threads per inch in the weave" or is "hand-made or factory made in Taiwan"? Apparently these “judgmental" spectators have disparaging remarks and names given to them from the re-enactors. Names such as “thread counters” and “garb snarks”. It’s a nasty game that I choose to stay out of! For us, we choose to enjoy all the extreme efforts put forth by the re-enactors and take pleasure being “transformed in time”!