Canadians tend not to look to the past as much as we should. I’m not sure why.
Maybe it is because we are a relatively young nation on a continent filled with immigrants. Our history, for most of us, leaves Canada fairly quickly for other countries. My family, as Canadian as they come, came here in 1846. That may not seem recent to you, but my wife’s family has been worshipping in the same church in her ancestral home town in Westphalia since 1192. Or maybe earlier for all I know – 1192 is when the church building was constructed.
I have always enjoyed learning about the past, about people, their motivations and events. Perhaps I should have been an historian. I think I would have enjoyed that, though jobs in the field are probably rare.
That enjoyment of the past is one of the reasons I wanted to visit Bellevue House in Kingston, Ontario, where Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, lived for a couple of years when he was an up and coming young lawyer. The rooms have been set up with furniture from the period, just a couple of years after my family first came to Canada.
The dining room is laid out for a lavish dinner. I wonder if the family always ate there, or whether they would eat in the kitchen if there were no guests. I didn’t think to ask that of the costumed interpreters on hand to answer visitors’ questions.
By today’s standards the furniture in the drawing room, what we today would call the living room, is quite uncomfortable. No, I didn’t test it out, I don’t think that would be permitted. But, as I mentioned yesterday, I grew up with that sort of furniture. I wondered about the beds as well, but didn’t think I would be given permission to try one out.
We did a self-guided tour, which I found to be quite sufficient. Bellevue House was our third stop of the day and I didn’t want to suffer from information overload. An overview was enough to keep me happy and let me get the feel of the place.
I hope it is enough for you too.