Thursday, September 6, 2018

Exploring the heritage of Stratford and Perth County

castle kilbride
We spent a few days towards the end of our summer vacation exploring the heritage, trails, theatre, and outdoor activities in Stratford and Perth County. While enjoying the activities in this area, we stayed at Forest Motel and Woodland Retreat located in Stratford. It is a family friendly woodland retreat close to all the amenities, a few minutes from the Stratford Festival Theatre. 
forest motel stratford
forest motel stratford
forest motel stratford
There are nineteen rooms on the property covering 32 acres that overlook the forests and Lake McCarthy. Each unique room has different bed configurations, and is equipped with amenities such as air-condition, fridge and freezer, microwave, cable TV, iron, Wi-Fi, books, magazines, games, and umbrellas. 
forest motel stratford
There are glasses, mugs, kettle, Keurig machine, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and popcorn by the kitchenette. The bathroom has towels, hair dryer, and toiletries.  
forest motel stratford
There are barbecues and grills by the lake, and nightly campfire everyone is welcome to join. We can sometimes hear the train, as there is a passenger train from Toronto, and a train that brings salt from Goderich.
forest motel stratford
We can spot birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish around the forest area and the lake if we choose to hike the 3 km of trails, or when we canoe, pedal boat, kayak, and bike within the property; which is available complimentary for the guests. There were a lot of mosquitos, and water in the canoes so we just enjoyed a few games by the lake.  
forest motel stratford
The boat house yard has a cabin with different lawn games that were fun to play with under the different gazebos and picnic areas which were by the lake.
forest motel stratford
Children were excited when they caught small fish with a fishing net, and played a few fun lawn games like ladderball. 
forest motel stratford
The stay includes continental breakfast between 7:30 to 10:00 a.m., which had freshly baked muffins, bagels, bread, fruit, yogurt, egg, oatmeal, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. 
forest motel stratford
They are open all year round, and the trails are open for the guests to enjoy cross country skiing and snowshoeing. They provide cleaning service every day, and have a non-smoking and no pet policy, which we appreciated as the rooms and the area was clean and comfortable. The location and the amenities in the rooms make it a great place to stay, especially when visiting Stratford for a few days. 
forest motel stratford
We had the opportunity to explore the heritage in Stratford and Perth County, where we learned about a few pioneer families who had made this area their home. Every museum we attended gave us an insight to better understand history and make connections to other places we visited in Canada.   
forest motel stratford

There are a few exhibits that are new for this year, which include...
"Justin Bieber: Steps to Stardom" - Justin Bieber fans will enjoy this exhibit, as they get to see all the details and pictures, as well as objects from his childhood and memorabilia. The exhibit tells the story of Justin Bieber's career from early days of busking in Stratford and performing in local talent shows to large venues and stages in the world. 
forest motel stratford
"Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird" created by Monroe County Museum in Monroeville, Alabama - the exhibit gives an insight into the book and the author. The book was published at the same time as the American Civil Rights Movement against racism which benefitted towards the success of this novel. The story is about prejudice and loss of innocence. It follows six year old Scout and her older brother Jem through their childhood in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s. Their father, Atticus is a local lawyer who defends a black man that was wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. This man was convicted by the jury, then killed while trying to escape prison. This book makes people question their beliefs about justice and the people in their community. There are a few posters on the topic of racism and laws which were prominent in Canada and USA a few years ago.

"Stratford Festival: Such Stuff as Dreams" - initial years of Stratford's Shakespearean Festival. Tom Patterson presented the idea of Shakespearean Festival to Stratford's City Council in 1952, and it was approved. Individuals and business supported this project and the first play opened in 18 months. 
forest motel stratford
The permanent exhibits include... 
"You Are Here: Vignettes of Perth County" - settlements of 1830s to today. We got to see more about the pioneers such as the Fryfogels that settled in this area when we visited the Tavern.  
forest motel stratford
"Railway century: Stratford's Railway Shops" were built in early 1870s to repair and service hundreds of locomotives in the Grand Trunk Railway. This was the largest railway system in the world with more than 2000 km of track that reached from Sarnia, Ontario through Toronto and Montreal to Portland, Maine. The 30,000 feet shop attracted employment, and brought in many families and workers to the "1854 Village of Stratford" which increased its demand for housing. Grand Trunk Railway merged with Canadian National Railway in 1923, which helped Stratford during the Great Depression. When CN Railway converted from steam to diesel in the late 1950s many workers were let go.      

