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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist Speaker Advocate

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pioneers

How Settlers Cleared Their Land

Among the settler families’ first concerns was clearing trees from their allotments so land could be cultivated and crops grown. The prospect of such an undertaking must have been daunting. The second-growth forests of today are very different from the dense forests and huge trees our fore-bearers encountered. Colonel Strickland wrote about measuring a tree 11 feet in diameter with “the trunk rising like a majestic column, towering upwards for sixty or seventy feet before branching off its mighty head.”

Please enjoy this Wellspring Podcast of How Settlers Cleared Their Land.

Continue reading “How Settlers Cleared Their Land”

Julie Oakes: Historical Culinary Expert– Part 2

It’s been such a joy to discuss pioneer living with Julie Oakes, culinary expert and long-time live history enthusiast at The Pickering Museum Village east of Toronto. Part One of our interview is full of fascinating details that are finding their way into my novel. Enjoy the show notes for the equally delightful Part Two.

Please enjoy this Wellspring Podcast of Julia Oakes: Historical Culinary Expert–Part 2.

Gwen: Julie […] I’m going to ask you to finish this sentence. Each time I cross over that bridge at the Pickering Museum Village, and walk along the path that winds into the village, I…

Julie: …I feel like I’m going into the past and I feel like I’m going to have a wonderful day. Because I have to say that the days I’m able to go and just volunteer and go into the kitchen…I really like cooking on the wood stove, that’s my personal favourite. When I have a day that I can just cook on a wood stove and whole rest of the world goes away and there’s no phone, there’s no devices of any kind. But people come and chat and we talk about cooking and all kinds of things. Continue reading “Julie Oakes: Historical Culinary Expert– Part 2”

Julie Oakes: Historical Culinary Expert–Part 1

Julie Oakes set out on her path to historical culinary expertise as a costumed interpreter at the Pickering Museum Village. She eventually embarked on public speaking engagements about era fashion, Victorian funeral customs, and the rise of the women’s movement. Today, Julie also acts in and directs living history events and plays at the museum. I’ve attended the Rebellion of 1837 Spirit Walk, a living history performance guided and narrated by Julie, in character as a temperance movement leader.

Continue reading “Julie Oakes: Historical Culinary Expert–Part 1”

Shoeing Horses

I’m nearly ready to begin writing my new novel in which horses will figure prominently. To that end, I’m venturing back to the eighteen hundreds to see what I can learn about expert horse shoers or farriers as they are known. Continue reading “Shoeing Horses”

Pioneer Christmas and New Years

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What better way for an author to brush up against the hardships and daily lives of pioneers, than to participate in a living history event? Before the snow flew this winter, I visited Pickering Museum Village to experience Christmas and New Years traditions as celebrated by some of the earliest settlers in our region. History was brought to life throughout the village by museum staff, volunteers, and a group of performers known as The Backwoods Players.
Continue reading “Pioneer Christmas and New Years”

Postal Service for Pioneers in Canada

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In my trek through Canada’s postal history, I’ve discovered a colourful array of similarly delightful details– dogsled, horse carts, penny farthings, and telegraphs. They all provided that glimpse into yesteryear that I enjoy reading about. Continue reading “Postal Service for Pioneers in Canada”

German Pioneers on the Canadian Prairie

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A couple of years ago, I became interested in learning about my ancestry. I was aware that my heritage consisted of English, Irish and a bit of Scottish was suspected in the mix. Some snowy winter weekends spent on the laptop led me down a unexpected path to German ancestry as well. Continue reading “German Pioneers on the Canadian Prairie”

The Pioneer Garden

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The vegetable garden! Oh, how I relish the planning of it each year. During the final weeks of winter, when the skies are grey and the weather, inclement, my mind reaches for spring and the renewal of life that it brings. This is when I remember cucumbers hanging from the vine, the red blossoms of the runner beans, and eating sun-warmed cherry tomatoes from the vine. Continue reading “The Pioneer Garden”

A Traill in the Woods

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Catharine Parr Traill’s letters and journals are the source of much that we know today about the experience of the earliest Canadian settlers. Although she was born to a noble family in Britain, once emigrated to Upper Canada, she fell in love with the land and the way of life. She and her husband  faced many hardships and successes, each of which she documented in the detailed correspondence sent to friends and family.

(Please enjoy this Wellspring Podcast of A Traill in the Woods)

Continue reading “A Traill in the Woods”

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