July 24, 2010
Cumberland Heritage Museum

It's my New Year's resolution to visit all our Ottawa-area museums. The Cumberland Heritage Village Museum was celebrating Orleans' 150th anniversary this weekend, so Elizabeth and I thought it would be a good time to visit.  We borrowed a free pass from the public library and off we went with friend Dianne and her son Aidan.

 

I was surprised by how few other visitors were there.  It's a beautiful site and we had wonderful weather to match.  We left our strollers in the car but it was quite a long walk around and the kids soon got tired.  They enjoyed seeing all the animals (bunnies, chickens, goats, sheep, pigs, cows and ducks) and playing horseshoes outside the blacksmith.  Often heritage village "smiths" aren't very knowledgeable; they heat metal, bang on it a few times and then cool it while talking about how hot the fire is.  Of the ones I've talked to, most have never had a chance to learn from someone who knew what they were doing instead being forced to rely on books.  This particular smith seemed much more confident and knowledgeable.  He was creating little curls in the end of his metal.  Apparently he's doing a special class next week and anyone who wants to learn can sign up!

 

The place is a lot smaller than Upper Canada Village (my gold standard for such places) and while we didn't get to all of the buildings what we did see was mostly outside.  I was generally impressed with the staff, who were obviously enthused by their jobs.  I'd never seen a player piano before, so the woman of the house promptly demonstrated for me.  The pump man seemed like he had been making tamarack water pumps for decades with all his talk of petrified and swelling woods, but it turned out he's actually only been on the job for a few weeks!  He gave us shavings from the wood borers - apparently they can be used in lieu of ice cream cones.  Brendan is quite skeptical but Elizabeth immediately started pretending to "lick" it so it's a fun toy at least.

 

I was amused by the round-bottomed fire bucket used for bucket brigades.  Flat-bottomed fire buckets got stolen because they were too useful for other purposes!  They had firefighter uniforms to try on as well.  I was really surprised by how thick and heavy they are.  It's one thing to know something, and quite another to actually feel the weight and touch the fabric!

 

You'll notice I didn't take (many) pictures inside the buildings.  I started to before being informed that they unfortunately can't allow interior photography anymore.  Apparently other heritage sites have had problems with people taking pictures of the artifacts, posting them on ebay and then stealing the item if it sells. 

 

All in all it was a fun afternoon's outing and I would definitely recommend it for a sunny day.  Many weekends have special events especially for train aficionados, so we may even go back this year if we have time.  So many museums... So little time!



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