"Perth Up! A Retrospective of Duty and Valour": about the Perth Regiment. There were details about veterans, and information about war times. 
stratford museum
This is called a Victorian conversation chair known as tête-à-tête meaning head to head where a man and a woman can have an intimate conversation during courtship without touching or sitting too close, as physical contact was not allowed until marriage.
stratford museum
"Brooks Steamer" - built in Stratford in the 1920s is the first modern steam car in Canada. We learned about this when we visited the Antique Automobile Museum in New Brunswick.  
stratford museum
"Hands on letterpress printing" - it was neat to see how much printing has changed over the years. We feel when we do crafts like stencilling, we seem to go back to these basics. We got to try our hand on old typewriters.    
stratford museum
"Stratford Normal School" - This is a school where they focused on teacher education. We saw this building by the Stratford Festival theatre. 

There was a showcase of the First Nations people, as it is in the territory of the Attawandaron or Chonnonton neutral people of the Iroquois tribe, where they used this area between the Grand River and Lake Ontario as summer homes to hunt and fish. They were neutral people because their land was a neutral trading ground between the Iroquois Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat nations. They were active traders of flint.  The Chonnonton villages and resources were destroyed when the Haudenosaunee Confederacy declared war during the 17th century known as the Iroquois or Beaver Wars. These were series of conflicts with the Iroquois against the Wendat, Algonquians, and French colonial forces. The Chonnonton scattered among other Indigenous communities throughout Ontario and United States.    

The Stratford Museum is open all year long, so check out their website for admission, exhibits, and directions. There is a 1.5 km walking trail that is free to use at any time. Right across the museum we can see the Stratford Perth Archives, where they preserve and make available photographs, maps, films, and other documents illuminating the rich history of the area, which is a good place for students and researchers. 
stratford museum

We enjoyed stepping back in time when we visited the 1877 lavish Victorian era villa of James Livingston, Canada's "Flax Mill King". Livingston's linseed oil, the main ingredient in oil-based paint declined after 70 years of business in Baden, Ontario with the invention of latex paint. James Livingston was involved in many other businesses and in politics serving as a Member of Parliament under Sir John A. Macdonald's cabinet. 
stratford museum
This photography is a copyright of Castle Kilbride

We enjoyed looking at the fine examples of Trompe l'oeil wall and ceiling murals in Canada. This type of art fools the eye, to see the pictures as though they are three dimensional. These were rare examples of the 19th century attempt to reestablish the Renaissance tradition of fresco painting. The main hallway has vases with hidden paintings within.  

Three generations of the Livingston family had lived in this mansion until 1988. We enjoyed going up to the Belvedere which means "beautiful view" in Italian, where James Livingston watched over his workers in the field. It gives a beautiful view of the area. The furnishing is extravagant and detailed. Our guide showed us how they had put a secret buzzer under the carpet in the dining room so the lady of the house could step on it and a maid would answer the call. In the exterior of this home is a heart shaped driveway, and a two door triple brick Italianate privy on the west side. 
stratford museum
Before we began the tour, we were able to watch a video that gave insight into the significance of the family, their connection to our history, which allowed us to make sense of what we were looking at in the home. 

It was fun to see and read about the Victorian Floriography. In the 19th century, coded communication through flowers contained secret messages that couldn't be spoken aloud.
stratford museum
  This photography is a copyright of Castle Kilbride

Parts of this home will be in the CBC's Anne with an E - season two, so visit the museum to see if you can spot it when you watch the show. Laura Louise Livingston the granddaughter of James Livingston loved dance, music, flowers, and toys. She attended the opening of Stratford Festival in 1953. She enjoyed L.M. Montgomery's novels and even met the author, it was exciting for us to see this historical connection as we visited Green Gables for the second time this summer. We got to see some fun toys made with wood, and technology from the 1920s.  
castle kilbride stratford
Right outside Castle Kilbride in the east lawn, we can see life-sized bronze statues of five Prime Ministers; Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Robert Borden, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Lester Bowles Pearson, and Kim Campbell. They will be adding the other prime ministers over time. It is a good way for us to start a conversation with our children, so they can understand the significances of each of the prime ministers and ponder on what they would do differently considering the different factors of the economy and social life during each period of time. The artists have captured unique perspectives of the Prime Ministers, and have incorporated hidden symbols into the sculptures. These represent successes, challenges, and events in their personal and professional lives.   
fryfogel inn

