'Christmas by Lamplight' at Black Creek Pioneer Village
Archived Articles 11 Dec 2008  EWR
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Black Creek Pioneer Village will once again be dressed up in its seasonal best, offering visitors the opportunity to experience authentic Christmas traditions of early Ontario in a magical setting. 'Christmas by Lamplight' will take place on December 6, 13, and 20. On these special evenings the site's historic buildings will be lit with two hundred artefact lamps placed throughout the Village, along with candles, and roaring fireplaces. Bathed in warm, natural light, visitors of all ages and backgrounds can share in the magic of Christmas past.

One of the most popular special events at Black Creek, Christmas by Lamplight offers a full evening program including music, carolling, story telling, Victorian games, and no end of delicious treats. Folk bands will be performing each evening in the Town Hall and the Mennonite Meeting House, choirs will sing in the Fisherville Church, the historic piano in Doctor's House will sound again, and there will be a dramatic reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' at the Manse. There will be music in Flint House and a flautist will perform in Burwick House where Turkish Delight will be served.

Head gardener Dennis Pollock will demonstrate wreath-making and the Tin Shop will give away tin snowflakes. Lucky visitors may even meet Father Christmas in the Village, and get a chance to chat and learn about how he came to be. Guests can sample traditional treats such as roasted chestnuts, mulled apple cider, mincemeat tarts, real sugarplums, and old-fashioned pulled taffy.

"At this time of year, we are confronted with Christmas every day, whether or not that is a part of our own family traditions," said Geri Smith, Marketing Supervisor for Special Events at Black Creek Pioneer Village. "Christmas by Lamplight is a chance for people to go behind the commercial side of the season and learn something about our past in a beautiful historic setting."

Visitors to Christmas by Lamplight can enjoy the evening program on its own, or with a Christmas Dinner at the Half Way House Restaurant or in the Canada West Room. "It may be difficult for us to believe, but in early Ontario homes, preparations for Christmas dinner would have begun months ahead," said culinary historian Dorothy Duncan, a former curator of Black Creek Pioneer Village. "The housewife would have set aside the best of the root vegetables at harvest time, and in late October might have already begun preparing the cakes, puddings and crocks of minced meat for her pies and tarts. These would have been stored in clean cotton bags, hung in a safe place away from the mice, and basted regularly with rum or whiskey to keep them moist."

Christmas baking began in the weeks leading up to the great feast. "In the final days, the kitchen would have been a hive of activity with everyone helping, children, aunts, grandmothers - all the members of the extended family, would have had a task." A fowl from barnyard would be chosen, perhaps a goose, duck, chicken or turkey, and stuffing (or 'forcemeat') was prepared from stale bread, onions, and herbs from the housewife's garden. As Dorothy Duncan points out, "This meal is the foundation for the Christmas dinners that many people still enjoy today."

Christmas by Lamplight runs from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on December 6, 13, and 20, 2008. Tickets are $32 per person for the evening program on its own. With Christmas Dinner, admission is $81 for adults and $58 for children under 12. Advance purchase is required. General admission is included in the price.

Christmas Dinners are also offered during the day on three Sundays: December 9, 16, and 23. To purchase tickets for Christmas by Lamplight, or to make Sunday Christmas Dinner reservations, call Black Creek Pioneer Village at 416-736-1733 ext. 5331.

General day-time admission to Black Creek Pioneer Village is $13 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $9 for children 5-14. The Village is open to the public every day until December 31, 2007, except December 25 and 26.
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