Students get a ‘real life’ history lesson at Muskoka Heritage Place



Short of time travel, there’s no better way to experience Huntsville’s past than at Muskoka Heritage Place’s pioneer village. Each year, hundreds of students get a history lesson like no other at the cultural attraction that gives them a taste of what life was like more than 100 years ago.

Most of the buildings are original structures that at one time housed families or businesses in the area and were painstakingly dismantled to be moved to Muskoka Heritage Place for reassembly where they sit today. The interior of each building is designed to look like its occupants just stepped out for a moment, providing a glimpse of the day-to-day goings-on of residents and shopkeepers.

School groups that visit the site participate in a variety of activities to further illustrate the daily life of Huntsville’s early settlers.

A school lesson at Muskoka Heritage Place

During the period captured by the village—1880 to 1910—people made do with what they had and made many things themselves, a stark contrast to the ease with which today’s students can zip into a store with their families to buy what they need. Costumed narrators at Muskoka Heritage Place bring those pioneer activities to life, including blacksmithing, baking, daily chores, candle-making, caring for farm animals, making toys from cattails, and school lessons, which visiting students can observe or participate in.

The museum exhibits provide additional learning opportunities. This year’s feature exhibit is “Healthy Huntsville—A Brief History of Health Care in Huntsville.”

Students can also take a complimentary ride on the Portage Flyer train when it’s available—the train doesn’t operate on Sundays or Mondays—and might he surprised to learn that in its original location at South Portage, passengers often had to hop out to help push the train up the hill.

Classes can enjoy their own picnic lunch on the village green, too. (Food services are not available at Muskoka Heritage Place.)

Costumed interpreters provide a taste of pioneer life, including candlemaking.

…and playing games like smooshers

Muskoka Heritage Place’s educational activities are designed to complement the grade 3 curriculum and teachers from as far away as Orillia, Parry Sound and North Bay bring their students for the hands-on learning experience it provides.

Muskoka Heritage Place is open seven days a week from May 18 until October 12; and daily education programs run between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The cost for 2019 is $13.75 per student (tax free) with free admission for one teacher or caregiver for every six students attending. Additional caregivers are offered the same admission rate as the students.

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