Yesterday I went with some of the Arrowsmith parents on a parents social outing to Hutchison House. Given the weather we didn’t want to venture too far afield and since the tour of Hutchison House had been so interesting when I went with the New Canadian Centre I suggested this for our January outing (sorry another long sentence, Michael!).
And so it was, another very interesting tour and quite different to the previous one. We started in the kitchen with a Scottish tea in front of the open fire, delicious scones with jam and cream (I had always thought that was a Devonshire tea!), shortbread and a big pot of tea. Gail, who you can see in the background in period costume, regaled us with stories of Dr Hutchison, his wife, their eleven children, his first cousin once removed, Sir Sanford Fleming, and much, much more – it was fascinating and we were all completely engrossed. One of the stories I loved was of the doctor being called to visit his sister-in-laws small girl who was desperately ill, her mother having sent a servant to fetch the doctor. In order to reach the doctors, the servant had to swim across the river (in February!) and then make his way through the woods to the other side of Peterborough to the doctors house. The doctor dispensed some medicine for the servant to take back to give to the little girl and he said he would come the following day. It took the doctor three days to arrive as he was lost in the woods! Nowadays the journey is rather easier and only a ten minute drive!
There followed a tour of the house itself, a fascinating insight into life in Peterborough in the 1830s and 1840s.
I simply can’t imagine life in the winter at that time, no heating other than the fires, I really don’t know how anyone survived. It bought to mind “Burial Rites” and the marvellous descriptions of surviving the harsh Icelandic winters so vividly described by Hannah Kent. I can imagine that in those early days the Canadian winters were equally harsh.
There was much discussion about the books written by two sisters who emigrated to Peterborough in the 1830’s with their husbands, Susanna Moodie who wrote “Roughing it in the Bush” and Catharine Parr Trail “The Backwoods of Canada” – both of which are now on my evergrowing list of books to read, and thought worthy of re-reading by the Canadians amongst us as they last read them in high school.
Hutchison House is a vibrant reminder of how life as it was and how much Peterborough has evolved. It is certainly well worth a visit, if not for the Scottish tea, then for the passion and knowledge that Gail< Erin and all the volunteers love to share.
AND Simon "mastered" word today so he has gone up another level! Yeah!