We can walk around the five acre looped trail open during all seasons, and identify a variety of native plants which is part of a restoration project. We can see trees such as maples, beech, dogwoods and more found in the St. Lawerence and Great Lakes forest regions of Ontario. Perth county used to be a dense forest without major water ways that was not accessible to people.  

We got to see the outside of the log Tavern, which was the first building in Perth county established by Sebastian Fryfogel and his wife Mary Eby in 1828. This Tavern provided a place of rest and nourishment for early travellers entering Perth County in the Huron Tract as it was along the stage coach route. It was also a regular gathering place for the growing population and was used for council and pubic meetings for many years. When the railway arrived in 1856 business at the tavern dwindled, however it remained open until 1870. Fryfogel held various important municipal offices and became the first Warden of Perth County in 1851 and died in 1873. The Tavern was owned by the family until 1923. After this the building was used as a cheese factory, rented as private residence, and used as banquet centre. In 1965, the site was recognized as a historic site, and now they offer private tours where we can see the inside of the Tavern Inn, an example of Upper Canadian Neo Classic architecture. 

We enjoy visiting these types of museums and historical sites. These are fabulous places for families to visit with their children to learn about people and places. It gives opportunities to have conversations on how these historical events and people shapes our country.

All rights reserved on photographs and written content Createwithmom © 2010 - 2018. Please Ask First Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Tourism for Stratford and Perth County. Please note that all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own.

28 comments:

  1. I haven't been back to Stratford since high school. Reading your post makes me want to visit the area with adult eyes as the sites sound so fascinating!

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  2. Debbie White-BeattieSeptember 7, 2018 at 3:24 AM

    This all looks like a great place to go for a home vacation. I love the history !

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  3. Looks like my kind of place , lots to do , lots of history and relaxing all in one.

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    1. trying to figure out how to post, but I guess I'll just post under someone else lol, JUST me but I dont need a tv in a dinning area, esp when on holidays

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  4. I've been to Stratford but didn't visit any of those cool places you described. Might have to go back!

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  5. Wow! Lots to see and do! I love the bedspreads! And ladder ball is a ton of fun. :)

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  6. This place looks so cute!

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  7. Lots of opportunity to enjoy nature and learn history is wonderful.

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  8. I love the history, the architecture and the rustic outside decore. This is a photographers paradise.

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  9. Sounds lovely - I need to travel more in Ontario

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  10. It looks absolutely beautiful there!! I think I could enjoy soaking up the history and the beautiful scenery.

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  11. Your photos are lovely and this would be a lovely experience for any season.

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  12. I like that they are open year round! I really hope my girls will grow to enjoy trips like this as I always enjoyed them growing up and still do. I'd love to be able to take them and have everyone enjoy the trip, but so far they seem to be adventure babies like their dad.

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  13. We love to visit and learn the history of places, sounds great

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  14. The walking trail would be so gorgeous especially in the fall.

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  15. This post reminds me of the fun we used to have when my dad would take us to Stratford for a Sunday drive.

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  16. oh I like the fact theres a coffee machine for the room too (I'd be using it for tea lol)

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  17. It looks like a peaceful place to visit

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  18. I haven't been to Stratford in years but seeing this has made me realise that we need to go back again soon!

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  19. Oh it's been so long since we've been to Stratford - thanks for sharing

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  20. It looks beautiful

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  21. It looks like a wonderful place to visit.

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  22. Wow, I would love to visit this area - looks beautiful, fun and interesting! I'd especially love the The Stratford Museum - the exhibits are very appealing to me.

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  23. That looks like my kind of place. Thanks for sharing.read

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  24. what a cute and cozy place. i love that it is surrounded by nature and the inside of the rooms are adorable. the wood ceilings i love!

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  25. Looks like a really nice place to stay! (Judy Cowan)

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Thank you for commenting :)