Picture a clear fall day with leaves changing colour, 18th and 19th century buildings lining a winding pathway and my little black dog, Victor, racing circles around it all.
We’re at Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton, Ontario (about an hour west of Toronto) engaging with some living history… and getting our run on.
The quaint heritage village, open from April to October each year, allows leashed dogs to roam about and admittedly Victor skirts this rule a few times. But we practically have the place to ourselves.
We’re here the last day the Hamilton Conservation Authority site is open for the season. We’ve come to trot among the pumpkins lining the wooded walking trails surrounding the village and breath in the strong scent of history.
That’s right: Victor loves the smell of old stuff and three centuries is really old. (Check out his old fort visit here)
Opened in 1964, This living history museum is about bringing early Canadian culture alive. It’s a collection of 35 historical buildings most restored to specific decades ranging from 1775 to 1925, moved here from locations around Southern Ontario and staffed with costumed interpreters.
Centuries reside side-by-side. A colour-coded map directs visitors from the living conditions in the late 18th century to the early 20th. For instance, the Queen’s Rangers’ Cabin, built in 1792, was originally located in Dundas and is one of the oldest cabins in Ontario.
The Mountsberg Church was built in 1854 and move here from yes, Mountsberg and yes, you can actually rent it for weddings.
Other buildings, like the Victorian-style Hardware Store and Gillen House Greenhouse, are replicas.
Victor’s favourite – because he can run up the stairs to the platform – is the 1896 Jerseyville Railway Station that once saw trains travelling between Hamilton and Brantford pass by its doors. Today, Victor’s feeling the PEI vibe, because this station became a set featured in the Anne of Green Gables movie (Amazon affiliate) and the television series Anne of Avonlea.
Ultimately, it’s the intense smells of autumn’s rotting leaves on the trails and history’s aging barn board that keeps Victor thrilled. And he’s surprisingly happy, though I think the attention paid to accurate historic restoration is lost on him.
TRAVEL GUIDE: Westfield Heritage Village, 1049 Kirkwall Road, Rockton, Ontario, Canada is open daily April to October, but the buildings are only open on weekends and holidays, 12:30 to 4:00 pm. Dogs (leashed) are welcome and bring your own picnic. Admission is $14 per adult on weekends, $4 weekdays and dogs are free.